Halfbrick's games usually grab me immediately. Jetpack Joyride [Free] was the cave flier of my dreams, Fruit Ninja [$1.99] devoured my high-score hunting hours. I didn't immediately latch on to Fish Out of Water [$0.99], though. It doesn't have the same obvious hooks—the shiny coins and the upgrades that keep you hitting that play button over and over. Heck, it doesn't even have a typical high score system.

That initial ambivalence gave way after I spent a bit more time with the game. What seemed painfully simple at first—skipping fish over the water as far as possible—began to show off some of its hidden depth. You can get by without paying any mind to the different qualities of the fish that star in Fish Out of Water, and you can ignore the weather as an oddity. It just wouldn't be very much fun.

Without those things, Fish Out of Water is a quick, simple game. You pick a fish, fling it upwards and outwards, and watch as it skips across the water and eventually plunges beneath the surface. Once you do that three times a panel of crabs pops in, judges you on your performance on a rank out of 10, and takes off to let you start again.

Sure, it's entertaining to watch the fishies bounce and the crabs hold up their little numbered signs, but that's sort of a hollow experience. Good for a game for young children, but Halfbrick's recent games have nailed that "fun for the whole family" thing. Get a little deeper into Fish Out of Water, and you'll see it at work here too.

There are two things you need to pay attention to: your fish, and the weather. You have six fish to work with, charmingly individual little fish with names like Micro and Finlay. Each of them has its own special properties. Some can skip across the water like crazy if you pitch them low, but will crash as soon as they hit the surface if you aim for a higher arc. Others do best with serious air. Some are fantastic skippers, and others have more endurance.

Then there's the weather. It changes every hour, which changes the conditions you're playing under in turn. You might have to contend with big waves, snow, and other confounding elements. Tempting to just chuck it and play later when there are less than ideal conditions, but that's the trick: every condition is ideal if you know how to approach it.

Getting familiar with how your fish handle calm seas is just the starting point. After that, you need to learn how they handle each type of weather you come across. Some of the fish are decent in calm, but shine in snow or storms. If you have a handle on that you'll be able to score well no matter the weather of the hour.

If you want to see how others are doing with the weather, you'll need to join a league. That means signing in with Facebook, unfortunate in a game so appealing to kids, but you can avoid using your real name at least. Once you're in a league you can rate your performance (and its performance) on a few different leaderboards, some of which point out the weather the leaders were up against.

There is one other hook, aside from the competition: leveling. The game always gives you a mission, like "skip 50 times with Finlay" or "Fly through each of the rings" — rings that only show up when you're on that mission, mind. Once you've completed three of those missions, you gain a new level. This unlocks a cute bit of art featuring the game's adorable cast, and it gives you a handful of gems.

Gems are the thing you might consider buying with real money in Fish Out of Water. You put them together to craft Charms, and Charms do all sorts of handy things like give you a few extra skips and a few more meters of travel, or force Harwood, the hard-to-please judge, to give you a ten. They aren't gamebreaking advantages, but they offer a bit of a boost.

All together, these systems make for a clever game. And it's certainly a cute one. I'm just not convinced it will have all that much lasting power. Once you've learned all you can learn, scored as well as you can score, what's left? There's an upper level limit, and a small selection of fish. It might take a long time to earn that coveted 10 out of 10, but Fish Out of Water might also lose its charm on the way.

TouchArcade Rating

  • dylanmannen

    I am surprised that this is what they did after all the fantastic games they have done. I was sure that Halfbricks next game would be a perfect ten. But this game is just okey. They could have done so much more with it. Like maybe unlocking different fish or locations. Ore have like a aquarium where you can play with the fishes. Idk haha xD but i would like to see more. They worked on it for so long too, how long have it been sins they released they latest game? One and a half year?

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Something to consider is that both Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja were -very- basic when they launched. I've seen many people comparing Fish Out of Water to both. For reference, Fruit Ninja launched three years ago and has seen twenty updates. Jetpack Joyride was released two years ago and has seen twelve updates.

      I'm not saying the criticism isn't valid, because it totally is, but if Halfbrick has shown us anything it's that they're super committed to their games and don't just release them and move on to something else. I think Fish Out of Water has a really cool framework, and I'm excited what it plays like three years and twenty updates from now too. 🙂

      • Stustaff

        I'd suggest waiting two years then before buying it!

        It's not bad as such but super simple and dull.
        If we compare it to fruit ninja or jet pack when they launched its a much worse game simple.

        I also think 4 stars is generous and if it were from an unknown developer wouldn't get close to that.

      • Saxon

        Yeah, but this in particular is a genre that has been done MANY times before (especially in the flash game world). Fruit Ninja was basically brand new IP and Jetpack Joyride was a pretty unique endless runner out of the gate.

