Crispy Gamer

Games for Lunch: Rapala: We Fish

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Developer: Fun Labs
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: Sept. 22, 2009
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

0:00 I've never met a fishing game I really liked, but I'm in the mood for something out of the ordinary today. Plus the back of the box promises "24 wild and wacky fish," so how can I lose?

0:01 "A Nunchuk is required," the game tells me, with a picture of a Nunchuk in case I was confused. In the middle of a lake, a Crocodile Dundee lookalike casts a reel. Cut to an old grey-bearded fellow with a cane and top hat tap-dancing around a stage. "Ladies and gentlemen," he begins. "My name is Seymour Breem, one of the richest men in the world and the leading expert and fan of the sport of SPEED FISHING! I'm just crazy enough to offer the winner of this contest the prize of one billion dollars. Let's begin the first global speed fishing tournament!" Dundee brings up a fish, who flies straight to the camera and screams "Gooooo fish!" in an extremely unsettling way. The next minutes is an insane montage of stereotypical characters doing nutty things on small boats. Rather than try to describe it, I'll just list a few choice quotes I managed to get down: "I'm gonna be a billionaire cowboy!" "Now the fun begins." "Hey ninja ... eat my duck." "Ninjaaaa Magic!" "Weeeee FISH!" That was ... not at all what I was expecting. Also ... Speed Fishing?

0:06 I guess I'll start with Tournament mode. There's a two-player co-op tournament option, which would be nice if I could ever imagine any of my friends wanting to play a speed fishing game.

0:07 My character choices for this morning: Randall the Crocodile-Dundee-alike cowboy, Zogby the token black guy (complete with afro), Ken the Ninja in a suit, Luc the chef and Emily the girl in an old-fashioned orange-and-black dress with wings on her back. I'll ... go with the ninja, I guess. "Behold my Ninja MAGIC!" he says.

0:08 The only difficulty class available right now is "Beaver," a one-star level. The only location available is The Pacific Northwest. Heh. Beaver.

Rapala: We Fish

0:09 My objective: Catch three fish. "Let's learn the basics," says a soothing female voice amidst cheesy '80s guitar music. "All you need to do to speed up is hold down the B button." Turning is controlled by Remote twisting, not the more logical analog stick on the Nunchuk, eh? The A button does a nice zippy turbo dash. I use the mini-map to dash over to a fishing "hot spot," and open up my lure selection with the d-pad. I can choose from the Countdown Magnum, Jointed Shad Rap, Tail Dancer or DT Fat SureSet. Are these lures or condoms?

0:12 I cast my line with a big over-the shoulder Remote motion, then wind the Nunchuk slowly to attract a fish. A smallish green fish sees the lure and his eyes bug out of his head by a few inches. He follows the lure as I reel in for a few feet, then bites on with a flamboyant chomp. A quick jerk to set the hook, then more Nunchuk winding to reel him in. Occasionally the Remote appears on-screen and tells me to jerk it in one direction, but I can't seem to get the timing or motion right. One more Remote-jerk to "land it." It's a small mouth bass.

0:14 "After you catch a fish, you have to bring it to the safe harbor before you can catch another one." How does that make any sense? The boat can't hold more than one fish at a time, hmmm?

0:16 Mr. Ninja somehow returns his boat to the Safe Harbor while holding his fish high above his head with both hands. Doesn't he need at least one hand on the steering wheel or something? Anyway, turning the fish I caught means "it's safe and you won't lose it if you get attacked." Attacked? Who said anything about being attacked?!

0:21 I finish out the objective by catching two more tiny smallmouth bass rather quickly. On the one hand, I like that the game removes the sitting around and waiting that characterizes real fishing. On the other hand, this seems like a mockery of a real fishing experience. Anyway, returning my third fish leads the announcer to scream "GOOOOOAL!" The ninja does a little dance and sheathes his reel like a mock sword. "Well, that sure was an exciting race. I can't wait for the next one!" says the announcer. That's funny ... I can...

0:22 "Florida Keys - Noon is unlocked!" Did that really deserve an exclamation point, game? This time I have to catch "Over 50 lbs of fish." Oh, and there are three AI opponents in the harbor with me now.

