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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Palm OS and Pocket PC games

Insaniquarium by Astraware, Price: $14.95
Reviewed February 2003

How would you like to feed fish for big bucks? How would you like to zap aliens with cool laser guns? You can do both in Insaniquarium, a Palm OS game ported by Astraware from yet another popular PopCap game.

The magic of the game relies on the “Insane” part. You must feed the fish when they are hungry, or they will die faster than any fish in the real world. You have to fend off alien enemies who will either eat your fish for lunch or shoot rockets and destroy all the fish in the tank…but you will get hefty rewards for your hard work. The fish will drop silver or gold coins when they are well fed, and produce diamonds when they grow old. If you get special fish like Carnivores or Star Catchers, they will drop diamonds as long as you feed them well. These coins and diamonds have to be picked up or they will vanish before long. Luckily, you don’t have to do everything yourself. If you start the game in Quest mode, you will gain pets when you finish quests. These are special creatures that can help you keep your insane aquarium in better order. Zorf the sea horse does a very good job of feeding your fish, Stinky the snail works OK at catching those coins for you, though sometimes he is a bit slow. Then there are others that help you fight the aliens, like Itchy the swordfish and Rufus the fiddler crab. Wadsworth the whale will take the small and medium fish into her mouth to protect them from alien attacks. There are also enchanted creatures like Meryl the mermaid who will sing music and make fish drop coins faster, and Prego the Momma fish who looks like a duck but give birth to baby fish.

As many other Astraware titles, Insaniquarium is an addictive game with fast-paced game play. There are three game modes to suit players with different gaming schedules. Quest mode is good for a long battle and wealth making while Time mode would be good for a quick fix. The Challenge mode increases the chance of alien attacks. The game is controlled only by stylus, which is easy and smooth except that I find myself poking at the screen very hard when I’m shooting the aliens who are about to eat all my fish. The AI also helps the game flow; you will notice that the hungry fish will always pick up the food before other fish. The coin pick up crew could work a little faster though. The game could also use restart level feature.

The graphics in Insaniquarium are creative and lively. The background of the aquarium is colorful yet not distracting with two color themes and the creatures are fun to watch. The game is simple for anyone to pick up and play, and it comes with very useful instructions. The graphics looks great on Sony hi-res Clies and very decent on low res devices. If you happen to have a 320x480 screen, then you will enjoy the landscape big screen hi-res plus view. Turn your Clie into a letter box insaniquarium theater!

The sounds are fun and plentiful, but you won’t find the full sound effects heard in the original PopCap version. The game supports Palm OS 3.5 and higher including hi-res Clies and OS 5 devices.

With the help of good-looking graphics, fun animation and non-stop action game play, Insaniquarium could easily be the next addictive title for your Palm PDA. After all, who can resist growing fish for living and mercilessly laser zapping mean aliens?

Playing Hint and Tips

You can only get 3 pets per level, make sure you pick the sea horse so that you don’t have to worry about keeping the fish alive.

In Quest mode, the game is over when the alien eats all your fish. So before they show up, buy some fish if you are running low on the stock. The whale is a very useful pet in keeping small and medium fish alive.

Since the Carnivores eat small fish, make sure you raise all the fish to at least medium size before buying Carnivores.

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Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics Very cool looking graphics with active animations. The hi-res plus screen looks lovely!
Sound Decent sound effects but no comparison to the original version.
Fun Meter Hectic game play and cute characters make this game fun. Each level you finish you get treated to a new pet. Three game modes suit wide variety of gamers.
Addictivity Very addictive game play, but game length is on the short side, especially the Quest mode. This game is a great title for kids and adults.


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