Freddi Fish 4: The Case of the Hogfish Rustlers of Briny Gulch

aka: De kidnapping in de Zilte Zee, Freddi Fisch und das Geheimnis der Salzwasserschlucht , Freddi Pesce: il caso dei Maialini con le Pinne, Marine Malice 4 - Le Mystère du Ranch aux Cochons , Rybka Freddi - Delo o Bande Soljonogo Uschelja
Moby ID: 5157
Windows Specs
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$6.99 new on Steam

Description official description

Set in an underwater version of the Wild West, The Case of The Hogfish Rustlers of Briny Gulch is the fourth installment in the Humongous Entertainment Games Freddi Fish adventure series. It is geared toward children ages 3-8. Like its predecessors FF4 is a colorful animated adventure that ties together a number of mini-games. Cousin Calico's prize-winning Hogfish have been rustled, and the player must help Freddi solve the mystery. There are many environments to point-and-click through as the plot advances. The player searches for clues, collects items and interacts with colorful game characters. The game and story are both dynamic, so every time the game is played the player will have a different experience.

There are three mini-games also featured in FF4. These are:

• Stella's Sodaloon. A Nickelodeon machine where kids can view some old-fashioned movie clips.

• The Interactive Wanted Poster. Filled with outlaws with wacky names like Crazy Fin Sally, and Crooked Hat Pebblefield. Kids get to mix and match the different descriptive words that distinguish the outlaws' outstanding characteristic and their crime.

• The Oysteroid Arcade. Shoot pearls out of a clam in order to burst air bubbles before they get too close. Modeled after the arcade classic Asteroids, the larger bubbles split and make 2 smaller ones.

The educational focus of this edutainment title is on the development of strategic thinking skills, problem solving, decision making strategies, deductive and inductive reasoning, sequencing and memory skills, hypothesis, testing and evaluation.

Spellings

  • Рыбка Фредди - Дело о Банде Соленого Ущелья - Russian Spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 88% (based on 6 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 15 ratings with 1 reviews)

A bit of a mixed bag, but still has plenty to offer

The Good
Freddi's previous adventure was one of the most evenly balanced Junior Adventures in terms of quality, with it being pretty good at almost everything, but not truly excelling at much. This followup on the other hand is a somewhat uneven work in comparison, with some aspects being an improvement, but others not so much.

It continues the upward trend of Freddi Fish's scripts. Her last two adventures already had fairly decent writing, but Dave Grossman's output is in a different league altogether. Though it's not quite as out there as his work on Pajama Sam, it still has a real abundance of bizarrely entertaining and colorful dialog. The frequent presence of visual gags in the animation also helps. It's a much funnier game than its predecessors. Considering how utterly bland its first script was, this subseries of the Junior Adventures has really come a long way in this regard.

Like its immediate predecessor, the game also succeeds in conveying a clear vision for its setting, with much of it being inspired by the Wild West and featuring the kinds of characters you'd expect in such a setting.

Most of the puzzles are also good. Unlike the last game, there is no distinction between different difficulty levels here. Instead, most of the puzzle chains seem to be aiming for around the same level of difficulty as that game's medium puzzle chains.

Much like last time, this game also randomizes the identity of its culprit and expects you to figure it out at the end. However, the formula is executed rather differently this time, with a number of welcome improvements. For one, whereas the last game did little to contribute to the mystery before the finale, with Freddi and Luther's interrogations of the potential culprits just featuring them baselessly accusing each other, this time they will actually all engage in clearly suspicious behavior. If you falsely accuse one of them at the end, Luther will actually call them out on it, but they'll turn out to have a rather absurd reason that justifies it. The actual clue that you're supposed to use to determine the real culprit now also has a proper reason for being at the scene of the crime rather than just being a random item associated with the culprit that they dropped.

The Bad
At the same time, there are also some downgrades to this. For one, while there are more options to choose from than before, only four of them can actually be the culprit, compared to the last game's six. But the biggest offender is that there is far less variety than before to their motives, and their punishment is always the exact same. As a result, despite the quality of the mystery aspects of this having gone up, it offers a lot less replay value.

