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Monstafish (PC) artwork

Monstafish (PC) review

"Swim away."

iOS gaming is the new, exciting platform that's all the rage with casual gamers. I know, even saying that much maligned phrase leaves no small amount of bile in my mouth, but it's silly to pretend that the people who have never owned a console and don't much care for them outnumber those of us that do, and these are the people widely targeted. Still, though, often the time comes when it's decided these titles have spent long enough on your tablets and mobile phones, and it's time to remap them to a new platform. Usually the PC, which means remapping touch controls to keyboards and mouses. Taking out tilt gameplay and trying to make them work via other means.

Sometimes, this works. There is no reason that a good iOS game can't be a good PC game. Basic control adjustments aside, there's suddenly so much room to make improvements. Nihiulumbra nailed its port's transition effortlessly, then, no longer locked by the size limitations of iOS, the developers made their already impressive game more complete. They added voice acting, made their graphics HD compliant and their already lauded game was suddenly available to a brand new audience.

The question is, what if your original game, pre-port, isn't very good?

The answer is Monstafish.

Launched to critic indifference, Monstafish is a grouping of five aquatic mini-games involving mutated fish and unhealthy doses of radiation. These were simple yet repetitive time killers that could have found some relevance on mobile devices as you were waiting for your bus, or killing time on lunch, but existed in a marketplace already heaving with better titles. For its grand début as a PC standalone title it changes.... absolutely nothing at all.

Maybe that's not fair: in its transition between media, it loses its tilt control method which makes probably the strongest of the games -- Fish Hook -- a much lesser experience. Once upon a time, you had to lower your hook from a fishing boat to try and land goldfish from the bottom of the screen, then tilt your screen around to wind it in, and swing the line left and right. Now, you can do this with the keyboard's arrow keys, which makes landing a catch too precise or with you mouse, in which you will often swing your cursor off-screen while trying to avoid the mutated traffic, and lose control all together.

The game's main mode, Monstafish controls just fine, but gives you very little reason to test this out. Aided by a friendly octopus blowing out air bubbles, the aim here is to clear screens full of mutant fish before their passive radiation kills you off. You do this by combining the bubbles together to form larger bubbles, which you you can explode with a double click, damaging anything in its radius. Patient gamers can cause chain reactions to dial up better scores by flooding the screen with these bubbles and watching them all explode. But you won't need to. By the time you've advanced in levels long enough to need this tactic, you'd have lost interest.

The biggest drawback to the Monstafish mode is that it starts easy, then stays easy for way too long. To get to a difficulty level you feel is challenging you enough to remain interested, you need to wade through around quarter of an hour of drudgery.

Time Attack gives you three minutes to click on and kill as many fish as you can, with fish you let slip by adding to your irradiation count. Fish Hunt asks you to click and drag an exploding cross-hair onto constantly dodging fish with any you miss adding to your irradiation count. Fish Tank... well, Fish Tank didn't make the PC port for reasons I'm not aware of.

Perhaps the oddest thing about Monstafish is that effort has clearly been put into it by talented people. The game is presented in clear, vibrant colours, washing the title in a cartoonish sheen coupled with smooth animation. Perhaps its biggest problem is that it wasn't much before it was granted a PC port and, with the opportunity to build on the title sadly squandered, then Monstafish was always doomed to mediocrity. That should have been obvious to all.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (November 10, 2013)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Masters posted November 11, 2013:

Nice little review, Gary. I did have problem processing the first paragraph though. It could be that I'm exhausted and would have problems reading my name at this point, but it could also be that it's worded a bit funny for my Canadian sensibilities. Give it a re-read and see if I'm just losing it.
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EmP posted November 13, 2013:

I've played about with the phrasing for the first paragraph a bit, and swapped out some words. Hopefully it will read better to sleepy Canadians. The rest of the world is just gravy.

Thanks, Marc.

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