Fishing with chainsaws, toasters and orbital death lasers. Those of a fish-fearing nature may not be the only ones to find joy in Vlambeer’s updated version of Ridiculous Fishing.
I’m no more a fishing-man than my father (who once suffered a chronic bout of seasickness on the ferry over to the Isle of Wight and vowed never again to set foot aboard a sea-faring vessel) or his father before him (a man who, safe in the cold embrace of his ninety-fifth year, has yet to set foot outside these lands). We are not of ocean stock, it is fair to say. And yet, having sunk a dozen or so hours into Vlambeer’s Ridiculous Fishing – game exclusively about being a fishing-man – I feel I may be equipped with enough know-how to succeed in the real world of hunting endangered, defenseless sea-life.
Ridiculous Fishing – A Tale of Redemption is quintessential mobile gaming. Quick to conjure a compulsion loop – although not through mindless repetition – it’s a game that begins with good intentions (“one quick go”) and ends with an afternoon spent. It’s one of those games – joining the ranks of Solipskier, Super Hexagon and Temple Run (and developed by a troop of chaps with games like Super Crate Box, Solipskier and SpellTower to their collective name).
In simplest terms, it’s a game about fishing with chainsaws, toasters and not one but two gatling guns all the while dressed in fine attire. Much like its name, the world of Ridiculous Fishing is delightful; the art of fishing viewed through the wide-eyes of a child. Hours spent twiddling thumbs have been replaced with bazooka shootouts against near-extinct fish species, fishing lines stretch thousands of meters into the deep and come adorned with hairdryers and toasters while narwhal whales take flight high above the ocean surface, beyond the moon and deep into space.
You fill the boots of Nondescript Fishing-Man; a poker-faced chap perched aboard a boat with a timber smart phone strapped to one hand and a fishing line nestled tightly in the other. There is a tale of sorts to go with our hero, told through enigmatic Twitter-like entries on the phone and connected to a real-life ARG, but it’s a mile or two south of integral to enjoying the game.
With each go you cast your line by tapping the screen and then tilt the iThing to elude the thick swarm of sea-life that becomes more abundant as you descend further into the abyss. Once you’ve snagged something the objective U-turns and, ascending, the goal is to hook as many fish – and as few jellyfish – as possible before reaching the ocean surface at which point open season is declared. Above the ocean swell you tap, swipe and hammer a sky bursting with bemused gill-bearers, reducing them to salty offal with everything from auto-shotguns to uzis, bazookas to orbital death rays in the name of making money.
Each descent is randomised with new fish materialising across the four zones, at certain depths and, occasionally, at specific times of day. The further down you explore, the rarer and more valuable the fish become and the frisson of excitement born out of reaching new depths or glimpsing a new species is special indeed.
It plays like a delightful 2D medley of Pokémon (more on that in a moment), Doodle Jump, Burnout and Jack Lumber; a wonderful combination of hairline misses on the way down and eventual anarchy on the way up as you wrestle gravity for the souls of a hundred-plus skyward fish.
There’s a legitimate gotta-catch-’em-all vibe beneath the surface bedlam, too, a Fish-O-Pedia tracking your quarry with each fish boasting its own tickling encyclopedic entry. Completing the Fish-O-Pedia is, perhaps, a touch too easy (or, rather, I’d love for there to be another 66 fish to catch), but it’s more of a smart way of enticing you to keep playing until the end-game rears its head and the inevitable leaderboard-driven high-score chase takes hold.
There’s also a hint of lite-RPG with customisable fishing lines, equipment, a healthy arsenal of shooters and a wardrobe full of vestments some of which offer subtle boosts (extra money per fish), others merely look cracking (jellyfish helmet).
It’s weapon-grades stuff; a smart and rewarding game that fits perfectly on mobile devices. Vlambeer’s backward-ass decision to force you to actually play the game to unlock its later features – its total and wonderful abandonment of in-app purchases – a beguiling visual motif and a taut control scheme only makes the decision to wholeheartedly recommend Ridiculous Fishing that much easier. And while I may not be one in life-proper, I’m confident Vlambeer will make a fishing-man out of me yet.
This review was originally published on BeefJack.