Fantastic Fish lives up to it’s name, raising the bar for social aquarium games

Despite its generic-sounding name and premise, Fantastic Fish raises the bar for the social network/collectathon game. The idea is the same as every similar title; create your own personalized fish collection. But Fantastic Fish executes is so elegantly that it feels like a new experience.

Fantastic Fish guides you through the process of buying your fish, feeding them, cleaning the tank (by rubbing the screen), setting up items and everything else you’ll need to make your very own seascape.

Fantastic Fish

The presentation in Fantastic Fish is amazing. The developers have finally figured out that iPhone users need larger print and clear icons to navigate the menus needed for a deep social game. You’ll never wonder where anything is, and navigating is easy and intuitive.

Graphically, Fantastic Fish has tons going for it. From lowly goldfish to sea dragons, every creature is lovingly detailed. As they swim closer to the screen, you’ll be able to make out more details like scales and transparent fins, which even a nice sheen to them. Audio-wise, Fantastic Fish tries to elevate itself from just the white noise of the sea to some decent tunes that help break up the silence. They never interfere with the experience, but it’s nice to finally have more than one track that loops until you pray your fish go belly up.

Once playing, your goal is to use coins and clams (the premium currency) to purchase everything you need for your sea. Setting up items, d├ęcor and new fish gives you experience, which in turn unlocks even more stuff. The sheer volume of stuff to find in Fantastic Fish is amazing! From robots to corrals to sunken ships, there’s no shortage of ways to make your sea unique.

There’s also no shortage of fish, either. Other than the ones you can buy or earn, you can also breed with other players to find new, exotic species. Later levels include fantastic creatures like mermaids and the aforementioned sea dragons.

Fantastic Fish

Another great reason to want to progress is the availability of several different seas – think of them as different levels – where you can create multiple locales, each with its own ecosystem. It’s a very long-tailed game, perfect for what Fantastic Fish wants you to do, which is keep playing.

The best part, though, is that it’s possible to progress in Fantastic Fish reasonably well without having to resort to purchasing much premium currency or participating in various offers. Granted, it does help a lot (and certainly, that’s how games like this earn money) but Fantastic Fish lets you progress more than reasonably on your own steam – a nice change from a lot of the forcing other titles have.

While it’s not terribly original, Fantastic Fish does what it does better than almost any other oceanic social game to date. Users of the most recent Apple hardware will probably deal with the loading much better than, say, 3GS users. But almost everyone will find something fun and worthwhile in Fantastic Fish. Definitely one worth reeling in.