Game Review

Penguins & Friends - Hey! That's My Fish! Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Paul Schreiner

Cool as ice or a bit fishy?

What does a short supply of fish, a continually sinking ice float, and a bunch of greedy penguins have in common? They all star in the board game 'Hey! That's My Fish!' which was originally brought to the gaming scene by Phalanx Games and which is now available for WiiWare under the moniker Penguins & Friends. This abstract strategy title delivered in a deceptively cutesy package may appeal to some.

The order of play couldn't be simpler: use your two to six (a max of four in the original) penguins to collect the most fish on the board, while cutting off the competition in the process. The board consists of a number of fish tiles, bearing a yield from one to three. You may only place your penguins on the one-fish tiles at the start-point. Each turn you may move your penguin as far as you want in any direction from its hexagonal float with the only restriction being that penguins may not pass other penguins or hop over empty spaces. Every time you move you collect the amount of fish on the tile your penguin was on. Once a tile has been collected it effectively sinks, creating an ever-shrinking board. If a penguin cannot move it is eliminated from the game. The game ends when all penguins are out of play.

While the board game lets you build any old shape for the playing field, Penguins & Friends restricts play to fifteen preset shapes, although the placement of fish is always random. Making the best of choke points to block and isolate other players' penguins is the key to winning, which may be easier said than done depending on where the fish concentration on the board is.

As it is a board game, don't even bother picking this up for single-player. It's all about the multi-player. The missions single-player mode features the fifteen boards from easy to hard, although the AI, which isn't the brightest to begin with, doesn't seem to ramp up much in intelligence if at all. The only effect the difficulty levels have is that the size of boards and the number of penguins in play increases. To note, you're bound to be mind-numbingly bored when the AI takes turns on the bigger boards, as it takes it about fifteen to twenty seconds to make a move in the first ten turns or so, which becomes increasingly horrendous as the number of opponents increase. Sure, it's nice to have the option to play by yourself, but single-player is particularly flawed.

In multi-player you're freely able to select any of the available boards and play with AI and/or humans. We'd suggest to only stick to friends and family because this is where the fun lies: bullying and trash-talking is the order of the day. Not being hampered by AI the game is just like the original, and can provide for a reasonably good time. Each player may pick from a selection of distinctively unique penguins, and play is entirely handled by one Wiimote. Just pass it along.

Yet there's a rather glaring omission: you'll never exactly know what your fish tally is until the very end of the game. Why the developer decided against including such a vital feature is anybody's guess. Having to add your score on a piece of paper does seem rather silly. Also, being forced to watch each "paralyzed" penguin individually leaving the board can break the flow of the game, especially when there may be four or five unmovable ones.

As far as presentation goes, it's nothing to write home about. The three different playing environments, which feature day, sunset, and night, are all rather plain, and the penguins surrounding the board might as well be stuffed animals. Not that you're going to see much of either while actually playing the game. The individual and cutesy design of the penguins help to make it look less drab. The audio is of a non-descript garden variety with a set of quite forgettable music tracks; at least each of the penguins feature their own calls.

Conclusion

Yes, one could consider Penguins & Friends a deal when comparing it to the actual board game, of which the deluxe (and now only) version costs over four times as much. Yet, at the same time, the board game has a much better portability factor and allows for more flexibility. Ultimately, Penguins & Friends does provide for fun with friends even with its slight drawbacks, but we can't help but feeling that you may be better served sticking to the table-top version.

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User Comments (20)

Kaeobais

#5

Kaeobais said:

Why do we keep getting games in 2s and the wiiware game always sucks? Give us the 10 (or whatever) games japan is getting! Or at least give us Cave Story or something else actually good.

Objection

#7

Objection said:

I think that the next two weeks (definately the Monday after next) will be a lot better. Well, at least I hope they are. ()

maka

#8

maka said:

After reading the review I got the impression the score was going to be lower...

While I'm glad we're starting to see some boardgames ported to the wii, what's the point if they can't be played online? If everyone that's going to play is here with me, then we'll play the real boardgame instead...

Twilight_Crow

#9

Twilight_Crow said:

Nice review, this one seems very generic, and I'm a lonely player so, I won't get this, not in a million years.

