Fish Out of Water Hands-On Preview

It’s been over a year since Halfbrick has released a new game on the App Store. Instead, they’ve expanded their blockbuster hit Fruit Ninja to arcades, home consoles, board games, plush toys, and more. Halfbrick’s next game Fish Out of Water, just announced at GDC, also has the potential to become a hit, due to its enjoyable art style, and extremely easy pick-up-and-fling mechanics.

Fish Out of Water is a sort of Olympic event for underwater creatures. Each time you play, you can pick one of four cute fish (plus a dolphin and baby whale) to skip over the water like a flat rock. You’ll get three throws, and can only use each creature once. After you’ve thrown three times, your distance and number of skips on the water are averaged, and then a 1-10 score is given to you by each of five crab judges.

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That’s the bulk of the game right there, but in typical Halfbrick style, there are several additional layers of interaction. For example, you can hold on the screen to boost, and gain some extra speed right before a big skip. Each creature also has their own unique abilities: The dolphin can dive underwater, the pufferfish can bounce like a beach ball, and the minnows can split into a school.

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Plus, there’s an element of unpredictability. The crabby judges each calculate their scores based on different criteria, like distance or number of bounces, but one of the judges is a Simon Cowell-like curmudgeon who just likes to knock down your score. And every hour, the weather will change, causing waves, swarms of bouncy jellyfish, or dark, cloudy skies to appear. To keep things fair on the leaderboards, the weather in the game will be the same for everyone worldwide.

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Fish Out of Water is an incredibly simple game. Besides the Jetpack Joyride-style goals, most of the game just involves picking up and flicking cute little sea creatures, then watching them ride the waves with minimal interaction. The weather and judgmental crabs seem like unique additions, though, and Halfbrick’s charming artwork shines through.

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Halfbrick’s deceptively simple games have scored big before, and we think a game geared towards kids and families makes more sense on iOS than a bloody shooter like Age of Zombies. We expect Fish Out of Water to jump high up the charts based on its pedigree alone, but we’ll have to see if the charming characters are enough to make up for the simple gameplay mechanics.