theuselessgod's Feeding Frenzy (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

It's a fish-eat-fish world out there...

The Short

Pros

- Simple, "eat fish to get bigger to eat bigger fish" game

- Despite having literally no depth (hur hur ocean joke), the game is oddly addicting

- Bonus stages and special activities help mix things up

- Time Trial and other modes included

- Was my wife's first favorite Xbox 360 game

Cons

- Really simple

- Really repetitive

- Doesn't mix things up enough

- Short

- Graphics are also simple, and while they have style look rather bland

- Time Trial is stupidly unbalanced. It gets way easier after the first few levels

- Achievements require stupid amounts of grinding

- Doesn't play very well on mouse and keyboard vs controller

If there's anything I like, it's eating seafood.

The LongSo along with Luxor 2 (aka "Suxxor 2," hur hur wit), when we bought our brand spanking new Xbox 360 way back in 2008 it also came with a handful of other Xbox Live Arcade Titles. One of these was Feeding Frenzy, made by the fine folks at PopCap to invade our subconscious and sell more seafood. A simple game about fish eating fish, it was either play that or Eternal Sonata, and considering how lazy we were at swapping discs we tried Feeding Frenzy out instead.

And something about it weirdly resonated with my wife, and she played it non-stop for...quite a while. I think we beat the whole game in only two nights.

So with that in mind, I've decided to give Feeding Frenzy my usual unbiased assessment. After playing its sequel (which we bought the second my wife found out it existed), is Feeding Frenzy really worth playing? And, despite all the great memories we had, I'm sorry to say the answer is "no." Feeding Frenzy just isn't that great of a game, when you boil it down.

But there is still something there that hooked my wife, so read on.

It's a fish-eat-fish world under the sea.

Feeding Frenzy is about as simple as it gets. You start a stage as a little fish. At this point, the goal is to just eat fish that are smaller than you and avoid becoming food for everybody else. Eventually, when you eat enough, you'll "level up" and become bigger in an instant (which is totally how fish evolution and development works. Trust me. I got my Marine Biology merit badge in Boy Scouts.) and then those fishy bastards that were one rank up that kept eating you are now your food, ha ha! Repeat the process one more time and you'll be king of the ocean, and then you simply reach the end of the bar to win.

Every single stage is like this. I have literally described the entire game.

CHOMP.

The only real trick comes in getting "Frenzies" (hence the name). Eat a lot of fish in a row and you get bonus points. Get enough bonus points and you'll get extra lives, and a place on the totally hacked XBLA leaderboards. So there really isn't much for the points, I guess. I think it also makes you grow bigger, but I might be confusing it with the second game. Whoops.The game also gives you new fish to try, and a few stages are a bit different (there's one where the currents are fast so fish go flying and it's hard to control, etc.). There are also bonus stages that require eating a number of fish in a time limit and what have you, and it keeps adding unique fish that do weird things (like puffer fish you have to sneak up on, etc.) but they really don't do much. While it does seem to add new stuff at a decent clip, the core element and scenarios doesn't ever really change, so the whole thing feels like the same grind over and over. You shrink back to tiny between every stage, so each time you are back at square one. These fish must have crazy metabolisms.

There's a decent single player and the same thing with "Time Trial," and that's about it.

Unlike most PopCap games, this one doesn't have much content. All the stages can be seen in the graphic above, with clear indications when you switch fish. It's fine (and the Orca is awesome) but still...just the same thing over and over.I will admit, however, there is a strange draw, which is how PopCap earns its place amongst the gaming greats. Levels are quick, simple, and easy, and the fish control quickly. You soon get a dash ability as well as a "vacuum" suck ability to catch large groups at once, which is nifty. Since stages are so quick they can pull off the whole "one more level" thing, and before you know it it's two in the morning. However, just because a game is addicting doesn't mean it's really good, and Feeding Frenzy just...isn't that good.

Free Willy. Eat sharks.

It also looks kind of awful. The graphics would look bad even in an online flash game, and the animations are choppy and poor. While I'll admit the "CHOMP" sound effect is funny and the "FRENZY" voice is also pretty great, the images look static and not like they are even under water. It's like playing with badly animated cardboard cutouts. It blows my mind this is in "HD" and on the same console that can punch out stuff like Gears of War 3. I mean, come on. At least try here.Music is decent, and as I mentioned the sound effects are all fun and evoke the sounds of...well, devouring other fish with large crunches.

I'm running out of screenshots, so now you get the Xbox Live menu screen.

As it stands, Feeding Frenzy really isn't worth the asking price of $5. This is especially so because the sequel, Feeding Frenzy 2, is also on XBLA and PC and is way better. It's essentially the same core addicting gameplay in the second but with more variety, options, levels, and multiplayer (both co-op and competitive mini-games). So in comparison, Feeding Frenzy is looking pretty bare-bones.If you have a weird inclination for fish-eating-fish based video games, I'd say ignore Feeding Frenzy and grab the second one. The second one is also co-op, which means you can play it with your significant other, and it looks better, plays better, and actually has a decent amount of content. As much as I love you, PopCap, and as much as I'm glad my wife found a game to play on our new Xbox 360, this game should be caught and released.

Get it? Fish jokes. Not to bait you on or anything, but I might be jumping the shark with all these fishy fish puns.

Ok, I'm done. At least I tried. Two out of five stars.

Oh yeah, this is what the XBLA version looks like. All the rest are PC. Probably should have mentioned that earlier...whatever.

More at http://nathanvsvideogames.blogspot.com

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