Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

My Sim Aquarium

My Sim Aquarium

Fall 2006 Software
Ages: 8 & Up
Publisher: Viva Media
Price: $19.99
Platform: Windows
If you can't get your kids to feed the fish in the real aquarium, try this virtual one. Same nice, relaxing, beautiful concept of colorful fish swimming around among plants, rocks and buildings—just not real.

While I hesitate to call this a “game,” it can be a sweet little diversion kids may enjoy—for a while. You start out by choosing from the selections of “dream aquariums” and 48 different species of baby salt-water fish. Then set up your virtual aquarium any way you like—add a Statue of Liberty, coral, miniature Taj Mahal, windmill. I like the standard pirate's treasure chest. With feeding and proper care (yes, dang it, you must change the water periodically), the baby fish grow into bigger fish and the bigger fish have babies. Well, that's about it.

Sure, you can feed your fish alternative goodies and watch them get weird or glow neon-like. Prod them, poke them, play with them. Learn about the species in the virtual owners' manual. Hey, the animation and graphics are nice, if not exactly underwater realism—and you can make your virtual aquarium into a screensaver.

But, otherwise, once you've set it up about all there really is left to do is watch the fish. No missions, no games, no psycho inter-species breeding experiments. Just watch the fish.

Don Oldenburg   ©2006 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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