“To write a review – this is the job – I have been tasked to do – so help me Bob”. Okay, so I’m never going to write an homage to Dr. Seuss. I can’t necessarily say I’m a big fan of his work either, though it stands to reason that by the age of 37 I might have outgrown such things. I have to give the man credit, however – it’s impressive to see the legacy he made out of works of fiction that half the time don’t make any sense. Whether you’re familiar with his works or not, most everyone knows about the Cat In The Hat. It’s the timeless tale of two bored kids on a rainy day and the “concerned” cat that comes to bring them out of their doldrums. I never really considered before what, if anything, might make a good game based off of this story. I think Oceanhouse Media and NimbleBit have done a pretty good job with Up With A Fish.
If you’ve ever played Scoops you’ll be immediately familiar with the basic game play. You are the cat, and your job is to catch all of the objects that are falling from the sky. You start with a fishbowl on your head, complete with water and a fish. You tilt the device back and forth such that your hat is under the objects so they can rest on top of the pile that will build up on your hat. Every time you catch a fishbowl it will destroy all the objects on top of the highest fishbowl on your hat, and at that time you’ll score points equivalent to 10 times the current multiplier for each object. Then the multiplier goes up by one.
You can miss objects without any penalty. However, you can only miss three fishbowls before the game is over. Occasionally a thing (thing 1 or thing 2) will drop from the sky, and you want to avoid them. If you accidentally catch one of them all the objects on your stack will be destroyed (except for fishbowls), but you won’t get any points. That’s all there is to the game. It’s nice and simple, but the kids should really enjoy it. For that matter, I actually think it’s kind of fun. It could definitely stand some incentives, however, like maybe achievements via OpenFeint integration or something.
The graphics are pure Dr. Seuss, as only seems fitting. In fact, it almost looks like the artist traced images right from the pages of the Dr. Seuss books. Some may find the style a bit old fashioned, but personally I think that’s part of the charm. I also love how the background patterns fade out and in every once in a while to reveal a new design. While a basic premise, changing the background is something that’s often neglected in simpler games, yet it’s amazing how something so trite can keep you from getting bored with the visuals. All that’s really lacking is much in the way of animation. There’s a bit when objects are destroyed with a “poof”, but the stillness of everything is so painfully obvious as you drop the last fishbowl and get to see the cat, which is basically a static image.
The sound effects in Up With A Fish are great. The funny thing is they aren’t even anything out of the ordinary. However, the developer did something that so many are too lazy to do, especially with a simple game like this – they made the sound effects fit the objects. How many games do you play where every gun sounds the same, or all the monsters sound alike? It’s refreshing to hear a unique noise for each object that lands on the pile. The only negative is the grating noise the things make. I still haven’t decided what it sounds like, but it’s not pleasant. The music certainly fits the atmosphere, and I can almost picture the cat dancing along to the tune. I know I certainly find my head bobbing with the beat from time to time.
Up With A Fish doesn’t break any new ground, and there’s really not a whole lot to the game. What it does is provide good, solid fun in a simple package. Plus, it gives you something that you can enjoy with your kids with no worries about exposing them to anything they shouldn’t see. And if you happen to slip in a few games on your own while no one else is looking…