In general, the game is less randomized than before. Whereas Freddi's third adventure had enough content for two playthroughs with completely different puzzle chains and a third where two were once again different, the new selection of puzzle chains isn't even quite enough for two playthroughs without overlap. Two of the three primary objectives are hidden behind one of two randomly chosen puzzle chains, but the third is always hidden behind largely the same chain. All that can differ is the location of one of its items, with the retrieval method always being the same. And even its potential locations are just places you have to visit anyway for other items.

Furthermore, one of the hat puzzle chains is a bit underwhelming. It features an exclusive character who has some fun dialog, but it's a notably simpler chain than the rest whose main component is an almost effortless puzzle that just requires a bit of trial and error with little thought.

Additionally, this is one of the only Junior Adventures to sometimes feature a red herring, a sin of the genre the series is usually good at avoiding. To the best of my memory, Freddi's first two games are its only other entries to have any. The game always lets you purchase a pack of bubble gum for two sea urchins. But only one puzzle chain actually needs it. If the game selects its counterpart instead, then this is just a joke item that serves no actual purpose. By extension, this also means that there is no need to find all five sea urchins in half of the playthroughs, as long as you don't waste any on this item. To be fair, I think I can understand why Humongous Entertainment chose not to remove it when it isn't needed. The fact that a certain character sells bubble gum later becomes a plot point if he turns out to be the culprit. I just wish they'd found a solution that doesn't compromise on the quality of the puzzle design.

The presentation is also somewhat of a downgrade. There is notably less variety to the game's environments, with much of it being set in a desert. Which works well for the stereotypical Wild West town, but you'll be spending most of your time outside of it. And the locations there just fail to stick out very much, with many of them having a rather desolate feel to them. I actually sometimes forgot the right direction to certain places because of how similar many of them look. There's a real abundance of the color brown in many of the backgrounds. Freddi's first game had this as well, but there the premise at least justified the lack of vegetation. Here, I don't really see why the game had to be set almost entirely in a desert, just because it's the location most characteristic of the Western genre. The backgrounds are still competently drawn, but many of them feel a bit unimaginative and repetitive.

The soundtrack is also slightly below Humongous' usual standards. Tom McGurk managed to give Freddi's last two adventures some pretty good music, but this soundtrack isn't quite on the same level. Just like his last one, it's all country music. He does occasionally try to distinguish it a bit by giving certain tracks a more serious and Western-esque tone than what we heard in Putt-Putt Enters the Race, which works reasonably well and fits the setting. But a lot of the more lighthearted and relaxed tracks fall somewhat short compared to what he composed for Putt-Putt. Although the quality of the minor vocal tracks that play in one location is decent enough. They re-use plenty of themes from other parts of the game, but the vocals are performed well and feature lyrics that parody the Western genre in amusingly childish ways.

As far as minigames and other activities are concerned, I guess you can consider the game an improvement over last time, simply by virtue of not having anything as terrible as Floating Fun. The most minigame-esque thing on offer is a very basic Asteroids clone. It's not a whole lot of fun, but it's at least functional, has some degree of challenge, and is most importantly completely optional. Aside from that, there's a face customization activity that has some funny artwork. And continuing a Freddi Fish tradition, there's a location with a large amount of more elaborate joke animations, this time with a Western theme.

The Bottom Line
This is one of the less consistent Junior Adventures, which makes it hard to judge its overall quality. It's mainly the impressive writing and the mostly decent puzzle design that carry it, with the reduced replay value and the weaker presentation dragging it down somewhat. I feel a bit reluctant to say this, given how much fun I had listening to its dialog, but I can't quite say it's on par with Freddi's third game, though I still had a pretty good time with it, all things considered.

Windows · by SomeRandomHEFan (164) · 2022

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Kurt Sample.

iPad, iPhone, Android added by KinopioKing. Linux added by Sciere. Macintosh added by Andrew Shepard.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Apogee IV, Sciere, Onfy.

Game added October 15, 2001. Last modified May 29, 2024.