Have You Played… Fish!?

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.

8 Comments

  1. benjymous says:

    You can actually play the full game on that site, too:

    link to msmemorial.if-legends.org

    • Fnord73 says:

      Lol, its a classic! Never heard of it before.

      “> examine castle

      Colours are sprayed on this tacky castle in a random fashion, as if it had been visited by a medieval graffiti artist with a belly full of mead and a nasty case of clinical depression. A large gateway leads inside. “

  2. rustybroomhandle says:

    A grand ol’ piece of weird that was.

    And if you’re into weird IF from that era, might I also suggest Behind Closed Doors. It’s all about an ogre (i think) whose prankster friends locked him in the toilet. Yup.

    link to archive.org

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    phuzz says:

    And now I have this song stuck in my head:

  4. Maxheadroom says:

    for years i couldnt remember if this game actually existed or if it was just some sort of fever dream i once had.

    By the same people who did The Pawn wasnt it? Loved the artwork in those games

  5. Shazbut says:

    I never played it but I saw that box art in a magazine as a kid and it definitely stuck with me

  6. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    IF historian Jimmy Maher wrote a piece on the background of Fish! last year. Like all his work, it’s thoroughly researched and well written.

    If you’re interested in the stories behind any of the games of that era, I can’t recommend his blog highly enough.

  7. chuckieegg says:

    I did play this. But it was on my Spectrum. So I’m not allowed to comment.