Inside Pulse 12

Board Game Review: Fish, Fish, Squish!

Fish, Fish, Squish!
Publisher: Winning Moves Games
Cost: $13.99 ($10 at Amazon.com)
Release Date: May, 2015
Get it Here: Amazon.com

As many of you know, I am an official reviewer for Amazon.com as well as the main writer here at Diehard GameFAN. Sometimes they send me things to review that crossover with what we cover here at DHGF. Fish, Fish, Squish! is one of those things. Since I had to write the review for Amazon, I decided to cross-post here to the site as well. It’s a game review, after all – why wouldn’t I share it with the DGF audience?

Fish, Fish, Squish! is a board game for young children. It is designed for two to four players and those players should probably be very young children. The game box says “5+,” but I would recommend 5-10 as the core age group. My wife, after having played a few rounds of Fish, Fish, Squish! declared it the stupidest board game she has ever played. She liked it even less than. the old 80s Garfield board game or Miskatonic School For Girls. She’s more of a DC Heroes Deck Building Game kind of woman. Again though, she’s not the target audience for this release. I however thought the game was flawed but cute and that very young children could have a lot of fun with this in short doses.

Fish, Fish, Squish! doesn’t take much time to play. The box says 15-30 minutes but in truth it is about 5-10 minutes only. In fact, set-up time (especially for four people) probably takes longer than it does to play the game. Now, this isn’t something like Ikusa or Cthulhu Wars where you have lots of pieces to set up. Fish, Fish, Squish! is actually pretty simple in this regard. Some of the time is spent shuffling the 54 card deck and then creating a 6×6 grid out of them. Yes, you will set some of the cards aside in case the game reaches its conclusion without a winner. The real block of time is spent molding your fish to squish! Fish, Fish, Squish! comes with four bags of extremely high quality clay. It’s fantastic molding clay and honestly, it’s probably worth the purchase price of the game. The game also comes with four resealable bags so once you open the clay from their original airtight packaging, it won’t dry out as quickly. I should note that because clay does eventually go bad, this does mean Fish, Fish!, Squish! has a limited life-span. The good news is that it will take a long time for the clay to dry out (We’re talking months/years) and by that time your kids will probably no longer care about the game.

The game comes with four fish molds, all of which are exactly the same, but you get one for each player to shorten the setup time. You make five fish of your chosen color by putting the clay into the mold and then removing it. Without fingernails, it can be hard to get the clay fish out of their molds and trimming the lines off the figures once released can take time and be tricky – especially if you have anal-retentive children who want their fish to be perfect. So again, setup takes long than the time to play the game.

Actually playing Fish, Fish, Squish! is short and simple. Each player goes (from youngest to oldest) and on their turn, they flip a single card from the 6×6 grid over. This continues until someone makes a three-of-a-kind. This does not mean that they have three of the same fish revealed, but rather a line of three different fish (yellow, red and purple). This line can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal. Once a player has made a line, they can squish one of the other players’ fish. Lose all of your fish and you are out of the game. The winner is whoever still has a fish left at the end of the game. Pretty simple, right?

Well, there are a few problems. The first is that with more than two players, you will almost always run out of cards in the 6×6 grid. Even with a two player game, that nearly happened every time. The game does have sudden death rules of “add another line of six cards to the board” but that doesn’t mean even this will be successful. You can end up having two or three sudden death lines (which uses all the cards) and have no declared winner. This is because of the randomization. Bad shuffling can end up with the cards not equally scattered across the grid, but with a massive clump of one color in a contained area. We saw it happen more than once. The randomness of the game not only increases the replay value of the game, but also can cause the game to be unbeatable – so to speak. This is a notable problem but one that can’t essentially be solved because it really is just bad dumb luck when this situation occurs. Kids won’t mind though, unless their fish squishing is down to a bare minimum. Perhaps it would be easier to make the game work as a Memory clone but with fish mashing. It wouldn’t certainly remove the sudden death aspect that is often needed.

Another issue is that some little kids won’t process all the possible lines once the majority of the cards are revealed. Heck, some adults will have this problem. You will have three of a kind but a young kid might only be looking vertically or horizontally and forget diagonally. The good news is that the rules of the game note this and remind parents to help view all the possible outcomes that occur when a card is flipped. For adults that miss a three way that they have just made, well there’s no excuse.

Adults probably won’t find Fish, Fish, Squish! very fun. It’s a little too simple and shallow for them. The squishing of a clay fish is always satisfying, no matter your age group though. Young children (once they hit double digits, the fun factor in this probably decreases sharply) though, should have a blast with this. The game helps teach spatial recognition, pattern recognition, probability outcomes and lets you mangle something made of gooshy clay. I can’t see this being a game kids will want to play for than two or three times in a row without getting board, or even once a day for weeks on end, but it is something that will be enjoyable in short bursts and something a parent can do with their child. With a price tag of under $15, you WILL get your money’s worth with Fish, Fish, Squish. I’m just not sure for how long.