Fishdom: Deep Dive Review

Fishdom: Deep Dive Review

Mar 10, 2016

Fishdom: Deep Dive (from Playrix Games) is a bit deceptive.

Right from the get-go.

It comes out the gate masquerading as a cute little aquarium sim. The graphics underscore this, with gorgeous animations and friendly-faced, self-aware sea animals. It looks great, sounds well and almost works in and of itself for folks who are solely into virtual environments.fish3

But Fishdom has a trick up it’s sleeve, and it’s a gimmick that should appeal to folks who may not be satisfied with barebones aquariums: one can garner game coin to acquire more fish and better equipment, but it takes the conquering of the games match-3 gameplay to make one’s personal sea world rock.

It’s about bragging rights, and matching prowess is the in-game currency.

Now we’re talking…

The looks on the main play side are just as glossy as the pet maintenance side, with several pieces laid out on a grid, just as one would expect. The pieces themselves reflect an aquatic environment, showing up as pearls, shells, starfish and the like. Thee core idea is to dissolve pieces by creating sets of three or more, and this is accomplished by swapping adjacent pieces. Matches can be bade up and down, but not diagonally, and once made and dissolved, they are replaced by random pieces that drop from the top of the grid, in a fairly “logical” manner.

The game is leveled, and one is expected to finish the tasks required within a set number of moves; the key is that the tasks start to get more complex, including things like dissolving materials, or picking up embedded gold, working around columns, or dealing with chained pieces and more. There are achievements to be garnered too.

In the end, success yields gold coins. Which brings us back to the aquarium. As noted earlier, one can use these gains to make the sea house spiffier. Real money can be used, but is not mandatorily needed.

It all come together nicely, actually; a game with two interconnected facets.

Yes, Fishdom is sneaky. Delightfully so.

Marine Conservation Society releases Good Fish Guide Application

Marine Conservation Society releases Good Fish Guide Application

Mar 2, 2016

The Marine Conservation Society, a UK-based charity that works to educate individuals and entities about sustainable sources of fish, has improved its mobile presence with the release of mobile applications — one of which is available on Google Play.

The Good Fish Guide looks to be MCS’s “definitive guide to sustainable seafood” by noting fish that is good to eat, ways to prepare them for eating, and what seafood to avoid based on their sourcing. The core idea is to inform users with regards to seafood choice.

MCS Good Fish Guide Programme Manager Bernadette Clarke talks about having answers. “Making sure the fish you are buying is as sustainable as possible, in season and big enough to have reproduced makes the whole issue a bit of a minefield,” she says. “Many fishmongers and fish counter staff have some of the information customers require, but not all. The Good Fish Guide mobile app has all the answers right at your finger tips. Whilst looking at fish on the counter you can, with a few taps and swipes, be sure your fish supper is as sustainable as possible.”

Good Fish Guide is available for free on Google Play.


[via MCS Information]

BioGloom Review

BioGloom Review

Feb 13, 2014

An icy meteor crashes into the depths of the ocean, freeing an anglerfish that is naturally intent upon saving her species. This is Lumen’s story, and this simple backdrop launches us into the world of BioGloom.

This game is a mix of platform and raw adventure; the gameplay relies a good deal on the graphics, and this does not necessarily do the game a disservice. It reflects the depths of the imagined playing area well, with dark imagery being the main visual cue. Cutting through the enveloping darkness is the luminescence of Lumen’s (get it?) esca, which even gets adjustable colors. The fish is guided by a virtual joystick nestled to the bottom left, and this helps guide the fish through the cavernous paths that make up the game’s travelways. It is a stark environment, but it calls to be explored.

The gameplay, as noted, involes exploration, and getting from point A to point B in every level. Lumen’s esca servesbio2 as as a torch in the dark depths, and the brightness is maintained by consumption of smaller sea-dwelling creatures. Thus, eating is a key to survival. Since the playing area is so dark, the light pierces only so far, and navigation has to be performed carefully. Another feature is the ability to use the esca as a lure by switching the color. I found this fascinating, as it is a game adaptation of a real-world female anglerfish mutation.

The gameplay is leveled, and there is a brief tutorial that explains the basic gameplay: eat, stay alive, keep the light bar full, avoid bigger predatory creatures (and other dangers, like corals and jellyfish) and try to find a way to checkpoints and eventually the end of the level.

I think the graphics, while fun, could use a bit more polish; the animations felt a bit stilted in places. I also have to whine about the length, as I feel the game could use some more levels. Hopefully, the development team plans for that possibility.

It is a simple yet challenging game, and I, for one, would love to see more games that merge cool science with handheld gaming. Here’s to Rich Tomato (and more college students) making more games.

