I’ve only ever been fishing the once, a long time ago in fact down on a rocky pier in Devon, the waves crashing below and the cold wind chiseling away at my face. While it wasn’t necessarily a bad experience it was one that did require plenty of patience and a tolerance for the bad British weather. I’ll tell you one other thing, the view was never as stunning as some of the locales you wind up visiting in Fishing Star World Tour.
Developer Wright Flyer Studios might not be a name you’re familiar with – their past work has been all mobile-based to be fair – but their first attempt at a console game is a strong opener. It’s a relatively simple fishing experience sure but it’s one that looks and plays really well. Your journey will see you leapfrogging between self-enclosed fishing spots each one home to a small handful of fish ranging in species, size, and difficulty. When you’re not sitting by the water’s edge you’ll also customize your lures, rods, and reels slowly upgrading each so you’re able to catch rarer and more rascally fish. There’s little filler here, no story and no big open world to explore. This game feels like at its core it has the heart of an arcade experience.
For a game all about fishing, I have to hand it to Fishing Star World Tour for having so much variation in its locales. With forty ‘levels’ in all, you’ll visit lakes surrounded by lush forests, beautiful sparkling oceans and even some more outlandish scenes involving ghostly looking pirate ships. It might seem silly but it actually goes a long way in keeping things feeling fresh and interesting. It also doesn’t hurt that the game looks so visually vibrant. With each new ‘world’ I found myself always intrigued to see where I’d be fishing next.
Unfortunately seeing each of these stunning bodies of water can at times be rather frustrating, the pace of the game a little all over the place thanks to the way it gates off progression. In order to move onto the next area, you must first catch every requested fish. Sounds relatively harmless on paper, but since it’s luck that dictates what you’ll actually end up hooking each time you cast out there’s little you can do besides hope you find the ones you need. While early on I didn’t have too much trouble landing the required fish needed to advance, later in the game I found myself stuck on certain stages crossing my fingers I’d eventually land what I required. It was far from ideal and really dragged the arcade-like pace of the game.
While the game does offer users the option to opt for a more traditional button-based control scheme, it’s actually the motion controls that I found myself gravitating toward more. Sure they’re a little clumsy at times, particularly when battling against the more aggressive fish, but they also helped make me feel far more involved in the action. With one Joy-Con acting as the rod and the other as your reel you’ll not only need to time and match your movements to the behavior of the fish but also keep an eye on your tension gauge. If it drops too low you run the risk of the fish escaping, reach too high and the line will snap. The key is balancing force and patience. While the game works well enough using standard controls – I did enjoy the odd spot of handheld fishing here and there – it’s clear the main attraction here is using motion even if you do end up finding yourself recalibrating an awful lot.
The game doesn’t skimp when it comes to species of fish to find, the total not too far off the two hundred mark. Similarly, there’s a good amount of gear to unlock with the allure of better stuff enough to keep you incentivized and returning back to past stages to nab fish you may have missed. Also included and perhaps rather unexpectedly is a mode dedicated to the Nintendo Labo fishing rod set. It’s really neat to see another developer make use of the cardboard add-on and more importantly have it work. It’s just a shame this feature is limited to a mini-game. Still, it’s the main mode that’s the real star, a great way to relax of an evening or simply to take a break from something a little more intensely demanding.
In an industry that at the moment finds itself focused on Battle Royale, shooters and generally anything with big budgets and plenty of action, Fishing Star World Tour is a wonderfully refreshing change of pace. With its picturesque visuals and chilled out gameplay, my time spent fishing in Wright Flyer Studios’ colorful little world was a relaxing and surprisingly fun one. Who knew fishing could be this entertaining?
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by GREE