        I know they'll iterate on this at some point and it will be awesome, but until then I'll continue to enjoy Burrito Bison.

      • Stustaff

        Burrito bison is a better example as is adventure time Finn jumping game

      • Hart

        This game is very polished everywhere except the gameplay itself, which I found incredibly boring. There's not much Halfbrick can do to save this game--at its core it's a dud. Unlike this game, Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride were fun out of the box and fun/original concepts.

    • themostunclean

      I had the opposite experience with this game. I found Fruit Ninja and Jetpack joyride to be boring and tedious, especially considering the amount of hype around them. The other comments are valid so maybe i'll pick them up again as it's been a while since I've played them.

      "Fish Out of Water" has had me cracked out on it for the past 2 days. I've literally lost hours playing it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Bristol-Habegger/623844222 Ben Bristol Habegger

    Looks pretty fun, and Eli makes a good point - knowing Halfbrick, it's bound to get better. Until then, I'll wait for a sale.

    • toxiccheese

      It's .99¢. What sale could you possibly be waiting for? Why not just support the developer?

      • Bubz

        Ordinary, I would. I love supporting developers. But when I'm on the fence about getting a game (which I was even before reading this review), I wait. That's one of the reasons why the TA app has the "watch" option, is it not?

      • Ross Mcrae

        Give it a few weeks and it will go free. All their games have. I couldn't wait to play it, art style looks amazing but found game play got boring very quickly. Will check back after a few updates.

  • http://twitter.com/nuno2k nuno lourenco

    nice price,i will buy

  • themostunclean

    The TA review of this game is missing or wrong about a couple of important points.

    1- Doesn't even mention the boosting mechanic which is an integral part of the gameplay. Knowing when or where to boost each of your fish is a huge part of scoring and they all react differently.

    2-Facebook is NOT required to sign into a league. You can use your Google account to which I have since I don't use Facebook. Maybe they just saw "Facebook" and stopped reading like all the reviewers on the App Store. I expect a little more accuracy from someone who is paid to write reviews though. If I were on the fence about this game and saw that, I probably wouldn't have bought it.

    • http://twitter.com/brickwalker0 Timothy Whinnery

      These 2 points were EXACTLY what I felt was missing and was just about to post.

      The Boost mechanic being the big one, especially in different weather.

      • grits

        , Good point guys. The boosting is cool but I wish it actually did a little bit more. Sometimes it Barely feels like you're using it. Also would be cool if there were a slowdown mechanic as well or just some other way to control the trajectory.

      • themostunclean

        I think they give you just the right amount to make it feel like you never have enough and make every "boostie" you catch feel like you just need one more. They should call it the "crack meter".

  • caaalrb

    Bought it. Scored a 10 within the hour and haven't played it again since. Looking forward to Halfbricks updates though, I think it's a good platform and there are quite a few things they can add to it.

    • themostunclean

      If you've played it for such a short time then you haven't really gotten into it. Scoring 10 at the beginning is easy, doesn't mean you beat it. That's not even a fraction of the game.

      Try going long enough to through the different weather scenarios before dropping the game. The jellyfish one is particularly fun!

    • Diaboliq

      10 right away? I'm calling whining bullshit on that one

      • caaalrb

        Nah, I was the first 10 in the toucharcade3 league. Used a combo of the whale first, throw at a 45 degree angle and use all the boost, but non that you pick up. Then use The Brothers, throw them parallel to the water and tap the boost you collected from the whale just when they are coming to a stop, keeping them skipping. Lastly I used the dolphin, just throw him (her?) at a slight upward angle and use the boost as you collect it. Use a gem, and bam 10.

      • caaalrb

        After rereading this, I really need to reevaluate how I spend my Friday nights.

      • themostunclean

        You pick it back up and try in different weather yet?

        Calm seas are definitely easy, I'll usually just put it away until I have something more interesting like snow.

      • caaalrb

        I'll admit, I did just fire it back up again. I'm now trying to get a 10.1 using the green jewel, if its possible. Game definitely has an addictive quality at core, that's for sure.

      • caaalrb

        Oh, and the snow/ice is the best. Get bounces with dat whale

  • sociallyconnected

    Nice review though there are some points which are missing. I also recommend Dragonvale for kids and kids' at heart players. - http://dragonvaledb.com

  • captainChocolade

    I think I've seen a couple of hundred of similar games before, last year.

  • http://yepi-games.kizifriv1.com/ friv

    fish look very lovely. really nice pictures. Thank your posts

  • Adams Immersive

    Music makes me want to play Squids!

  • Tony Zhang

    I love this game. Search iOS.AppsGoer for more big night iOS Games.

  • http://www.y8u.org/ Juegos Friv

    As long as you retain pumping out this type of content you will be standard. Thanks for the good data.

  • Bluejunco

    Boring and kiddie

Fish Out Of Water! Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 4