Variety is the key in Plenty of Fishies, a colorful new action game with a focus on high scores.  Up to five of you can compete (and cooperate at times) across several different modes.  The game succeeds in many ways, but slowdown holds it back from its true potential.

Adventure mode has you consuming smaller fish to increase in size.  You’ll also need to avoid the larger ocean life that will inflict damage on you.  The levels vary both visually, and in shape and structure.  At times you’ll be on a stationary screen, while others have you scrolling up and down or side to side.  I find it a bit too long and repetitive when playing solo, but enjoyable when competing for points with friends.  One level that has you teaming up to eliminate a large angler fish is particularly fun.  Vast amounts of stutter have a negative influence however.

Plenty of Fishies gameplay

Mobile flash in the pan Flippy Bird inspires the next mode, the similar playing Flippy Fish mode. You’ll be swimming between obstacles with the option to swim underneath some for a bonus.  The layouts are quite challenging, with little if any margin for error at times.  Don’t be surprised if you see lots of single digit scores, especially early on.  Playing with friends simultaneously gives everything a different feeling (and is my preferred way to play) but the stutter here impacts the gameplay even more!

Plenty of Fishies - Flippy Fish

Egg survivor mode rounds things out.  This is really only fun in multiplayer with asymmetrical gameplay.  One player controls a fish with a number of eggs in tow on the GamePad, while friends pursue on the television.  The GamePad player can duck into a number of pipes for temporary escape to hide, and others will have to keep an eye on the expanded TV view to see where they might reappear.  Not only is this the most original and creative mode, but it also seems to be the one least affected (though not immune) from lag.

Plenty of Fishies - Egg Survivor

There is a lot to appreciate with this Wii U exclusive.  The gameplay diversity, Gamepad use, a very nice musical score, online leaderboards, etc.  This is good family friendly entertainment.  It’s just such a shame that framerate issues are so prevalent.  Every game suffers from copious amounts of slowdown.  Even the menus are affected from stutter.  It’s impossible to ignore! Unfortunately it does impact overall enjoyment.  While still playable, Plenty of Fishies could be so much more if it ran smoothly.  I hope Nitrolic’s next Wii U exclusive is optimized better.  A patch is in lotcheck at the time of this writing (promised for early January) to address skipping and more.  At the moment however, Plenty of Fishies is still fun if sizably flawed.

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