Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: 11/22/2011
When I received Fishing Resort, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Right now during the biggest season for video game releases, I have to admit that the idea of playing Fishing Resort instead of spending that time with Skyrim, Battlefield 3, and so on was not exactly how I wanted to spend my time. The bulletpoints on the back of the box did not fill me with much hope either; no matter how many exclamation points you put after a sentence hyping a feature, it is still a game the revolves around fishing.
Catch a huge variety of fish!!!!!
See, it doesn’t really sound like an exciting adventure awaits.
Which is why after sitting down to play it I was surprised to find a really great Wii game in Fishing Resort.
One thing that you should understand about Fishing Resort is that it is not a Gears of War style game. By that I mean the objective of the game isn’t a constant forward moving action style of game. This is much more in the style of video games like Animal Crossing or Endless Ocean, in which the focus is much more on just relaxing and enjoying the experience instead of pushing forward or risk failing an objective. The game is essentially a virtual vacation – if you are looking for something to get your adrenaline pumping, this is not the game for you.
It is also important to note that when starting the game, if you do not have 107 blocks of memory free you will need to make some room for it.
When the game starts up, you get to choose your appearance for a cartoonish looking avatar. These look similar to the Nintendo Miis, only they have a complete set of connected limbs and clothing. My wife was disappointed that the game did not have Mii support, but this is an understandable design choice because the avatar models in the game are more detailed and have more animation than is possible with the Miis. You name your character – I chose something inappropriate because I thought the game might suck so I figured at least every now and then I’d get a laugh out of seeing the name pop up – then the game has your character arrive at an island.
The graphics were one of the first things that surprised me. This is of the better looking Wii titles I’ve played. There is a lot of color and a ton of small details that add a lot to the setting. The water looks great, and the scenery is fantastic. On the beach little crabs scuttle about on rocks, waves reflect the mountains that rise in the distance, and fish swim under the surface of the water as though daring you to come get them. There are multiple settings to choose from in the game, and each one has a lot of atmospheric details. There’s a lake you can fish at where you will see ducks and the occasional fish jump out of the water. There was a lot of care put into making several detailed environments to fish in. The fish are the stars of the show, as you might assume they would be, each one extremely detailed. The different lures are also far more detailed than I imagined they would be. They animate differently depending on their type, and changing these lures is also reflected on your fishing pole.
There are some issues, but some of those are more limitations of the hardware than faults of the developer. Jagged edges, or jaggies, are noticeable everywhere. Not enough to make the game painful to look at, but it does lessen the effect of the atmosphere a little. There are also some small oddities. The game does an awesome job with sunlight. When you walk towards where the sun is rising in the morning it gives everything a bleached out look, and the sunsets look great. But the sun rises and sets in the same location, which is just weird.
The audio is really good as well. There is some background music while in a store or hotel, but when you are in a fishing area the sound effects are mostly just the ambient background noise that is appropriate to the area you are in. For example, at the lake you can hear frogs croaking and ducks quacking. This works well to help establish the setting and background music while fishing would seem kind of awkward.
The presentation of the game in general is so polished that I had to double check that it wasn’t a Nintendo game. There are some games with a high degree of polish from third parties on the Wii, but in general you usually see this level of detail in a Nintendo game. For instance, there is no real user interface, you change clothes by using the suitcase in the room, each day is logged in a diary before sleeping that records what went on, and if a picture was taken during that in-game day it is automatically paper-clipped to the page. Different “˜missions’ can be obtained in the game by just checking the hotel lobby Bulletin Board, which are pegged to the board like advertisements or postcards. They’ve done a good job with having very few menus in the game aside from shopping and basic tutorials.
As the title implies, the game is about fishing. This takes up the majority of the focus of the game. It is how they have managed the focus of the game that is compelling. Fishing Resort has a lot of similar mechanics to those found in an action RPG. Every aspect of the game feeds into and from the fishing. In the game you earn points by completing different objectives, or selling fish for the aquarium, or pretty much by doing anything. The points feed back into upgrading the aquarium and buying new fishing equipment. This is used to hold more types of fish and to be able to catch bigger fish, both of which cause you to get more points, which leads back into buying stuff so that you can fish better.
The different mechanics in a video game work best when they work and fit together, something that is often lost in modern games as different game mechanics get sort of plugged in but don’t really add to the overall game and feel out of place. In Fishing Resort everything fits together. Even if fake fishing isn’t your thing, the sheer craftsmanship of the game is beautiful for someone who spends a lot of time playing video games to behold.
