I want to go fishing. I really want to go fishing. It is the middle of October, rainy and cold outside. Snow is not far down the road, and I am more than comfortable sitting here on my couch. What is the couch ridden sportsman to do? What if I told you that you could fish from the comfort of your own couch? How you say? With the new fishing game Pro Fishing Challenge from Atlus. It slices, it dices, it does your laundry no, wait actually it doesnt do any of that stuff, but it sure does let you fish.
First off, I have to let you know that I do like fishing. I would have to guess that the chances of someone who doesnt like fishing actually picking up this game is pretty slim, but I figured that I should let you know upfront that I am partial to fishing, and the games that they spawn. Atlus has made a game that is a little different from the other fishing games out there. Instead of going with an arcady type game that most of the other companies have come up with, they have gone more with a lot more of a simulations angle. There are no cameras to follow your lure so you can see fish sneaking up on you. There is no teleporting across the lake to a new fishing hole. There is a camera that shows your lure, and the action you are getting with your retrieval (something that you can feel in your rod and you are retrieving your lure with real fishing) but other than that, you see your boat and the top of the water. Lets start at the beginning though. You can fill your tackle box with your choices of jigs and lures. (For advice as to what jigs and lures are best, check with Strong Bad, for he is awesome with the fishes) The amount of equipment that they have to purchase in this game is really amazing. From lure and reels to monstrous fishing boats, to get you to the fish quickly. You get your money from competing in tournaments, as well as catching record breaking fish. After you have chosen your equipment you are ready to hit the lake.
You get to choose your starting point, there are three or four starting points on each of the three different lakes. You start sitting in your boat in big movement mode. This gets you around the lake, and allows you to move to different fishing areas. The right trigger powers up your motor and sends you on your way. Once you are in the general vicinity of where you would like to fish, you then jump into trolling mode. This allows you to move slowly, and get a fine adjust on the position of the boat with the trolling motor mounted at the front of the boat. You have to keep one eye on your fish finder to help give you an idea of where it would be best to wet your line. It is also good to have an idea of where the fish would be on a real lake, as they have done a good job of trying to get the fish to behave in a realistic manner.
Then onto casting mode, be prepared to practice. It is not as easy as it looks. The button presses are quick, and you have to have reactions more suited to Ninja Gaiden than a fishing game to get good casts on a regular basis. Once you have placed your lure where you want it the right trigger begins your retrieval. You can get a nice slow retrieve if you barely press down on the trigger, or a faster one if you really pull back on the trigger. Different lures work best as different speeds, so you will have to do some experimenting to get things just right. If you have chosen a surface lure you can see your lure begin retrieved across the surface of the water. You really start to notice the graphics here. They have done a good job of rendering not only the water but the boat and surrounding area. This is not the most graphics intensive games, but it still does look good. Once you have a bite, you have to make sure that you set the hook. If you do not to a good job of setting the hook, you are in for a short fight. Again the right trigger is your reel, and you have to feather that to keep some tension on the line, but not to the point of breaking. With a small fish, you can just crank on the reel and drag them right to the boat, but with larger fish, you are looking at a much longer fight. If you are lucky enough to land your fish, you get your congratulation screen and get to see the weight and what kind of fish that you have caught. You can only keep so many fish in your live well, so bigger fish bump out the smaller ones as catch them.
You can head out and free fish if you are looking to get a handle on your fishing skills, but the tournaments is where you are really going to go. There is a season that strings together all of the tournaments, where you have to weigh in against your computer opponents. This game also supports Xbox Live. Unfortunately I was not able to test out Live with this review. I can only assume that playing with your friends over Live and taunting them with the 10lbs largemouth bass that you just caught would be a blast.
Suggestions: This game was enjoyable to play. It is much more of a simulation than any of the other fishing games out there. There are not crazy camera angles or strange arcade play modes. If you are looking for a game to fill your fishing needs without leaving your couch, you should try this out.