I figured LightFish would be a tough game for me to enjoy.  It’s a Qix clone, and it wasn’t too long ago that I played one of those that I really got hooked on.  It was called Cubixx HD for the Playstation 3.  It’s a marvelous little title that got started as a PSP Mini a few years back.  It takes the classic Qix formula and puts it in a 3D environment, giving new life to a game that has been worn-out for decades now.

LightFish isn’t nearly as innovative as Cubixx, but it’s good enough to stand on its own.  It takes the Qix formula back to 2D basics.  Using a little glowy fish thingie, you have to draw a line from one part of a wall to another, closing it off.  You need to fill up 75% of a level to clear it.  If a baddie touches you or your line before you reach the wall, you die.  Most of the enemies are typical staples of the genre, only with an underwater theme to them.  There are a few surprises, such as sea thingies that shit bombs out like some bizarre form of aquatic creature dreamed up by Oppenheimer.

This is one of those pictures that will seem like a uncomprehensable clusterfuck. Just watch the trailer.

Where the game really won me over was in level design.  The stages often are larger than the whole of the screen.  In a game where enemies can kill you simply by crossing your path, that sounds like it would be unfair and aggravating.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, it adds a degree of tension that can sometimes be lacking in the Qix formula.  Levels are also filled with “coral reefs” that you cannot build into, which necessitates maneuvering around them.  At first, I figured they would be annoying.  Once I learned how to use them to cage in the enemies, I was glad they were there.  A nice touch, for sure.

LightFish also features some really amazing graphics that should remind many of the Playstation Network title Flow, only here you can actually make sense of stuff.  Everything is clear, distinctive, bright, colorful, and without slowdown.  In truth, I think it has the best graphics of any Xbox Live Indie Game I’ve played yet, including TIC Part 1.  I’m a sucker for this kind of stylized art theme, especially when it’s pulled off so damn well.  The music is pretty mellow and catchy too.

But all is not great under the sea.  The controls are a tad bit sensitive.  In later levels, lava pits are added to the stages that are an instant death if you touch them.  Well I guess everything is technically an instant death here, but the problem is, sometimes the guys at Eclipse Games got a little bit carried away with some of the level designs.  For example, there is a stage where you have to go inside a giant reverse “C” made entirely of lava to be able to complete the level.  The amount of room you have to work with is so narrow that you have to hug the lava to be able to meet the required 75% of space cleared.  But the controls often lead you steering right into the damn lava because it’s not exactly clear how close you are to it.  It’s maddening, and it happens in some other stages too.  And what the fuck is lava doing underwater?  I know it’s there in the real world, but couldn’t they have come up with something else?  Write “BP” on a black pit and call it an oil spill.

This is where babies come from.

I also hated the scoring system, and not just because it lacks online leaderboards.  When you complete a stage, the game rates you on a three-star scale.  Often, the ratings seemed completely random.  I could complete a level in under a minute, kill every bad guy in the process, rope off every coral reef, not die, and still only get one star.  I fucking hate it when games do this.  Angry Birds was the same way.  Some games did it right, like Mr. Gravity for example, clearly defining what goals need to be met to get the full rating.  If you’re going to have a system like this, at least spell out for the gamer what benchmarks must be met to get the best scores.

There were one or two fun glitches as well.  The auto-save feature apparently doesn’t work, and so my first day of progress was lost because I didn’t quit out to the menu.  The developer is aware of this and is working on a fix.  The more amusing ones were situations where I watched enemies pass right through the main wall and into oblivion.  Quite helpful, actually, almost like they recognized my mad skills and just surrendered.

At the end of the day, I really enjoyed LightFish.  It’s not original, but it’s probably the best 2D Qix game made yet.  If the lava wasn’t there, this would have been a leaderboard contender.  The frustration ratio that comes into play in later stages likely sunk its chances at that.  But that shouldn’t discourage you from purchasing LightFish.  It’s fast paced, artistically well realized, and a wonderful remake of a game I figured had gone stale.  Hell, they tried to spice up Qix by throwing boobies into the mix and it didn’t work, but a glowy fish thingie did.  So the good news is I’m not bi.  The bad news is I might have a fish fetish.  That’s going to be a tough one to explain to the folks.

LightFish was developed by Eclipse Games

80 Microsoft Points can’t believe how many times Kairi typed “Gear-Fish” instead of “LightFish” in the making of this review.

On December 1, I’m giving away 1600 Microsoft Points to one lucky follower of my Facebook account. All you have to do is follow me for a chance to win!  Click the link, hit “Like” and you’re in!  I don’t spam with my Facebook.  I just post article updates and the occasional “thank you” when my site hits a milestone.  So what are you waiting for?  Enter already!

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

3 Responses to LightFish

  1. Pingback: 10/29 XBLIG Rundown 2: The Torture Tango | Gear-Fish Reviews

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