When you think of fishing, your first thought is of waiting. Waiting, and waiting, and waiting… for something to happen. In fact I was walking my dog just the other day down by the river Thames (London), and I noticed a few fisherman more interested in grilling sausages and knocking back cans of lager than the pursuit of the local fish. So, forgive my reluctance for not expecting much with Gameloft’s latest fishing game, Fishing Kings. The thought of sitting, iPhone in hand, and waiting for a fish to nibble didn’t sound quite like my cup of tea.
However, luckily for us, Fishing Kings is not a fishing simulator, it’s more of an arcade style experience. You see unlike real fish, these virtual fish love nothing more than biting on your tackle (ahem!). This allows your fishing experience to focus more on the catch, than the waiting. As long as you have the correct lure for a particular fish, it won’t be long before you are wrestling with said fish and pulling it aboard your vessel.
My first impression of the game was from screenshots that were previewed by my colleagues during their visit to GDC. I was impressed by the 3D graphics of both the environments and the fish themselves. Gameloft have always pushed the iDevices graphically, and once more they don’t disappoint.
There are five locales to visit in all, including the Bahamas, the Amazon and New Zealand. Each comprises of three areas to visit, and within these areas are a multitude of different fish to catch. In fact there are 33 different species, from little brown trouts to huge marlin.
So, onto the act of fishing itself. Once you have selected an avatar, from a small selection of 3 characters – two male and one female – you are presented with a map of the locales you can visit. Pick one and you transported to the area, and after a shortish loading screen you’ll be standing in your fishing boat ready to go. Dragging your finger around the screen will change your characters direction and where you will cast off. You can go for pot luck, or if you wait a while a little ripple in the water will indicate where the fish you need to catch is swimming. Tap to target where you want to place your lure and then cast off by a quick flick of your wrist, much like fishing itself. Your lure will fly through the sky and land with a satisfying kerplunk in the water. From here the camera view changes from above water, to below, giving you a fish eye perspective of your new scaly neighbours. You’ll rarely end up in an area short on fish, so within a few seconds you should spot a fish or few in your vicinity. Tap on a fish and you’ll be giving information on the species and what lure it prefers. It’s pretty impossible to catch the fish you want without the correct lure.
To attract a fish, you must start reeling in the lure back to you. Doing this is a simple case of spinning a graphical representation of a reel on the left of the screen with your finger. You can also tug the line by flicking the device, both will affect the lure and attract fish towards it. Soon enough a fish will turn and start coming towards you, if you are lucky it will bite at your lure, and when it does you need to flick quickly to hook it on. Now begins a wrestling match with your fish as it tries its best to free itself from your rod by snapping the line. You must reel it in, but be careful not to break the line. The fish will be pulling in the other direction so you must balance the power bar so it does not go into the red, if it stays red too long the line will break. You also need to watch which direction the fish is pulling… if it pulls left you must tilt the device left to match it, all the while continuing to reel in. After a short battle the fish will tire, giving you a chance to pull it in quickly… eventually when it’s near enough to your boat you’ll be told to pull it in with a quick flick, and voila your first catch.
Early fish battles are pretty easy, but once you get to the bigger guys they do get a little trickier. The difficulty in Fishing Kings though isn’t so much the fishing itself, but being able to pass the tournaments and missions. Both allow you to progress, and unlock new areas and new lures to catch bigger fish.
Sent to you via an in-game PDA, the missions tend to be simple exercises in catching a set amount of one type of fish to catch. Tournaments, on the other hand, require not only a particular fish, but also it must be a specified size and caught within a set time limit. While it is possible to simply play the game in free mode and fish to your hearts content, these tournaments are the meat and potatoes of the game, offering a fun and challenging side to proceedings.
The game becomes quite addictive, very much like Pokemon, where you feel you must catch them all. A guide lets you see the fish you have caught or seen, and read information about them. You can also read your diary which charts how many fish you have caught, the biggest, the smallest and the heaviest. This info is then tracked online against other players.
Maybe I went into this game with low expectations, but I really enjoyed Fishing Kings. I’ll no doubt continue to play it until I’ve caught every damn fish. Not only is it great to look at, with great fish models and animation, realistic water effects and pretty looking locales all running smoothly on my 3GS, but the gameplay itself is great fun. It’s maybe not difficult enough for some people, but I think that defeats the object. It’s supposed to be a game where you can kick back and partake in a spot of fishing, whether that’s on a short bus journey, on a train to work, or just relaxing on the sofa… it has real pick up and play appeal.
Considering everything it has to offer, it’s attractively priced too at $2.99 (£1.79. From what I’ve played of the multitude of fishing games it’s easily the best.
Fishing Kings is out now for iPhone and iPod Touch. (get it get it from )