@maka
That's a very good point, I'm not a board game person, but I'd seriously be tempted to buy Jungle Speed or another nice board game wiiware adaptation, if it had online multiplayer.

KnucklesSonic8

#10

KnucklesSonic8 said:

I predicted correctly with the score. I'm glad the reviewer had an open mind with this. I was a bit fearful at first but I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I did hear that presentation was lacking in the game but otherwise, there is some fun to be had with friends and for that reason alone, it might be worth picking up at some point.

Oh and that is an odd omission. Maybe they thought it would make people more competitive/aggressive not knowing what their score was until the end...? I'm sure there was some reasoning behind it.

If the game can be played with one remote, maybe it would've been nice to include support with up to 8 players like Jungle Speed, just including "Extra Large" boards. :)

Either way, this review helped and for that I'm grateful. beaning the huge board game fan that I am, this game appealed to me but the presentation was a bit of turn-off from the start but it's so relieving to hear that the game is enjoyable despite its flaws. :) And for the record, if anything, wouldn't the WiiWare version be more "portable". Less of a hassle with setup and such.

Oh, and I was also right: It's a stronger effort as a whole when compared with F&FP.

@maka: You read my mind (on the former part to your comment). Otherwise, I'm not with you. Online isn't "everything".
@Twilight: Jungle Speed is wonderful without online play. Truly a frenetic and lively multiplayer experience! We always play it now! :) Oh and judging from your comment, you'll be "seriously tempted" to get UNO once it hits. I can't wait, myself.

Adamant

#11

Adamant said:

I feel the score ended up a bit lower than it should've been. This is a cheap and well-done version of the game, and while there are a few iffy design choices, like the very limited number of layouts, it hardly kills the game. Not perfect, but a decent enough adaption. 8/10 would be more fitting.

KnucklesSonic8

#12

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Adamant, it's great to see/hear you've enjoyed this board game translation. :)
Have you tried with more than one person yet?
And you read my mind in a way. I personally feel Jungle Speed deserved higher but each one to his own I guess.

Pegasus

#13

Pegasus said:

Since I know the actual board game quite well I just didn't think Penguin & Friends was quite up to snuff. As for those complaining about the omitted online functionality, you might want to reassess what board games are about: they're all about being social. Playing a game like this where I would have little to no real interaction with other players is far from appealing, not to mention rather boring.

GotWii

#16

GotWii said:

After looking at this review and the game it kind of made me question if an age bracket is needed to fairly judge a game like this. While this game does not appeal to me I think that perhaps my 4 and 9 year old may enjoy it. I would not get this game for myself but I may get it for my kids.

Also when mentioning getting a WiiWare title instead of the actual game, I started to wonder what is going to happen to all my Wii downloaded titles when I upgrade to the next generation? Will these port (free) or am I going to have to re-purchase them all over again? I hope we will not need to re-purchase downloads after we move to the next system.

Adamant

#17

Adamant said:

@GotWii: It's a somewhat heavy strategy game, and isn't really aimed at kids despite the cutesy package. Are you SURE you read the review? It doesn't really look like you understood what kind of game this is at all.

Getting it for your kids would be a mistake, especially when their age difference is so large. It's a battle of wits meant to be played by people who stand equal, your older kid would just dominate the game and make it no fun for your younger kid.

Get them Mario Party instead, that would be more on their level.

KnucklesSonic8

#18

KnucklesSonic8 said:

@Pegasus: Exactly. It seems silly for some people to complain about online play. If they add it, then nice, if not, then you can't bug down on them so much. I'm glad the reviewer that was selected had a familiarity with the original. Less biased that way. But on the note of online play, UNO will be great but can you imagine if they included Wii Speak? Then the social experience is opened up that much further.

Ricardo91

#19

Ricardo91 said:

I saw the screenshots for this at the Shop and thought it looked like a fun game.

GotWii

#20

GotWii said:

17. Adamant
Thanks for the advice, finally got back and read your comment.
I was thinking of them playing against their friends not really each other but you make a good point. But you may be surprised at the talent of these young kids with the strategy games.
They do have Mario Party: and yes that is a good level for them.

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