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Gameplay is simple -- keep your energy up by eating things, keep your health up (for smaller fish) by encountering cleaner fish, and keep alive by not being eaten. It's far more addictive than it sounds.
There are four modes:
- Tournament: You play every fish in the game one by one, from the puny Silver Sprat to the nigh-unstoppable Great White Shark. You advance when you earn enough points, either by eating enough or surviving long enough.
- Challenge: Like the above, but with only four fish.
- Create-A-Fish: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. You allocate skill points to fish features like speed, agility and endurance or special abilities like ink blasts or electric shocks. Pick a color not found in nature, and then send your creation out into the wild!
- Practice: Pick a fish. Survive as long as you can.
Many people know the game from the limited demo that came with at least one Oregon Trail II disc, in which only Practice mode is available, limited to ten fish (to be fair, it's a decent variety of fish).
- Always a Bigger Fish: No matter what you are, there's always something that can eat you. Even the great white shark can be eaten...by another great white.
- Breather Level: Any fish that eats grass or algae, because there's a plentiful supply which can always be found in the same place.
- Character Customization: Create-A-Fish.
- Informed Ability: The special abilities don't seem to do anything, so those points are better spent on improving the main stats.
- Edutainment Game
- Endless Game: Practice Mode.
- Instant 180 Degree Turn: Averted. Some fish turn quickly, some slowly -- and if you make a fish with anything less than full agility in Create-A-Fish, it'll turn painfully slowly.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: There's no fighting or struggle; when you get eaten, that's it.
- Shown Their Work: You can look up highly detailed biological information on any of the fish, animals, plants, coral, basically anything in the game.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The music for Practice Mode is very, very peaceful, which fits very nicely with the gameplay until it's been a few minutes and all the sharks start moving at lightning speed.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: If you look at it a certain way, the game is all about killing living animals. A lot of them.
- Wizard Needs Food Badly: If you don't die from being eaten, you die from this.
- Wrap Around: The game has nine screens, and you can move around the edges this way.