Virtual Fishing
  • Genre:
    • Sports
  • Platform:
    • Virtual Boy
  • Developer:
    • Locomotive Corporation
  • Publisher:
    • Pack-in-Video
  • Released:
    • JP 10/06/1995
Score: 60%

This review was published on 06/24/2016.

Virtual Fishing is a fishing video game developed by Locomotive Corporation and published by Pack-in-Video for the Virtual Boy. It was originally released in Japan on October 6, 1995, but it did not make it to any other territories. THQ was going to publish the game in North America in fall of 1996, but those plans were canceled due to the Virtual Boy's horrendous sales. They certainly made a wise decision from a business standpoint, but how about from other standpoints? Did North America miss out on an amazing classic due to unfair circumstances? The answer to that question is not really. The game itself isn't terrible, but it's a bit too mundane to stand out. However, the one good thing it does is that it's far simpler than most fishing simulation games, making it easy for anyone to jump into. Even if you don't understand Japanese, the game is intuitive enough for that to not be a problem. If there were more meat to its bones, then Virtual Fishing's appeal would actually last more than a few minutes.

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Through the Virtual Boy's tiny red and black colored screens, you'll be treated to some pretty subpar graphics. The game play primarily takes place in the first-person perspective, with you staring at a body of water for the vast majority of the time. The moving water effect isn't too bad, but the backgrounds certainly are. There are different backgrounds for each area, but they're all really bland. Some also look pretty similar, making a few of them hard to tell apart. Many backgrounds are mostly filled in with black, almost as if this is an early NES game. The rest of the screens aren't too great looking, either, like the dialogue scenes and the underwater view when catching fish. The fish themselves do look decent, but everything else is mediocre. Even by the Virtual Boy's low standards, these graphics are quite drab. The game also makes poor use of the Virtual Boy's stereoscopic 3-D. Graphics aren't everything, but it'd be nice if there was more to look at while you wait for fish to bite.

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Fishing in Virtual Fishing is quite straightforward. The first thing you do is cast your line by pressing the A button; you can aim it slightly by holding down a direction on the left d-pad. Then, you hold down the A button to slowly reel the line in. You repeat this process until a fish bites your line, which thankfully doesn't take long in this game. Once you've casted your line, there will be a picture of your fishing rod at the top left of the screen, and it'll bend when a fish is nibbling at your lure. When this occurs, you press the R button in a timely fashion to hook the fish. At this point, the game will switch to an underwater view and you'll be able to reel the fish in by holding the A button. If you pull the fish to the surface without breaking your line, then you'll successfully catch it. To prevent the line from breaking, you have to momentarily stop reeling whenever the fish struggles. That's all there is to it. While the simple controls and mechanics make this a very intuitive fishing game, it's all too basic. You never have to change up your strategy, resulting in a monotonous experience.

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After naming yourself and picking a gender, you select the option to begin playing the game. Immediately following that, you'll be thrown onto the map screen, where you choose a location. Once a location has been selected, you'll get a bit of dialogue and then the fishing will commence. Each spot on the map not only represents a different place to fish, but also a different tournament. The main objective of the game is to enter and win fishing tournaments. The rules for the tournaments are simple: all entrants have eight minutes to catch as many fish as they can, and once the time is up, the person with the longest total length of combined fish is declared the winner. You don't actually get to see the other participants during the tournament, but you do occasionally get some dialogue from them, plus there's a progress report that pops up every few minutes. Unfortunately, there's not much else to the tournaments. You just keep catching fish for eight minutes and hope you get big sizes. Success is based more on random chance than actual skill, which is frustrating.

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Aside from winning trophies at tournaments, there are a couple of other things you can do. One of those things is the time attack. Whenever you win a tournament, you'll then be able to play a time attack at its location. In time attack, you'll immediately start off with a fish hooked to your line, and the goal is to successfully catch five in a row in the least amount of time possible, all without breaking your line. Another thing you can do is complete your fish compendium. There's a special location on the map where you can fish endlessly with no time limit or tournament to stop you. Every time you catch a unique fish at this special spot, it's recorded in a compendium you can check on the main menu screen. Gotta catch 'em all and all that. All these features add a tad more replay value to the game, but make no mistake: there are no tadpoles.

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Besides the snippets of dialogue here and there, this game wastes very little time in getting you to the core of the experience. Normally, most fishing games have a complex labyrinth of menus to navigate through, with a ton of customization options for lures and the like. Virtual Fishing, however, places the focus entirely on the fishing. Additionally, the actual fishing mechanics themselves are so simple that anyone can figure them out. These are the game's greatest strengths. Sadly, the fishing mechanics are simple to the point of lacking depth, pun fully intended. Since fishing is all you do in this game, that's a problem. Also, the graphics suck. Virtual Fishing could have been interesting if there was more to it.

Word Count: 1,043

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