The Adventures of Small Fry Is Announced

The Adventures of Small Fry Is Announced

Oct 28, 2013

The Adventures of Small Fry 2

Noodlecake Studios and No Monkeys Studios have announced a new game, The Adventures of Small Fry. It’s an action game, where the players control a small fish, escaping from the clutches of a shark. This endless runner with nice graphics and a sea theme will be released in November, so stay tuned for the announcements. More details about the game can be found here: Noodlecake Studios Official Website.

Chasing Yello Review

Chasing Yello Review

Jan 16, 2013

Fish are slippery and hard to catch especially when they’re trying to get away from crazy little kids. Yello is a fish in a bowl who doesn’t want to be in the bowl anymore. He wants to be freeeeee! When the chance was presented, he made a leap of faith and headed upstream. To his dismay, the crazy little girl chased him.

To control Yello, there is a combination of on-screen controls and tilting the device. He will jump, dive or swim left and right. In his escape path, there are rocks and other obstacles to avoid. This is where the maneuvering comes in. Some obstacles like logs can be swam under while others like rocks need to be jumped. While swimming and try to avoid obstacles, stars need to be acquired. Some of the stars or above water and is accessible while jumping obstacles. Other stars are underwater so Yello needs to dive to get them.

The stars are used to purchase different upgrades. Different characters can be purchased like Pinky. Pinky is a little bit faster and tougher than the Yello is. Other upgrades such as a rocket or magnets will help with the escape. Another good to be purchased the stars is what they call utilities. Utilities are things like head start. The longest headstart is from 1000 m away. Having started this far away will definitely help take some of the stress off being chased.

Stars can also be earned by using the in game purchasing system or liking them on Facebook.

At this point the game it gets pretty fast-moving and they also introduce different obstacles such as polar rocks they can be jumped over. The levels change a little so it’s not always possible to memorize what is coming next on the river. The Chasing Yello give the appearance of being a children’s game can be quite difficult to get quite a ways down the river away from the creepy English girl.

Fish vs. Pirates Review

Fish vs. Pirates Review

Dec 28, 2012

Over half of the world is covered in water. For anyone who’s ever watched a nature documentary, it’s pretty obvious marine life can be quite a day-to-day battle. Fish vs. Pirates is an underwater defense game where fish need to protect against attacking fish Pirates.

The incoming Pirates swim in a straight line. By placing the defending fish in the direct path, it’s easy in the beginning to ward off the attackers. More than one fish can be placed in the same row so both fish are attacking at the same time. As the need for more than one fish needs to be placed on the screen to defend from the attacking pirates, there becomes a shortage of pearls.

Gain more pearls to be able to add a better defense by placing oysters in locations on the screen. The problem with just placing the oysters anywhere is they take up valuable spots for the defending fish. Ideally keep all of the oysters to the farthest back row.

In progressive levels, different types of fish and sea life are available to play a defensive role against the Pirates. Snails, starfish and various other types of fish all have their pros and cons to adding them into the defensive line up. For example, snails are better at withstanding damage from attacking pirates. The downside is the snails shoot a lot slower.

As the defensive lineup gets stronger, so does the strength of the Pirates. Pirates will start out with a few weaker fish and get bigger more plentiful as well. There’s just something about seeing a shark dressed up for the pirate to make for a fun defense game. Main menu, click the book icon to get a better description of the fish and the Pirates. Having a better idea about the fish and the Pirates will help to line up the right defensive fish against the attacking pirates.

Theme Thursday: Z Fish

Theme Thursday: Z Fish

Apr 26, 2012

It occurred to me that after doing so many of these Theme Thursday blogs that sometimes more attention is paid to more serious, usually darker themes. It is good to reach out and look at a great theme that is more likely to be found in a local coffee shop as opposed to a board room. This week is a beautiful Asian-inspired theme from Zero Designs called Z Fish. As the name implies, the main wallpaper is an authentic looking Japanese ink painting of a bright red fish leaping out of the water. The entire theme carries out the inky black on tan parchment color scheme and is sure to give an incredibly unique feel to any Android device. Unfortunately, for some reason the wallpaper has a ton of pixel noise that can be very distracting and really ruins the whole feel. And, like other themes that specifically dwell in the monochromatic realm – including apps that have icons that do not come with the theme – this is a problem. There is no option to simply turn the icons to grayscale, and even though they are encompassed in a inky black halo the bright colors seem very out of place against the muted, natural tones of the rest of the theme.

All the icons look great, and give a wonderful feeling of being truly handmade. Again, this feeling is tempered by the unsupported app icons but that is to be expected. The app does not come with an amazing number of icons but the necessary ones are included. In order to take this app to the next level, the developers need to take the time to really put out some quality icons for common apps like many other themes that I have reviewed in the past.

