Another Popcap classic has made a successful mobile translation...
I remember playing Insaniquarium from Popcap a couple years ago on my PC, and becoming thoroughly addicted. It was no surprise to me, then, when Glu's mobile port once again roped me in for several hours as I battled aliens, fed my fish, and advanced through the levels. What did surprise me is how well Glu was able to get the game to work without a mouse. Mouse control on the PC is still smoother, but not by much. Glu did a great job of adapting the experience for the mobile medium.
Insaniquarium, like Glu and Playfirst's Diner Dash, is a strategy title with heavy action elements (or perhaps an action title with heavy strategy elements). You begin each tank with just a couple of small guppies and very limited funds, but by the end of later levels your tank will be teeming with fish and you'll be rolling in the money they generate.
As you feed your fish they drop coins, which can be used to buy more fish, upgrade the quality of your fish food, upgrade the amount of food you can drop, plus plenty more, later on. In the beginning, gaining enough money to clear a level is easy. Feed your fish and use the money to buy more fish, and then ride that exponential curve to victory. Things get more complex (and more fun) farther in, however. A very clear food chain develops. You can buy carnivores, which will eat your guppies (which eat the fish food you drop). It's harder to manage, but the high value of the jewels the carnivores drop makes managing them worthwhile. The foodchain gets even longer and more complex later on.
Somewhere during the game's design phase someone must have decided Insaniquarium wasn't quite insane enough, so they decided to throw aliens into the mix as well. Preceeded by a warning siren, the evil otherworldly beings appear, and will eat all your hard-earned fish, if you don't dispatch them quickly. It's here that Glu made their first smart design decision. In the PC version rapidly clicking on the alien will kill him, and you can also herd him away from your fish according to where you clicked him. In the mobile version its much the same, but now your aim is taken care of automatically- rapidly tap up to attack him from above and drive him downwards, or vice versa. It works very well.
To replace the rest of the PC game's mouse functions Glu implemented a grid/cursor system. Instead of clicking wherever you want to drop food or mousing over coins to collect them, the tank has been broken down into a 6X6 grid, and you use your arrows to move your cursor through it, collecting coins and performing any other necessary action. The number keys round out the controls, acting as hotkeys for instant purchases. Overall the control scheme isn't quite as smooth as the PC release, but its pretty damn close, which is amazing, all things considered.
Gamers also earn aquatic friends to lend a helping hand, adding another strategic element, since you can only take three with you into a level. Will your last helper be Zorf the sea horse who periodically drops food and helps feed your fish, or Meryl the Mermaid, who's singing causes your fish to drop coins more frequently? There are 15 helpers in all, but I found myself sticking to the same three regardless of what the level called for.
Insaniquarium's only real fault as a mobile title is that levels seem to run a little on the long side, especially farther into the game. I didn't actually time them, but I know some require too much time to be played in the short bursts that mobile gamers are often looking for. A five-minute time trial mode does a lot to allieviate this complain, however
Insaniquarium is another great addition to Glu's line-up of casual PC titles gone mobile, which include Zuma and Diner Dash. If Glu can continue to overcome the control hurdles we hope they continue to release more mobile adaptations of downloadable PC hits. Insanaquarium looks, sounds, and plays great. Its gameplay holds up whether you're playing for four minutes or four hours. It further reinforces the fact that mobile gaming's fun factor does not need to be compromised.
What's Hot: Looks and sounds great. A lot of replay value
What's Not: Some levels take too long to complete