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Fishdom: Frosty Splash

Score: 87%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Playrix Entertainment
Developer: Playrix Entertainment
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Arcade/ Action/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Fishdom: Frosty Splash is Playrix Entertainment's latest release in the Fishdom series of Jewel Quest and match-3 type games. Taking on a Christmas theme, each of the boards you'll have to clear not only has a wintery aquarium in the background behind the board, but many of the tile pieces will have a snowy theme to them. You'll see the typical aquatic pieces like sea plants, shells and crabs, but you'll also see snow men and a red sack with yellow designs on it looking a bit like Santa's toy bag. Additionally, you'll be able to decorate your tanks with holiday themed goodies and fish. Whether its brightly wrapped presents, Christmas trees or candy cane tank decor, snowflake-inspired tank plants or even a wacky Christmas fish complete with jaunty Santa hat, your tank can have it all in this Christmas aqua-wonderland.

Ok, so its a holiday theme, but does it look good? The answer is most definitely yes. It's clear that a lot of love went into the little details of Fishdom: Frosty Splash, whether it's each little board piece or the intricate designs of the tanks themselves or even the nicely designed fish. I'm a saltwater aquarist myself, so I enjoyed the opportunity to customize my tanks with fish I actually have already, like the fabulous porcupine pufferfish or blowfish, as it is called here. Having the little explanations and trivia about the fish types are a nice extra as well. Visually, Playrix presents a nice package in Fishdom: Frosty Splash, yes one that will seem very familiar to anyone who has played the other Fishdom titles, but nice nonetheless.

Sound-wise, Fishdom: Frosty Splash is superb. I absolutely love the songs that play in the background. They aren't holiday tunes per se, but they are so reminiscent of familiar Christmas songs like "Jingle Bells" that they work perfectly. I found myself humming them long after I turned off the game, which is a good thing. The sound effects, from the breaking of a chain that is blocking off a section of the board, to the clicking of the tiles falling into place, all just sound right.


In Fishdom: Frosty Splash, your goal is to clear boards by matching tiles of like patterns and earn points which translate into money for you to upgrade and customize your tank(s). Tile pieces will be scattered all around the board and as you match 3 or more either in a row horizontally or vertically, those pieces will disappear and new ones will fill the empty spaces. Certain blocks will have a gold or silver background and these will take more than 1 match to clear them. As you progress, you'll find boards that have areas that are blocked off by sections of tiles that have gold chains across them. These may take up to 3 matches just to remove the chains (depending on how many chains are across them) and then you'll have to make matches to clear some from gold, to silver and finally to permanently clear that tile. It isn't necessary to clear the entire board, just any gold or silver blocks, but these are strategically placed such that you'll have your work cut out for you.

To help you along, as you make successful matches, you'll earn varying forms of bombs and dynamite. When you make either a match with 3 or more of this type or you are able to make a match by swapping one of those, you will ignite them, causing more blocks than the normal 3 to clear, so they come in handy. I'm not sure how many levels there are, but I am on Board 56 and there's no real end in sight, so that's a good thing. Lots and lots of gameplay to be found here, for sure.

As you earn points, these translate into dollars that you can use to modify your tank, which starts out mostly empty. You can purchase Fish, Beauty or Comfort items for your tank, each purchase filling a meter. Once you have hit the 100% mark on each purchase type, you earn a trophy - bronze, silver or gold, respectively. You can either continue to add to your existing tank or even buy new tanks with your money. The most expensive fish is the Christmas fish that wears the Santa hat.

Filling up your tank isn't merely just buying things here and there, though. Your fish will have little thought bubbles indicating that they want a feeder or vitamins or a certain type of tank mate. So the pressure is on to keep your scaly little friends happy!


There are two game modes in Fishdom: Frosty Splash, although really, they are more like difficulty levels. Relaxed is where you simply play just to play, with no timer constantly clicking away. Against the Clock has you pitted against the timer, although you have a really generous amount of time to complete each board. As you get close to the end of your time, you'll get an annoying and stressful sound effect that really serves to make you nervous and doesn't really help you to hurry up and complete the board. But it definitely does its job of letting you know your time is almost up. Any time you have left on the timer translates directly into bonus points and then to money, so if you are playing Against the Clock, it helps you earn extra money towards your personalized tank.

As the game progresses, boards will get trickier and more difficult and you'll need to really be on your toes, instead of simply matching randomly. I did have to do some boards over twice, but those times were rare. There was a nice helping of challenge here, but nothing overly frustrating - just a good time to be had.

I find this game is lots of fun to simply play just as a time killer and the Relaxed mode is perfect for those times when you might be chatting on the phone, but like to keep your mind and fingers occupied. Without the timer, you can simply play and enjoy the mellow music and soothing backgrounds. If you really want to zone out, you can click on the Eye icon which turns your tank into a screen saver and you can just watch your fish swim about, playing in their tank.

Game Mechanics:

Fishdom: Frosty Splash is oh-so-simple to learn, but not as easy to master. The controls are all mouse-based, where you left click on a tile to select it and then left click on the tile you want to swap it with. The tiles much be either touching vertically or horizontally for you to be able to swap them. If you swap them and they create a matched line of 3 or more in either of those directions, those tiles will disappear with a tiny bit of fanfare and the tiles above will drop down to fill the spaces they left, with new ones filtering in from the top. This new blood is sometimes needed when you have a pesky tile that you haven't been able to match and you are running out of time on your timer. Overall, its a good strategy to clear the bottom of the board out, if you can, because the top will often clear itself as a matter of course.

As I mentioned earlier, the boards will get increasingly more difficult and craftily designed such that you will have to make sure to place certain tiles next to those blocking the way with chains, so that they can be cleared and the bottom of the board can fill in with tiles (since it will be empty at the beginning of the level). These required a little more precision and brain power, but were stil lots of fun.

If you enjoy match-3 or Jewel Quest type games, and especially if you are a fan of fish and aquariums, you'll love Fishdom: Frosty Splash. It runs about $20 to download, but is on sale for 50% off through the end of 2009. If you have any doubts, try it online, but if you like those types of games, you'll enjoy Fishdom: Frosty Splash.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows NT, 2000, XP or Vista; CPU: 1 GHz; RAM: 512MB; DirectX: 8.0 or higher; Video: 128MB

Test System:

Windows Vista, 2 GHz AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core Processor, 8GB RAM, Realtek High Definition Audio On-Board Sound, NVIDIA GeForce 8300

Related Links:

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated