Newest Review: ... Trouble can arise when you leave the game set to double time over night as the fish will almost certainly die! However for the impatien... more
Member Name: kiss_me_now9
Advantages: Can be found very cheaply online, bright colours, easy to understand, kids like it
Disadvantages: Can be hard to get started, may lose interest
I first played Fish Tycoon way back in the mid 2000s, after a friend at school showed me the online version. From day one I was hooked; the game is instantly appealing and easy on the eye. It can either be played online or downloaded from a website such as Last Day of Work or Big Fish Games for a small fee (I paid £2 with a discount voucher, there are loads around if you google them).
The basic premise of the game is that you own a fish store and you breed fish in order to stock it. You can then sell the babies when they've grown up or keep them forever theoretically. The fish can get diseases such as ick or fungus which you have to cure by buying medicine for it. They need feeding regularly, just like real fish otherwise they'll die. The only difference is that they can't die of old age! Feeding and caring for the fish is simple, just click on the item you need in the four slots of the top left hand corner of the game screen and drag it onto the tank. The game plays out in either real time, 1/2 real time, double speed or no speed progression (with the last option essentially freezing your fish in time, so that they won't die if you're on holiday etc.). Trouble can arise when you leave the game set to double time over night as the fish will almost certainly die! However for the impatient among us, it's handy to have the different speed settings as it means you can speed up the process of creating more fish and selling them.
Whilst this game sounds simple and is one that undoubtedly kids and teenagers with time to kill will love, it also has a quite in depth side when it comes to fish breeding. You start off with a bunch of eggs and when they grow to adult size, you can drag the fish into a smaller holding tank at the bottom of the screen to breed them. Once one fish is pregnant, you have to wait a few hours before it gives birth to baby fish. The tanks have a limited capacity though so if you have a full tank and make all your fish pregnant, they won't have any babies unless a fish dies before they give birth. Sick fish can not get pregnant. The complicated part comes in when you consider the games real objective - to breed the 7 magical fish of the Isola isle (for those who recognise the name, it's the same name as the island in the Virtual Villagers game series). Magical fish each have their own individual benefits that they bring to the tank - fertility, longevity, fullness etc. You always start off with the same one magical fish, as it's impossible to breed other magical fish without it (it's the fish of fertility). From there the game world is your oyster; you can choose to focus on breeding the magical fish as soon as possible or you can go down the route of trying to be as rich as possible. Personally, I'd recommend the latter as a better game strategy.
Why you say? Because the more you breed fish, the more breeds you come up with. And the more complex breeds need more accurate environments, just like real fish. More accurate environments, cleaner tanks, better food etc. are all available in the shop - but they're not cheap. You need to slowly build your money up so that you can buy all the things you need to support your more fragile fish long enough for them to reproduce. Your quest for the magical fish of Isola is going to be long and hard and more logical people than me write down the different combinations of fish and what they produce and post it on the web for all the world to see. However I think that ruins the game a bit! The fun is trying to figure out what combinations work to make pretty fish, what sell high, what sell low and what combinations make magical fish.
Now, the downsides of the game. For younger people, and for those who are hard pressed for time, this can be hard to stay on top of especially if you're like me and you forget what speed setting you're on. As a student I have unlimited hours in the day to play around on my laptop so it's not a massive issue for me! Secondly, the difficulty setting hard is really... well, hard. In order to get your first fish to survive long enough to reproduce, you need to be completely attentive to their needs until you have enough money to buy more eggs if they all die. If all your fish die and you can't afford any more eggs, that's it, game over. It's also quite hard to hit on the correct combination of fish to breed the 7 magical fish that you need unless you look it up on the internet.
Another nice bonus of this game is that you can use your fish tank as a screensaver, so you can keep an eye on your fish all the time. I never use this though so I don't know how good it is/accurate it is.
Overall I love this game and even though I never get very far before all my fish die because I tend to forget I have it installed, I keep coming back again to it and enjoy spending my time on it. It's not time consuming if you don't want it to be, but it can be a time drain if you let it!
Summary: You really have no excuses to not give this a shot if you find it for under £3!