It would be easy to pass on Ridiculous Fishing by due to its cheesy, trying-too-hard-to-be-wacky premise, but this would be a terrible, terrible mistake. Missing out on Ridiculous Fishing would mean you wouldn’t get the chance to enjoy one of the most playable and addictive iPhone games released in a long time.
You play a fisherman in his boat who after he catches fish, throws them up in the air and shoots them with a gun. See, wacky, right? Yes, but the game avoids indulging in its silliness by making it all seem quite normal. The pixelated graphics help here, as anything too cartoony would spoil the mood entirely, easily slipping into wacky territory. As with most of the best mobile games, there really isn’t much more to the game, but like the seas you fish, it has hidden depths.
A tap of the screen casts your line, which you must drop as deeply as possible into the water, avoiding fish along the way. When your line runs out, or you hit a fish, it’s time to reel it in and collect all the fish you can as it comes back up. As they break the water, all the fish are flung into the air, and you get to shoot them. Splatting the fish earns you money, which can be spent in the store to upgrade your line, reel and weaponry.
Now, here’s the part where, if games like Real Racing 3 are anything to go by, we’d start talking about in-app purchases as a way to supplement your fish-based income. Except there aren’t any, despite it being an almost perfect opportunity to put them in; the only way to buy stuff is to earn money by fishing. It feels odd to say it, but not having to pay more than the basic price of the app to work your way through the game, is really refreshing.
Ridiculous Fishing has one control method: Tilt. Once the line is in the water, swaying the phone left and right sees the line move in the same direction, and it’s this way you avoid the fish on the way down, and catch them on the way up. In addition to making money, you’re tasked with catching different species of fish, and once you’ve caught a certain amount you can open up new locations to fish. With each new place comes deeper waters, which means longer distances to descend before you get to find all the rare species.
To help you on your way, you can add a chainsaw to your line (don’t ask), which gets fish out of the way quickly, and a series of “lives” in the shape of a toaster and a hairdryer (again, don’t ask). Other items available to buy include special items of clothing which can increase the value of each fish caught, lights to illuminate the depths, and some very big guns.
If none of this sounds all that compelling, we’ll say it again: Don’t underestimate the brilliance of Ridiculous Fishing. It’s so simple to play, yet incredibly addictive and amazingly enjoyable. It’s a game which pushes you to keep playing, using clever little touches like a marker to show your record depth, and a library of the fish you’ve caught, including those you haven’t.
Each game last long enough to get through in a few minutes, but you’ll be spurred on to play one more time every time. And as the upgrades aren’t stupidly priced, they’re all achievable, so you’re never stuck too long on one stage waiting to buy the item you need to progress. It’s smart games making, and Ridiculous Fishing has clearly been produced by people who also enjoy playing games, rather than just making money out of them.
It’s not all perfect, as with only four stages, Ridiculous Fishing can be completed quite quickly, and the controls on the iPad – it’s a universal game – aren’t quite as stable as they are on the iPhone. However, even when the developers fix the iPad controls, Ridiculous Fishing is a game which is best suited to the casual nature of gaming on the iPhone. Here’s hoping the developer adds some more stages and fish in an update soon.
From the 8-bit style graphics to the wonderful gameplay, Ridiculous Fishing is one of the best games we’ve played on the iPhone this year, and it deserves a place in everyone’s collection.