Thursday Appdate: Fish Out Of Water!

Thu, Apr 18, 2013

Arcade, Casual, Frisky Misc, iPad, iPhone, Mobile

Halfbrick is back (not just half-back) with a brand new game, and it’s the Editor’s Choice this week as the iOS App Store updates. Fish Out Of Water, their newest plunge into the mobile mirth market, just came out today. Is it as fun as stealing jetpacks and slicing fruit? It is — and despite feeling like a horse of a different color when compared to their prior titles, Fish Out Of Water (or FOOW) has all of the usual Halfbrick strengths: immediately fun and approachable gameplay, shamefully addictive music, clever writing, and an endless cavalcade of short-term goals to complete while enjoying the overall game objective.

If you’ve played a game like Burrito Bison or Toss the Turtle, you’re halfway to understanding FOOW. The “launch game” genre has been around for a while, full of games that challenge players to fling hapless critters for long distances, and at its core, that’s what you’re doing in FOOW — but actually succeeding and scoring well requires more nuance, and nimble use of FOOW’s touch controls. To begin with, you take one of your available fish, and grab them with your finger, and then personally fling them at the trajectory you drag across the screen. Changing the launch from a test of reflexes to one of precision is only the beginning; since you’re flinging your fish across the surface of the water rather than the impenetrable ground, you won’t skip further unless you’ve got the right angle and speed. So long as you can keep your fish skipping on the surface, you’ll get a longer distance — so, the object is to literally keep your fish out of water. Get it?

A school of six different fish are at your command, each behaving differently, including a blowfish with a more elastic ability to bounce, a dolphin who submerges and keeps swimming before leaping out again, a tiny fish who splits into his own personal school, and more. At the end, you’re judged by a team of crabs with rating cards, scored on your total distance, number of skips… and how nice the arbitrarily mean crab at the end is feeling. A single game of FOOW lasts about a minute, but in true Halfbrick fashion, you are given plenty of reasons to play many, many, many, many more times.

The primary reason, of course, is that FOOW is just plain fun. Simple to play, easy to understand, and room to endlessly improve your own in-game performance. It is casual mobile gaming at its iconic best, and easy to see why it’s the editor’s choice. The 99 cent price lends itself to a “sand dollar” joke, I’m sure, but I’m too busy still playing to come up with one.

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