The History Behind This App
In 2011, when Disney introduced Where's My Water, it rocketed up to the top of the mobile app charts and launched Swampy the Alligator into stardom. It created a new brand for Disney, the first to originate from an app. In this sequel, Swampy and his friends Allie and Cranky are back with more than 100 new water-physics puzzlers found in three locations, including the Sewer, the Soap Factory, and the Beach.
The puzzles offered in this sequel don't stray far from those introduced in the original app. Players use their fingers to draw paths through subterranean environments to direct water to Swampy's shower, steam to Allie's steam-powered musical contraption, or poison to Cranky's plate. When directing the water through these puzzles, players will encounter switches to activate, faucets to turn, and other fun and tricky challenges. Players also need to collect embedded rubber duckies by running the appropriate form of water over them before directing the water into the puzzle-ending pipe. Collecting the duckies earns the points needed to open new locations in the game. What makes these puzzles so much fun is that they invite you to learn by trial-and-error. They are challenging, diverse, and amusing to play.
How to Play
This sequel introduces several new puzzle types. One, called Duck Rush is particularly robust because it spans multiple screens instead of the typical one. In a Duck Rush puzzle, you must work quickly to decide the water's path as it descends through several screens filled with six duckies. Since you can't see the screen below you, it's hard to plan your strategy, and it requires replaying several times before winning. Also new are challenge modes, which take a previously played level and mix it up. You may need to solve the puzzle upside down, drill through rock while not using the switches, or collect musical notes in an order that creates a melody.
Also new to this set of puzzles are boosts which help you more easily earn the duckies. One starts the puzzle with the duckies almost full of liquid, another draws the liquid to them, and the third allows the duckies to absorb all liquids. You can earn a few boosts by clearing a set of puzzles and opening one of many gates found in the three locations. But the easiest way to get them is through in-app purchases. You can also use in-app purchases to get hints for each puzzle.
App Suffers From a Design Flaw
While the underlying puzzles of this app are varied and great fun, Disney made a fundamental design mistake. To make money from this free-to-play app, Disney added a fatal flaw – an energy timer. Each puzzle attempt uses energy, regardless of the outcome. When you run out of energy (it shows up on an energy bar), you must either wait several minutes for it to refill or pay $.99 for an immediate refill. Since puzzles like the new Duck Rush take many attempts, they quickly deplete your energy bar. What's even worse is that you can't spend a few bucks to get rid of the timer. Rather, Disney gives you the exorbitant option of spending $16.99 to make the energy bar larger. Since this is a kind of app where the fun comes from experimenting, inhibiting your ability to try new things makes no sense. Disney has drowned its own app with its greed to make money.
Where's My Water? 2 also falls short in being kid-friendly. After Swampy's popularity rose, Disney built a new kid franchise around the adorable alligator, including stuffed animals, board games, and even animated shorts. The original Where's My Water app was appropriate for ages 6-up. I am recommending this sequel for ages 13-up, because Disney decided to deeply integrate Facebook into its gameplay. In every puzzle, players are asked to connect to Facebook, a social media site that is only for kids 13 and older, and there is no way for parents to disable this integration. That's bad for young kids, but not unheard of in apps. However Disney goes farther than simply badgering you with Facebook requests; at level 30 of the 50 levels, players hit a gate which they can no longer unlock by earning duckies from puzzles. Rather, the only way to unlock this game-stopping gate is to ask three Facebook friends for keys or pay $.99 for each key (totaling $2.97) to proceed on in this "free" app. By creating an app with this Facebook format, the app is no longer kid-friendly. It's a soggy shame, since the puzzles are so good.
The Bottom Line:
If you have young kids who are Swampy fans, skip this app. With no ability to get rid of the energy timer, they will just get frustrated. If your kids are 13-older, have Facebook friends playing this app, and don't mind playing puzzles in spurts, it might be worth downloading.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.