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Raising fish as a kid is one of the best ways a young lad can learn responsibility in their life. Taking care of a pet is a lot of work even for a fish that lives in an area a little bigger than a microwave. With over 40 fish is My Aquarium worth the price or is this one you should catch and release?
Virtual aquariums try to re-create all the excitement of owning your very own tank filled with small wonders of the ocean. Investing in an aquarium is no small task. You quickly find that you need vital things like food, water, rocks and those cute bubble making machines. This hobby is simple to start if you follow the basic rules. These so called fish simulations were all the rage back in the day of Windows ’95 and virtually everybody had an aquarium screensaver. How do you transform something that can easily be downloaded for free into an experience suited for the Wii audience?
When the WiiWare service launched in 2008 there were not many options available so Hudson’s My Aquarium game was an easy trap set by the company. In its defense it was the only game of its type on the service at the time and does have some redeeming qualities if you are into games with no gameplay. When you first start the game you can create up to six different tanks. You can make small, medium or large tanks. There does not seem to be much point in making small tanks other than the fact that you can spot the fish easier. Six tanks seem like a lot but why can’t we have unlimited tanks? This lack of tanks makes the game feel closer to its shareware roots and less of a value. When you create a tank you can place various items in the tank to help decorate the barren landscape. Unlike in real-life adding decorations and plants has no effect on your fish population. You would think the fish would hide in coral reefs or duck behind plants when they want a time out but they wander around oblivious to the objects around them much like goldfish. There is an unfortunate limit to the amount of fish and objects you can place in a tank. This often makes your tank feel too empty as if you were too poor to afford more features for your tank. It is understandable that you can’t put too many big fish in aquarium but why can’t you fill a tank with neon tetras which only get to be about 1 inch long.
If you kept fish when you were younger then there is a high chance that you not only decked out your tank but also had some amazingly fun scenery items such as castles, dive men, man eating squids and treasure chests. Where are all these fun additions to the hobby? The only fun object in the game is a frog that looks like it fell into your tank and would be better placed in a garden. Thankfully there are some bubbles you can add, but once again you can only add one per tank. How pathetic is that? Was it too hard to create a castle or treasure chest? Is there some hidden copyright law on making skulls, treasure chests, blood sucking sharks? You can change the background of the tanks and add different lighting arrangements and colors. There is a fair amount of objects to place in your tank but they are not that interesting.
Fish will spawn offspring but don’t expect any graphic nature program, the fish simply appear in the tank. You won’t have to worry about babies overflowing your tank either as you only get one or two at a time. The fish in this game don’t feel alive, and they don’t feel like they are on the brink of being flushed down. Taking a brief look at the game it appears realistic with nice looking textures and animations. But the longer you stare at your tank you begin to pick apart the visuals and see how shallow, no pun intended, the game is in terms of realism and presentation.
There are no objectives in the game and that is fine. The Wii certainly has offered new experiences to console gamers and at least Hudson took a chance with this WiiWare game. You will find that once you fill your limited tank with fish and objects there is nothing for your aquatic sensing brain to do in the game. If you waggle the remote on screen you can sort of tap on the glass but this works half of the time. It is nice to look at the fish and see what they do and can be a relaxing break from traditional games. It would be more enjoyable if there were something to actually do in this game or work towards like in most pet simulators. They could add mini-games to spice things up. It would be fun to swat away an incoming cat paw trying to scoop away your fish. Add a diver and rescue hidden treasure. Something else is needed to make this game worth playing. At the end of the day all you really do in My Aquarium is watch your fish swim about. This is where you will notice some strange things happening, so strange that you might want to call in Fox Mulder because your pets exhibit some rather bizarre behaviors.
Fish have a lot more personality than that of their computerized versions in this game. These fish don’t move in schools either, they just wander about as if they have Alzheimer’s disease. Your tropical wonders of the deep move in the weirdest manner. It is great that they are modeled well but if they don’t swim like real fish what is the point? The fish in My Aquarium don’t stop moving either. They are always doing something or running in some loop like they are on a race track. Add more features, create objectives, and give the player a reason to buy the game other than the fancy packaging. With a real tank if you don’t perform upkeep your fish will die, if you don’t touch your tank in My Aquarium for a month nothing happens. There is an old saying that says a goldfish has a 3 second memory, well gamers after 3 seconds of playing this game you might feel like a goldfish and forget all about it. It’s sad to say but you might want to flush this game away before it clogs up your Wii.
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