May 9, 2011

Hey, That's My Fish!

Hey! That's My Fish is among few simple yet elegant board games that is easy to learn, but hard to master as cliché as that may be. When I saw that it has arrived in the Android Market I was quite excited. At $4.99 it's kind of pricey, but I can't blame them for charging top dollar for a quality title and this is very well done.

For those not familiar with this game it is quite simple. There are 60 hexagonal ice flows that contain 1, 2, or 3 fish. The game support 2, 3 or 4 players and you control 4, 3 or 2 penguins respectively. You then, in turn order, place all of your penguins on ice flows that contain one penguin. Once all penguins have been placed the game starts and you can move your penguins in any of of the six possible directions gobbling up all of the fish on the ice flow you just left (and gobbling up fish is how you score points) and removing said ice flow from the board leaving a hole in its place. The only movement restrictions are that you cannot move through any penguins (even your own) and you cannot cross any of the holes left by removed ice flows. Like I said, a very simply game with some solid strategy behind it.

You can play the game with human or computer opponents and I'd say having this game is a perfectly valid substitute for owning the board game (whereas in many cases there are differences between the computer version and board game version). The computer AI comes in three difficulty levels. I cranked up the AI to the highest level and played a couple games. I consider myself to be quite a good HTMF player and I was able to win both four player games with minimal effort. The computer played a respectable game, but wasn't anywhere near as good as some of the seasoned players that beat me online and offline. I then tried a two player game and the whopping I gave the computer was substantial. Don't buy this if you think you're a solid player looking for a challenge.

The graphics and animation are excellent for a board game as are the sound effects. Movement is done by touching the penguin you want to move and then touching the ice flow you want to move to. The game also highlights all available choices to make things easier... as if that were necessary. I didn't have any control issues on my phone, but if playing with other people I think a tablet would make this game much more fun to play with. The game also adds alternate set ups instead of the usual, interleaved rows of 8 and 7 ice flows.

qrcodeTwo production oddities to me are that this computer version was produced by Fantasy Flight Games whereas the board game comes from Mayfair games. Second, the board game has an exclamation point after the 'Hey!' in the title whereas the computer version replaces that with a comma. Why? Apparently Fantasy Flight now has the publishing rights and replacing the exclamation point with a comma was important to them.

Hey, That's My Fish! is a great game and this is a solid computer port. It would be nice to have better AI, but the AI here is enough to get you started. This game is also simple enough to be played by youngsters while being challenging enough for adults. Whenever I've introduced the game to friends they've all walked away impressed. 4.5/5 stars.

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