By Josh Sprague From Social Games Today
When you try out a lot of social games, the gameplay, art and styles can all start to blur after a while. That's why you sit up and notice when a game shows up that exhibits a special level of tender love and care. This isn't always about bigger games or better technology, but more about an uncommon attention to detail. FishHunt is one of those games.
FishHunt is the most recently released game by HitGrab, a social game company best known for the classic MouseHunt. That game is especially heartfelt and while breaking down great Facebook games at GDC'11, Scott John Siegel said:
He's right. You really should play MouseHunt if you haven't, but this article is about FishHunt. So, back to that.
FishHunt's premise is exactly as the name implies. You're looking for fish. You're looking them for a few reasons. For one, you need to upgrade your boat and buy better bait, so you can catch better fish and so on and so forth. You're also looking for fish for the thrill of catching something new and yet uncaught. Hence, the grander idea of the "hunt"in the title.
When you start the game, you have a clunky old fishing vessel. It's lovable and dependable, but it's best suited for the catching the smallest of perch. As you reel in more fish and advance in the game, you begin to upgrade your boat by replacing the engine, nets and cabin. Each upgrade expands your capacity for for catching new fish and holding more of them.
The fishing game involves directing your boat to new spots and casting off in promising squares of water. Whenever you catch a new fish, it's mounted in your personal trophy room. The trophy room is an especially nice touch as it allows you to track the variety of fish and sea life you've reeled in. In addition to being space for bragging rights, the trophy room tracks tips on how to catch each fish. These tips may be about the type of water it likes to hang out in or what bait it likes. Each of these tips unlocks as you catch more of that type of fish, but if you're antsy, you can unlock tips ahead of time with in-game currency. As well, you can put some Facebook credits into upgrading your plaques and their decorations.
Your boat has a couple other features for dealing with your catch. For one, you have a crane with a net you can cast. This is timed experience where you drop a net into a square and come back 30 minutes later to haul in a lot of fish at once. As you advance, you can have multiple nets out on the water. You also have an ice chest for keeping your fish fresh. Over time, your ice melts and you have to pay to refill it. If you run out of ice, your fish will spoil and you won't be able to sell them for a profit. You might wonder why you would hold onto your fish instead of sell it all at once. Well, the fish market changes ever so many minutes. At times, it's worth more to hold onto your fish and sell it at a higher price. This makes the selling game a bit more dynamic and it rewards the players who jump in the game more often.
Advancement in the game isn't governed by pure experience points, but rather achievements that unlock new fishing licenses. For example, you start with an A1 license and you must complete tasks like catching a number of fish or catching or clearing out seaweed as you move up through licenses. New licenses unlock new boat upgrades and new fishing areas. This advancement system is more meaningful than arbitrary points of experience doled out per action and one hopes that more social games will take note.
FishHunt's artwork is pleasant and there is attention paid to the smaller details. The game's shop isn't just a bland menu of "upgrades," "energy," etc. Instead, each section is stylized as the "Bait Shop" or the "Snack Shack" with cartoon characters who add personality to each section. This is a small touch, but it goes a long way in showing how the team cares about the game it's crafting.
Facebook credits can be used for several things. As stated above, they can be used to further decorate your trophy room. Boat customization looks to be a likely feature as a small paint bucket in the menu reads "Coming Soon." Otherwise, credits can also be used to buy special bait for a better return on fish, both in amount caught and value of the specimen.Much like MouseHunt, FishHunt is ultimately about catching them all, Pokemon style. It's a collection game where you build your resources and improve your status so that you can complete your collection. Each fish has its own habits and habitats and learning those is part of the hunt. While the grand collection goal isn’t unique to FishHunt, it creates a great narrative that can be more fun than an endless climb in arbitrary level numbers. If you're looking for a handsomely-crafted fishing experience on Facebook, go cast your net in FishHunt.
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