We’ve always been somewhat taken by the more romantic ideal of how fishing could/should be; wistfully casting off into otherwise perfectly pristine waters on a peach coloured afternoon, with nothing but a bucket of bait, a hamper of scotch eggs, and a genteel disposition for company. The grim reality of shuffling along an A-road in the driving rain to get to some toxic canal to try your luck at a spot next to Wayne and Kenzie, where you’re more likely to catch some sort of airborne skin disease than a mudskipper, is perhaps less appealing.
Mobile game developer Vlambeer has thoughtfully taken all of this inevitable disappointment out of the ancient pursuit, and given it an ingenious twist in its latest iOS release, Ridiculous Fishing. And hold on – if the second half of that title puts you off at all, rest assured the first half is more than enough to make you think twice. That’s because the game is, frankly, ridiculous. Deliciously so.
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The premise is simple enough; you start your quest with a basic hook and bait setup, and after casting, have to navigate your line using tilt controls past as many underwater critters as possible – ideally to its maximum length – then scoop up as many of them as you can on the way back to the surface. The traffic gets busier and more exotic the deeper you go, making a perfect descent particularly rewarding, with the combination of dodge followed by collect mechanics complimenting each other cutely.
Upon reaching the boat, your catch is not hauled on board for a simple whack on the head, but instead flung high into the air for you to blast at merrily with your trusty firearm, like some kind of piscine Duck Hunt shooting gallery. The more fish you shoot, the more money you earn, which can perhaps inevitably be spent on all manner of upgrades, weaponry, longer lines, gadgets, and (merrily) hats.
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The natural ebb and flow of the game’s three core elements – casting and dodging deep, drawing up and collecting to the surface, blowing your catch out of the sky – soon becomes like second nature, and might even make you ask why fishing can’t be this fun in real life. Before long you”ll be scoffing at your earlier flapping with a mere 100m line as you plunge to the murkier depths of the later levels, armed with an ever more impressive tool set and firearm selection.
The rewards of a successful catch are paced in such a way as to keep your interest piqued, always pushing you on to get your mitts on the next upgrade, just tantalisingly out of reach. That, combined with both the colourful presentation and delightful, knowing tone of the in-game texts – from the fish logbook that grows with each successful trip, to the obvious social network pastiche named ‘Byrdr’ that acts as the game’s dialogue roll – make for a beguiling and moreish package.
All in, £1.99 buys you hours of content which, if Vlambeer’s record is anything to go by, should be updated further with fair regularity. The mark of a truly great mobile game is serving its fare in bite-sized chunks which don’t drag on too long at any one time to suit the nature of the host platform, and Ridiculous Fishing manages this artfully, making it the perfect fix for your idle bus ride, boring conference call, or afternoon work poo.
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A quiet word of warning – the soundtrack is a masterfully served slice of 8-bit awesomeness, and relentlessly catchy as a result. So much so that it has already caused us hardship. We had a date the other night; with a real, live girl and everything. One particular track was so lodged in the melon that we whistled it furiously throughout our evening together, at the end of which she finally snapped and demanded we reveal its source. Upon learning it and digesting our explanation, she thereafter wore an expression of squinted bemusement that wouldn’t have so much soured milk but more turned into a ripe Bleu d’Auvergne. We are not expecting a call back.