Like everyone else, I got totally hooked on Flappy Bird back when the craze was at its height. I also tried quite a few of the copycats, clones and unofficial spin-offs that came out after Dong Nguyen pulled the original game from the App Store. Given this excessive amount of past experience with Flappy Bird-style titles, it takes a lot for one to impress me these days and even more to surprise me. But I’m delighted to say that Lost Fishy Ultimate Challenge (out now, $0.99) managed to do both.

There are a couple of key things that immediately set Lost Fishy apart from other Flappy Bird-alikes. The first is the fact that the player character  — a cute red and orange fish — can swim freely in any direction he likes around levels, rather than being stuck chugging along a rigid set path. And the second is the levels themselves. In a break from the usual one endless stage, Lost Fishy features three unique environments — a deep sea canal, an underground sewer system, and a sunken pirate ship — each of which are vast mazes full of devious nooks and crannies and deadly obstacles.

Gameplay-wise, Lost Fishy isn’t all that revolutionary, but it’s still a lot of addictive fun. The goal is basically to survive for as long as possible as you flit around levels, collecting coins, dodging hazards and trying to beat your previous high score. I will say that the controls, which see you tapping your iDevice’s screen to swim up/down, and tilting it to move left/right, feel a little unwieldy to begin with and take some getting used toIt’s worth putting in the time to become comfortable with them though, because this is an incredibly rewarding game and you’ll definitely want to explore every inch of its beautifully crafted undersea environments.

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Lost Fishy. And I’d recommend that anyone who isn’t totally, totally burnt out on the Flappy genre, should at the very least give the “lite” version of the game a try. This free edition is ad-supported and only gives you access to one level (the deep sea canal), but it’ll give you a good taste for what the full Lost Fishy Ultimate Challenge experience has to offer.

Verdict

Lost Fishy may advertise itself as being a Flappy Bird-inspired game, but it’s so much more than that. With innovations like massive, fully explorable levels and free roaming gameplay, it takes the Flappy genre in a very fresh and interesting new direction. Well worth a download.

'Lost Fishy' Review: Taking the 'Flappy' Genre to the Next Level
Fun, challenging and addictiveThree varied and well-designed levels to exploreBeautiful retro-style pixel graphicsFree trial version available
Tilt and tap controls are a little unwieldy and take some getting used to The game's unforgiving level of difficulty won't be for everyone
3.5Very Good