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Video Game / Insaniquarium

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Feed fish and fight aliens!

Insaniquarium Deluxe is a 2001 computer game, created by Flying Bear Entertainment. It was originally published by PopCap Games, but later taken up by a number of other publishers and based on Insaniquarium, which is similar, albeit simpler.

The basic idea: The player runs an aquarium, feeding and caring for cute little guppies that can poop cash which the player must collect while preventing said fishies from getting eaten by aliens who randomly invade your tank. There are a number of "pets"; invincible creatures with a variety of functions that can be earned as the player progresses through the many levels in regular mode.

In the Virtual Tank, an advanced version of the game, dollars have been replaced with shells, and more features are present: There are a few new pets, fish with different moods, new food items, and fish with special attributes.

Note: The pets' and aliens' stories can be considered spoilers since they are accessed later in the game.

This game provides examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Stanley's subtitle is "The startling small sea serpent".
  • Alien Invasion: Subversion: Aliens often pop into the tank and start eating and killing the player's fish. They don't seem to be in the mood for conquering. And according to their stories, some of the pets' have bad blood with the aliens such as Gash, Itchy and Blip.
  • Alliterative Name: Some of the pets have alliterative names, like Stinky the Snail, Meryl the Mermaid, Angie the Angelfish and Stanley the Startlingly Small Sea-Serpent.
  • Animal Gender-Bender: Gumbo is mentioned as male, but the illuminated esca is a feature that only appears on female anglerfish. There's also Stinky, a male snail that wants to impress the ladies despite snails being hermaphrodites.
  • Animals Not to Scale: Because all of the pets are roughly the same size, some pets can be really small compared to the animal they're based on, like Wadsworth the Whale and Brinkley the Elephant. Lampshaded with Stanley the Startlingly Small Sea-Serpent.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The hunger timer will pause during an alien attack, so you won't have to worry about fish starving while you can't feed them.
    • If all guppies were killed by Amp and turned into Nostradamus as long as there are no other fish types, and all of the player's fish have died in Tank 1-1 if playing for the first time, the game will spawn a free baby guppy instead of losing the level which are the ways or methods of emptying the tank without causing a game over. Other means or situations of emptying the tank (i.e. Gash eats the last guppy as long as there are no other types of fish present in the tank, Shrapnel kills the last fish in the tank, all fish died of hunger, all fishes/pets killed/eaten by aliens (with the latter in Tank 5), and all guppies have died in further playthrough of Tank 1-1), however, will end the game in a loss.
  • Artistic License Animal Care: Gumbo is a deep-sea anglerfish (illuminated esca rather than one which looks like a worm) and could not survive anywhere near the surface, much less in an aquarium. Also, the bioluminescence of a deep-sea anglerfish's esca is due to bacteria; it cannot be switched on or off.
  • Big Bad: Cyrax
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: Gumbo the anglerfish, or at any rate his (Yes, his) esca.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Stanley, one of the bonus pets, is afraid of nothing but badgers, aprons and badgers wearing aprons.
  • Carnivore Confusion:
    • Averted with carnivores, guppycrunchers, and ultravores, as they survive on guppies (the first two) and carnivores (the latter). Also averted with Gash, who happily chomps on one of your guppies from time to time.
    • In the Virtual Tank, it is mentioned that store-bought pets will not eat each other. As a result, rather than chomping on your named guppies, your carnivores feed on the nameless guppies that can be released any time at no cost.
  • Cat Smile: The Star Catcher sports an adorable one.
  • Catching Some Z's: Walter the Penguin will do that after using his ability several times.
  • Clamshell Currency: The Fish Emporium from the Virtual Tank uses seashells instead of the regular dollars used everywhere else in the game and provides the trope's image. Fittingly, the fishes in this mode drop seashells instead of coins and diamonds.
  • Combo Platter Powers:
    • Blip opens all of the available items to purchase not even 5 seconds into the game, indicates when your fishes are hungry, helps you locate where aliens show up, and indicates their health bar.
    • Presto, for the sheer reason that he can transform into all other pets in the game, including the aforementioned Blip.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: Despite the game suggesting players should never shoot blue Psychosquid at any cost, it is actually a very good idea to shoot them when they're dangerously close to a fish you like and to put them into the corner of the tank and continuously shoot them even if they are blue so that most of the fish population will not be wiped out due to a chance that Psychosquid will move fast after they again turn red.
