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Fishing Resort

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: PROPE, Ltd.
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Sports (Fishing)

Graphics & Sound:

Fishing games and motion controllers are a natural fit, so the deluge of fishing games to hit the Wii since launch should come as little surprise. With so many games on the market, finding a way to stand out is a huge problem. Sometimes a license or name is all you need, but in the absence of either, you have to find some other way to stand out. Fishing Resort finds it's own special niche by not just offering a fishing game. The sport is a central component to the entire experience, though you're also offered the freedom to explore and fish at your own leisure.

Fishing Resort finds a happy medium between iconic and realistic visuals. On one end of the spectrum are the people you meet, which are a combination of cute anime designs and XBLA avatars. There's a good deal of variety in how characters look, which is surprising considering how simple the designs are. Characters stand out, which is important.

On the other side are the fish, which trend towards realism. The designs are fairly sharp considering the system limitations and are just cartoon-y enough to not completely stick out. Still, even with brighter colors and simple shapes, it's different. The same goes for the more realistic environments. The contrast isn't a bad thing - it just takes some getting used to.

Music sets a good tone for the game, but nothing stands out as being memorable. It's just something playing in the background most of the time. Most of the time, I was so focused on snagging fish, I shut everything else out.


Gameplay:

Fishing Resort is set up like a mini virtual vacation to a resort island. You step off the boat and, after spending a few days at a resort to learn the ropes, you're set loose in a sizeable island playground and handed a variety of mini-games to complete. As you might imagine, everything comes back to fishing in one form or another, but that's the name of the game.

One feature that will really get players hooked is the resort's large aquarium. Every fish you catch is added to the aquarium. You can walk through the aquarium at any time to watch as fish swim around, though your ultimate goal is to attract visitors, bringing in income. Money in hand, you can expand the aquarium or go out and try to catch even more exotic fish for your collection.

I was somewhat surprised at how addictive catching fish gets, especially when the game tosses in a couple of rare fish for you to go after. Going after one particular fish does grow tedious, though the minute you get a bite from your personal Moby Dick, you're immediately snapped out of whatever funk had previously set in. There's nearly 200 fish in the game, and though walking through your aquarium isn't exactly awe-inspiring (chalk it up to the Wii's hardware), it is still pretty cool to watch it grow.

Another cool feature is the ability to fish anywhere there's water. If you see a small pool of water while on a bike ride, you can stop, grab your pole and start fishing. This helps break up the otherwise dull island exploration. You are given tasks to encourage you to get out and explore, though your goals rarely push beyond simple fetch quests.

There are also a couple of competitive tasks, including skill games such as one challenging you to cast your line closer to a target area than other players. There's also an online leaderboard of sorts that awards points based on your best catches. The competitive stuff is neat, though it never gets cutthroat nor are you ever forced to do something. Fishing Resort is a pretty chill game, so you can take it on at a leisurely pace. Players who want a more narrative-based adventure will, however, be disappointed since you're sort of left to create your own fish tales.


Difficulty:

Though marketed towards both hardcore and casual fisherman, Fishing Resort is actually a fairly easy game for either skill set. I am clearly in the casual (or below casual if that exists) category and, after a bit of practice and do-it-yourself controller modification, I had little trouble reeling in big catches. Those with more know-how will have a easier time getting into the game, though novices shouldn't have much trouble after an initial hump.

Everything you need to know is explained from the start, so there's never any question about what you should be doing or how it should be done. Even the correct rod, reel and lure types are explained in detail. You'll meet various people on the island who will offer hints on what to do. Further safeguards are also in place to keep things light. You can't combine any rods, reels or lure that don't work together and you're never locked into any one decision. You can switch things out at a moment's notice.


Game Mechanics:

Fishing in Fishing Resort isn't much different from the fishing mechanic in other games. The controller acts as the rod; you pull it back and flick forward to cast just like you would with a real rod. Once cast, the Nunchuk acts as a reel. You can reel your line in-and-out by rotating the attachment in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise motion.

Learning when to tighten a line and when to give it some slack is a major play element. When a fish is hooked, a meter appears showing your line's strength. You want to keep the line straight and strong, which requires reeling the line in, though it is possible to reel in too hard, causing the line to snap and your catch to escape. Bigger fish are harder to catch and put up a bigger fight, so if you want to fill your aquarium with the island's best catches, you'll need get really good at sensing when to reel in and when to give fish some slack.

Although I had little problem with the actual fishing mechanic, keeping my hands in the right position was a bit of problem. Keeping a straight rod was easy, but it was hard to keep a constant motion with the reeling motion. Sometimes my free hand would rotate too fast, or too slow. I never lost a catch because of the mechanic, but its uncomfortable. A separate reel accessory, which snaps onto the controller and Nunchuk, is available and if you plan on spending a lot of time with Fishing Resort, I recommend picking one up when you get the game. Since I didn't have access to the part, I ended up MacGyver-ing a remedy with a twisted rubber band. It wasn't a perfect or particularly elegant solution, but it offered some stability.

I don't know if it is something I would suggest for everyone given its limited scope, but If you own a Wii and like fishing games, you won't go wrong with Fishing Resort.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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