Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fish Fillets NG

Hrmn... bizarre. The best way I can think of to explain Fish Fillets NG is Finding Nemo meets Klotski. I can't believe I just said that. Great puzzle game, though.

You're in control of two fish (fish secret agents, even) who have been given a number of missions, by a self-destructing mission-disc in a briefcase. Anyone else remember James Pond? That was an action game. This one's a logic puzzle.

You solve the missions by advancing through tiered sets of levels, each consisting of one screen. In each screen are movable objects. You have to manipulate them in such a way as to allow both fish to get to the exit point. If you manipulate them improperly, a fish dies, and you have to start over or restore from a save-point.

The levels get pretty hard - don't let the kiddy graphics fool ya. Your performance is scored by counting the number of moves it took you to complete the level; lower score = better. So it's also like golf, only not really at all. :)

Graphically, it does look like a kid's game, but it looks like a well done kid's game. It's 2D, but everything looks hand-drawn, and very nice. I believe this was initially a shareware/for-profit game, that was released under the GPL a few years after it came out, and it's got a more consistent and professional looking aesthetic than your average open-source project. Which is to say, rather than focusing on function and ignoring form, you get both.

Sonically speaking, I found the music to get a little annoying on the levels I had problems with; I just got sick of hearing it. But that's probably due to the fact that I have a non-functional brain, and I was playing the levels for longer than it would take a normal, non-hungover person to beat them. Good music, and varied in style, from typical video-game sounding music to classical piano.

I don't have much at all to say, as far as negatives go. The controls feel a bit wonky - there's delay between when you press the button and when the fish you're controling moves - but it doesn't cause premature death so it's not a big issue.

The method for saving within a level is a bit weird. Rather than doing some kind of save-state that captures where everything is, it records all your moves. When you tell it to load your save, it starts the level over, and then does everything you'd done prior to saving, at a relatively fast speed. If your last save occurred near the end of a complicated level, you end up waiting for what seemed excessive amounts of time, but only because I'm impatient.

If I were to pick something to change, that save system would be the one thing I could think of, but it only irked me in very rare circumstances. I suspect that people who love puzzle-games would be better at them than I am, and probably not need to resort to as much savin' and loadin' as I did, so it wouldn't be an issue.

In all, I have to say that this is a really good game for fans of the genre, and an enjoyable time-waster for people just looking for something to play around with. Your progress through the levels is saved automatically, and it's really easy to pick up and put down at your leisure. The levels are bite-sized enough that you can quit at any time without having to go through a painful amount of retreating, even if you didn't get a chance to save. Thumbs up!

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