Rekoo Launches Sunshine DeepSea on Facebook

It’s been a while since we heard any news from Chinese developer, Rekoo. Having had great successes late last year with both Animal Paradise and Sunshine Ranch, the company has been hard at work with a new social game, Sunshine DeepSea. Having first launched the title in Mixi of Japan, the company tells us that it has been quite successful within that market for both the web and mobile devices. Only recently, however, has the title become available within North America – on Facebook, of course – and it already garners over 300,000 monthly active users.

At its core, Sunshine DeepSea is essentially another virtual aquarium game in the long line of such titles. Players buy fish, feed fish, grow fish, sell fish… one fish, two fish, red fish… wait…. With the coin they earn, gold, as well as the virtual currency, K-Coins, players buy new fish and decorate their virtual space.

However, this is where similarities begin to dissolve. Users do not actually raise an aquarium, but fish within the ocean itself. Granted, there have been games in the past that have stated they were in the ocean – such as Little Rock Pool or Ocean World – but they really only came down to a single static screen. DeepSea, on the other hand, literally lives up to its title.

While the player cannot move about the ocean in a horizontal fashion, they can, in fact, dive down deep; very, very deep. Rather than buy new aquariums, players expand their space vertically into the black abyss of the ocean’s depths. Of course, in order to unlock these depths, players have to be X level and have a chunk of gold on hand. If they do meet the requirements, then new types of fish can now be purchased for those levels of the ocean.

What is most enticing about these deeper areas, however, is a very mainstream concept called indirect control. Players want to get there, not necessarily because they want more room to decorate, but out of curiosity. Hidden in the depths are two silhouetted objects. There is a beady-eyed cave, of sorts, that says something is “shining” inside in one part of the darkened deep, and at the bottom of the ocean is a mermaid. Obviously, the user has no idea what these do, but they are inclined to find out, especially when you click and the game says things like “It is too far to hear that.”

In addition to just these silhouettes, the game also shows a mermaid getting captured (or something) right as you first load the game. Now, presumably, you can save her, but since you have not done the tutorial yet, you have no idea how, as she gets dragged to the bottom of the sea screaming your name for help (great, now we feel guilty, too). Though we haven’t reached the bottom yet, we assume you use a feature called “Sunshine” to melt the ice she is encased in (something that you learn to do when your fish get frozen – don’t ask why they do, they just do).

Socially, Sunshine DeepSea also brings a lot more to the table than other virtual aquarium games. Yes, there are still leaderboards, and you can visit and help out friends, but there are a few things that you have to use your friends to accomplish. For example, players can actually earn a killer whale for their world. However, in order to do so, they must get the help of five friends. This not only looks awesome, but actually doubles all earned experience.

Another power item is a shipwreck, complete with the lights still flickering. Evidently, it can be salvaged, but you must ask friends, via your feed, for salvaging materials such as diving suits, steel, rope, and so on. There are five items needed with five of each after that. Of course, those that play can always gift these as well, and once the total has been acquired, users can explore the wreck in search of treasure. Frankly, it’s a very creative way to use the social graph.

Though DeepSea has come into play past the prime of virtual aquariums, it still holds pretty strong. The only real complaint is that there is an extremely small selection of decorations to choose from. This is made up for slightly by the fact that players can reshape and scale them like images in a Photoshop file, but of the 15 available, four are retextured starfish and two are retextured plants.

Regardless, Sunshine DeepSea has all the fun qualities that Rekoo’s past Facebook apps have had, so it certainly is a nice rendition of a now common genre. True, the decorative elements are a bit limiting, but most of the focus seems to be on the expansion of the world and the fish themselves anyway. Of course, more will likely be flushed out in the future. Basically, if you’re looking for a new virtual aquarium app to play, or you just haven’t found one you like, this is one worth checking out.