Survivor

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“I’m a survivor!”

Survivor, the hit CBS reality TV show based upon the perfect democracy of desperate, half-starved yuppies, has been made into video games before. The 2001 PC game, however, was terrible. Comparatively, Sumea’s new mobile Survivor is a pretty good rendering of the reality show, but it could have been even better.

The aim in the mobile Survivor is the same as it is in the TV show: to outwit, outplay, and outlast your opponents. Instead of starting from the beginning, the game actually focuses on the last few days of the Survivor content, when there is only one tribe and five people left. The three men and two women in the tribe don’t have any characteristics or skills to make one better than the other, so your choice of character doesn’t matter much. However, the character named Fred seems to be jinxed, as he tends to get voted out first every time.

The personal relationships that drive the TV show are simulated two ways in the game. First off are the two minigames where you try to obtain fish for your tribe. You can either catch fish in a net or by a more classical, lure-based fishing technique. If you catch enough fish, the other contestants will appreciate you. If you don’t, you’ll be a likely candidate to be voted out in the next tribal council. There are also a few random events that can shake things up. For example, you might learn that someone likes you a lot, and you cut a deal with him or her to insure your safety in the next tribal council. But, just like in the real-life version of the game, you can never completely trust anyone, no matter what they promise.

Survivor features four other minigames that are used to decide who will be immune to disposal at the next voting session; if there are only two competitors left, the winner of these games determines the champion. The Spear Toss has you compete to see who can throw a spear the farthest, with one eye on the wind and the other on your spear thrower. In the Log Run, you need to press your action button at the right time to walk at the correct rate to stay on the log. “Spirit of Fire” is a Simon Says clone where you have to repeat longer and longer sequences of flashing flames using the appropriate keys. “Wild River” is a raft-racing game, where hitting the rapids will accelerate you and hitting rocks will slow you down.

All six of Survivor’s minigames are pretty high quality gameplay-wise. They can each be played as stand-alone games too, with a maximum of five players hot-swapping a single phone. It’s a real shame that Sumea didn’t implement a multiplayer Survivor mode, though. It would be great fun to harness Survivor’s competitive gameplay to actually form alliances and stab your friends in the back.

The Series 60 Java version of Survivor has passable graphics and sound, but that’s about all you can say for them. Survivor’s sprites are kind of tiny, so the game doesn’t have much apparent animation. In fact, the characters in the minigames are so small that they appear totally androgynous. Fortunately, this minuteness doesn’t really affect gameplay. On the sound side of things, Survivor features a variety of short tunes for each of its different minigames, which helps give them a distinct feeling. The game is otherwise silent.

In all, Survivor is a fairly entertaining collection of minigames that captures the basic feel of the TV show, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of replay and team interaction. A more thorough implementation of multiplayer, perhaps even with a formalized alliance system, would have added to this game’s value immensely. Instead, Survivor is more of a branded pack of one-button games than the real deal. One can’t help but feel that Sumea missed an opportunity here.