Review: MonstaFish (Xbox Live)
To be honest I'm not sure how I feel about MonstaFish. It's a collection of five mini-games (two of which are available in limited form in the trial version), and none of them would really stand alone as quality titles, even at the 99c/79p minimum level in the Marketplace. So bundling them together makes sense, even more so when the title itself pops up at the same 79p mark.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
But I can't help thinking that if the individual elements of the game are not strong enough to survive on their own, there's nothing you can do to change the fact that you're paying for five rather boring games. There's no modifier or fun by bundling them together.
Each mini-game has the same basic premise - you need to clean up the ocean, which is being polluted by the MonstaFishes that invade each level. As they swim, the pollution level goes up, and if it tops out - you lose one of three lives. To be honest, it takes so long to pollute a level in game terms that I've never hit the 'lives' indicator before deciding I had played the mini-games enough.
The first self-titled game, MonstaFish, is probably the best of the bunch, but that's not saying much. You have a friendly Octopus in the corner of the screen who blows out clean bubbles. You can double-tap these bubbles to explode them (which will damage any fish close by), or you can drag bubbles towards each other to create bigger bubbles with more powerful explosions.
Two other quirks, the first is the chain reaction ability - one bubble can set off another bubble, and another, and so on, which leads to some nice points scoring patterns. You also have some bubbles which are coloured, and only affect fish of that colour - so a yellow bubble, no matter how big, will not touch a red fish.
There's a nice game in here, but it's so unbalanced as to be far too easy. On my first play I was watching the "new level" screen pop up with far too much regularity, and still not losing any lives. It's boring because the difficulty level is set so low.
The second game is Fish Hook, where you must help clear the water by rescuing the fish stranded at the bottom of the screen. You have a hook that reacts to the accelerometer in your smartphone, so tip it forward and back to lower and raise the hook, and then side to side for lateral control.
Send the hook down to the bottom of the landscape orientated screen and hook one of the bubbles that is holding a clean fish. Now bring it back to the surface, without touching any of the polluting fish swimming around the screen. It's a simple idea, and sometimes these can translate to a good game. But not here.
Now, if you only have the trial version, you've reached your decision point - shall you pay for the other three games. Frankly, there's not enough here that would convince me to make the purchase. The other three games have the same superficial style, a basic level of game play, and little thought into how the game will play after a week of use, after two weeks, or after a month.
In Fish Hunt you are looking to shoot fish off the screen, when they pass in front of a cursor, you tap, and away they go. Time attack is a simple tap on every fish that appears and you have try to keep up with the pace for three minutes. And Fish Tank has you dropping food into the top of a tank, while sweeping away the snails.
Yes, I've lost the inspiration to write anything about these 'exciting' mini games even faster than losing the will to play them in the first place.
I do wonder about developers IronSun. They have some fabulous graphical artists, whose work here is perfect for a mobile game. Their sound designers have come up with a wonderful range that keeps that side of MonstaFish exciting and always changing. It's just that they seem to have not sat down and actually played the game to see if they like it themselves before releasing it to the world.
What we have here is a technically competent title, which makes good use of graphics, sounds, and the Windows Phone sensor environment - but MonstaFish makes the criminal mistake of being a boring game.
Thankfully there's another Xbox Live title along in seven days time.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at