When your pedigree of games includes Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, pretty much everything you release from then on will have certain expectations, and will probably see some measure of success. It's times like these that a developer has the freedom to really experiment and try some new things, and that's exactly what Halfbrick Studios has done with their charming new title, Fish Out Of Water!.
By borrowing some elements from their previous games and applying them to a nifty new formula, Halfbrick has created something pretty novel here. Essentially, it's a launcher game about skipping fishes (also some mammals) across the ocean waves like stones on a pond. Different fishes skip in different ways. Some require very level throws against the water, while others are meant to really soar. Finlay the Dolphin and MIcro the Whale are great for distance, while Rocket and The Brothers are fantastic for racking up the skip counter.
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After you've thrown any combo of three fish, you're rated by a panel of colorful crabs, each with their own quirks and preferences, such as distance over skips and vice versa, or the hard to please Harwood. The main goal is to get a perfect ten, but it's not so simple. Every hour in the real world, the game's weather changes, and then everything changes. What worked well in calm and still waters won't work in stormy waves or ice and snow. Different animals and environmental changes are also brought about by weather changes, such as jellyfish or random geysers of hot water. When you factor in the boost mechanic and boost token pickups, all of that extra depth just gets deeper.
All of this is framed in a three objective mission system that rewards you with special crystals that can be combined to make charms. These charms give you small gameplay boosts, like extra skips or distance or a slightly higher end score. One even acts as a fish for one of your throws. The beautifully rendered 3D world is colorful and charming all around, and this game is brimming with personality. Halfbrick has always updated their games years after release, and I can't wait to see what they do with this one. Still, as it is now, it's a very simple game that probably doesn't have much staying power yet. Some will find it a bit too basic. Still, I can fully recommend it for the current one dollar price point.