The last game I played by Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka was Ivy the Kiwi? for the Nintendo DS. That game was a fine on-rails 2D platformer that featured slick touchscreen controls, a wonderful soundtrack, storybook visuals, and all the appeal an indie game fan like myself could want in a game. Yuji Naka is back, but this time he's at the forefront of Fishing Resort, the latest family-friendly Wii exclusive.
I'll admit that I was terrified at the idea of playing a fishing game. I've never been a fan of fishing as an activity, and I've never actually gone fishing myself. When I started playing Fishing Resort, however, I was surprised at how much attention was put on the act of fishing.
You start out by selecting a character and editing him or her. There's no Mii support, which is odd, so you're stuck using Mii-like characters instead. Once you pick a character, it's off to the game's first tutorial. Thankfully, this is a short sequence that teaches you the basics of fishing. There's really nothing to it. Simply press the A button, tilt the Wii Remote back, and then launch forward to send your line into the water. After that you have to play the waiting game in the hopes that the fish will bite.
Reeling in your game is simple, too, but there are different layers that make it pretty fun. Once you see and hear that fish bite, you need to give the Wii Remote a quick upward flick. After you do that, you must rotate the Nunchuk rapidly to simulate the act of reeling in the fish. You'll see a tension meter at the top of the screen, and when it starts to enter the red, you have to ease up on the reeling so you won't break the line. Additionally, the game prompts you when you need to tilt the Wii Remote to maintain control of the rod and the fish.
There are certainly a few intricacies that keep the gameplay of Fishing Resort from being overly simplistic. That element carries over to the game's world. There's a surprising amount of things you can do. You can talk to other characters and fulfill certain tasks such as fetching their loved ones and delivering items. You can enter competitions and catch certain types of fish that are requested on bulletin boards. You can also get on a kayak and head out to deeper water to see what type of fish await you.
Additionally, you can visit different resorts such as beaches, lakes, and swamps. These different places make for a nice change of scenery, and there are different fish within every resort. Not every locale is open to you right away, so you'll have to be sure to catch plenty of fish and complete objectives to earn points and increase your rank. Points can be used to move to different resorts, rent kayaks, participate in bulletin board events, and upgrade to new fishing gear.
Unfortunately, despite these neat little nuances, Fishing Resort is exactly what its name implies: a fishing game. Chances are if you don't like fishing games, or don't care for fishing in general, you probably won't find much enjoyment in this title. Though it's definitely deep at a certain level, there are a bunch of moments where nothing is happening. You'll be waiting for that fish to bite, but you'll get nothing for long stretches of time, or you'll lose fish and realize you need to upgrade to a new tackle box with better equipment.
Fishing Resort has a nice, cheery look to it that's on par as far as what you would expect from a fishing game on the Wii. There are smooth visuals and nice colors, but there's nothing particularly outstanding about the game's graphics. The same can be said about the sound design. There's plenty of calming, natural sound, but nothing will blow you away. Then again, this is a fishing game that's actually kind of relaxing, so you can't really expect it to blow you away.
Ultimately, Fishing Resort does a good job of providing fishing fans with a slow-paced yet entertaining experience. There are online rankings for individuals who take digital fishing seriously, and about 200 fish for those who want to challenge themselves and collect every creature in the game. Fishing Resort is a niche game, and while it's certainly good at catering to its niche, it's a game that most Wii owners probably won't care for. I had some fun playing the game, but I can't say Fishing Resort was a memorable experience. It's simply a fishing game that works, and some people will probably like it.