Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Though its beautiful visuals and underwater setting may fool some at first, make no mistake, Fish & Shark is the latest member of the Flappy Bird flock. And even when gameplay that overexposed gets a fantastic makeover, the results are still merely okay.
Based on the developer’s previous Pop Island series, Fish & Shark asks players how far they can guide the titular sea creatures. By default, fish and sharks swim along the water’s surface, but tap the screen and they’ll leap over oncoming obstacles. Players actually control how long and how far their character stays in the air, and the timing gets pretty varied and tricky. Just tap to hop over small bumps. But to get over large rock formations players must start their jump early, hang there for a bit, and give themselves enough time to fall and jump again. Players can even ascend mountains by bounding into their successive pools. If Flappy Bird is about waiting to tap, Fish & Shark is about waiting to let go. It’s a neat, but ultimately very slight inversion.
But the game’s gorgeous visuals make it difficult to notice the lack of new ideas. Fish & Shark's world is almost papercraft-like, full of boxy characters. But the profound sense of depth, beautiful art direction on background details like floating islands, and spectacular water and lighting effects, make this the best paper has ever looked. It has shades of Fez and Minecraft, but there’s a natural quality that transcends mere retro fetishism, especially when the perspective tilts and the fish start swimming into the screen for section transitions.
Still, even with looks that eye-catching, Fish & Shark probably won’t hold anyone's attention for too long. As far as extras go, the only differences between the two characters are how fast they swim and how hard their jumps are to time. Meanwhile, iPad users can try out a weird multiplayer mode where players race by controlling opposite ends of the tablet. If you need another Flappy Bird in your life, and want a particularly pretty one, check out Fish & Shark. Otherwise you can swim right past it.