Seas Deluxe is an interactive virtual aquarium and screen saver utility for the Macintosh.
The software features a variety of aquarium tanks and highly-realistic fish, and
allows the user to interact with the aquarium. When run interactively, the software
allows the user to feed the fish and watch them eat, to tap on the glass and watch
as they react, or follow a favorite fish with a close-up "fish-cam".
- Mac OS X 10.3 or
- PowerPC G4 or better
- 256 MB of RAM
- 100 MB of available
hard disk space
Aquazone Seven Seas Deluxe retails for $24.99. The Bass Expansion set goes for $19.99,
and the "Fun Stuff" pack goes for $9.99.
Installation of the software on the Mac is very straightforward. The software is
distributed as a disk image; you open the disk image, double click on the installer,
and a couple of minutes and a few clicks later, the software is installed on your
computer. The Installer adds the Aquazone application to the Applications folder
and adds the "Aquazone VE" screen saver to the list of screen savers available
in the Mac's Screen Saver preference pane.
By default, the virtual aquarium is configured with a fish tank that includes 2 Anemonefish
and 2 clown fish. However, the software excels in its ability to allow you to select
your own combination of fish and tank elements. The fish and tank settings are selected
using the Aquazone application (separate from the Screensaver Preferences Panel).
The screen saver uses the settings made in the application. Unfortunately, there
is no shortcut to open the application from the Mac's Screen Saver preference pane,
you need to manually find the application and run it.
The Aquazone Tools dialog box allow wide range of options for your virtual aquarium.
You can select from among 21 different types of aquariums and populate your aquariums
with a mix of 23 different types of fish, jelly fish, sharks and other sea creatures.
If you want to add additional species of fish, you can purchase even more fish on
the Allume web site.
Aquazone Settings Application
There is a nice selection of fish to choose from in the Seven Seas Deluxe package.
Fish that come with Sevens Seas Deluxe
You can expand upon
the available aquarium creatures by purchasing expansion packs. For this review,
we checked out the Bass Edition, which adds
Black Bass, Bluegill,
Rainbow Trout, Snakehead and Baitfish to your virtual lake. We also checked out the
"Fun Stuff" expansion, which includes a Mini Submarine, Deep Sea Diver,
UFO, Astronaut, Spinning Star, and five additional tanks. The web site for the expansion
packs was a little confusing, since a number of the listed expansion sets were already
included with Seven Seas Deluxe (such as the Gold Fish, Jellyfish, and Turtles).
An unsuspecting user may end up purchasing an expansion that was already received
with Seven Seas Deluxe.
Fresh Water Aquarium with an added Submarine
To setup your personal
aquarium, you start by selecting the type of aquarium from the list at the top of
the window. When you select a item from the list, a snapshot of the aquarium appears
to the right of the list. You then select a fish species to populate the aquarium
and select the number of that species to add to your aquarium. Some fish are too
large for certain aquariums, the software will alert you if you attempt to add a
fish that is too large. Likewise, only salt water fish are allowed in salt water
aquariums "S", and fresh water fish allowed in fresh water aquariums "F".
In fresh water, you have access to the Angel Fish, Bass, NeonTetra, Bluegill, and
other fresh water fish. In salt water, you have access to the Surgeonfish, Jellyfish,
Sunfish, Sea Turtles, Sharks, and other salt water fish. Some fish, as well as the
"Fun Stuff" objects, can be included in either tank.
By default, the virtual aquarium mimics the sounds of a real-life aquarium with a
continuous bubbling sound. However, the Aquazone preferences provides an option to
alter and/or mute the sound. I found that the sound became distracting after a while,
so I was glad to see the mute option. Customized lighting effects are available for
emulating night and day, including shadows from the water's surface. You can even
change the background picture to any image from your hard disk.
Customizing the Aquazone Background Image
As a screen saver,
Aquazone runs automatically after your computer is idle for the number of minutes
specified in the Mac's Screen Saver preferences pane. The Aquazone application does
not need to be running for the screen saver to function. In screen saver mode, the
aquarium is displayed with animated fish, and sound if not muted, but does not allow
you to interact with the fish. Moving the mouse or pressing a key on the keyboard
will interrupt the screen saver and return the screen to its previous state.
