|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Big Fish Games / Last Day of Work||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 16, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The two main areas players will spend most of their time with are the aquariums where you run your operation and the fish store where you try to make your business thrive. Fish Tycoon transitioned from 2D to 3D in its move to the DS, which was a good thing for the most part. None of the graphics in either section are particularly amazing, but the aquarium is easily the most visually appealing area of the game.
Your fish will swim around happily against a watery backdrop - complete with sand, rocks, plants, bubbles, and other to-be-expected features - which can be customized with different items. The music and constant bubbling sound is soothing, and there's a Zen-like quality about the aquarium. In contrast, the store is bright and colorful, yet visually underwhelming. Customers are goofy looking and extremely pixilated. It's unfortunate you have to sit and wait around in the store until they buy all of the fish on sale.
On the whole, the menu and on-screen button presentation feels extremely cramped. Even with the information spread between both screens, a lot of selection elements had to be crammed into a limited space on the smaller screen. Having to bounce between several different screens to access all the menu items can be a pain at times when previously the bulk the controls were neatly arranged on a single screen in the PC version. The stylus controls are intuitive and simple. You'll be tapping icons, nabbing fish to move them to different tanks, and grabbing and dragging the screen around to move the view. There is a slight learning curve to grasping the mechanics of fish breeding and running the business, but you shouldn't have any problems with the controls.
It's easy to get lost in the breeding and business aspect of the game, completely forgetting the overarching goal is to discover the seven magical fish of Isola. When players do stumble upon one of the magical species, the fish will bestow benefits to the other fish in its tank depending on which one you discover. The first magical fish comes fairly quickly and increases the fertility of other fish in its tank. The others are harder to discover but bestow bonus such as increased health, a need for less food, the ability for wilder mutations, and more. Over 750 different fish species combinations are possible - almost double the amount of the PC game. A constant need to purchase improvements for your tanks, research new technologies to sustain more exotic fish, and get useful items to boost your populations gives you other goals to work towards.
The underlying gameplay in Fish Tycoon on the DS is easily as good as its PC counterpart, and the ability to take your aquarium with you on the go should make picking up the handheld version a no-brainer for anyone who enjoyed the original. A few pacing issues, visual blips, and minor quirks with the menu presentation aren't a complete killjoy considering the rest of the game is rock-solid.
CCC Freelance Writer