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Fish Tycoon

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Majesco Games
Developer: Torus Games
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

Fish Tycoon for the DS is an adaptation of the highly popular PC simulation by the same name. As far as graphics go, they are nice, but nothing fancy. You have a tank with some decorative plant life and a few rocks. You have the option to purchase shells and other decorations for your tank, should you be able to afford them (more on that later). Then you have your fish. Now, the fish look pretty good and are appropriately fish-like. When you "grab" the fish to be able to see its status, they wiggle like a fish would. Actually, fish would probably struggle a lot more, but then that would be unpleasant, wouldn't it?

There are many species of fish that you can breed in your tank and many more you can create by cross-breeding. When the fish are young, they just look like little spots flitting around your tank. As they grow, they begin to take shape and color and you can visually see what kind of fish you are going to end up with.

Background music is very mellow and soothing and almost puts you in a sleep-like state. The tank bubbles intermittently and its all very pleasant. Sound effects are cute such as a kissing sound when you impregnate one fish with another, or a splish-splash sound when you move a fish from one tank to another.


Fish Tycoon is a saltwater aquarium simulation. The story goes that you live on the island of Isola, where there was a magical lagoon filled with 7 magical fish, which maintained balance in the aquatic community. One day, these 7 fish disappeared and its up to you to locate them (or recreate them by breeding) and restore the balance.

Now, I consider myself to be a not-so-amateur aquarist myself, having a successful saltwater tank and a koi pond, so I was pretty excited to get to try some new and different things with Fish Tycoon without spending a ton of money and putting my existing tank at risk. Unfortunately, I didn't have a good time doing it.

You begin the game with a tank, some fish food, a batch of fish eggs, some growth hormone to accelerate the growth of the baby fish, and $350. Now, that may seem like a lot of money, but as anyone with a saltwater tank can tell you, that's a drop in the bucket... err tank. Your food appears to be unlimited, so you won't need to restock that, but you will need vitamins, decorations for your tank, medicine for Ick and fungus, and many other things. There's a help feature for your first time playing, if you want it, and it is helpful, although I find the game just doesn't explain enough to you. You have the option of buying a heater and an aerator, but in real life, these things are required for your fish to survive, not optional. Decorations aren't required, but fish can get depressed if they have a completely boring environment. Then there are the medications for Ick and fungus. When a fish gets one of these diseases, its represented by white spots (Ick) or green spots (fungus) on the fish. You have to act fast and treat the tank quickly or the fish could die. I didn't find that it infected other fish in the tank, which again, in real life it would. Basically, with only $350 to start with, its really tough to know what you need to buy for your fish to survive.

The object is to find the magic fish, so your first order of business is to hatch those fish eggs. You then use the growth hormone to speed things up. In the Options, you can set the speed of play at Normal, 1/2 Speed or 2X Speed, plus you can Stop Time. This comes in handy if you are going to be away for long periods of time because the game keeps going, even when you turn it off.

Once your fish hit maturity (age 20), then can be bred and you accomplish this by placing a fish into the isolation tank, then dragging another fish to the tank to impregnate it. A kissing sound means success. It takes about 30 minutes for the babies to hatch and they are often born hungry and unhealthy. Personally, I never could figure out what they needed to survive, since I tried vitamins and such and that never worked. Assuming you have some healthy mature fish, you can sell them in your shop. You can set the price, although one is suggested for you. You must choose the Sell Fish option in the menu and then wait in the shop until the fish are sold. Customers come in with bubbles over their heads indicating what they want and don't want, but I never really found that any of that mattered. If my fish were reasonably priced, they'd sell.

My main problem with Fish Tycoon is that I couldn't get my fish's offspring to survive for the long haul. No new fish means you have nothing to sell and you can't make money to buy more vitamins, medicines, research and new and more unusual eggs. Basically, all my fish kept dying and I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. It was very depressing.


You can opt for Easy, Medium or Hard on Fish Tycoon, but even on Easy, I found success elusive. Since neither the book nor the game tells you exactly what you need to do to make sure your fish survive, you are left to try different things on your own. Since you begin with only $350, if you by a heater and an aerator, you pretty much wipe your stash out. Now, I know that a tank really can't survive without these items, so I bought them immediately my first trip out with Fish Tycoon, but it didn't even seem to improve their health.

There are tips and such that you can see by wandering around your fish store while in Sell Fish mode, but I didn't find them all that helpful. Sure, I could look at my stats, but did I really want to know how many fish I had killed? No.

Once a fish has died, you must remove it from the tank and since the little guys become grayed out in appearance once they die, you sometimes can have a tough time finding them with your stylus to remove the corpse.

Game Mechanics:

Control in Fish Tycoon is done almost completely with your stylus. You can tap on a fish and drag it to a particular tank, or purchase a decoration by tapping to get to the Supplies area, then tap on an item to see what it is, then tap on it to buy it. When you want to start a new game or slow down or speed up time, you had to go into the Options section. To get there, you tap on Menu, which is in the upper right hand corner. Then, you tap on Menu within the circle of options, among them being Supplies, Sell Fish, Menu, Screen Saver and Species. Then you wait a second or two and you can hit Options and change your speed, etc. But sometimes it seemed as though I had to hit Options or Menu twice before I got a response and that was annoying.

While you are in one of your fish tanks, you can use the shoulder buttons to scroll through the fish to see their stats, like their species, health, whether they need to be fed, etc. If you want detailed info on a fish, if it has reached maturity, you can pull it with your stylus to the isolation tank, then go to the Menu, then tap Species. If it is too young, you won't get any info. To be honest, the info provided isn't much, but it will tell you the species of that fish's parents, should you be keeping track of what you've been breeding.

In general, I just wasn't crazy about this game. Had I been even somewhat successful with breeding and keeping the babies alive, I would have liked this game so much more. But to be able to find out what was needed to keep them alive, I would have had to have made enough money to buy this research, which was impossible when I couldn't keep the fish healthy. I found the experience an exercise in futility. If you think you are the aquarium king and want to give it a shot, go for it. As for me, I think I'll stick with the real thing.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Microsoft Xbox 360 Bee Movie Game Nintendo DS Spongebob: Atlantis Squarepantis

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