Engaging fishing controls; a large variety of fish to catch; brisk pacing
Little to do besides fishing; some awkward camera angles
Fishing Resort, the latest brainchild of Sonic creator, Yuji Naka, may bear a superficial resemblance to Namco-Bandai’s Go Vacation (which was also released for Wii earlier this holiday season), but the two games are markedly different in their design philosophies. Where Go Vacation positioned itself as something of a successor to Wii Sports, offering up dozens of mini-games in a tropical-themed package, Fishing Resort is decidedly more narrow in its focus, choosing to emphasize a singular, developed activity over a multitude of disparate ones. This may give the impression that it lacks the breadth of its contemporary, but in truth the game actually benefits from this specialized approach. Go Vacation, while often fun, ultimately stumbled over its lack of a clear direction; Fishing Resort, in contrast, succeeds precisely because it knows where its strengths lie and tailors the rest of the experience around them. The end result is a game that is far more engaging than any other effort in its genre. Just don’t expect much in the way of variety.
Both titles begin in the same fashion– players land on a popular island getaway, and after a brief tutorial segment, they are free to explore it at their own leisure. Despite this initial similarity, however, the games quickly diverge in their structure and objectives. Unlike Go Vacation’s open-world locales, the areas in Fishing Resort are generally more linear, often restricting your travels to fixed pathways. This makes each of the environments feel conspicuously more artificial than the ones found in Namco’s title (and often results in some awkward camera angles), but that ultimately bears little relevance to the gameplay– the locales were all designed foremost to facilitate fishing, and you will be too busy doing just that to take notice of their limitations.
The environments, while largely linear, are all vast and quite detailed.
Sure, Fishing Resort has a handful of other tasks for you to enjoy, but you’ll find yourself spending the vast majority of your time fishing at one of its various water bodies. Fortunately, this proves to be the title’s most engaging activity. The Wii remote lends itself exceptionally well to the fishing genre, and it is used to great effect in Prope’s title. The controller acts as your virtual fishing rod: you cast it by flicking in the desired direction, and you reel it in by rotating the Nunchuck in a circular motion. A tension meter displays the current level of stress on your line, and you’ll have to watch it closely if you hope to catch some of the bigger fish lurking in the game’s waters– too much stress and the line will snap; too little and the fish will escape. The trick then becomes to balance the meter as deftly as possible, reeling in when it slackens and easing up when it approaches red. An on-screen prompt will also indicate the position in which you should hold the remote in order to minimize the tension on your line, adding another wrinkle of depth to the activity. Each of the title’s 200-plus fish puts up varying degrees of resistance when hooked, and certain ones (like the notorious alligator gar) become all the more satisfying to land because of how tricky they are to reel in.
What’s more, the game is consistently engaging because of the pace at which it opens up. Each fish you catch, objective you complete, or achievement you unlock is converted into points (the game’s equivalent of currency), which can then be used to purchase new equipment, bait, clothing, and locations to explore. This ensures that you’re always making progress regardless of which activity you choose to pursue, and you’ll quickly find yourself with more points than you know how to spend. Before long, you’ll be able to afford the game’s biggest and best fishing rods, which are the only way you can land some of the real monsters that roam its depths.
Can you catch the king?
Unfortunately, this heavy emphasis on fishing also limits the title’s appeal. Fun as it may be, there is little in Fishing Resort to attract those who do not already enjoy the sport, and its approach to the genre is unlikely to change anyone’s mind. The other activities on display, like kayaking, are fun little diversions in their own right (and thankfully do not rely on motion controls as they did in Go Vacation), but they lack the necessary depth to truly enhance the game in any meaningful fashion. The title is still quite engaging in spite of this concern, but its niche status makes it something of an acquired taste among gaming enthusiasts.
Ultimately, then, your enjoyment of Fishing Resort will depend upon your affinity for fishing games. If you’ve ever found yourself revisiting the fishing hole in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess or hunting after the elusive coelacanth in any iteration of Animal Crossing, then Fishing Resort would be right at home in your gaming library. The title’s modest asking price ($20 for the standard version; $30 for the fishing rod bundle) only adds to its appeal, and it is sure to keep you hooked (sorry– I had to throw in at least one pun) for a long time to come. Even if you aren’t particularly fond of the genre, you will likely find some enjoyment in its engaging controls and large variety of fish to catch, which is enough to recommend the title to those curious about it. It’s not like you have much else to play until Xenoblade comes out.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.