I received an e-mail a couple of weeks ago with my first free game recommendation from a loyal reader. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect when I opened the message. My only hopes were that it wasn’t some crappy 3-D to 2-D crossover/conversion flash game similar to the plethora of pitiable Halo-inspired games I sifted through for last week’s free game. Gleefully, the recommended game was much better than I could have anticipated. Part virtual pet, part action/puzzler, this week’s free game: Insaniquarium.

 

According to the letter received, this is a title that’s been around for a while. And how very true that statement is. Originally released back in August of 2001 from Flying Bear Entertainment, Insaniquarium is an interesting and addictive virtual pet style game staged within an aquarium. Sounds boring at first, I know.  Perhaps it should be considered more of a background desktop toy than an actual game? But that’s where the game deceives you, with its initial simplistic appearing nature.

 

You start out with a couple of guppies in your tank, feeding them fish food so they can produce money. (Note: money was not what I initially thought they were “producing”…). As they grow, more money is produced. Use this money to purchase more fish, fish food, upgraded fish food and multipliers, and weapon upgrades. Wait, weapon upgrades? For what? Why, to defend your fishy friends from the alien attackers, of course. Yes, aliens eating fish. Bizarre, but for me that was the hook. No pun intended.

 

Additionally, you can use your hard-earned fish finances to purchase other various fish and critters. Some offer various upgrades, such as the shark that fights off the alien scourge or the carnivorous fish that consumes baby guppies for large cash returns. Others are purely vanity pets, offering nothing more than the service of being a virtual companion like the swordfish or clam.  As you progress, more can be unlocked, but with an obvious increase in difficulty and time investment to collect them.

 

While the free version offers plenty in itself, there is an upgraded version that you can play from PopCap Games. Titled Insaniquarium Deluxe, it offers several different play modes, upgraded sound effects and music, upgraded graphics, new pets, new fish, and new aliens foes. However, to get all these features, you’ll have to shell out $20 clams for it. Personally, I’m fine with the freebie version. It’s fun and addictive as is.

 

So if you’re ready to play the free version, click here.

 

Enjoy!

 

(And a “Thank you!”  to Charon for the recommendation!)

 

~James B. LaPoint 

 

(Know of a free game that you really like and want others to know about it? Send me a link to it, and I’ll check it out. Perhaps it could be featured as a free game of the week!)

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