The developers at Last Day of Work know how to design games that work well on mobile systems, and Fish Tycoon is no exception. However, the game could still benefit from a little extra substance.
Like any game with the word “tycoon” in it, the object is to successfully develop a business and make money. In this case the player sets out to build an aquarium store and sell fish. You begin with one breeding tank, one selling tank, and some common fish eggs. After you hatch a couple common species of fish, you can start to cross breed them to create all new species. Once you obtain a healthy population, you can place some of your extra fish into the selling tank to make money. That objective is simple enough, but Fish Tycoon contains an extra storyline to keep the game interesting. The eggs that you started your fish colonies with came from a pond on the island of Isola. This pond was thriving because of the presence of 7 magical species of fish. The pond has all but dried up now, and you must cross-breed fish in order to rediscover the 7 magical species and restore balance to the Isola pond. Continuing to cross breed fish while attempting to uncover the magical species keeps the game going even after your fish store has become a huge success.
The strength of Fish Tycoon lies within its intuitive user interface. All the commands are easily executed by a tap or drag of the stylus. The 3 main screens are the fish tank screens, the supply shop, and an overhead view of customers shopping in your aquarium store. Each is accessed by hitting a clearly visible tab or button. To breed fish you simply drag a fish from one of the breeding tanks to a small isolation tank at the bottom of the screen and drag another fish on top of it. While the fish is in the isolation tank you can view its “species stats” which detail what that particular fish?s parent-species were and how much that species of fish sells for. At times the fish will become sick and you must purchase the correct medicines from the supply shop to cure them, otherwise their health will eventually decline and they?ll infect the other fish in your tank. Of course, the cheaper option is to just throw away the sick fish instead. The supply shop also has a slew of items that can be purchased to help your aquarium store. There are decorative items that increase the number of customers that stop by, vitamins to improve fish health, rare eggs, items to improve fish tank environment quality, and 3 categories that you can put time and money into researching. The three researchable categories are: advertisement, which brings in more customers and lets you charge more money for your fish, food research, which allows you to develop better food to feed your fish less often and helps ward off disease, and fish tank research, which allows you to grow fragile hybrid species that would otherwise die as juveniles. Purchasing and using any of these items only requires simple stylus taps or dragging items into your fish tank, all well designed for PDA systems.
The sounds in the game are pretty basic, but work fine for a PDA. The graphics are done rather well, with real digital pictures of aquariums as the backgrounds. All the different species of fish are brightly colored and easy to distinguish from each other. I don?t know what the total number of fish species is, but I know it?s a lot and will keep you playing the game for a long time in order to discover them all. As of the time of writing this review I had played the game for 709 real-time hours, discovered 91 species of fish and 3 magic fish. The game keeps track of all of these stats and then some.
Everything in the game is well designed and easy to access, use, and play. However, Fish Tycoon?s shortcoming is just its level of absolute substance. There just isn?t quite enough game here. Creating new breeds of fish and pimping out your aquariums are fun, but can be accomplished in 2 minute intervals about once a day. The fish also grow in real time, even when your PDA is off, so you do have to come back to the game once or twice a day at least to keep your tanks in top shape. While that does keep the game interesting, and keeps you coming back to maintain your fish while trying to rediscover the 7 magical breeds, the game could really benefit from a mini-game or more options. Perhaps a master breeding chart that fills in as you discover which species give rise to new species would be a useful review tool in attempting to create as many new species as possible for the game. Or if the player was given more ways to set up the outside of your aquarium store or interact with customers. As it is you feed your fish, treat their diseases, breed a couple of them and then turn the power off to wait a few hours to see what new fish species you?ve created. Anything extra to keep you playing for more than 2-5 minutes at a time would have made this a top-notch PDA game. What?s here is good, but like a greedy kid on Christmas morning, you definitely wish there was just a little more.