When it comes to pet shop games, there’s plenty of fish in the “casual game” sea. Jenny’s Fish Shop is a time management game about – you guessed it – a fish shop. And it’s not the kind that comes with chips…
Growing up by the sea, Jenny always dreamed about working in an aquarium. En route to achieving her dream, she’s purchased an old house by the water and started her own tiny fish shop. It’s tiny and run down, but she’s certain she has what it takes to grow her business and raise rare fish.
Before you start, you must pick either Sharky the fish or Taz the Turtle to be your pet companion. Each pet has it’s own special power up, and feeding your pet on request builds his power until you are granted a power up. Sharky will grant a sizeable growth bonus to all fish in your tanks, so they mature more quickly. Taz will greatly increase the vitality/patience of all fish waiting for tanks, plus give your machine a slight boost of speed (more on this later). Both are helpful in a pinch.
To play, you first select a fish, and place it in a tank. Different types of fish prefer different types of tank decorations, as shown in a bubble overhead. Select the appropriate decorations, and click on the machine to assemble them. Put the decorations in the tank, and wait for the fish to request it’s food.
Later, there are special vitamins which can be added along with the food, and these can increase the growth of your fish, or increase its overall value. As the game progresses, the fish develop a variety of other needs, including keeping their tanks clean, receiving medicine, and switching on the air jets or lights.
You get bonuses for certain combos, which includes using the machine several times in a row (an extra +20 each time), and a small bonus for being fast while meeting requests (+5). You also get rewarded for how many times you can put the same type of fish in a specific tank.
If you pick up something you don’t need, you can toss it in the recycle bin. To make things more challenging, fish also have vitality/patience levels, which are displayed by a rising waterline in the need bubble. If you fail to meet it’s needs in time, the fish will die, and you will lose a sale. Once a fish is completely matured (as displayed by the bar below it’s tank), it’s ready to be sold, and clicking on the money icon clears the tank. Different fish grow at different speeds, and have different sale prices.
In between each level, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase upgrades. These include better tanks which make your fish more valuable, faster machines, a computer to receive email fish requests, sneakers to make Jenny move faster, and tank upgrades for your pet which boosts his power up ability. In the beginning, you won’t be able to afford much, but this changes as the game progresses. Jenny also gets her own unplanned upgrades, like new décor, or an extra tank on level three.
Every few levels, you’ll encounter the minigame. There’s a flock of seagulls attacking tiny newly-hatched turtles, and Jenny must fend them off by flicking away the birds and nudging the turtles to walk faster. If you succeed and the turtles make it to the water safely, she’ll be in a good mood, and will walk faster during the next level. You’ll also receive a cash reward for the turtles you saved. There’s no penalty if you’re unsuccessful, so give it your best shot.
The graphics are really animated and cute, and the music fits in nicely with the game’s atmosphere. If you can stick it out for the first ten levels or so, the pacing picks up, and it’s suitably fast and busy.
Perhaps the most damaging feature in the game has to do with the machine. Once you’ve selected a decoration item, like a plant or rock, you cannot select it again for several seconds. This means major slow downs if you’ve selected the wrong item, or if you have two fishes that want the same décor. In the beginning, this completely stalls the pace of the game, making things unnaturally slow, which is very unfortunate since the game picks up nicely once you’ve purchased a variety of upgrades that increase the speed. Also, combos are strictly related to the tanks and machine, so you don’t get bonuses for chaining actions like feeding and cleaning.
If you’re patient enough to muddle through the first 10 levels, and you buy the right speed upgrades, Jenny’s Fish Shop can be an enjoyable time management game with a fishy flare. If, however, you want a game which offers fast pace game play from the beginning, you might want to cast your line elsewhere.