IGN Review of Fishing Master: World Tour
Back in September of 2007 I had the chance to review Fishing Master by Hudson Soft, and while I was admittedly harsh on the game, which had a decent control scheme but suffered from being extremely simplistic, it was also a game I could easily throw into the "shovelware" category to some extent. Wii Sports was popular, and Fishing Master was one of the earlier games out of the gate to pull back the complexity, phone in a design to some extent, and then try to wrap it all up with some halfway-decent gameplay. It was in the same group as games like Carnival Games, and the first Kororinpa. Now days, those games are practically AAA titles in comparison to some of the atrocities we find in the Wii bargain bins at local retailers.
Fishing Master wasn't a bad starting point, and as its sequel proves, the game mechanic is strong enough to support a larger, more "mature" overall experience. It's still the same super-deformed character design, and it's still extremely simple to play, but the end result this time around is a game that I'm happy to recommend to younger gamers, and one that truly is trying to push the quality side of things ever-so-slightly; even if it is still a bit too thrown together and PS2 like in nearly every way.
Fishing Master World Tour takes the original design of the first game, and expands on nearly every facet. For those that didn't play the original, the concept is simple. You play as a young boy or girl, you've got a dog or cat buddy that follows you around, and you go on a tour (in the first game, Japan-wide, and in this game, worldwide) based entirely around the sport of fishing. You enter tournaments, upgrade equipment, hit up your favorite fishing spots to try and unlock new info in your journal, and fulfill missions for people as you go. Last year brought about a very basic understanding of the world of fishing, having a few extra rods to go through, a handful of lures, and the option for ocean and lake fishing. This time around, the world is expanded, so you'll find more indigenous species of fish as you travel the entire world, fishing off the coast of Hawaii, dropping a line on the Tokyo coast, or taking to the ocean itself for some deep sea trolling. Same general feel, this time expanded on substantially.
One thing Fishing Master does very, very well, is its concept of line tension, and the ability to make fishing battles not only easy to grasp, but extremely quick in turnaround. After casting – which is done with a quick flick of the wrist – the Wii-mote actually tracks the pole in a one-to-one fashion, tilting and moving whenever the player moves their hand. It doesn't do anything, sadly, as the game is made to be extremely simple, but this very basic little add on shows an aspect of game development not often found in the "midcard" Wii games; ambition. It really does look, and to a certain extent, feel, like you're controlling that pole, and manipulating the line. Once hooked, the game switches into the same arcade-inspired fish battle mechanic, having reel controls, and then a tension meter at the top of the screen. Let too much line out, and the fish can unhook. Keep it to tight, however, and you'll snap the line and lose not only your fish, but also the bait. It's nearly identical to the design found in the old Radica Bass Fishing LCD games. With that being said, I dug the gaemplay in that little game, and I dig it again here. Retained from the original Fishing Master is the ability to pull off power moves to weaken the fish. These pop up at random times during battles, having left and right motions wear down the fish and give you a few vital seconds to crank the line in as fast as possible. Just like last time around though, a quick horizontal swing to either direction will work just fine, making it pretty mindless. Again, this game is all about being fun, but amazingly simple.
Unlike other fishing games on the system, World Tour practically guarantees a fish on the line every cast; the challenge comes in getting the right fish, and landing it. Certain species will only go after certain bait, and with shadows in the water for easy fish spotting it can be a frustrating (but in a challenging way) moment when you cast out in the direction of a lunker bass, only to find that it doesn't dig the bait, and instead sits there looking at it while a tiny little puny guy swims up and casually takes the worm. This time around the game also adds special glowing shadows in the water, making for rare fish to land. The developer even went as far as to have the weather change and darken during these moments, attempting to add a little tension to it all.
Moving away from the gameplay itself, Fishing Master looks nearly identical to its predecessor in format, though it's cleaned up a bit as well. The interface is still made up of huge buttons with no IR support (so it looks like a blown up DS game, with its huge text and semi-vacant screens), but there's also a lot more to maneuver through. There are more areas in the game, more fish to catch, more strategy in bait selection, and more quests and tournaments overall to play through. Ocean fishing is a nice touch, though nearly identical to regular "move and cast" play control, and while the visuals aren't anything stellar, they certainly have been improved on over the previous game. This time around you've also got online leaderboards for fishing point score, as well as one revolving around current fish caught. A simple addition, but one that again shows a little extra effort by the team to make something above average.
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