Review: Carps & Dragons (3DS eShop)

Something smells fishy

Back in 2009, Abylight released Fish'em All! on WiiWare, an arcade title in which you jump around with giant nets attempting to catch the plethora of fish jumping out of the water. The concept was fine but the execution left something to be desired, as the developers decided it was a smart idea to require a swing of the Wii remote to swing your net, leading to clumsy movement, many missed swings, and — after a while — aching arms.

Now, they've decided to re-release the game on the 3DS eShop. Stealthily renaming it to Carps & Dragons and giving it a lower entry fee, this is basically just a port of the original — but does it fare any better on a handheld?

When you begin, you'll still have access to the same three modes of play as before. Arcade mode is a classic score-based affair, as you simply try to catch as many fish as you can with your big net before the time limit ends. Challenge mode, as its name implies, gives you multiple specific objectives, such as catching five blue fish — don't catch any other colours or you'll fail the challenge. As the levels go on you'll also get challenges like not being hit, and more.

The third and final mode is Fishtris, which is somewhat similar to the arcade mode in that you need to get points and there's a time limit, but the twist is that there's an on-screen gauge in which all the fish you catch will land — If the fish get stacked all the way to the top, you lose, so you need to avoid that happening by catching multiple fish of the same colour in a row, which makes them vanish, or by catching silver fish, which will eat all the other fish you've already caught.

Thankfully, this time, the game can (and must) be controlled with regular buttons instead of forcing motion controls on you. It's pretty simple — move around with the D-pad or circle pad, jump with B or X and swing the net with A or Y. Believe it or not, this actually goes a long way to making the game a more enjoyable experience. In addition to the much easier controls, the game has also been slowed down considerably — fish (and everything else) in the original release were incredibly fast, making it extremely hard to react fast enough, but this time it's actually quite manageable.

Being a port, there's not a whole lot to say about the graphics and music. It still looks and sounds the same as before, but just on a smaller screen. The developers have seen fit to support 3D mode, making the characters, fish and enemies pop out a bit more, which is quite nice, but hardly spectacular.

Conclusion

Fish'em All was largely ruined by motion controls and overly fast gameplay, but Abylight has listened and addressed the issues. It would've been nice if the changes were simply a patch for the WiiWare version, but because of the lower price and added portability, we can't really complain. Carps & Dragons rights the wrongs its predecessor set, and is actually quite entertaining because of it.

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