Have you ever played a game so intense that you forgot the alphabet? A game so mentally demanding that, after finally quitting, you have trouble saying a simple sentence without sounding like Nicholas Cage in The Wicker Man? That’s what Eskimo Fishing can do to you. But it’s extremely fun! Eskimo Fishing is an old school arcade game with simple gameplay, nostalgic graphics, great sound, and an “environmentally-friendly” idea underneath all that.
Speaking out on global pollution
The idea behind Eskimo Fishing can be described as a combination of Flappy Bird and Timberman. Flappy Bird requires the player to guide the bird horizontally, in Timberman the player guides the timberman while he cuts down a vertical tree, but in Eskimo Fishing, two Eskimos need to clear out garbage popping up from a hole in the ice. It’s also a vertical game, but going up.
In the game, two Eskimos have cut a hole in the ice to catch some fish, but instead, only garbage keeps popping up. Plastic bags, old boots, tin cans, even nuclear waste, all pop up from the hole in the ice at some point in the game. During a single level only two types of trash can be seen. From both sides of the hole sit two Eskimos waiting for the fish. Each Eskimo is assigned with one of the two types of trash in the level, and the player needs to tap the right Eskimo (or his side of the screen, at least) for him to smash the ice and save the environment.
Besides being fun, it also raises awareness on the ever growing problem of pollution, especially in the North Pole.
Time Limit = Intensity
Even though the game sounds simple enough, the time factor makes it intense
– there’s a time bar at the top of the screen, and once you run out of time – game over. Unlike Flappy Bird, where a simple mistake costs you the game, Eskimo Fishing is not that brutal. Trying to clear junk with the wrong Eskimo punishes you by lowering the time bar, but sometimes you can survive with a mistake or two.
So rushing to clear as much garbage as possible, while trying to remember which Eskimo is assigned to which type of garbage can soon become mentally demanding, and surviving a level becomes a real reason for celebration.
Graphics of the game can, and will bring tears to a grown man’s eyes. The younger generations might find no joy in the 16-bit graphics and the accompanying sound, but Eskimo Fishing will definitely ignite the old nostalgic flame.
The Social Minus
I was curious to see whether the game has any sort of virtual economy, and how it would award gamers for playing the game, and the results are a mixed feeling.
The game has an in-game economy of sorts – for each piece of garbage cleared, the player gets a point. Once he earns at least 10,000 points, he can spend it on a set of player characters: instead of Eskimos, the main characters can be polar bears, penguins, or seals. The characters look sweet and funny, but these changes are purely cosmetic, and that’s why it gives a mixed feeling.
Edit: After the review got published, we got our attention drawn towards the fact that changes in the character sets are not purely cosmetic.
In fact, each character set has a ‘streak modifier’ – the more trash you chain, more points you score. And having more expensive character sets means easier points in the future, so it’s worth investing, and a good way to reward people for playing the game.
But these changes are very hard to notice – character sets’ streak bonus is labeled by stars (from one to five stars), with no textual explanation to what the bonus does, and during the game you’re just too focused on hitting the garbage with the right Eskimo to notice any bonuses flying around. That’s something I’d definitely work on in future versions of the game.
Also, the cheapest characters cost 10,000 points – it means you have to spend hours and hours with the game for these changes. Adding different power-ups, like slowing down time (which could help the player if he forgets which Eskimo does what) could add more dynamism to the game, and is something I’d love to see in future versions.
Even though there’s room for improvement, the social integration aspect of the game is decent. On the home screen there are two buttons for Facebook and Twitter which pull up the according app and prepare a post saying ״Play this game and raise awareness on global pollution״, or something along those lines.
Competition is crucial
In the game which has tons of achievements, including number of levels passed, amount of junk cleared, number of characters bought, etc. – there’s no way to share those specific pieces of information on social media. Expanding the community aspect in a more detailed matter might just attract a bigger crowd.
Still, the game has an integrated leaderboard which pulls data from the user’s Google account, meaning you can check out which of your friends play the game, and how well they’re doing. I would only add an option to poke / tag / notify specific friends once you beat their high score or get an achievement. As with any game – competition is key, and competing solely against an AI can’t hold water for too long, social aspect is a must.
Eskimo Fishing is a well-built game: simple idea with quality execution, ol’ skool graphics for extra nostalgia and a gameplay that will have you begging for mercy while your fingers twitch in agony on level 25 make up for a fine game. All it needs is a little social push, where a player can notify a friend whenever he or she gets a better score, or completes a hard achievement, and Eskimo Fishing won’t be a diamond in the rough any more.