Review: Evofish

There’s always a bigger fish…

By Jon Stevens. Posted 03/17/2014 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Bright and colorful; Intersting multiplayer modes
Poison Mushroom for...
Repetitive gameplay; iOS/Android roots still prominent; Poorly implemented Wii U features

Evofish started life as an iOS/Android game, and has since eaten enough plankton to sprout legs and move onto the eShop. This version includes a number of interesting Wii U specific features and new multiplayer modes, but it never quite sheds its mobile roots.

The single player game features two variants on the basic gameplay: normal (eat to evolve), and survival (eat to increase the timer). Using either the left or right analog sticks, you move your fish around a relatively confined space, trying to avoid the bigger fish and eat those smaller than you. When you have eaten enough, you evolve, introducing larger fish and allowing you to get your own back on fish that previously hunted you. Unfortunately, there is no variation in the enemies as you gradually evolve.  They are visually different, but are really just bigger versions of those fish that hunted you at the start. If you are expecting to play a simple arcade game then this may not matter, but it does limit the replay value and makes playing through the entire game again upon dying very monotonous. In essence, it plays like a more basic version of the cell stage from Spore, without the option to customise your cell and without the eventual payoff of a new game to play.

The game features an upbeat and relaxing music track, which is both catchy and fitting. The track does loop a bit too frequently, though, and once you realise this, it becomes a little too noticeable. There isn’t much in the way of settings to choose from, meanwhile, but the game does claim to support Off-TV Play– a feature which many users on Miiverse, at the time of writing, were unable to find. The game, in fact, does not support it beyond allowing playesr to use the GamePad screen for their fish during multiplayer games.

When playing through, you initially only have the option of one fish. But unlike in the mobile version, which lets you buy more, new fish are unlocked by reaching level 12 in a single game, with each fish having different stats. Unfortunately, this is the only incentive that you are given to play through multiple times. Some variety is given by the numerous power-ups included to aid you in this, which are either found randomly or through the in-game store. The iOS and Android versions allow users to purchase shells (currency) with real money, and the absence of this– while not sorely missed– is noticeable,  as you gain them very slowly. Unimaginative missions offer you a way of getting shells faster, but the high in-store prices still reflect the fact that it was designed to have the option of using money to speed up the process. Health and resurrections (the main power-ups I used), for example, cost plenty of shells. If you don’t have or can’t afford a resurrection on death, you then have to start all over again.

Another big change from the mobile versions is the use of the GamePad. Apart from movement, almost all other controls are found on the touchscreen. The power-ups that you collect are all found here and a quick touch allows you to use them. You are also able to assign two power-ups to the shoulder buttons, but doing this means that any more you find are automatically used. Missions and all other interactions take place on the touchscreen, too, but while it’s a good attempt to make use of Wii U specific features, it feels oddly unintuitive. There is no way, for example, to pause the game using a button, and there is no way to assign controls to make use of the face buttons. This wouldn’t be an problem normally, but looking down from the TV can easily get you eaten, which actually discouraged me from using many of the power-ups.

As the game does not include any sort of leaderboards or global ranking, the only real incentive you have to keep playing through single player is to unlock the other fish. After several run-throughs, I lacked any real enthusiasm to do so anyway.

Multiplayer provides more longevity for the game, with three modes available to play with up to five players. God of Swarm tasks the GamePad player with sending large fish to eat other players through the touchscreen, but the lack of options (either tap to send all fish, or drag to guide one fish along) prevents any real strategy from being used. Last Fish Standing, meanwhile, is similar to the single player game and sees which player is able to survive the longest. 1 v 4 proved to be the most enjoyable mode, with the GamePad player trying to grow to level 12, and up to four other players attempting to prevent that. The GamePad player is usually the smaller fish, but every time he grows he gets the chance to eat the other players before they grow-– it feels similar to when Pac-Man is able to turn the tables and chases the ghosts, and makes for a great game of cat and mouse.

Most of the problems in single player are also present in multiplayer games, though multiplayer also comes with its own set of irritations. Wii Remote players’ options are far more limited than the GamePad player, for example; they cannot hold onto items and have to rely on the main player for menu interactions.

It is aspects like this that  reflect the general lack of attentiveness that went into converting Evofish into a console game. It is colourful and can be fun to play in small bursts, especially in multiplayer, which extends its longevity somewhat. If this is what you are looking for, then the small price tag certainly helps. Unfortunately, it is clear that this game was initially designed with mobile platforms in mind. There is an attempt to make use of the GamePad’s touchscreen, but aside from its use in multiplayer, it feels largely tacked on, especially as players aren’t given the chance to use buttons alongside it. The in-game shop, meanwhile, is a sad remnant of the iOS/Android roots, and serves only to cheapen the overall experience.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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