Fantastic Fishies is a new iOS game from Kama Games. The new title is an updated version of Everywhere Inc’s Fish Tales, which we reviewed back in February. Fish Tales is still available on the App Store, but starting it now simply directs players to download and play Fantastic Fishies instead.
Fantastic Fishies is almost identical to Fish Tales. Players are presented with an empty aquarium and are tasked with filling it with a wide variety of different fictional fish. Fish in the aquarium must be kept well-fed in order to reach maturity, at which point they may be sold for profit or evolved into different types of related fish. Only a limited number of fish may be in the aquarium at any one time, so selling unwanted or unneeded fish becomes a necessity after a certain period of play.
The game features a light degree of socialization — players are able to visit neighbors’ aquariums even if they are not already friends. Once there, players may feed their neighbor’s fish or clean up any dirt in the tank, add the neighbor as a friend or write on their “wall.” Unfortunately, as is the norm for communities surrounding games of this type, said wall tends to descend into nothing but a stream of people posting “Add Me” messages and little else.
The game connects to Facebook, allowing players to share their achievements, quest completion and photographs of their aquarium on the social network, thereby (in theory) attracting new players to the game. Game Center is also used, with a selection of 40 achievements available for players to chase alongside a leaderboard of how many total fish players have acquired. There is so far no evidence of the leaderboard hacking that blighted Fish Tales, with the current No. 1 player in the world having just 180 fishes as opposed to the 1,215,752,191 the top Fish Tales player supposedly has.
Monetization is, like Fish Tales, handled through the game’s hard currency of gems. These may be used for a variety of purposes — hurrying the maturation process of fish, purchasing premium items and unlocking additional content. Gems may also be spent on the new “Jackpot” feature, which randomly awards players with a special item that has a chance of being worth more than the gems spent. The “Jackpot” facility has a 100% win rate, but something worth the stakes is not guaranteed.
The trouble with Fantastic Fishies, like its predecessor, is that it all seems rather aimless. Tasks show up at the side of the screen and provide a degree of direction to the experience, but there’s little incentive for the player to progress beyond simply “gotta catch ’em all.” To be fair, this impetus works just fine for Nintendo’s Pokémon series, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work here — were it not for the fact that there’s nothing the player can do with their fish once they’ve acquired them. Over time, they simply become a “cash crop,” used to fund more ambitious breeding projects.
It’s also not entirely clear why the game has been migrated to an entirely new app when its differences from Fish Tales are minor at best. It’s also not explained whether or not it’s possible to restore progress from a Fish Tales account to Fantastic Fishies, meaning that at least some players will find themselves having to start all over again. Players do not like it when they lose progress due to something beyond their control, so hopefully the process of restoring previously-acquired goodies will be made clearer in the future — if indeed it is possible at all.
There are also a few bugs present in the game — most notably, at one point a “Rate this app” popup appeared that was impossible to dismiss. The game’s interface still worked “through” the popup, but its large size made it impossible to see what was going on. The issue was solved by simply quitting and restarting the game, but this really should have been caught prior to launch.
Fantastic Fishies is ultimately a well-presented but unremarkable game. Its simple social features and easy to understand gameplay will likely ensure it finds a good audience over time, but its lack of direction and clearly-defined long-term goals may see players jumping ship before long.
You can follow Fantastic Fishies’ progress through the App Store charts with AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.