Put on your anime head and get fishing.
I am not going to start complaining about the lack of games for the Vita. There have been a few new releases in the last couple of months, offering some quite unique and interesting gameplay for the owners of the handheld. The library of games and different gaming experiences is slowly growing, and I am sure that fans of the Vita are not regretting their purchase.
But the fact that Vita owners are crying out for new games does make the release of Let’s Fish!: Hooked On by SIMS, the guys behind SEGA Bass Fishing, fortuitous in its timing. Fishing games are a niche market anyway, and casual fishing games featuring anime style characters would usually appeal to an even smaller market. I can understand that trying to do the same thing for fishing as games like Hot Shots Golf did for Golf was a good idea, but no amount of chibi cuteness or upbeat sound effects can make up for the fact that, if you are not the type to sit by the side of a river all day in complete silence, fishing is boring.
The core of the game, unsurprisingly, revolves around catching fish, and the mechanic for doing so is fairly simple, not that the game does anything to explain this. From the start there is a tutorial of sorts that explains exactly what the player has to go through to actually catch fish, but the way it is explained is both slightly confusing and drags on far too long.
Essentially, the player casts their line into a body of water, using a power meter to adjust the distance, and then waits (not unlike real fishing). It is possible to spot the silhouettes of fish in the water, which gives a rough idea of where to cast the line. We then move to an underwater camera and the player, should they spot any nearby fish, moves the lure in an attempt to encourage a bite. Once a fish has grabbed the line, providing they don’t just ignore your line and swim off, then gameplay moves into a mini game in which the player waggles the stick and pulls or loosens the line to reel the fish in without breaking the line. After a few times, it is pretty easy.
But the problem comes from actually finding the fish in the first place. Considering that this is a fishing game, there are very few of the slippery little buggers to be found. Even when you do find them, half the time they just ignore your most enticing lure action and swim away. Then there are the real teases, the ones that seem to have taken the bait but are just pretending. They are the ones you want mounted on the wall.
So, for an arcade fishing title, there is very little by way of action. Let’s Fish!: Hooked On tries to make up for things by offering an impressive amount of content. Continued play will result in all manner of unlockables, such as new characters, new equipment, new locations and new fish to catch. But I’ll be honest, it will take a great deal of patience to actually “catch ‘em all”.
The main game mode, World Tour, tries to inject some purpose into the game by having the player chose an anime character and play through their own little story whilst competing in fishing tournaments. The other main mode has the player working their way through simple challenges such as catching a certain weight. Whilst the delivery is different, the core gameplay remains the same and still has the same problems.
Visually, Let’s Fish! is a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst the anime theme may look somewhat out of place within the context of a fishing game, it is not done badly. However, once the game moves onto the actual fishing, things are certainly a little dull and somewhat glitchy. The fish have a more realistic look about them, which doesn’t really work with the chosen theme. From an audio point of view, the upbeat music is certainly welcome, but the repeated sound effects and chirping of the characters does become irritating fairly quickly.
In all fairness, Let’s Fish!: Hooked On is probably not a bad game. It most certainly has problems, but is not without its charm. It is just that the real fanbase for the game, the anime-loving fishermen out there, is so small. Regular gamers will find that the game is just too repetitive and boring to keep their interest.