Looking Back: Fish Tycoon/Plant Tycoon

  • Names: Fish Tycoon/Plant Tycoon
  • Platform:PC, Mac, PalmOS, PocketPC
  • Developer: Last Day of Work

Have you ever been so bored with a game that you’ve started doing theoretical mathematics based around the mechanics just to occupy your mind?

No? Just me? Well then.

On the surface, both Fish Tycoon and Plant Tycoon are very different games. Fish Tycoon is all about breeding fish and trying to discover the seven magic fish to restore the fauna of the island of Isola, while Plant Tycoon is about breeding plants and trying to discover the six magic plants to restore the flora of Isola. Ok, I lied about there being major differences.

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Both of the games employ very simple controls­ consisting of clicking and dragging. In Fish Tycoon, you hatch fish from eggs by dropping them in the water, and when they’re old enough you can drag one fish onto another to breed them together. When they’re old enough to sell, you can drag them into the selling tank and click on the “sell fish” button to go to the shop and wait for customers to purchase your fish. You can set the price of sale on the “species” page, and this affects every member of the species you’ve currently got selected. Each fish has a “Fin” and a “Body”, and it’s your main task to find the combinations of fins and bodies that are known as the 7 magical fish. Certian species can only survive in higher­ level tanks, which can be bought in the shop tab, along with medicines and decorative items.

In Plant Tycoon, on the other hand, you grow plants from seeds by dropping them in soiled, watered pots, and when they’re old enough you can drag one plant’s pollen onto another plant to breed them together. When they’re old enough to sell, you can attach a pricetag to them and click on the “sell plants” button to go to the shop and wait for customers to purchase your plants. You can set the price of sale while a plant is selected, and this affects every member of the species you’ve currently got selected. Each plant has a “Flower” and a “Foliage”, and it’s your main task to find the combinations of Flowers and Foliages that are known as the 6 magical plants. Certian species can only survive in higher­level soil, which can be bought in the “shop” tab, along with
medicines and decorative items. So yeah, not too similar.

Now, normally, I’m okay with casual little romps like these. However, both of these games run in pseudo real-time that means that you’ll be waiting nigh ­on a day for things to grow up or pollinate. Plant Tycoon does have an advantage in this: it has a minigame where bugs will run across your screen at times and you can click them with a net to catch them. However this only provides a small distraction, and I’ve found my mind to quicky wander while playing. The advantage of this pseudo real time design is that things continue to work while you’re away from the game and even the computer­ as long as things aren’t paused, but I still think that it could have been sped up just a little.

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Both games have beautiful music, although their graphics can be considered a little basic. Everything graphically is mostly a non­animated sprite, but they do their job. Every Fish Body, Fish Fin, Plant Flower and Plant Foliage is recognisable from a distance, so they serve their purpose well and do feel unique. The music in Plant Tycoon is better than that in Fish Tycoon, as are the graphics- more detailed, easier for colour blind people to see, etc­ and this shows that in the three year gap between the two games Last Day of Work have grown as a company and become much more confident in what they do.

I’d recommend having a breeding spreadsheet handy. With both games­ offering 20 or so different types of each interchangable part, there are a lot of combinations to memorise. These can be downloaded from the internet, but I find it more fun to make my own as I play. It gives me something to do while I wait.

Oh, and for anyone who’s interested, the theoretical mathematics I mentioned earlier? Both breeding tables for both games are commuting, non­associative, idempotent magmas.

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