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Fish Dude (Game Boy) artwork

Fish Dude (Game Boy) review

" Fish Dude is a simple game of “eat or be eaten.” The game takes place in the ocean, and you control a fish who is somewhere around the middle of the food chain. He’s pretty small and has to look out for bigger fish who will eat him, but he can also snack on the fish he finds that are smaller than he is. "

Fish Dude is a simple game of “eat or be eaten.” The game takes place in the ocean, and you control a fish who is somewhere around the middle of the food chain. He’s pretty small and has to look out for bigger fish who will eat him, but he can also snack on the fish he finds that are smaller than he is.

In each level, your fish has to eat 20 other fish while avoiding one huge fish that stalks through the level and is hungry for you alone. You catch fish by swimming into them with your mouth open (using the A button), then chewing them up by rapidly pressing the A button. The problem is that chewing takes several seconds, during which time you are easy prey for the big fish, should it happen to swim by.

Fish Dude is a fascinating portrayal of animal nature: you must hunt the other fish, yet still be on the look-out and prepared to hide or run away if the big fish approaches. It is also possible to leap out of the water to avoid the big fish, but then your fish is susceptible to the talons of passing seagulls or the claws of a crafty kitten on a sailboat. There are also other dangers beneath the water as well: a squid and a diver. As your fish eats more little fish and progresses through the stages, he grows larger and gets some teeth. He is then able to move more quickly and eat larger fish, although the big fish is still a constant threat.

There are 18 levels that get progressively harder as new predator obstacles are introduced, and the speed of the other fish increases. The underwater environment has blocks of choral and plants to hide behind and plan a strategy of sorts when dodging the big fish. It is actually possible to eat a big fish if you can grab his tail from behind, which is extremely hard to do. Nevertheless, certain levels have only big fish in them so you have no choice in this case.

You will need a lot of dexterity and cunning to play Fish Dude, yet some of the difficulty is due to things that don’t seem altogether fair. For example, the big fish has a habit of wandering off screen and reappearing again at the opposite side, making it very unpredictable as to where exactly he will pop up next. This is exciting, yet can also be really annoying, as your fish can be swimming along and can end up literally swimming right into the open mouth of the big fish who has suddenly appeared in front of him.

Your fish gets three lives before Game Over, which makes cheap deaths like the one I have just described slightly harder to bear. However, there is a password system that kicks in after the first three stages that lets you begin the game on any stage after that. This is a great little feature that means you won’t be stuck playing the first few levels over and over again if you don’t want to.

The graphics of Fish Dude are quite elementary and nothing to get excited about, and all of the levels basically look the same except for a choice of three different textures for the choral reefs. Although slightly disappointing, the graphics were I suppose adequate enough for a game like this, which is more about action and speed than anything else. Musically, Fish Dude is better than average. The music makes the best of primitive sound samples and produces ditties that are quite catchy and not half as annoying as most Game Boy music.

Overall, Fish Dude is quite an addictive game marred only by some frustrating gameplay quirks that seem a little unfair. Though repetitive, the concept itself is extremely fun and is the kind of thing that doesn't quickly get boring. Strongly recommended, if you can find it.

alecto's avatar
Community review by alecto (January 25, 2003)

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