A day spent fishing on the lake is a most peaceful scene. The glitter of sunlight on the water, the camaraderie of those sharing the confines of the boat with you and the feeling of both being in nature and wrestling with it combine to form one of the most popular sports in America and indeed all over the world. In these busy times, however, there isn’t always time to hit the lake with rod in one hand and cooler in the other. Fortunately for fishing enthusiasts, there’s Rapala’s Fishing Frenzy for Nintendo’s Wii.
There are three different modes of gameplay: Tournament Fishing, Open Fishing, and Quick Challenge, but no online or offline multiplayer. Fishing looks simple, but is often complicated in execution. The game’s camera is fully automatic, and appropriately shifts to reflect the scenes around you or shows you in which direction a fish is about to bite. Once the fish has taken the bait, however, things become a lot more complicated. A bar at the bottom of the screen will appear as the fish struggles back and forth to break free of the lure: each side of this bar has roughly 20 hash marks which switch between green and red, depending on whether the fish is being pulled in toward the boat or allowed to tug the lure back. It’s hard to know, however, what works and what doesn’t as the meter seems to shift around of it’s own volition despite what you do. This is also combined with contradictory instructions for completing combos. Following a graphic of the Wiimote being turned to the right, for instance, results in an failed combo, while turning it in the opposite direction results in success. It may capture the chaotic spirit of angling but it doesn’t make for very good gameplay.
The motion sensing is minor but often crucial to the game. You use the Wii Remote to propel your character’s boat (twisting it turns the engine), and the Wii Remote and Nunchuk are used for both casting and for coasting through the water. Most prominently, however, is how the motion controls are used in hooking and fighting a fish. The Nunchuk and Wii Remote combine a variety of functions between them such as letting the reel out, cutting the line and rolling the Nunchuk to move the lure. The remote is used to actually cast the rod, reel in the line, and perform the confusing combos described above.
Upon first viewing, the game looks pretty. While not cutting edge, it holds its own well and contains little in the way of graphical errors. There are two characters in the game, both without names or any sort of background history, but then again it’s really not that kind of game. Each character, however, is well-constructed enough to satisfy the intended casual gamer market. The graphics above the surface are attractive to the eye, but rather sparse. Underwater, however, there are schools of fish moving this way and that, light dispersing through the water, and of course, your lure, ever darting in the current. Unfortunately, the game suffers from choppy transfers between scenes and occasional pop-ups and silhouettes of fish that randomly appear as you play.
Despite the graphical glitches and controller confusion, Rapala’s Fishing Frenzy is not that bad of a game, particularly for a fishing fan. It’s just not as good as it could have been. Still, for the gamer who likes to fish or the fisher who likes to game, this may just be your ticket. Also, as a further lure (pun very much intended) to outdoor-types, the game also comes with a year’s subscription to Field and Stream or Outdoor Life magazines. True casual gamers, however, may want to rent this one before buying as the game has quirks that may turn off those who aren’t fishing fanatics.