An In-Depth Look at Reel Fishing: Ocean Challenge @ E3 2012

An In-Depth Look at Reel Fishing: Ocean Challenge @ E3 2012

  • By: CM Boots-Faubert
  • Posted 19th Jul 2012

Reel Fishing Ocean Challenge

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The Reel Fishing game series (also known as "Fish Eyes" in Japan), was originally created as more than simply an arcade take on the sport of fishing, but also as a fishing simulator in almost every sense of the word. If you ask a serious fisherman they will candidly admit to you that fishing is really only about a quarter catching fish, with the other three-quarters being a mixture of zen relaxation and an opportunity for peaceful reflection. Of course that description only covers lake and stream fishing -- and in particular fly fishing -- as those are rhythmic and peaceful and an exercise in zen in their own right, as opposed to, say, deep sea fishing for marlin or swordfish, which is really more of an Aussie Rules Football version of fishing, but that is not this game!

Created by Natsume, the first game in the series and the game from which the series gets its name was "Reel Fishing," which was originally released for the original PlayStation in 1996, and eventually was added to PSN as a digital title later. The series is long-running and over the years supported a wide variety of platforms, and in addition to the first game includes Reel Fishing II (2000) for PlayStation, Reel Fishing: Wild (2001) for Dreamcast, Reel Fishing III (2003) for PlayStation 2, Reel Fishing: The Great Outdoors (2006) for PlayStation Portable, Reel Fishing: Angler's Dream (2009) for Wii, Reel Fishing Challenge (2009) for WiiWare, Reel Fishing Challenge II (2010) for WiiWare, and Reel Fishing Paradise 3D (2011) for Nintendo 3DS.

Your GU Intern intensely evaluating the hand's-on demo of Reel Fishing: Ocean Challenge at E3 2012 (Photo Copyright © 2012 Gaming Update)

When Natsume unveiled its latest addition to the Reel Fishing series at their E3 booth on Nintendo's Wii it had the look and feel that you would expect for the series and the Wii -- the Wii 'mote seems ideally suited for just this sort of game, as you cast and reel in the line, though the perspective this time around is a bit different, because in addition to seeing the to-be-expected view from above, you also get to see what amounts to a fish-eye view...

Featuring over 20 locations at which to fish, and over 30 different varieties of fish to battle and catch within a mission-like structure, the game has a measure of realism to it that you can only find with a motion-sensing controller; the feedback of the rumble feature helping to identify when your bait is being nibbled on and, once you get a feel for it, telling you when to set the hook and begin the fight to reel in that fish! The realistic simulation -- you do not know what the weight of the fish is when you hook it so you have to go by feel as you reel it in, as too ham-fisted an approach will result in a snapped line, just like in real life, which means that again, just like in real life, landing a fish in the game -- especially one that is clearly heavier than your line was meant to handle -- gives the gamer a sense of pride and accomplishment.

One of the more impressive features of the game -- which is a digital WiiWare title set to be released via the Nintendo Online Store -- is the fact that it was created as an open-ended title -- meaning that it was created with the idea of additional content being added via digital download (DLC), and we can safely assume that the DLC will include more than just additional fish, but likely additional fishing spots!

While the veteran fisherman has the option of fishing by feel, the novice will be pleased to learn that in addition to the feedback from the 'mote, there is also a handy tension guage included on-screen allowing them to keep an eye on the red line and, hopefully, prevent too many line-breaking failures -- because after all the idea is not simply to pit yourself against the fish, but to reel it in!

Unfortunately there is not much in the way of graphics and no video available for the game as of press time -- save for this image from Natsume...

Having previously played older games from the series one of the stand-out elements for this newest offering is, in comparison, the evolution that the game has enjoyed, and that is not strictly limited to the graphical world, which certainly helps with immersion, but also with the variety of fish and the fully-interactive simulated fishing pole that is the Wii 'Mote and Nunchucks. The way that the game controls are set up, the player can theoretically use just the mote, reeling in their catch with the more button, but they can also use the nunchuck to simulate reeling in the catch, which adds to the overall enjoyment of the game.

The idea behind Reel Fishing has always been to provide gamers with a reasonable simulation of the art and recreation aspects of fishing, and when we consider that, in addition to accomplishing that here, Natsume managed to do it within the package of a digital download, the fact that it is a casual play adds to its value.

Reel Fishing: Ocean Challenge is anticipated to arrive on WiiWare in 2012, in the under $20 range.