  • Dance Battler: Rufus the Fiddler Crab was a dance instructor until his studio was destroyed in a freak accident. He becomes a mercenary for hire while still retaining his dancing skills.
  • Dead-End Room: The Tank 6 Glitch.
  • Death by Gluttony: Gus is an alien that is immune to lasers. Thankfully, he loves to eat! Enough to gobble all the food the player gives him. Until he explodes.
  • Dem Bones: Vert the Skeleton and Bilaterus.
  • Ditto Fighter: You can change Presto into any other pet you have bought, though there is a buffering time in between the change.
  • Elite Mooks: Every alien beyond Sylvester and Balrog. All have distinct roars, distinct signatures, and need a little more strategy to defeat beyond "shoot until dead".
    • Gus is immune to laser fire, and has to be fed with fish food until he explodes.
    • Destructoid stays at the bottom of the tank and fires missiles that need to be shot down.
    • Psychosquid occasionally turns blue and passive, and will regain health if shot.
    • Ulysses fights similarly to Destructoid, except he fires energy balls that need to be reflected back at him.
    • Both of Bilaterus's heads must be destroyed to kill him.
  • Enemy Mine: Itchy and Gash will work together to kill aliens, despite Gash wanting Itchy mounted on his wall. They were actually once friends but Itchy abandoned Gash. As a result, Gash became a tweener at most.
  • Enemy Scan: Among Blip's many functions, he can detect where aliens are going to show up and display their health bar.
  • Enemy Summoner: The final boss, Cyrax, can summon all the other aliens during its fight.
  • Explosive Breeder: Prego the Momma Fish gives birth to a new guppy approximatively every minute. The Breeders from Tank 4 are much the same, except they require even less time to reproduce.
  • Extendo Boxing Glove: Walter the Penguin has a Red Boxing Glove inside his mouth. He uses it to punch fishes and pets, and doing this causes the targets to use their abilities (a fish will from coins, Shrapnel will drop a bomb, etc).
  • Fish out of Water: Inverted. Brinkley is an elephant who lives in water, wearing a snorkel mask.
  • Flame War: In-universe example, apparently flame wars have been fought over which of Bilaterus' heads controls him.
  • Gag Nose: Nostradamus, one of the bonus pets, is a disembodied nose with fins. Which can sneeze to postpone alien attacks. And also drops 1$-worth snots.
  • Game Mod: Different songs, different food colors, and more.
  • Gravity Master: Seymour the Turtle slows down the fall of coins and food in your tank, allowing pets and fish to collect them more easily.
  • Green Around the Gills: All non-pet fish turn light green when they're hungry. The only exception is Star Potion-fed Guppies, who instead turn partly transparent.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: While your fish in the Virtual Tank won't die, neglecting to feed them for several days will eventually make them "horribly depressed".
  • Hidden Depths: A lot of the pets have this, as told in their stories.
    • Itchy was once an Actual Pacifist artist until his friends got killed by aliens. This motivated him to fight any aliens he comes across.
    • Clyde collects money to pay off his mother's hospital bill. All unspent funds at the end of a level go to paying it off.
    • Wadsworth was once addicted to plankton, resulting in his friends leaving him and him losing his muscle control and swallowing the fish in his mouth. He had 4 years of rehab before returning to his job.
    • Blip was hated by his neighbor fish for his psychic abilities, so he didn't tell them about an incoming alien attack and let them all get eaten. He felt bad about this, so he vowed to use his abilities only for good.
    • Gash and Itchy used to be friends, until Itchy left Gash for dead in an alien attack.
  • Hit Points: The aliens' hit points can be seen when Blip is in the tank.
  • Immune to Bullets: Gus is the only alien that can't be hurt by lasers at all (except during the final fight).
  • Interface Spoiler: One alien attack in 4-4 will be heralded with "Fourteen Alien Signatures Detected", before switching to "Just kidding. Only two." However, if you have Blip, you'll only see two indicators, ruining the joke.
  • Joke Character: Rhubarb is the most useless pet in the game: his niche (repelling fish from the bottom of the tank) is at best a non-issue not worth dedicating a pet for, and at worst actively detrimental since the third tank has groundborne Guppy Crunchers that eat Guppies for higher payout, but can't do that if Rhubarb is constantly scaring away those fish. Even the developers know this: according to his story, Rhubarb isn't really for the attention, he just hates when fish are at the bottom of the tank.
  • Konami Code: Used to unlock Sandbox Mode.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different
    • Meryl is a former well-known pop star; when she sings, the fish briefly drop more coins.
    • Balrog is a hostile alien merman who attacks you along with other aliens.
    • Sylvester is a xenomorph merman.
