Technically this is a review, but in actual fact it's just me wallowing in the deliciousness of a flash game that I've somehow missed out on for the past two years. Seriously. Two years. I've looked all over the internet for traces of this thing going viral like Pandemic 2 (pun definitely intended), but unless my Google skills have failed me it doesn't seem that it has.
Miami Shark is the juicy core of an addictive game, and nothing more. It doesn't aspire to the overreaching artifice that some big-budget games do, it doesn't bother with any pretenses of plot or background. In fact, all the detail you get about the setting and protagonist are in the name itself. The game doesn't bother commenting on the very real plights facing sharks these days, like their undeserved public perception as man-eating monsters (vending machines kill more people than sharks do), or the shark-finning industry that is helping push some species to the brink of extinction. No. Miami Shark dumps you, an (ostensibly) great white in the deliciously satirized waters of Miami and asks you to chomp and breach as big a swath of destruction as you can.
The games controls are as simple as can be. "A" lets you bite, and the arrow keys make you swim in the corresponding directions. That's it. But Wiesi, the gentleman who coded all the mayhem, has masterfully worked these straight-forward controls, allowing you to rocket spectacularly out of the water, eating people who would be out of your reach, and even take down the Concorde. Of course this is all delectably psychotic in the classical sense of the word - it has entirely lost touch with reality - but, like a hedgehog that can travel at super-sonic speed, or a fat plumber who can grow a raccoon tail and fly, it is pure joy to play.
Better still, this is one of those rare flash games that knows when to end. Every time it's over I haven't yet had enough; if I play it too much it's my fault, not the game's. Last year, Wiesi released a sequel to Miami Shark, Sydney Shark, which takes the lunacy to even greater extremes; however, if this makes any sense, at times Sydney Shark feels like a bit too much. Chomping through Sydney harbour and taking down even bigger aircraft is definitely a lot of fun, but it lasts just a bit too long. I found myself checking the number of miles left before my rampage would end, hoping that it would be over soon. (I also wondered what the Aboriginal people of Australia would think of their image in this game, but that's probably just this gay gamer being over-sensitized after a lifetime of paying too much attention to how gay people are stereotyped in games. After all, Sydney Shark is a game about a glasses-wearing great white shark in a Crocodile Dundee hat who drags a helicopter-riding Kong-sized koala to a watery grave drenched in fireballs.)
Miami Shark reminds me of a strange mash-up of Rampage and Cobra Triangle, but being a free flash game it has the liberty to be just as long as it needs to be and not a whit more. Dostoevsky it ain't, but Miami Shark is a confection not to be missed.
Thanks to Kotaku talk-backer gigawings spreading the word.