Review: Reel Fishing Challenge (WiiWare)

Keeping it reel.

There are some sports that seem tailor-made for video game translations, but fishing is arguably not one of them. A pastime that centers around patience rather than action or skill does not seem like the sort of thing that most people would be interested in experiencing indoors. Yet strangely enough the genre has existed for some time, and with the Wii it continues to flourish. It goes without saying that the Wii remote makes a lot of sense as a fishing rod, but that gimmick has worn down long ago. The question now is, can Reel Fishing Challenge manage to stand out from the pack?

The progression of the experience is fairly self-explanatory. Your one and only goal within the game is to catch fish. It’s as simple as that. Doing so will have you making casting motions with your Wii remote, and shaking the Nunchuk to reel the lure back in. Alternatively you can reel using buttons, which is a bit more convenient, especially if you plan on fishing for any extended period. The casting function is a little shaky at times, and didn’t seem to register the strength of each cast consistently. It’s a shame there wasn’t a button alternative for that as well, but perhaps that would have been missing the point of this being on the Wii to begin with.

Of course, simply casting and reeling will not produce any results. Once a fish takes interest in your lure, you must go through a series of motions in order to make the catch. Failing to do the proper thing will result in the fish getting away, or your line snapping. The learning curve is fairly small, but new fish present different strategies to the table, so you’ll need to keep on your toes. By going into the options menu you can alter your equipment in order to decide what you are prone to catch. It still seems a little random, but that’s often the case in real life, so take it as you will.

The game has two primary modes for you to leap into. The first being challenge mode, and the second being a free play mode. In Challenge mode you must complete certain goals within a specified time limit. The time constraints can seem a bit harsh at first, since you often have little control over what you reel in and how frequently. You can retry each mission as many times as you want with no penalties though, so there’s not a great deal of pressure to succeed on your first attempt. Free play mode is just as it sounds; here you can fish to your heart's content with no pressure whatsoever. In order to keep things fresh in free play however, you’ll want to unlock more fish to catch via challenges.

Aside from those two choices, there’s really nothing left for players to explore. Reel Fishing Challenge takes a big hit from its lack of content. It would have been nice to see some multiplayer options, either local or online. Online leader boards would have also been an appreciated addition, and as the game tracks the best fish you’ve managed to catch on a scoreboard already, it would have been an easy thing to implement.

As it stands, the game is a nice way to kick back and relax by yourself, but probably not over long periods or with friends around. Additionally you can unlock more content by playing alongside the retail version of Reel Fishing. If you already own said game, or are planning to make the purchase there may be some extra incentive to give Reel Fishing Challenge a try. However there isn't an enormous payback for extra fish and challenges.

Another downer is the visual presentation. It’s not an ugly game by any means, but you will be looking at the same scenery for nearly the entire time you play. Once again this title gets a strike for a lack of variety. The lifesaver for the presentation is definitely the music, which is very pleasant on the ears. The relaxing tunes match the game nicely, and you likely won’t find yourself searching for the mute button. The game also has some nice atmospheric sound effects, which completes the mood of the experience.

Conclusion

Reel Fishing Challenge has some issues and feels a bit shallow even as a digital download. Considering the price however, it isn’t a bad place to start for those curious of the genre. Players who have already delved into larger, deeper games of this sort may not be amused by what Reel Fishing Challenge has to offer, but those looking for a little taste of the genre should be content with what’s being served up here. It isn’t a must have title by any means but genuinely interested players should find enough redeeming qualities to make this one worth a download.