Tap Fish unleashes your inner nurturer. Or the fish die

Spoiler alert! Tap Fish is one of a long line of social networking/entrepreneurial games where you breed, buy and sell fish in order to make your aquarium the coolest on the planet. The game isn’t bad, but how well you enjoy it will depend on how much you like fish and how many of these games you’ve already played.

You will remember this as last week, but, as I discussed last Friday, we’re on blog time and I write two weeks ahead in case something bad happens. And something bad did happen to make me fall behind my two week ahead schedule. I am currently one week ahead (which puts me one week behind) because I spent most of this week (last week for you) in a state of depression.

Maybe because it was so hard to get motivated with all the dismal downers—the imminent collapse of the University of Texas football team, the real collapse of the Rangers and the Democrats shooting themselves in the foot as only Democrats can.

But the worst part is that Carol took this even harder, and when Carol’s upset I find myself in a difficult position. On the one hand, I have to be happy in order to cheer her up. On the other hand, I should be as miserable as she is or there’s something wrong with me.

So when I express my anger, she says, “You can’t be mad because I already am.” On the other hand, when she announces that she’s tired of being a pacifist and starts reminding me that she thinks Republicans are a lower life form than the mold that grows behind our bathtub, she wants to know why I’m not as angry as she is.

But I can’t quite get that angry. I mean, yes, some of them are blowhards, but tub scum? And I worked with the Rainbow Coalition, ACORN, followed the buses from Detroit to the tent cities to protest the Republican National Convention in 1984. I worked doors, phones and even served as precinct chair for several terms. I’ve been watching this crap go on since the Nixon administration and I think I’m developing an immunity. Anger turns to depression, depression turns to resignation, resignation turns to procrastination.

Hence I’m falling behind on being ahead on the blog.

I keep thinking Carol will get over it, but she spent the last few days actually responding to all those posts on Facebook about how evil Obama and Nancy Pelosi are. This is a new development for her. Usually she tries to be the tolerant one. She might think they’re tub scum, but she would never say it out loud or post in on Facebook.

Until now. And she wants to know why I don’t. Except that I know better because if I were to post she would be angry that I took over her platform and she’s perfectly capable of criticizing Republicans without my coming to her defense.

It’s not my fault that Jesus loves Republicans. Jesus loves Osama bin Laden too. He can’t help it if they both disappoint him with every sunset and sunrise. In fact puppies you can never house train are less disappointing. So sure I get mad, I just don’t get quite as mad as she does because TWJWD.

Which is why, right now, I have to keep a low profile. There aren’t any Republicans in the house for her to throw her shoe at.

The fact is I had other issues to distract me. I was paying so much attention to the losing Longhorns, the losing Texans and the soon-to-be-losing Democrats that I was falling behind with the blog. At some point I realized I needed a distraction. So when CNN started whining, “There’s no way the Democrats can hold onto to a single seat where they’re up for reelection. For confirmation, let’s talk to someone from the RNC and Fox News,” for the hundredth time on the Monday prior to the election, I pulled out my iPad and tried out a game called Tap Fish.

Why? Because this week is fish week. It looked like a game version of iQuarium and Pocket Pond, I was falling a week behind schedule and I was desperate for something to review that wouldn’t require me to think.

It didn’t work. I would hear the words, “The liberal democrats are using Obama’s health care plan to suck your soul out and lock it in a bottle they can tax,” on a TV ad. I pulled out my iPad and tried, unsuccessfully to breed fish (I didn’t realize some could breed and some couldn’t). As soon as someone in the family would say to Carol, “It’s too bad you’re a Democrat because the economy was soaring and every one had homes, jobs and no taxes before Obama took office, and look at how bad things are now,” I would think, fish games really cease to be interesting after you’ve watched them for an entire week.

I tried to think of way to tie Tap Fish into the elections. For instance, fish don’t have negative campaign ads. They don’t split into parties and argue over everything, even when they agree. They don’t spend the fish food they could be using to feed the poor fish on expensive political campaigns. But then I thought, at least not until the sharks come in and eat them and then they don’t do anything because the entire species has been wiped out.

And that made me think of Republicans again.

By the way, did you notice what I did a few paragraphs back? I associated the Republicans with Osama bin Laden based on no facts in evidence. But now that I’ve written it, it’s there in the back of your mind. It won’t go away, especially if the Democrats start using the connection in attack ads now. They won’t because they’re not Republicans. But if they did, in a year, you’d actually think, “Oh, yes, the Republicans are buddies with Osama bin Laden.”

There it is folks. In print for you to quote in emails and blogs across the country: “The Republicans are buddies with Osama bin Laden.” It isn’t true but you’ll miss this part..

