Judie Lipsett mentioned the original Insaniquarium in a 2003 article about Spring Break and what she was going to take. While brief, the comment points out how much fun the program is. Well, PopCap Game’s Insaniquairum Deluxe is better.
You may as well buy a wrist brace to wear on your stylus-slinging hand, because this game is going to push your tapping to the limits. Naturally, it starts off slow and innocent-like. You are managing a small aquarium with a couple of goldfish. You tap the screen and a bit of food appears and floats gently to the floor of the tank, unless one of the hungry fish eat it. Each bit of food costs you points, and unless you buy an upgrade you can only have one piece of food at a time. So far, so good- but it gets worse.
OK, the fish start ‘dropping’ money as they get older- first silver, then gold coins- that you have to tap on to collect or it evaporates away. You can use the money for upgrades, new fish, etc. Add new fishies for $100 each, and have more mouths to feed. If the fish is hungry it turns a sickly green and will eventually groan, die, and evaporate to background music. You can upgrade to a more nutritious food, or buy the ability to drop more than one pellet at a time. So far, so good- but it gets worse.
One of the options is a predatory fish that eats baby goldfish, so now you have to feed these guys (who drop diamonds) and work on keeping the older fish healthy. The more fish you have, the more coins are dropping, the more food you need, the more tapping is happening. So far, so good- but it gets worse.
There are aliens that transport in and try to eat the fish- both your $100 goldfish AND the $1000 predators (did I mention how much these things cost?) You can attack them with taps- tap at their feet and they move up, tap at their heads and they move down. Tap them enough and they die… in the earlier levels, at least. Oh, and not only do the aliens eat the fish, but while you are defending your aquarium, your fish are going hungry and the money is going untapped and evaporating. So far, so good- but it gets worse.
Worse, you say? How could it get worse? Well, at each level you buy pieces of an egg. 3 egg pieces gets you a new pet with super powers. At each level, the egg pieces cost more, too. The pets are awarded semi-randomly and include a momma fish that give birth to new goldfish, swordfish that help fight aliens, oysters that offer you pearls if you tap them in time, a seahorse that helps feed the tank, etc. You can only bring a limited number of pets with you to new levels. So far, so good- but it gets worse.
Every so often, there is a bonus game, like the one shown below where you have to catch as many falling shells as possible.
At each level, you start over again with 2 baby goldfish and a few bucks for food. At each level the aliens get more numerous and harder to kill, the prices for eggs and other things go up, new pets and toys are available, and your tapping wrist gets sorer and sorer.
Whew. What a game. All of this for $14.95 (thanks in part to a new lower price policy at Astraware). It takes just under 3m of memory and runs smooth as silk on my Palm Centro- an occasional delay for laoding or pausing, but nothing special. Because of the game specs, it will not run on Palm Tungsten, T2, or Zire 71 PDAs. I appreciate the graphics and screen- even the combination of the small Centro screen and my old eyes don’t interfere with enjoying the game. This is also a game that appeals to a lot of age groups- younger kids may not get too far, but my kids usually surprized the heck out of me with their scores on the original version. Just FYI- it is considered a new game, not an upgrade- your Insaniquarium code will not work for it.