You can go to the Bulletin Board and sign up to take a part of events that happen in the game world, like fishing competitions, or set a fish as a target. There are people wandering around that give out different quests, most of which set a different type of requirement on fishing (catch a specific fish, catch so many fish in a certain time, etc), and when you complete either of these activities you get points. These are not a requirement, you can just fish and still obtain points to get better equipment.
There are “˜achievements’ of a sort in the game. It is a list of a bunch of different accomplishments that you can do, with different point rewards based on the difficulty of achieving those goals. There’s an aquarium to run that cost a lot of points to keep upgrading, but doing so gives out daily points that increase as you gain more visitors.
I say it is sort of like an action RPG because if you replace fishing with hack-and-slash I’ve played this type of game before. Only instead of choosing a dungeon, going out and hacking monsters, getting loot so I can upgrade my stuff so I can go out and hack more monsters, I’m choosing a fishing location, going out and catching fish, getting points so I can upgrade my stuff so that I can go out and catch more fish. It’s the same addictive formula that’s been stealing our free time for years with a different setting.
The only issue I had with anything while playing the game was occasionally finicky casting controls. The game controls are simple. You move the character with the joystick on the nunchuck, and press A to interact with things on the remote. For fishing you press A when you get to a location you want to fish from, hold the remote out, lift your arm back and them arc forward like it was a fishing rod. At least that’s what is supposed to happen. Often I got this to work better with simple wrist flicks instead of swinging my arm. I am using the Memorex Wii Motion Plus Controller, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. When you catch a fish you use the nunchuck like a reel, spinning it in a circle to reel the line in. As you reel a fish in the game gives you a tension meter, which is something that nearly every fishing game does to show you how much tension is on the line. Too much and the line will snap, making every catch a battle of trying to keep the tension bar from filling up too much. In order to ease some tension from the line the game will pop up an icon instructing you to hold your Wii remote in a certain way, which again is similar to other fishing titles where you would need to hold the rod in the direction the fish is in to keep the line tension low.
There are two different types of fishing in the game, Float, where you let bait dangle in the water and wait for the bob to dip, and Lure, which is actively reeling in different type of fishing lures. The game manages both styles very well, with the Lure style having more choices as far as bait goes. Different fish require different types of fishing and are attracted to different kinds of bait. Some of the bait in Lure fishing requires different handling of the stop and go reel technique, and all of this is true of real life fishing as well.
The difficulty ramps up appropriately. As you catch different fish and unlock new areas, it can be more difficult to catch some of the larger species as they fight against you reeling them in. The random element of never really knowing if you’re catching a rare fish or just a common one makes it so that you become invested in not losing your catch, and the game will tell you about the one that got away if you manage to snap the line. It took me awhile to get the hang of Lure fishing, something I’m also not good at in real life, but once I got adjusted to it, bought the right bait, and so on I got the hang of it and enjoy the active nature of it more than the Float style. The biggest challenge is how to maximize your time well, as the island is on a day/night cycle and after 12 hours (7AM-7PM) you will automatically return to the hotel for the night.
As mentioned the constant grind for fish, get points, spend points to get better stuff, grind for fish cycle is just as addictive here as it is in some hack and slash games. The quick daytime cycle means that I was playing and trying to just catch one more fish until nighttime, and then I’d sleep (which saves the game) and then the next day would start. Sometimes though there would be activities I’d signed up for that would activate on that day and I’d just keep on playing. The mix of grind-loot mechanics and gotta-catch-em-all mechanics really make for a game that I played well past when I should have turned it off and gone to sleep. I’ve played a lot of fishing games, and none of them have such a well developed, easy to play, and just fun system for fishing as this one.
It is hard to say though that the game would appeal to everyone. I honestly think if you have a Wii it is worth picking up the game as long as you aren’t expecting a constant in your face action game. Any age group could enjoy this, and the great game design makes it fun to not only fish but to keep on fishing. Even if you don’t like fishing (hell, I hate fish), and this game is still a fun time.
Quite frankly, I haven’t played Zelda or the new Kirby yet, but right now this is my favorite Wii game of 2011 hands-down.
Story: Good (especially for a fishing game)
Graphics: Great (considering hardware limitations)
Appeal Factor: Decent
Final Score: Great Game
Short Attention Span Summary:
Fantastic game design, great atmosphere, and fun gameplay just make Fishing Resort a joy to play. This is one of the best Wii games I’ve ever played, and if you are remotely interested in the title, I recommend you pick it up. It may be the best fishing game ever made.