For anyone who uses GO Launcher’s weather app, GO Weather there is a skin for the weather widget that is a skin available on the Play Store that makes the time and weather appear to be a classic Asian watercolor painting. I had used this theme before and it never worked with any other theme until I started using Z Fish. The Widget skin works beautifully with the Launcher theme and it would be a mistake not to install the two side by side.

Grow Review

Grow Review

May 5, 2011

UPDATE 5/9/11: In my review, I made the observation that locked items in the store didn’t include any information on how to unlock them. Since this review went up, a new version of Grow was released (1.01) which includes details on on how to unlock items in the store. The original score still stands, however, as it was only an observation and didn’t factor into the final score, which is based on graphics/sound, controls, gameplay and replay value.

Growing up, I remember having an aquarium with half a dozen goldfish. Aside from the occasional frenzy you’d get out of them at dinner time, they were pretty much the most boring things in the world. Certainly, they were a lot less interesting than what’s going on in Grow.

Grow focuses on the harrowing tale of a young fish just getting its start in life. As the fish, you must struggle your way through a number of environments, beginning in a small jar and eventually making your way to the open sea. As you make your way through the game, you meet a variety of fish, and then eat them. Or, they eat you. It’s truly a “survival of the fittest” scenario, where having a brain, the ability to reason and a variety of power-ups can make all the difference.

You have power-ups that make you swim faster, turn invisible, become temporarily larger or zap the fish around you, stunning them just long enough for you to either escape or capture them, depending on which way you’re swimming. Every time you eat a fish, a number of coins comes out, which you’ll have to collect if you want to buy upgrades from the store. You can upgrade your agility, buy an instant transformation into adulthood, or upgrade the power-ups, making them more effective and longer-lasting. Unfortunately, here’s where I encountered my first major snag.

A lot of the items in the store are locked, so you can’t buy them even if you have enough coins. How do you unlock them? I have no idea. If it was ever explained, I never saw it. After playing through the whole game and ranking 2 or more stars on each level, many of the upgrades remain locked. And, believe me, that’s a bummer, because I really could have used them in some of the later levels. The game gets very difficult towards the end.

There are 64 levels to play through across 7 different environments in Adventure mode. In most levels, you start out small, only able to eat fish the same size as you. As you eat, you grow until you become big enough to eat all the other fish and finish the level. In other levels, the goal is merely to survive.

Then you have Survival mode, which places you in an endless game of eat or be eaten, competing for the highest score in each of the 7 environments. As much as I enjoyed Adventure mode, Survival mode is the reason I’ll keep coming back. It was a good idea to include more than one way to play, as each person who plays Grow will likely prefer one mode over the other.

Despite my troubles with unlocking items in the store, Grow is still a fantastic game which I thoroughly enjoyed. Hopefully, the developers will address the problems in future updates and make this great game even better.

Super Medusa Review

Super Medusa Review

Apr 26, 2011

If there’s one thing that mobile phones do well, apart from making calls, it’s action-puzzle games. The bite-sized nature of mobile gaming means developers are constantly trying to cram more and more excitement into every level of their fiendishly difficult creations, turning sedate brain benders into frantic, quick thinking reaction-time testers. We’ve come a long way since Tetris.

Super Medusa is a fine example of this fledgling genre, testing not just your timing and reflexes, but taxing your grey matter as well. A cutesy game in both sight and sound, it casts you in the role of a constantly bouncing jellyfish. Using the accelerometer, you tilt your phone to guide the buoyant Cnidaria in a quest to free its fishy friends, who have somehow become encased in different coloured blocks. You bash said blocks with your head, and once you’ve freed all the fish in a level, you move onto the next.

Of course, it’s not as simple as all that. Your jellyfish can only break blocks that are the same colour as it, which means you’ll have to find the star blocks on each level that let you change colour. Add to that the different varieties of predator that patrol the undersea realm, all of whom will kill you instantly if you come into contact with them, and the game becomes an addictive, frustrating, bobbing joy.

Super Medusa is a lot of fun, mixing elements of classic platformers with a hefty pinch of block-breaking puzzler and a visual style that’s pleasing on the eye but never provides any “wow” moments. There are levels enough to keep you entertained, but things do get a little samey sometimes; Super Medusa lacks the visual chicanery that other titles employ to keep your eyes and your mind interested.

This isn’t a game that you’ll lose hours in, but it is one that can easily while away a boring commute or a lonely lunch break. The charming art style and distinctly old school sounds are almost certain to bring a smile to your face, just don’t expect your play time to extend into the wee small hours and you won’t be disappointed.