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Genre: Simulation
Min OS X: 10.3    CPU: Any CPU    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 50 MB    Graphics: 640x480 @ 16-bit, 32 MB VRAM

March 26, 2009 | Jack Shiels

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Fish are a very temperamental species. Anyone who has possessed one in the past will know - one false move and it’s the toilet for your pet. Many a fish may die in the effort to find the correct water temperature or calcium levels for a tank.

FishCo aims to simplify the process a little. A fish life simulator, FishCo tries with a halfhearted effort that leaves it feeling flaky and cheap. The gameplay may be somewhat satisfying, but this does little to cover up poor presentation.

As with most sim games, there are several objectives to meet when playing FishCo, eg sell 7 tetras and earn $60 within 4 minutes. FishCo manages to execute the gameplay fairly well, with a wide selection of fish species and various other water features to add variation to the game. Breeding fish is fairly easy and doesn’t require much help, bar a very simple tutorial.

The tutorial teaches you as you play through the game’s large feature set. This is handy, as a full-on thorough teaching would take way too long and it encourages you to master the basics before moving on.

Overall it is good fun and there are various extras available, but as I said earlier, it feels like a halfhearted game—much like most of the casual titles these days. I really wish that the genre would become a little more innovative—al la World of Goo—than these run-of-the-mill games.

The game is rendered entirely in 2D, meaning there are none of the visual niceties that a full on 3D aquatic experience would have to offer. This was probably one of the most disappointing things about the game. I was hoping for something like this. It is a real shame that they skimped on it. The fish take the worst hit - they have a very poor looking animation and seem to move at around 5 frames-per-second. In the end it is a victim of multiplatform development and having to cater to the lowest common denominator (like your granny’s 1.4 Ghz Pentium II in the attic).

The main menu presentation is fairly basic. The buttons have a distinct “aqua” styling, but that’s about it. Overall I wasn't very impressed with the quality at all.

Sound was the only positive. I found the music very relaxing, perfectly suited for the experience. The main menu and interface clicks were just as you would expect, so no worries there.

Value wise there is plenty to do. The game has three different modes, including story play, free play and a sandbox tank to fool around in. There are plenty of features and even a screen saver mode, though the game has to be activated for it to work.

This was one of the redeeming qualities of FishCo and I was very happy with the bang-for-buck ratio.

FishCo has plenty to do, but unfortunately it doesn’t attempt to break the mould. The graphics were poor and I was very disappointed with the lack of any 3D rendering throughout.

If you like the genre, go and buy FishCo, you’ll get you money’s worth. Other than that, I would have difficulty recommending it to anyone but the casual gamer.

• Plenty of stuff to do
• Easy to learn

• Horrendous graphics
• A bit boring after a while

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