Feeding Frenzy

The scales are out, but have we landed a winner?

Fish and waiting rooms go together. Maybe there's some mystical, reflective quality that fish instil in people. If that's true, then Feeding Frenzy is the exception that proves the rule because it's anything but zen-like.

Playing the role of a (small) fish in a (big) ocean, you have to rapidly increase your size and stature among the aquatic community by eating your way up the food chain.

Feeding Frenzy will of course be instantly recognisable to Xbox 360 owners who like to dabble in Live Arcade, where it was made available earlier this year - and the set-up for mobiles is the same. You start out as a diminutive red fish that doesn't look as though it'd harm a fly, much less eat one, though that soon changes.

Small yellow fish are your first target and you swim around the patch of ocean you inhabit eating as many of them as you can get your lipless mouth around. Once you've consumed the requisite amount of sushi you experience a growth spurt, sometimes accompanied by a transformation into another fish, enabling you to eat correspondingly larger prey.

And so it goes through the 16 levels. Except that, as you'll remember from school biology lessons, the food chain works both ways and there are plenty of bigger fish who see you as nothing more than an interesting appetiser.

That, in an oyster shell, is Feeding Frenzy. Except for a few power-ups that range from the routine (pearls that award extra points) to the sublime (the Fury bubble that sends you on the titular Feeding Frenzy, eating everything on screen), all the game involves is you swimming around, eating things that are smaller than you.

The two game modes that are on offer, Normal and Time Attack, aren't different enough to really stand out as divergent ways of playing. Normal provides you with three lives and unlimited time to complete 16 levels, while Time Attack provides infinite lives but sets you against the clock.

Yet, like the aquarium at the dentist's, Feeding Frenzy is very compelling entertainment. The movement of your fish is, well, watery, and the sensation of momentum as you propel yourself through the water is really well handled. The visuals are rich in colour and the fish are very detailed, particularly on a decent handset.

There's a strong sense of humour running through the game, too, with satisfying sound effects and a slight air of lunacy that may or may not be due to nitrogen narcosis. The difficulty level is well-pitched and you'll make just enough progress each time you play to encourage you to return to get further.

And return to it you will, like a salmon to its spawning grounds, largely out of curiosity to see what sort of fish you'll turn into next and what you'll be able to eat. Like cod and chips, it's simple, but oh so tasty.

7 /10

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