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Downstream Panic!

There are eighty levels and eight thousand fish to save... can you save them all?

Downstream Panic! is a puzzle genre video game for the PlayStation Portable. It is very similar to the classic platform game Lemmings, which is currently available for the PSP -- click here for Video Game Talk's review. In essence and play-factor, it is Lemmings -- just with fish. The story goes something like this... all of the innocent, good fish have been sucked out of the oceans. It is up to you to guide them back to the safety of the sea. In your way are a number of obstacles, which include various breeds of predators that want to eat up all of the fish.

The game has eighty levels and eight thousand fish that you must get back to the ocean by controlling the flow of water. More specifically, you begin each stage with one hundred fish and a fixed number of them must make it back to the ocean to advance to the next level. At your disposal is an arsenal of tools that affect water, predators, and other objects in different ways. Understanding how each tool works is paramount. The tools include:

  • Bomb: To dig the ground or to destroy some objects
  • Plant: To stop the water or to push objects from underneath
  • Fan: To move the clouds or to make the flowers twirl
  • Attractor: To gather the fishes together in a spot
  • Harpoon: To neutralize the predators
  • Freezer: Turn the water to ice. Time is limited!
  • Fishing Net: To catch and save little groups of fishes

What you will find while playing "Downstream" is that every level is different. The early levels are very easy, and naturally, the difficulty increases as you advance. What spices the game up are the different objects, environment constraints, tough predators, and other things you will encounter. No one ever said saving an aquatic species would be easy. You will need to figure out what the optimal course of action, or rather how to best utilize the tools in your arsenal. On that note, usage of tools is finite and each level provides a different selection. While playing, you can also acquire money -- which will sometimes require you to sacrifice a few fish to get.

As for the game modes, when you first start playing you can only access "Adventure". The levels in this mode can be replayed from the "Free Play" mode (after it has been unlocked). Money can be used on free play stages to purchase additional tools for those really complicated stages. There is also "Survival", which is a pretty tough rendition of "Adventure". You start with one hundred fish and when fish perish, you don't get them back. Instead, you begin the level with the number of survived fish from the last. And considering each level requires a certain number of fish to survive to pass the stage, it is definitely a tougher way to play the game. Good luck!

As an overall game, "Downstream" is a fun and addictive experience. It is challenging with a lot to offer and pretty good replay value. With eighty stages out of the box, that's a lot of gaming. The developer advertises at least ten hours. There will also be additional levels available as downloadable content. The bottom line is that if you have enjoyed the classic Lemmings or Nintendo's Pikmin, then "Downstream" is a must.