Sink or Swim? Happy Aquarium vs. FishVille

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Boasting 24 million active users, Happy Aquarium is clearly the big fish to beat on Facebook. Now Zynga's dropped its hook to see if it can catch that many and more with the just-released FishVille. To test the waters, we decided to fillet both into categories to see which aquarium game swims... and which one sinks.

Eye Candy


Add fish, water and glass and you have a viable fish tank. Happy Aquarium's starter tank is barebones as players use coins to add plant, coral, rocks and other submergible treasures although five different sand colors are free. FishVille's basic tanks feature a eye-catching background and a must more simplified list of tanks accessories. While we were going to give the category to FishVille because Happy Aquarium's eye-pleasing backgrounds are purchased with Pearls (earned but easier to buy with real money)... but FishVille's backgrounds are "Coming Soon." Happy Aquarium takes the candy by offering one awesome feature, full-screen play.

Winner: Happy Aquarium


Feeding


Fish need food to grow and both games deal with those morsels in very different ways. Happy Aquarium requires players to purchase food whereas FishVille offers the ultimate in fish buffets, free food. If you like feeding fish all the time, FarmVille is for you. But we like Happy Aquarium's 3 Day Feeder option that lets us kick back to watch and sell fish instead of feeding them all the time. But that options comes with a real price... you have to buy it with real money.

Winner: FishVille

Buying Fish


Selecting fish is never an easy task. Will they thrive? How long until they mature? How much can I sell them for? All are obvious questions. Happy Aquarium takes the less is more approach here by merely showing off the fish you can buy and how much it will cost. FishVille decided to answer all the big questions right up front as it lists the fish's name, time to maturity and how much money it will sell for.

Winner: FishVille

Selling Fish


Fish mean profit and making sure you make the most money and experience points is essential to continued growth. Yet this is where Zynga's FishVille packs in all the info you'll need to know before selling your fish.

Winner: FishVille

Fun




While FishVille is newer, the gameplay is a bit closer to real fish tanks. You feed the fish, they swim around and you repeat the whole process again until you sell them or they die. But Happy Aquarium has a fin up on its competitor by allowing you to tap on the glass, coaxing two fish to mate and a training mode where you avoid water hazards for coin and points (and gets better as you teach them tricks).

Winner: Happy Aquarium


The Verdict: FishVille

Despite Happy Aquarium's clear dominance of the Fun category, FishVille feels like the result of Zynga really understanding the parts of its older games and how to make them better. Is this verdict set in stone? No way. CrowdStar really has a great product in Happy Aquarium, one that with a few refinements, might turn Zynga's next big tuna into chum.


P.S.: I'd like to gave props to Zynga for supplying this week's best way to humiliate a co-worker. I'm sooo going to make this into a T-shirt for the Christmas party.



Play FishVille on Facebook >>
Play Happy Aquarium >>


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- FishVille or FarmVille: Which Will You Play?
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- FishVille Bubbles Up on Facebook
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