Welcome to another installment of Thursday Throwdown, a weekly feature here on Frisky Mongoose that takes a look at two or more similar Facebook games and then lets you decide which game is superior. Last week, we took a look at Cafe World and Restaurant City, and while the voting is still open on that one, as of now, you guys have made it pretty clear that Cafe World is your favorite, with a 56% to 44% advantage in Zynga and Cafe World’s favor. But of course, this is just public opinion after all, and there are just as many reasons to love Restaurant City as there are Cafe World, so we’re all winners in the end.
This week, we’re going to move to an entirely different genre of Facebook games – the aquarium genre, taking a look at not just two games, but three: Zynga’s FishVille, CrowdStar’s Happy Aquarium, and TallTree’s Fish World.
According to the latest figures from AppData, in terms of pure user numbers, Happy Aquarium is leading the pack with a little more than 19 million monthly users, while FishVille’s most recent figures has it at a very respectable 17.9 million players. Fish World, while not nearly as popular, still draws in around 3.5 million monthly active players.
Before asking you, our loyal readers, to give your opinion on which game is best, let’s take a look at what makes them both comparable and different. For starters, each game allows you to purchase fish, feed them, clean your tank, and then sell your fish for a profit (although in the case of Happy Aquarium, this isn’t so black and white). You’ll unlock new fish as you level up, and can play through a very “rinse and repeat” process until you eventually become master of your underwater domain. All three games allow for you to decorate your tank, visit your friends’ tanks and send them free gifts. It’s after this point that the differences start to become clear.
Perhaps the most game-changing difference found between the games is the concept of fish death – quite simply put: Do your fish die if you don’t play the game? To answer the question just as simply, in both Fish World and FishVille, your fish can and will die without proper attention, while in Happy Aquarium, they will not. But it’s actually more complicated than that.
Where Happy Aquarium fish will live forever, they will also stop growing if they haven’t been fed. In terms of FishVille, simply not feeding your fish doesn’t cause them to die instantly; instead, they’ll become sick, extending the amount of time you have to feed them before they do eventually die. You’ll heal them with medicine, which you earn in small amounts for free everyday upon logging into the game. Finally, in Fish World, even a dead fish doesn’t mean the end of the world, as your friends can visit your tank and revive them, for free, rather than forcing you to pay real funds to revive them yourself.
Another major difference comes when you attempt to sell your fish. In FishVille and Fish World, simply keeping your fish alive long enough for them to grow allows you to sell them for a profit (that is, older fish are worth more than the younger ones), while in Happy Aquarium, you’ll make your fish more valuable by training them to do tricks via a side-scrolling mini-game that has you avoiding various obstacles like umbrellas and underwater mines. If you don’t want to take the time to train your fish, you’ll never really get anywhere, as fish are then sold without you making any real profit.
Fish World also contains a striking difference when comparing it to the other two games, in that you can travel to your friends’ tanks and actually steal some of their fish. This is a smart move when you steal a fish that’s already grown, as you can, after a short waiting period (to prevent abuse of the system) sell the fish for a profit after doing no work or very little work to raise it yourself.
Recently, FishVille added its own new feature to help set itself apart from the others, in the form of Fish Mastery. Fish Mastery allows you to grow a certain fish repeatedly, to earn coins and mastery points that go to your overall level for that particular fish family (say, Butterflyfish, as an example). In doing so, you’ll unlock new fish that are otherwise unavailable to you.
As for other differences, you’ll find the following:
- Happy Aquarium offers item collections, like shells (and more recently Easter Eggs), where you’ll collect said objects by searching through treasure chests found in both your and your friends’ tanks. The closest thing to this in FishVille is an oyster bed, which allows you to accumulate oysters and earn coins from them on a daily basis.
- Happy Aquarium and FishVille both contain a treasure chest that offers a daily reward, like coins, experience points and so on, where Fish World does not.
- Happy Aquarium contains no gift box, meaning that whatever items you’re given (either by friends, or through CrowdStar promotions) are automatically dropped into your tank. Both FishVille and Fish World contain gift boxes, allowing you to handle your free gifts at your leisure.
- Fish World has no problem ignoring the concept of realism in their fish design, offering items like a Lucky Fish (in the shape of a horseshoe) or an Irish Fish in the colors of the Irish Flag for St. Patrick’s Day, as an example. Meanwhile, both Happy Aquarium and FishVille offer their own whimsical items, but these are mostly decorative and therefore not an attempt at creating an entirely new (and impossible) species of fish.
- FishVille contains Superfoods like Caffeine and Super Grow (fish can go longer without being fed, or instantly grow a bit towards maturity), while the others do not.
- Fish World contains a lottery system that allows you to pick five numbers and enter for a chance to win great prizes, while the other two games do not.
All told, the above are just a small sampling of the differences found between all three games. Are they the most important differences, or do they even matter? That much will be left up to you to decide, along with telling us which game you think is the best. There’s no right or wrong answer here – we’re just interested in knowing which game you like or play the most. Do you not play any of them? Then feel free to use the above information as a bit of a guide to decide which games’ waters to dive into.
After you vote in the poll below, feel free to leave us any opinions you may have about the three games (what makes them great, or not so much) in the comments section. We’d love to hear what you think of the aquarium genre as a whole, so let your voice be heard, and be sure to check back with us next week as we compare more of your favorite Facebook games in another Thursday Throwdown!