Fin Fin Deluxe Edition
|a game by||Fujitsu Interactive|
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Fin Fin is billed as "the World’s Most Realistic Virtual Pet." It is a real-time virtual pet -- part dolphin and part bird -- operating on a 365-day a year calendar, with days of 24 hours each, four seasons, the whole bit. Teo is a lovely world where Fin Fin lives in apparent peace. However, there is no real storyline to follow in this game … if it happens to be lunchtime when you are "communicating" with Fin Fin, then you should feed him lunch … if it is nighttime, don’t talk too loud into the microphone, etc. You can follow Fin Fin around his little planet and watch him do his thing, whatever that happens to be. Sometimes he eats, sometimes he swims, sometimes he sleeps, sometimes he flies around, etc.
You attempt to communicate through a series of commands typed into the keyboard and through speaking into a microphone, which is included with the game. It is never made clear what you should say into the microphone, or if there are any phrases (like maybe "hey, you nutty little critter!") that Fin Fin understands and will respond to. You are left to your own devices to decide what to do: the 26-page installation guide is Spartan at best. It goes over installing and troubleshooting but does not give any information about what you are supposed to do. Neither does the online Encyclopedia. It gives you a lot of background information on Fin Fin and the other flora and fauna on Planet Teo, but nowhere does it tell you what to do with this creature. I even called their technical support at the number listed in the manual and asked the technician. He said, "Well, you just sort of talk to Fin Fin and get to know each other, and he will sing you songs and do tricks and you can feed him. There’s nothing you really do with him." Obviously. You aren’t even under obligation to be sure Fin Fin is fed, like a keychain-style virtual pet. The only insight the technician could give me here is if you don’t switch Fin Fin on a couple of times a week, he will start to snub you when you do try to communicate with him.
Installation and Setup
The installation program was difficult … the prompts had numerous grammatical and typographical errors. I had to install it twice to get it to work. There was insufficient information on how to get the microphone to operate. That was left up to a good deal of trial and error.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
You are supposed to be able to communicate with Fin Fin by speaking into the microphone provided in the package. You can also press keys to perform certain functions, like feeding him a lemo fruit or taking a picture of the current screen for your Fin Fin photo album. The controls are simple enough to master, but do not seem to have much effect on the flow of the game.
When I called Fin Fin’s technical support, I asked who the target audience is for this product. I was told it was small children and the elderly and retired, or anyone who is bored and lonely. It is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. It is certainly not for this working mom of two small children. As for small children, trying to figure out how to get Fin Fin to respond is beyond the scope of most of them, and any computer-savvy youngster will opt for something with a little more action than Fin Fin. My 5-year-old son could not be bothered with this 'game,' other than shouting "Hello Fin Fin!" really loudly into the microphone; he would much prefer to play Age of Empires or a Magic School Bus title.
The graphics are the only redeeming quality of this pet (I really can’t call this a game). They are lovely and the developers have obviously gone to great lengths to create a beautiful habitat for this little guy. That’s why I say it would be a great screen saver. If this pet could run in the background like wallpaper, or even as an active desktop application, and started doing little fun tricks and making noises, this would be an enchanting package.
The music and sound effects are equally impressive. Fin Fin has a large repertoire of songs and sounds, and all are well-programmed, though relatively pointless.
Minimum: Windows 95, Pentium 75, 16 MB RAM, 90 MB hard disk space, 640x480, 16 bit color display, SoundBlaster 16 bit compatible sound card, 2X CD-ROM drive, mouse, keyboard, speakers, microphone and whistle (included in package).
Recommended: Pentium 133 and 4X CD-ROM drive. You also need to be sure to have the most current drivers for your sound card; if you don’t, you can expect to be frustrated. You can also purchase a SMARTSENSOR from Fujitsu that will allow Fin Fin to see you as well as hear you (I did not have this; maybe it would have madeFin Fin a more fulfilling experience for me).
The documentation was pathetic. It only covered installation and troubleshooting and that not very completely. I would have really liked some hints on how to get Fin Fin to respond and what the whole thing was all about. Maybe it was intended to be sparse because life itself doesn’t come with instructions, so why should an artificial life program? (If so, this should have been stated.)
This game should have been a screen saver or an active desktop application. We had a great time the other night coming up with potential advertising slogans for this product. "It offers seconds of fun for the whole family! It is also fun to berate at parties!" There are so many other software programs for just about any interest known to man, and a whole World Wide Web out there to explore, that I suspect one would have to be VERY lonely and VERY bored to find Fin Fin interesting. The Fin Fin website suggests there are 400,000 Fin Fin owners worldwide; while on their website I tried several times to log into the chat area to ask one of them what the appeal was … but could never find anyone in the chat to ask.