This election’s most egregious example–at least in Texas—was THE “Bill White loves Willie Horton” ad by the Rick Perry campaign (and if you don’t know who Willie Horton is, you need to learn your cultural history—in the late eighties he was almost as evil as Anita Hill). It went like this: “My husband the cop was killed by an illegal alien. Bill White supported sanctuary policies” (a movement inspired by local churches, by the way). Without explaining what sanctuary policies have to do with anything the ad concludes that Bill White personally welcomed the illegal alien killer Mexican to Houston and put the gun in his hand. You also have to speak Texan to catch the additional subtext: Vote for Bill White and the state will be flooded with Mexicans who drive badly, sell drugs, steal our jobs, blow up the capitol and expect you to speak Spanish as your first language.

The overall result of the campaigns is called saturation overload. Too much information, most of it useless, all of it meaningless. I knew the Republicans were going to win the house back as soon as they got Obama to compromise by giving them everything they wanted in health care, then sold him down the river for giving them pretty much the bill they wanted. I knew the Republicans were going to win as soon as they voted down legislation to stop shipping jobs overseas because it was “a Democratic stunt to win the election.”

I knew the Republicans were going to win as soon as—in the spirit of bipartisanship—Obama kept Bush’s Secretary of Commerce, pushed through Bush’s recovery program and the Republicans switched sides and said he was trying to raise the deficit.

I knew Republicans were going to win the minute CNN started treating Sarah Palin as a legitimate Presidential candidate in 2012.

I didn’t need the media to convince me. Guys like Obama, who try to accommodate the sharks because they don’t understand that sharks are always hungry, are little more than chum floating on political waters. We elect guys like Obama because they’re intelligent dolphins who are nothing like the sharks we hate. Then, when the sharks attack, everyone blames them for not being even more bloodthirsty than the sharks who eat the pacifist fish just trying to get along in the tank.

See, I haven’t forgotten Tap Fish. I just love tangents.

It’s enough to make a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK) turn into an Episcopalian.

So I knew what was coming and, after Carol and I voted early, I decided I was tired of fish and I picked up a game called Treasures of Montezuma. Once those tokens started falling it was impossible to think about anything else. This, I thought, is a great way to stop thinking about the impending disaster. It was the most effective cure for the blues I could imagine.

Unfortunately, I can’t review Treasures of Montezuma this week because this week is fish week.

Besides, it’s not as though anything will change. The Democrats will roll over and play dead again. Obama will still compromise with the Republicans on legislation, they will still scream how evil the legislation is that he helped them write, they will stonewall the Senate and if something does get passed that they might otherwise like, they will pad it with so many amendments Obama will have to veto it (if they stop filibustering the Senate long enough for anything to pass). Which is pretty much what they will have intended all along. Because then they can shout, “Obama vetoed all of the legislation we passed (just like we wanted him to). Bad Obama.”

So with the exception of Obama vetoes, the next two years will go pretty much like the last two.

And don’t get me started on the Longhorns. They looked like fish in a barrel the last couple of weeks. They reminded me of the bass in those bass fishing tournaments where someone dumps a few hundred bass in a plastic swimming pool and the fishermen haul a dozen out on the same hook.

Finally, you think, he’s actually going to review the damn game. And, you’re right. This time I am.

Thus endeth the rant. On to Farmville for fish

Tap Fish is a combination of iQuarium and Farmville, the social networking game where you raise crops and buy junk for your farm. In Tap Fish you raise fish and buy junk for your aquarium. But unlike Farmville you can have more than one tank.

And the fish can have sex. There’s no sex in Farmville. Actually you don’t get to see the fish have sex in Tap Fish, and I would really have concerns if I thought you wanted to. But the fish can have fish sex, which if you know anything about fish sex isn’t all that exiting, and breed fish that could never exist in the real world.

Buying and breeding for success

If this game sounds familiar to readers of my blog, it will remind them of We Rule, We Farm, We City, City Story and Farm Story. I haven’t actually reviewed Farmville because it wasn’t released for the iPad until a week or so ago and I’m trying to give it some time.

Tap Fish is the first iPad release by BayView Labs, who has developed a suite of social networking/entrepreneurial iPhone tap apps: Tap Town, Tap Ranch, Tap Birds and even Tap Contest (with fish). All of these games operate from the same premise. You start with a piece of property, earn cash and magic tokens (all of which have different names but serve the same purpose, which all get to in a minute).

As you become more successful, you invest in more properties to sell and use the investment income to expand and decorate your property. In Tap Fish you start with a fish in a dirty tank. You have to clean the tank, feed the fish and introduce more fish by buying them with coins or fish bucks (the game’s version of magic tokens). As your fish increase, and cash reserves grow you earn experience points that allow you to advance to another level. When you advance to another level, you are able to buy stuff you couldn’t buy before.

