Pros: Pretty scenery, varied activities beyond fishing.
Cons: Repetitive, Casting rather broken.
There are many appealing things about going fishing. You can relax, commune with nature and you get some food out of it. The game Fishing Resort, on the other hand, is a tougher sell, since it will get you neither fresh air nor sea bass on a bed of spinach. But it does give you some nice scenery and the chance to catch a greater variety of fish than I suspect has ever been caught by any real-life fisher-person.
The Basics: Cast and Reel
Fishing Resort offers players a vacation where you can visit a number of different fishing resorts and capture a wide assortment of fish. Standing on the sandy beach or boating down a jungle river, you can always cast your line and reel in some virtual marine life.
The basic mechanics of fishing are quite simple. Your Wii remote functions as a rod, your nunchuk as a reel. You cast by lifting your remote up and swinging it down, then you wait for the fish to bite. If you are using bait that floats on top of the water you will see the float jerked down, and feel a vibration in the remote, whereas if you’re lure fishing, in which your lure sinks down and you reel in and wave the rod to get the fish’s attention, you’ll just feel a little vibration. Once you’ve got something, you give your rod a tug to set the hook.
With the fish on the line, you start reeling in by wheeling around the nunchuk in a cranking motion. At least you do if you want to feel like you’re reeling in a fish; you can get the same results by just shaking the nunchuk.
As with real fish, the game’s virtual fish would rather not be caught, and so they swim away from you. A rainbow-shaped meter in the center of the screen indicates how taut the line is. If it is too taut, which you can both see and feel by a vibration of the remote, you must stop reeling in or the line will snap. Let the line get too slack though, and the fish will wriggle off it.
You also need to keep the rod at the proper angle. If the fish swims to the left you want to tilt the remote to the right, and visa versa. If you’re angle is too far off then the game will also pop up an indicator showing you exactly how to hold the remote it.
Some fish struggle a lot, weaving back and forth and pulling so hard that you keeping having to let the line out. Other fish move so little that you aren’t sure if you’ve hooked a fish or just some driftwood, which the game gives you a lot of.
Fishing gets old pretty quick. While some of the bigger fish really fight, allowing for some mild diversion, for the most part you just do the same thing in the same way over and over. Reel in, stop, reel in, stop. Tilt left, tilt right, hold it straight, tilt left. Eventually you pull a fish out of the water, at which point you are told what, and how long, it is.
The Other Gameplay: Earning, Collecting, Curating
That’s not especially interesting, but the game does its best to gussy up this basic gameplay. There are mini-games like kayak racing or photographing objects, you can ride a submarine, you can trawl for fish from a boat. You will encounter people who need your help to find friends who have wandered off or who want you to catch a fish for them. And you soon become the manager of an aquarium, adding fish and upgrading the tanks to draw in more customers.
This all feeds into a points system. Everything you do gets points. Help someone, get points. Catch a new type of fish, get points. Go to a new resort, try a new mini-game, do pretty much anything new or exceptional and you will get points. The game will tell you how many points you’ve earned, and then for some reason will count them down to zero, which takes a few seconds if you gain 1,000 points and takes what feels like forever if it’s 5,000.
These points can be used to buy new equipment and clothes, buy passes to new fishing resorts, upgrade your aquarium or buy a boat. And this all allows you to earn more points.
So while this game would appear to be a fishing game, it’s really something more like a role playing game in which you are building up your character. It’s the sort of game that’s good for people who like to collect one of everything in a game and earn lots of currency (in this case points).
Some people love that sort of thing, but I’m more into the action of a game than the building up of a fortune, and for me, the bland repetitiveness of the fishing kept me from finding much enjoyment in the game. Sure, different baits and reels and rods will change what fish you catch, but they have little effect on the experience of catching them.
Number One Flaw: Casting
I wish the game had spent a little more time on making fishing interesting, although I’m not really sure whether for me that’s even possible. I may not be the best judge of a fishing game, having been almost as bored by the similar but more fanciful Fishing Master World Tour and, from the little I've played so far, by the more realistic The Strike. Still, the developers should have made sure everything worked. Casting in the game is a huge pain, in that most of the time when you flick the remote forward your avatar does not cast. I never could get casting down to a science, and perhaps threw successfully one out of three times. In theory the game supports the Wii MotionPlus, but using the Remote Plus had absolutely no effect on my difficulties in casting, and ultimately I can’t see that anything else in the game seemed to use, or even need, the MotionPlus technology.
Verdict: Not my Kettle of Fish
While the game has colorful graphics, a sprightly score and some nice scenery (the jungle river is quite lush, and sunsets in the game are absolutely gorgeous), I didn’t especially enjoy it. At best, I would describe it as pleasantly innocuous. Fishing was dull, but not painfully so, and every once in a long while it even bordered on mildly entertaining. So it’s not terrible. But still, if I’m going to do something dull, I at least want a free fish dinner at the end of it.