A series of unlikely keywords led me to Fishdom Spooky Splash, made by Playrix. It’s an easy game with a Halloween twist, where your goal is to fill a virtual fish tank with all manner of macabre ornaments.
Further research tells me that there are other “Fishdom” games, and that this is just a seasonal spin on the original. I’ve never played the rest, but it seems obvious that the version with a Grim Reaper Shark trumps all others.
Suiting the theme, your virtual tank looks a bit like an undersea graveyard, or at least some kind of nightmarish Fish Hell. There’s a tombstone, a haunted house and a creature that looks too much like Audrey II to be a coincidence.
The goal is to buy fish, decorations and random “comfort” items from a shop list. At the start of the game, you’re only given enough money to afford one measly fish. And it isn’t even a good fish. Nobody goes through the trouble of downloading Fishdom Spooky Splash for a stupid Blue Discus.
To earn more money, you play through odd puzzle levels. The idea is to match three of the same icons and clear certain color-coded portions of the boards. Each level is different and they get more and more difficult, but even after dozens of stages, I didn’t “die” once. (In this case, “dying” means running out of time before completing the puzzle, thus earning you a big fat $0.)
Still, even if completing the stages can be done in a nearly mindless way, I wouldn’t say that they’re easy to the point of being boring. Since the amount of money you get depends on how fast you beat the levels, there’s an incentive to be all intense about it.
For Spooky Splash, Playrix worked some Halloween icons into the stages. Trapped among the usual starfish and random green jellyfish are far scarier adversaries, like ghosts and, uh, witch hats.
After beating way too many puzzles, my tank started to bloom. A key addition was the “Vampire” ornament, which really wasn’t an ornament, but a fully-animated mermaid vampire, living among the fish as if there was nothing at all weird about it.
Then, there’s the fish themselves. They are awesome. There aren’t too many Halloween-themed varieties (I think the bony “Spooky Fish” was the only one), but the assortment is still incredible. A Leafy Sea Dragon? Hell yes!
You’re free to organize the tank however you like, and since you’ll need to plow through a lot of levels to be able to afford this stuff, everything you add feels like a serious triumph. It’s no ho-hum activity, and you’ll really labor over which things to buy. I spent a good fifteen minutes choosing between the Lionfish and a really neat “Eel on a Leash,” and though Mr. Lion won that particular war, I’m still second guessing myself.
Now, here’s the thing.
After playing the game for a while, I felt I had a handle on it, and I’d certainly grabbed enough images to do this review. I could’ve easily stopped there…but I didn’t. What started only as a bit of research so I could review something a little different turned into a full-blown love affair. Thank God I had nowhere to be today, because I was up until 6 in the damn morning playing Fishdom Spooky Splash.
Between the classic Nintendo style music, the subtle strategies involved with completing the levels, and the thought of adding a MUMMY GUITAR PLAYER to my fake fish tank, I was hooked. Hooked like a Humphead Wrasse chasing a bit of chum.
Speaking of which, I added one of those, too. Bastard cost $365. Nearly twice as much as the far cooler Longhouse Hawkfish!
As the sun rose, that’s where I left off. I love my tank, and I’m so glad that Playrix gave me the option to turn it into a screensaver.
There are too many wonders on display to list, but see if you can spot these choice additions:
1) The aforementioned Grim Reaper Shark, which is the greatest thing in this or any game.
2) A crab in a top hat.
3) Some kind of plant creature, which looks like one of those small rubbery monster toys found in old cans of Real Ghostbusters Ecto-Plazm.
4) An octopus doubling as a spooky mask vendor. AN OCTOPUS. DOUBLING. MASK VENDOR.
Keep in mind, everything’s animated. The fish, the decorations, everything. I could stare at this tank for hours, and now that I think about it, I already have. It might seem like nothing to you, but I worked for this shit. I think I was up to Level Bazillion before I’d earned enough money to feel right about adding a second Grim Reaper Shark.
What? You think I wasted my time? Well…
Yeah, say it again. You know nothing.
The game is several years old, but haunted fish tanks don’t need newness to excite. If you’d like to give Fishdom Spooky Splash a try, it’s available through Big Fish Games. Of course, since I make no commission if you buy it from them, you could also grab it from Amazon. Yeah, do that.