    • Gus is basically Homer Simpson if he were a homicidal merman.
  • Money Sink:
    • Aside from Nimbus, Tank 4 places a much higher price threshold for you to buy the pet egg and therefore pass the level. For comparison, Amp is only the tank's second pet, yet his price ($75,000) is already more than double the most expensive pet before then (Rhubarb, who costs $35,000).
    • All of the bonus pets require investment in both time and patience, as they can only be bought using shells and they are not cheap.
  • Mook Chivalry: Apparently, Ulysses, the type-U alien, can shoot already-lasered energy balls if he wants to, but he doesn't due to an honor code that all cyclopes share. Also, he's dumb.
  • Mother of a Thousand Young: Prego the Mother Fish, a benign version of this trope.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Stinky the Snail, who picks up falling coins for you, knew early on that he was a miser. Clyde, on the other hand, collects money for his mother's operation.
  • Necromancer: The basis of Angie the Angelfish's powers. Her ability is to revive fish that were killed by any means besides being eaten (In other words, starving or getting hit with a missile/power orb). She also uses this to revive any pets who die in the final battle (If any).
  • Octopoid Aliens: The Psychosquid takes this trope rather literally: it is a red alien that looks almost exactly like an octopus, only with less tentacles and more weapons.
  • Papa Wolf: Wadsworth the Whale protects baby and medium guppies from getting eaten by aliens.
  • Perplexing Pearl Production: Niko the oyster creates a pearl every few minutes. Each one yields a lot of money.
  • Psychic Powers: Blip opens buying options and reveals when fish are hungry, when aliens are about to attack, and aliens' hit-points. He was also able to sense a bad feeling at the bottom of a tank; the other fish in the tank were jerks to him, though, and so he didn't bother telling. Then, an alien came and ate all the fish. Blip felt guilty after that and vow that he will only use his powers for the benefit of everyone.
  • Psycho Electric Eel: Amp is a pet electric eel which can zap all the guppies in a tank in order to turn them all into diamonds.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Many, but especially the adorable Star Catchers.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Itchy wasn't actually an alien-despising warrior before. But his friends were devoured by an alien, so Itchy seeks to murder every alien in existence.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Blip the Porpoise has very high intellect and incredible psychic powers.
  • Shout-Out: One species of alien is called 'Balrog', a reference to the J. R. R. Tolkien's evil humanoids from Middle-earth. Another, Sylvester, looks like the Alien from... well... Alien
  • Shy Shelled Animal:
    • Stinky the Snail hides in his shell whenever an enemy alien appears.
    • Rhubarb the Hermit Crab snaps his claws to get fish off the ground where he lives.
      "He's not aiming to be a crowd pleaser. He's not trying to prove anything to anyone. He just wishes those darn fish would stay off the ground!"
  • Solid Gold Poop: The various fishes "produce" a wide range of valuables, including coins, pearls, diamonds and treasure chests.
  • Stalker with a Crush: PsychoSquid's girlfriend gave him that nickname when, after their break-up, he kept calling her and waiting at her door.
  • Stock Sound Effect: PsychoSquid uses the T.Rex roar from Jurassic Park.
  • Swallowed Whole: Wadsworth the Whale does this to your smaller fishes to protect them during alien attacks.
  • Swordfish Sabre: Itchy the Swordfish attacks the aliens by repeatedly spearing them with his rostrum.
  • Tentacled Terror: Psychosquid, which is a strange amalgamation of a squid and an octopus. Well, an evil, fish-devouring alien squid-octopus wielding a flyswtter, a pitchfork and a meat cleaver simultaneously.
  • Threatening Shark: Gash zig-zags this trope. On the one hand, he helps you defeating aliens, and quite effectively at that. On the other, he still has no qualms eating your guppies regardless of their size or status. Yes, he can devour your precious royal guppies, too.
  • The Usual Adversaries: The aliens. They constantly warp into your tank with the sole purpose of eating/killing your fish, and don't stop coming until everything in the tank is dead. Most of them don't have a reason for why they're doing this beyond being evil space-aliens. Apparently, their rampage isn't a new thing, as they figure into the backstories of several of your pets.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Presto the Tadpole can be right-clicked to make him metamorph into any of the other pets you have.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Gash and Itchy used to be best friends, until the latter left him for dead. Gash swears to settle his score with Itchy.
  • Xenomorph Xerox: Sylvester, one of the enemy aliens, resembles a xenomorph with a little fish tail instead of legs. But despite its terrifying appearance, it's actually the first and weakest of the aliens encountered. Cyrax can also spawn miniature versions of Sylvester to aid him in battle.