Choosing the Aquazone Screen Saver
Running the Aquazone
application allows you to not only enjoy your virtual aquarium, but it also allows
you to interact with the fish. The application is fairly simple: it displays the
aquarium with the active settings, it allows the user to open the Tools dialog box
to change settings, and it allows you to resize the aquarium window (resizing only
affects the aquarium in the application, not in the screensaver).
Right clicking within the aquarium window displays five circular icons that allow
interactions with the aquarium. Right clicking a second time removes the icons. Dragging
the arrow to the left of the icons move them around the screen.
Onscreen Option Buttons
The first icon represents
a can of fish food. Click on this icon and then click the mouse, and a piece of fish
food falls gently into the tank. Depending on the mood of the fish, they will eventually
find the food and eat it.
The second icon allows you to toggle between running in full screen mode and running
within a window. Alternately, you can press the tab key to switch between modes.
The third icon opens the Tools dialog box to allow you to change the aquarium settings
(to add or remove fish or adjust sound or lighting effects, for example).
The fourth icon is a magnifying glass. After selecting this icon, click on the fish
of your choice and the screen zooms in on the fish and automatically follows the
fish as it swims around the tank (a virtual "Fish Cam"). Click again and
the view returns to the standard zoom.
The fifth icon quits the Aquazone application. You can also quit by pressing the
Hot keys are also available to turn the aquarium lights on or off, feed the fish,
or display graphics and frame-rate information. Unfortunately, the function of each
of the icons is not always obvious, and no textual hints as to the function of the
icons appear when you hover your mouse over the icon. However, there's only a few
buttons, and clicking on them provides an instant reminder of what they do.
Aquazone renders the virtual aquarium beautifully and in brilliant colors. The tank
environments appeared slightly fuzzy on larger monitors (I tested this on a 20 inch
Apple Cinema Display), but the fish are rendered in outstanding detail. Their behavior
feels natural, and sometimes unexpected. For instance, if you mix some of the smaller
fish with fish that eat smaller fish, you'll soon find that your aquarium has less
fish in it over time. These bigger fish will swallow up the smaller ones, often when
you don't expect it. This makes for an interesting and natural environment.
Beautifully Rendered Fish with Rich Details
The number of fish
that can live in your virtual aquarium is limited only by your Mac's processing power
(and graphics card). On my Mac Mini (G4) I was able to easily host a school of 16
sardines and 6 other fish; which was more than enough fish for me. While this might
be a real limitation on older Macs, it wasn't a concern for me.
I encountered only one oddity with Aquazone: when I launched the application, it
briefly displayed a black screen with a series of vertical bars that showed portions
of my aquarium for several second before finally displaying the full aquarium. On
my iMac (17" G4), the application was slow to switch to full screen mode, but
after switching it performed normally. There is usually a long lag during the time
Aquazone is loading the aquarium (both as a screen saver and within the application),
but the tanks run pretty smoothly once loaded.
Seas Deluxe is a virtual aquarium that provides a visually appealing screen saver
and the fun of an interactive fish tank. The interactive application provided loads
of fun for my 3-year old son, who enjoyed feeding the fish and watching them respond
as he "tapped" on the glass. I enjoyed the brilliant colors of the fish
as they swam around on my monitor. It includes a nice variety of both fresh water
and salt water fish and tanks, and expansion packs are available to add even more
variety. There is room for improvements, such as text hints for the action buttons,
and a direct link from the screen saver panel to the application, and those with
slower machines need to be aware that this is a graphics intensive program. Overall,
Seven Seas Deluxe is a really nice addition to the Mac, finally providing Mac users
with a realistic virtual fish aquarium that has long been missing from the Mac. If
you like the idea of your Mac reverting to a virtual live fish aquarium when it's
not in use, you'll really like Seven Seas Deluxe.
- Beautifully rendered
fish and tank elements
- Supports large numbers
- Simple installation
- Fish cam
- Simulated fish behavior
- Not direct access
to modify settings from the Mac's Screen Saver Preference Pane
- Loading aquarium
- No text hints for
- Graphics processing
3 1/2 out of 5 Mice