When you team up three indie iOS development powerhouses like Vlambeer (Super Crate Box), Greg Wohlwend (Hundreds, Puzzlejuice, Solipskier) and Zach Gage (Bit Pilot, SpellTower), you know that you are in for something truly special.
Despite a major setback in 2011 due to outright theft and plagiarism of their game by Gamenauts, like any great Indie story, this dream team was able to overcome adversity and craft a game that clearly shows the love, humor and attention to even that smallest of details that can only come from a development team that throws themselves into a project whole-heartedly.
So what is this game of which I speak?…Ridiculous Fishing.
Based on the Radical Fishing flash game created by Vlambeer, it is one of the craziest fishing games you are likely to play (on any platform). In short, it is a game of dodging, discovering, collecting and obliterating fish.
Like any traditional fishing experience, you start by dropping your line in the water, but instead of catching fish, you actually want to avoid them as your line descends into the depths of the ocean, trying to go as deep as possible. When you’ve either failed to avoid hitting a fish, run out of line or reached the bottom, then it’s catchin’ time. As your line is pulled back up out of the water you must tilt your device back left and right trying to hook as many sea creatures as possible (doing your best to pick up any jellyfish) on the way back up.
Just getting the fish out of the water is not enough…now it’s shootin’ time! Yeah you read that right…come on, who doesn’t carry akimbo mini guns with them when they go deep sea fishing? When the fish are pulled out of the water they are propelled up into the air and you must try to shoot as many of them as possible before the hit the water again. Different fish take more bullets to kill while others have less friction and float higher and more freely. It becomes a bit of a juggling act as you struggle to keep the mass of falling fish afloat by shooting at or near them.
The fish are worth varying amounts of money (although those infernal jellyfish will cost you money if killed) and you can use this money to purchase new gear in the Shack Shoppe. Items range from longer lengths of fishing line to better weapons or even a chainsaw that allows you to cut up fish on the way down.
This brings me to one of the most attractive features of the game, which is actually something that is missing from the game…IAPs. As I’ve ranted about numerous times before, this recent trend of releasing paid apps, cluttered with additional IAPs is greedy and needs to stop. Vlambeer could have so easily gone this route as their in-game store system would have been perfectly suited for a little additional money grab, but to do so would have cheapened and sullied the experience and I give them high praise for recognizing this fact and avoiding this money trap. Instead they’ve creating a game that is completely devoid of any sort of IAP and easy to pass off to your child w/o fear of a shocking end of the month credit card bill.
Menu navigation in the game is accomplished through a neat smartphone-like interface and for a little comic relief, the phone even has its own twitter-like social networking service called Byrdr where you’ll see some really funny messages from your (fake) followers on your Byrdr timeline whenever you purchase an item or discover a new species of fish. This phone also gives you a map where you can jump to each of the game’s four fishing locations, or read your Fish-o-pedia (once purchased from the Shoppe).
You start your fishing adventure in Home Waters and can unlock three additional fishing spots by discovering, catching and killing a specified number of species of sea creatures in each preceding location. To accomplish this you need to constantly be upgrading your gear, which I found to be one of the most fun parts of the game. Do do this, you will need to keep consulting your trusty Fish-o-pedia and deciphering the hints to figure out which waters still have species which need to be found (there are 66 species in all). There are some species that surface only during certain times of the day (or night). The fourth and final location, The Maelstrom is the only one with a Game Center global leaderboard attached. Unlike the other locations, it is an endless ocean where players compete to dive as far down as possible.
Subtitled “A Tale of Redemption”, I’d argue that “A Tale of Vindication” may have been more appropriate seeing as Ridiculous Fishing currently sits proudly at number 3 on the overall paid iOS games chart. The game’s unique art style (sort of a pleasant pixel art) looks great on the iPhone 5’s Retina display and the experience is just really fun and different. While I certainly got the most enjoyment from the species discovery and upgrading portions of the game, when unlocked, the endless mode is a satisfying reward for your efforts. If you have a number of Game Center friends, this endless mode offers a fairly nice amount of replay value. Ridiculous Fishing is well worth the $2.99, so don’t hesitate about dropping your line in the water.