Fans of both Nintendo and fishing have been given plenty of opportunities to don the virtual wellies and cast the line, on WiiWare. While the Wii Remote is an ideal opportunity to simulate fishing, the humble DSi stylus and touchscreen have largely missed out. As has often been the case, publisher Gamebridge has come to the rescue with budget title GO Series: Fishing Resort on DSiWare. The question is, should this fish be taken home for supper, or thrown back whence it came?
As you may expect, fishing on the DSi is less literal than is typical on the Wii. As a result, Fishing Resort separates the fishing experience into three quick fire mini-games, all completed in sequence to secure your catch. After casting your line you wait for a bite, a quick tap of the stylus starting a quickfire, and frantic, tussle with the fish. The first stage is to draw the fish in, completed by swiping the stylus in the direction of arrows that appear. The arrow appears at random moments, pointing along your fishing line, so a good tactic is to focus your attention on the line, ready to swipe as soon as the arrow appears. The accuracy of your gestures is judged as ‘Great’, ‘OK’ or ‘Ouch’, with the more accurate movements weakening the fish quicker.
Once you’ve won the first stage your task is to land the fish or, to be more accurate, fling it out of the water and 30 feet up into the air. To do this there is a power guage to fill; tap and hold the stylus at the bottom of the screen until the power builds up, and then flick the stylus upwards. If this is successful, the final step is the catch the fish in a net. You see the fish fly into the air and then slowly descend towards the screen; a well timed flick of the stylus from left to right catches the fish.
Considering the platform, the developers have done a reasonable job of creating a control scheme that bears a passing resemblance to fishing. It’s an arcade style of short battles, typically less than 30 seconds each, with the landing and net catching elements in particular feeling intuitive and natural. The initial stage of fighting the fish on the line is perhaps less natural to the activity, but works nevertheless. While each step may sound simplistic, there is sufficient challenge to add tension and dynamism to each catch, with bigger fish requiring quick reflexes and a steady hand. The sheen does start to wear off after a period of time due to repetition, so short bursts of play are recommended.
As the act of catching the fish is repetitive and short-lived, plenty of effort has been made to add more to the overall experience. The most significant are challenges, sixty in total, which are progressively unlocked. The early challenges are simple, but the level of difficulty ramps up quick, with tougher targets that require better equipment and skill levels. The challenges are the best source of points, the game’s currency, so become a must for those who want to make progress.
In order to beat the tougher challenges and improve your abilities, points must be spent wisely in the shop. Products range from significantly improved equipment that can be rented for a specific number of fish battles, different floats for aesthetic value, and skills that improve your prospects in the challenges. Abilities such as ‘Mind Drink’ become vital in later challenges, as this allows you to identify a fish before you begin a battle, necessary when you need to target specific breeds or sizes. A lot of these equipment and ability upgrades are expensive, so you’ll need to do a fair bit of grinding to level up fully.
Some neat extras are thrown in for completionists as well: there is a record of fish caught, as well as a ‘Members Card’ that shows various statistics of your fishing prowess. Impressively, you can trade member cards and records with other players. This is done with local wireless, so if you have a friend with the game you can exchange member cards and compete with each other’s stats. The lack of online shouldn’t count against this title, as this multiplayer interaction goes beyond what would be expected for 200 points.
The only issue with these features is that the main gameplay, actually fishing, is so simplistic and repetitive. Features such as extra equipment, records and collectibles are excellent, but the gameplay isn’t interesting enough to justify the amount of game-time required to make it worthwhile. After the initial burst of play is finished, many gamers may have had enough, and are unlikely to complete all of the challenges and extra content on offer. It’s perhaps harsh to criticise at the budget price point, but the concept and gameplay don’t unite into a whole as well as hoped.
Aside from gameplay and level grinding, the title does a nice job of keeping you entertained with the presentation. Full of bright colours, charming characters and entertaining animations in the fish battles, the developers have made the most of DSiWare limitations. Sound is pleasant, with the lake scene providing serene background noises, with fish battles prompting some fun music straight out of the 16-bit age.
GO Series: Fishing Resort is an impressive package at a budget price-point. Fishing games may not be the most natural fit for the DSi, but this title does a good job of producing a fun experience, with enough bonus activities and unlockables for the most enthusiastic gamers. The biggest problem is that the gameplay is simple and repetitive; enjoyable in the short term but not likely to motivate for long. A fine effort from the developers, nevertheless, and recommended as a diversion.