Wednesday, 24 February 2010

iQuarium app review

iquarium app quite beautiful normally and this is before high resolution object unlocksPrice at time of writing 59p (approx $1) Please note at the time this was half price.

iQuarium is one of the most popular paid apps on iTunes ever. At least it was until the disastrous patches taking it to version 1.60 and 1.61.

How star ratings can nosedive if a patch messes things up!

In it's normal fully functioning form iQuarium is quite beautiful, the graphics are stunning. and the animation is beautiful. My screenshots show iquarium before the luxury items are unlocked like the beautiful high resolution backdrops and realistic plants and rocks.

You have a single Parrot fish and you care for your virtual pet like you would a normal fish. Of course you have to feed him and pay him attention. If you neglect him he will get ill and soon die.

Another early iQuarium shot with clock, gravel, plant and bubbles unlockedFor each ten minutes that pass you accrue 1 point. Different items are unlocked as you accrue more points. This starts off with gravel, bubbles (sounds great) and backgrounds and for higher accumulated points you get plants, rocks, working clocks (12 and 24 hour clock switchable) and treasure chests which award more points when opened. Version 1.60 was meant to enable a second fish option (I understand at 10,000 points).

The app is Open Feint integrated which works especially well. There are many achievements to obtain as you progress with caring for your virtual friend. It is an achievement list that was well thought out by the developer with achievements unlocked gradually over the course of a year (and that's only if you do a good job of caring).

Also in Open Feint are leaderboards and chat forums where you have announcements from the developer (infinite dreams inc) and the opportunity for user feedback.

However Infinite Dreams must be cursing their patch 1.60 which was aimed at curing a few minor problems and giving the users that 2nd fish in due course.

Like so many others my "Goldie" (yes you can name your fish) turned white on loading of the patch. This is normally because you haven't fed him/her, swimming gets lethargic too.

Goldie in the iQuarium app before Infinite Dreams sent him to the goldfish bowl in the skyVery quickly users around the world posted on iTunes and in Open Feint that their "fish" had died. The developer asked anybody whos fish had died to email in and they'd try to sort things out. Of course all progress and unlocked content for your tank is lost. Not much of an issue if you've just started but if you have 214,748,364 points like user AznGuyz at the top of the leaderboard whether your fish is virtual or not you are going to be pretty annoyed. Although I have to admit some of these scores have appear to have been "hacked in" rather than genuine.

Some people posted that they are annoyed at loss of progress. Others are demanding a refund or a reinstatement of points and unlocked objects. Some people are even saying they don't know how they are going to break the news to the kids - yes I know this sounds a little over the top - but if you've been encouraging your kids to care for a virtual fish as a taster for what a real pet would be like to care for some littl'uns may take this hard.

The real explanation that the man who programmed the fish had just commited fishy genocide isn't going to be understood by anybody under about 6 years of age.

My iQuarium app virtual fish is feeling a little blueInfinite Dreams must be praying somebody isn't going to pursue litigation for the trauma caused by the loss of their virtual aquatic companion. Are you laughing? In this sue-for-everything culture we live in it could just happen! Psychological disturbance or compensation for hours of wasted "play time" - could these be grounds?

Infinite Dreams did try to rush out a patch for users like me whose "fish" was just surviving saying it would save the situation. All patch 1.61 did for me and may others was send my little orange, no sorry white, virtual pet to thet big fish tank in the sky.

Some like me on restarting then saw a purple/blue fish briefly but on restarting a 3rd time the whole app appeared to have gone back to the beginning with the fish being gold and no objects being unlocked.

At the time of writing this though the application is still bugged I've just relaunched and the fish is again blue and points are not accruing. If nothing else this allows me a screen shot of "Satsuma" who will now be renamed "Blueberry" (if he "lives").

As regards to score on this app prior to this disastrous episode it would have been a 10/10.

This may be a cheap app but it was a highly respected one and a good one to show off the iPhone and iPod touch capabilities.

I'm giving this an 8/10 for now in the hope that with urgency Infinite Dreams sort this horrendous mess out as soon as possible and upload to iTunes a fully functioning app which at least works to the high standard it did prior to 1.60. Ideally this should be free initially to save any new users buying a dodgy app. As for those who lost content it's unfortunate but unless backups are held of all progress I doubt if reinstatement is possible.

I am sure this will prove a lesson to all developers that releasing an upgrade without testing it on a multitude of users can have disastrous consequences.

8/10 for now and available here iQuarium

1 comment:

  1. I love my iquarium but the app has something wrong with it, i get into it and for 5 seconds i can feed my fish but thats it then the screen gets dark & its very slow and it does not recognize me tapping on the screen. When are they going to fix this? I've barely been able to feed my fish and things are unlocking and i cannot get to it. Its very frustrating. I did not pay for something that would mess up and not be fixed.