You begin with a few fish and add more.

These aren’t just any fish however. These are game fish. You can buy red, green, yellow and blue snappers, bunny fish (with hair and rabbit ears), vampire fish and turkey fish (for Halloween and Thanksgiving).

Okay, they haven’t added the turkey fish yet, but it’s coming. So far they just have a pre-halloween fish.

When you play long enough you can fill your tank with cool fish and decorations.
If you can afford them.
My favorite is the picasso fish.

Dipping into your bank account

As a special incentive to buy, the seasonal fish have a narrow buying window. If you don’t buy in time, the special fish go away. Of course these are also expensive fish. And I don’t mean expensive in game dollars.

This is where the catch in all these games comes in. It’s hard to earn all of the stuff you need to earn before the cool fish go away. In some cases you simply get tired of staring at an empty tank. To make your life easier, you can buy coins and fish bucks with real cash.

I’m sure this comes as no surprise.

At least BayView doesn’t hide this fact from buyers. The Tap Fish app store page lists several of the in-app purchases you will want to buy, including whole bundles of fish if you want to skip the hard part altogether.

Fortunately, BayView offers free fish bucks for downloading other apps. Unfortunately, most off the apps that offer fish bucks are apps you have to pay for. Still, I was able to collect 18 free fish bucks, which was enough to get a sense of the game.

Tap Fish does let you earn fish bucks by playing with other apps.

The care and breeding fish

Tap Fish adds it’s own wrinkle because all of these games have to have a wrinkle. The wrinkle is that you can’t just buy fish, you have to buy fish eggs. There are two kinds of fish, those that can breed and those that can’t. Once you decide to breed, you place two different fish in the breeding tank and wait to see what develops. As you unlock new levels you can buy new tanks.

One way to acquire new fish is to breed them.

Like iQuarium, you have to feed the fish or they will die. Unlike iQuarium you can actually see the fish food floating in the water.

At first I was confused because I clicked on the feed icon and suddenly little fish food cans appeared at my fish’s mouths. I thought that meant they were eating. It took me a day to realize the fish food cans meant they were hungry and you actually have tap the screen to sprinkle the food.

You will also see algae blooms. You will need to clean these up before your fish get sick. (I hope I don’t need to explain the biology behind the algae blooms because it’s kind of gross.)

If you don’t feed the fish, they really die and float the top of the tank. On the other hand the algae blooms could kill them first. If you forget to feed them, you probably forgot to clean the tank too. Fortunately, you can pay to revive them. If you kill your fish too often, it might just be easier to move them to inventory.

You can revive your dead fish.

Thy neighbors’ tanks

Social interaction occurs when you visit other player’s tanks. You can add neighbors permanently, or visit them at random. Once there you earn additional cash and points by cleaning their tanks and feeding their fish.

This is not the kind of social networking you would experience with We Rule or We Farm, where you actually order from other players and they order from you. You can check in, drop some food in the water, and that’s about it.

If you’ve played Farmville, or We Rule, or Tap Zoo, I don’t really need to describe the game except to say, Farmville with fish. Whether or not you will like it will depend on how much time you currently invest in social networking games.

Personally, I’m getting tired of them. I’ve already abandoned several because they’re too much alike. And once I get my golden capital, I’ll probably check out of We City except to return orders to other players. I’m certainly getting tired off harvesting crops, factories, ice cream trucks and blueberry bushes. Even a game with fish doesn’t hold as much charm to me as the photorealistic ponds and aquariums reviewed earlier this week.

On the other hand, it’s free in the beginning. And you can move up two or three levels without spending any real money. That should let you know whether you like the game. If you love fish, or love games like Farmville, it would be worth a trial run.

Jenny Manytoes rates Tap Fish

Jenny’s having a hard time with Tap Fish and so am I. Had I never played a game like this before, it would definitely have been more interesting. So personally, I’m inclined to give it a lower rating. As far as the game genre goes, it seems to hold my interest better than games like Castle Craft and City Story, so maybe I should bump it to four stars.

But Jenny looks at these fish and her paws stay put. They don’t engage her the way they do in Koi Pond or Pocket Pond HD. In fact, she just curled up and went to sleep, and I’m exhausted from election saturation and that’s all I want to do too. So in the end, even objectively, we both have to take a nap next to Tap Fish.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 3 Stars - nap, Entertainment, Games, Social Networking Games and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Tap Fish unleashes your inner nurturer. Or the fish die

  1. Very good article post.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

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