Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Fish Tank

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            iFun4All’s latest PSP Minis offering, Fish Tank, is now available for download on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable (PSP) via the PlayStation Store. Perfectly fitting with the title of the channel which hosts it, Fish Tank is a compact puzzle game that is ideally suited for short bursts of play.

            Presenting the player with “Play” as the foremost option, Fish Tank decides it’s default mode is an endless run that behaves in the same way as many such classic puzzle games; the player continues to play until all options have been exhausted – in this case, a full quota of the earned “miss” tally. Fish TankElectronic Theatre Image is a fairly traditional Match-4 title in essence (although the press materials prior to release and its information page on the PlayStation Store oddly refer to it as a “Match-3” title) with the fish a player must correctly match swimming into play from the left of the screen, facing the player’s grid on the right. The player moves the fish up-and-down the screen placing them inline with fish of the same colour already in the grid. When four of the fish of the same colour are connected, a Face Button symbol will appear over them, and pressing the button will remove the fish, adding to your score.

Building combos in this manner is of course easy to grasp and of significant benefit to your score, as is the essence of any score-based Match-4 puzzle game. With each successive combo, the player is allowed more misses. Misses are given when either a column fills and the player attempts to add another fish to it – knocking the bottom fish out of play – or the combo time limit expires. Fish Tank demands so little of the player in terms of skill once the basics have beenElectronic Theatre Image learned that many will find several minutes of tedious combo-popping at the start of any new game before any sense of challenge is established, relegating the Play option to a secondary option, despite it’s position on the menu screen.

The Challenge Mode is essentially the tutorial and the core of the game’s longevity featuring twenty-four increasingly difficult stages. Each stage requires a set number of combos for completion, awarding a higher rank (read: better shell) for achieving a greater number of combos. Beginning simply with just two fish types, the Challenge Mode quickly builds into that which its name suggests, sending a constant stream of different coloured fish towards the player’s grid at a dangerous pace. Completion of each stage awards the player with another segment of the Progress Map, also available from the Main Menu, suggesting that Challenge Mode was actually intended to be the core gameplay element of Fish Tank, and that there maybe have been some crossed wires between the artist and design team in this respect.

In other areas however, Fish Tank is a charmingly colourful game. Each of the fish are distinctive though retaining a certain common, friendly cartoon aesthetic, and   the animations are just detailed enough to Electronic Theatre Imageremain attractive. The power-ups, of which eight are available each offering different effects, are occasionally hard to distinguish, possibly causing issues with mistakes in their implementation. A minor annoyance rather than a catastrophic issue perhaps, but one that could easily have been avoided. The sound is your generic aquatic puzzle game affair, nothing too remarkable but far from irritating.

Fish Tank doesn’t do anything new, but was it does offer is never less than a pleasant play experience. The element of challenge may be missed by regular puzzle game players, but as a taster for those new to gaming Fish Tank finds its place in the market. PSP Minis titles were always intended to be “small yet mighty downloadable games”, and Fish Tank comes fairly close to the mark in that respect.Electronic Theatre Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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