Swim with the Sharks in Feeding Frenzy 2

Every so often around here, in between working on new games, we like to take a look back at our classics. This week, I’ve been rediscovering a personal favorite, Feeding Frenzy 2 (available for PC and Xbox 360).

When I started at PopCap, I was encouraged to play all of our games, get to know them, spend my evenings obsessing over them…okay, no one told me to do that part, but it was inevitable. Within the first few levels of Feeding Frenzy 2, I was (pardon me) hooked. I spent the next few nights beating the game, and when I discovered the reward for doing so* (spoiler alert–don’t read the footnotes unless you want to know!), I instantly started over and played through again.

But it’s been several years, and along the way we even released an Xbox 360 version I had yet to try, so this felt like a great time to revisit an old friend.

In Feeding Frenzy 2, you start small. Your appetite is based on the food chain, so your dreams are filled with tiny fish.

As you eat, you climb the food chain, and your appetite increases....

A deceptively straightforward game like this can really get you thinking. Feeding Frenzy 2 is great training for the harsh reality of life. For one thing, I was doing pretty well until an instant message pop-up blocked a section of the screen…suddenly, CHOMP! It’s a reminder to minimize distractions if you want to succeed in the real world. Sure, it hurts a little on some level to think of being out of touch even for a while; you can’t stand to go anywhere without WiFi, and losing your phone feels like a catastrophe, but maybe it’s for the best. Maybe eliminating distractions is the only way to rise to the top of the food chain. You know how the dude who started MySpace friended everyone when they joined? How many people do you know who have Mark Zuckerberg in their friends list? I’m not saying that’s the only reason Facebook trumps MySpace, but it’s something to think about.

Another solid life lesson in Feeding Frenzy 2 is: aimless motion is as dangerous as no motion at all. You can’t stand still and wait for food to come to you, or you’ll starve; but you also can’t just zip around like the world is your oyster, because you never know what’s around the next corner. Stop paying attention for the briefest moment, and you’re chomped! (Chomped is a competition show on the Fish Network, hosted by Red Salmon.)

Feeding Frenzy 2 is not merely a fun-filled, fin-filled motivational seminar, however! It also has some uplifting messages to impart.  Consider the level on which you discover a new cuisine:

Tasty, tasty bugs.

The waters are pretty sparsely populated with little fishes all of a sudden, but don’t despair; just adapt, and look for other options! If you try leaping, you can reach new heights and experience new flavors. This reminds us that if we’re feeling stuck in stagnant waters, we should look beyond our routine and test our own limits. Some barriers are arbitrary, self-imposed, or even imaginary, and there’s a horizon in every direction.

After revisiting the PC version, I was ready to try it on the Xbox 360. It’s the same great game with even prettier graphics. The collision detection is more refined, which means your aim has to be a bit more precise in order to gobble up fishes with the Xbox controller than with a mouse. But the predators around you have that same handicap, so zooming away from a tight spot is a little bit easier. All in all, the single-player Xbox 360 experience is a great adaptation of the PC game.

But the multiplayer Xbox 360 experience is outstanding! There’s standard story mode, in which you and your partner work together to complete the basic game, and that’s a good time to share with someone. Best of all, there are the all-new, all-awesome mini-games. Some are more co-op in nature, others are competitive, but they all offer side-by-side living room arcade fun for 2-4 players, in a colorful, all ages appropriate, family-friendly game that is easy to learn, hard to master, and a blast to play with.

In short, I know what I’ll be doing this rainy weekend. We’ll make our cats jealous by eating little fishes all day, then maybe go out for sushi.

As promised, there is a spoiler below, so here’s a final image to keep you from seeing the spoiler accidentally:

The bigger you get, the bigger target you present...another ominous life lesson!

*When you beat Feeding Frenzy 2, you unlock the option to play the game with the avatar of the big bad you just defeated!  It’s a wicked powerful feeling.

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