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Review: Fish Out of Water (iOS)

Sunday, April 21st, 2013 by

fish_out_of_water_titleHalfbrick Studios, makers of mobile staples Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja, have brought their latest game, Fish Out of Water, exclusively to iOS.

Is Fish Out of Water another must-have game for the Australian developer or is it a painful reminder that Halfbrick is the same developer that brought us Raskulls?

In Fish Out of Water, your goal is to skip fish as far across the ocean surface as possible. Each of the fish (or mammals) has different characteristics in relation to how you toss them, their ability to skip across the surface of the water, and how well they maintain momentum once airborne. After three turns, the number of skips and the distance thrown is added up and you’re given a score by a panel of judge crabs. The premise is silly, which is a Halfbrick tradition, and it works well overall.

Fish Out of Water has all the makings of a great mobile game. The art direction is full of bright colors and cute characters. The controls are simple and intuitive. A game session can easily be completed in mere minutes, if not less. There are even competitive leagues that have been all the rage since Pocket Planes that bring people together for a co-operative community experience.

Each fish has its own characteristics. This one skips particularly well.

Each fish has its own characteristics. This one skips particularly well.

However, Fish Out of Water just doesn’t feel right. Unlike Jetpack Joyride and countless other apps, there is no sense of progression. There are no carrots dangling aside from the storyboards that add little to nothing to the game. Your time spent with Fish Out of Water is purely because you want to play Fish Out of Water.

It’s strange, almost foreign at this point, to think that this game is the same at the start as it is when you finish it. Yes, you level up by completing these mission objectives and get gems that award you minor gameplay boosts, but the game never changes. Tackling just one objective at a time also makes the mechanics somewhat clunky when compared to the countless others that use the three-at-a-time standard set by Jetpack Joyride. From the moment you open the app until you decide you’ve had enough, what you see is what you get. And what you get here is a simplistic game where you throw fish across the surface of the ocean for giggles.

fish_out_of_water_judges

This was literally within my first fifteen tries, though I’ve yet to get a perfect 10.

That’s not to say there isn’t some variety here. The weather changes hourly, from calm waters of a sunny day to the rising waves of stormy seas, changing the way the sea animals skip and the criteria for which they are judged. It just isn’t enough to help Fish Out of Water rise above what it is.

Once you learn how to navigate the waters, how to use your boost properly for each fish, and how to appeal to all the judges, it’s not too difficult to replicate the results with regularity. Fish Out of Water is a shallow experience in a world that you would expect some sort of depth and an uncommon misstep for Halfbrick. Fish Out of Water is a fun game, no doubt, but it gets old quick.

3 stars

(Fish Out of Water is available in the App Store for ninety-nine cents. It features GameCenter achievements and supports widescreen displays. In-app purchases are available but entirely unnecessary for the experience. Players looking to compete in League Play will need to sign in with either a Facebook or Google account. Version 1.0 was used for the purpose of this review.)

About the Author

Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming. Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.

Fade to Slack has written 339 posts on Delta Attack
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  • BigBoyTime

    I actually like this game but I believe they should add more modes and features to make it worth the dollar.

    • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

      It’s kind of unfair to say it’s not worth a dollar. Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride have both been expanded since their release, and I’m sure they’ll continue to add features to Fish Out of Water.

      It’s a good game, but there’s many other games that I’d suggest buying before it in its current state. Unless you’re just really into leagues (“deltaattack” if you’d like to be member number two), there’s just not a lot of reason to keep coming back to the game.

      • BigBoyTime

        Yeah you right. I also think this game will make sense on PS3 and Xbox 360 with the Move controller and the Kinect. Idk just my opinion.

        • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

          Oh, I just meant think what else you can get for a dollar. I mean, that’s not even a King Size Snickers anymore, is it?

          • BigBoyTime

            Lol truee!