IndieTrials
FishCraft
Developed by Frozen North
Released on February 20th 2011
Sold on XBLIG for 80 MSP
Review details
Reviewed on March 22nd 2011 by Martin Caine
First impressions
The box art for FishCraft is nicely designed and immediately shows the cartoony nature of the game. THe first few intro screens are also pretty professional looking and the menu is big and bold which suits the style of the game.

I was at first a little confused as to why the game needs both a 'Trial' and a 'Play' button on the main menu. Players would just expect to press Play, the game itself should just determine at that point if you're playing in trial mode.

First impressions are good, the graphics look nice but there's no hint yet as to how the game plays.
Trial experience
Starting the game I can see there are just a few levels available to play. Once selecting the level you're presented with a very familiar intro graphic in the style of the Angry Birds intros.

The game loads up and you are presented with a screen full of instructions telling you what all the buttons do. Personally I think this could've been done better as there's just too much on screen to take in at once. I get into it fairly quickly though, aim the cannon and fire my fish towards the cats who seem to like hiding in dangerous structures.

The end-of-level screen is not the best, it uses icons with buttons over them to indicate what you need to press. While the icons do represent the actions it's always better to include some text too.

The graphics in the game are very nice, it has a clean and cartoony look but some of the popups and graphics look a little too large. The movement of the fish also doesn't seem very smooth and I noticed a few occasions where the physics didn't quite look right with pieces bouncing around and sometimes acting as if they'd been hit when they hadn't.

It doesn't take long to complete the levels in the trial and you're then presented with a screen asking you to purchase the game. This screen is not very well designed and I can't imagine people wanting to buy the game at this point. I press A to continue at this point without purchasing the game to see what the 'Play' option does from the main menu.

Clicking on the option I see there are a number of worlds with many more levels available. This should've been made more prominent before showing the Purchase screen though as I didn't have much of an idea how much more there was to the game. At this point I exit the game as there's nothing more to do.
Overall thoughts
FishCraft is a nice cartoony game in the style of Angry Birds but is let down by the quality of the user interface and a rather short trial experience.

I did enjoy playing the game, it's not as polished as Angry Birds but with some work it could be just as good. I do feel the game could be massively improves by rethinking the user interface as some elements are not very clear and some screens are quite badly designed.

At the end of the trial I don't think people are going to feel the need to buy the game to continue playing. It needs to be clearer what you get if you buy the full game and the 'Trial' link needs to be removed from the main menu.
Rating