Unlike many free Android games, Fish vs Pirates contains no banner ads and no in-game payment system to unlock new features and levels. Such apps tend to sound warning bells as we consider how the developer intends to cash in, but not Fish vs Pirates; there's nothing untoward in the permissions requested by Frismos Games. See also: Best Android Apps
Fish vs Pirates offers 40 free-to-play levels, difficult enough to last you a good while and addictive enough to play over and again. If you can, that is... We played the first 10 levels in Pirate Attack without any cause for complaint, but encountered our first crash halfway through the second chapter, Submarine Threat. And the crashes continued with such frequency that we gave up early on in Shark Bite, and never made it to the fourth and final chapter to do battle with King Octopus. A crying shame. Visit New Star Soccer for Android review.
A glance at the user reviews in Google Play would suggest that other users either haven't got as far into the game before submitting their verdict, or that the problem is specific to our device, a Sony Xperia P smartphone. It's well worth the download to find out whether your Android smartphone or tablet can hack it, though, and we're holding out for an update that'll fix our stability issues. Fingers crossed. Take a look at Stick Cricket for Android review.
Back to the game, though, and there's plenty here to keep you busy while the fun lasts. Fish vs Pirates is in essence a tower-defence game, very similar to Plants vs Zombies, in which you must protect the mermaid from swathes of pirate fish as they attempt to break your barriers. There are no second chances: it takes only one pirate fish to get through and the game is lost.
Your various aquatic defences are paid for with the proceeds of your pearl sales, and you'll want to rear an army of oysters to keep the enemies - of which there are many - at bay. You can also grab some quick cash by selling off items in your inventory for 10 coins apiece. Frismos Games prevents things becoming all too easy by limiting your initial budget and making items unavailable for a given period following a purchase.
Some pirate fish are more dangerous than others. The standard Pirate Fish, Fast Pirate Fish and Helmet Pirate Fish are all pretty tame, but with each new level comes new and more vicious attackers. Ninja Fish can jump over your first line of defence unscathed, while Sneaky Sniper can shoot out a hook, instantly reel himself into the front line and batter your defences with his gun. Then there's Crazy Kamikaze, who has a belt of TNT strapped around his belly, various armoured submarines that serve as battering rams and even sharks.
You've got some great defences at your disposal, though, and even your oysters serve double duty as blockades. Snails prove a more effective delay mechanism with their harder shells, but you'll need fishy warriors to take out the pirates once and for all.
You can take only six defenders into each level with you, but only your cash balance limits how many of each type can be used within the game. The Yellow Fish is the cheapest and most basic weapon, able to shoot a succession of bubbles at oncoming threats. For an extra 20 coins you can buy a Golden Fish, which simultaneously shoots three bubbles, left, right and centre, or a Freezer Fish, which can momentarily encase an invader in a block of ice as you splatter him with bubbles.
A Swallow Fish is more expensive again, but able to swallow his victim whole. He's vulnerable while digesting his food, though, so for further help you might also like to look to the exploding Blowfish or Bold Starfish, which shoots the pirate who poses the greatest threat.
When we conceded defeat in chapter 3 of Fish vs Pirates, four defenders and five attackers remained locked. We're looking forward to finding out what new features they bring to the game just as soon as we can play it without freezing interruption.
A minor irritation is the inability to go into a chapter and choose an individual level to play. Once a chapter is complete you can merely reset your achievement or pick up where you left off. With all four chapters unlocked, though, it's possible to go back and forth between them.