Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
One of the first games I can remember playing is a piece of interactive fiction that I now believe was intended to be enjoyed while under the influence of something a little more powerful than coco pops. As an eight year old, I did not understand this. Fish! is a psychedelic bowl of text that I struggled to comprehend for months back in the eighties, but now see as a precursor to the likes of Off-Peak.
It’s the cover that I remember, mainly. That and the fact that I didn’t understand why I was playing as a goldfish. A goldfish that is actually an interdimensional spy on vacation.
In the world of Fish!, interdimensional agents can jump into other peoples’ bodies and when the game begins, you’re resting between assignments, and the most peaceful place to rest is in the body of a goldfish. No stress, no distractions, just a bowl, a plastic castle and little pellets of food. Everything goes horribly wrong, of course, and you’re soon leaping from one tiny scene to another, attempting to stop a terrorist plot.
I have no idea if the plot would make any sense to me now but it didn’t at the time. Despite that, I found the game absolutely fascinating. It wasn’t like anything else I’d ever played and I appreciated that, even as it confounded me. There’s more information than I ever knew on this page here, including a walkthrough that I’m tempted to read, never having completed even the most basic objectives. Maybe now, almost thirty years later, I can figure out what the heck that recording studio was all about.