0:24 "Do you see the present that appeared on the water in front of you? What's inside? Drive over it and find out!" Why is she talking to me like it's an episode of "Blue's Clues"? "You got a Duck Missile!" That ... is not what I was expecting. I don't know what I was expecting, but that wasn't it. I fire it and it skims along the water with a light quack, blowing an AI opponent sky high. So now it's Mario Kart Speed Fishing?

0:26 I find my first fish before the others can get to the spot. This time, he starts a "fish rampage" mid-reel, forcing me to make some Wii Remote twists as they're shown on the screen. I can't seem to figure out what the game wants from me with these ... sometimes I pull it off without even trying; sometimes I don't, even when trying really hard. What am I doing wrong, game? I pull it off in the end, though, netting a 14.2 lb dolphin fish. This thing is as tall as me! I can barely lift it over my head. "These are the true skills of a Ninja," I'm told.

0:28 As I return to safe harbor with my huge fish, I somehow fall into second and then third. I guess everyone else got even bigger fish, eh? Maybe I need a different lure...

0:30 Back to the hot spot. I choose a new lure and attract a fish incredibly quickly, as usual. After a lot of reeling, the new lure attracts a small, feminine-looking red fish. I set the hook and reel her in for 10 feet or so when a thin, sleek, toothy fish swims up and EATS HER WHOLE, biting my line in the process. Is ... is that a real thing that happens in fishing?

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0:31 This guy's a fighter! It takes a good minute of reeling and two "fish rampages" to get him. By the end, my left elbow hurts from the repetitive circular motions. Anyway, "It's a m-m-m-m-monster catch!" A 39 lb barracuda! Whoo!

0:33 The big catch catapults me into first place as I reach safe harbor, and "GOOOOOAL! What a wonderful show!" The three AI guys on the winner's podium all look identical except for the color of their vests and hair. Wow, developers ... that's just lazy. "The Nile River - Noon" and "The Amazon River - Rainy" are now unlocked? Really? Are these rivers really prime fishing spots?

0:36 I actually manage to reel too fast when trying to attract my first Amazonian fish, who loses interest and swims off. I recast and the second fish, a 9.5 lb piranha, is easy pickings. The Ninja handles him like a live bomb. "These are the true skills of a Ninja. Banzai!" Hey, that's offensive to ninjas, pal!

0:37 Interestingly, I can't go back to safe harbor the same way I came to the hot spot. The Amazon has some narrow "one way" channels that force me to go the long way around. Oh, and while I'm turning, I crash into the shore while dashing and apparently DROP THE FISH. Are you f***ing kidding me?

0:40 Catch another similar barracuda and this time I return him to the harbor without incident. These twist-based turning controls are getting annoying ... when I twist too far the game thinks there's no twist, so you go back to straight. Guys ... there's an ANALOG STICK!

Rapala: We Fish

0:41 On the way back to the hot spot I collect two item boxes. Both have a trio of spiky mines that I throw out haphazardly. My opponents are on the other side of the lake anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

0:45 A bass just swam out of a wall to grab my lure. It's a 22.8 lb peacock bass, thanks for asking. I caught it in the same exact manner I've caught all the others, of course. Really, I'm already running out of stuff to say about these incredibly dull and repetitive fishing motions. At least my elbow doesn't hurt anymore, since I've gone to a more lax, wrist-based reeling motion. Also, I just unlocked the "Magnum Bonito" lure. Oh, come on, that HAS to be a condom.

0:46 I finally made out what the announcer is saying when I use my items. "Watch out, a land mine has just entered the field. If you touch it, it's gonna hurt." What am I, three years old?

0:47 Another ridiculously easy first-place finish. "All of our competitors did their best. What an exciting race." Look. Shut up. That was not exciting at all.

0:48 I'm already incredibly tired of Tournament mode. Let's see if Free Fishing is any different. I go with Emily, the winged girl this time. "You'll be happy you chose me." The last time I heard a girl deliver that line, I was at a brothel. Hey-oh!

0:50 Nope, Free Fishing on the Nile is pretty much exactly the same as the rest of the fishing. I get a 6.7 lb tilapia, then throw it back for some reason. I can't take this anymore. Fifty minutes will have to be enough.

Would I play this game for more than an hour 50 minutes? No.
Why? I'm not an eight-year-old fishing fanatic who received this game (his first and only Wii title) for Christmas from his loving but impoverished parents, and that's the only reason I can imagine for anyone enjoying this game.

This column is based on a retail version of the game provided by the publisher.

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