Game Picks

Game Picks: Gone fishing

CorrespondentApril 25, 2013 

"Fish out of Water" game for the iPhone.

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Need a day on the lake?

It’s spring. The weather’s getting warm. The kids will be out of school soon. The birds are chirping, the sun is blazing, and there you are, in your office chair, looking out a window. ’Tis the season for daydreaming. Maybe you’re dreaming about a hammock. Maybe you’re dreaming about running through a sprinkler. And maybe you’re picturing yourself in a boat, on a large body of water, trying to catch some fish.

If you can’t abandon your classes or your day job or your children for a day on the lake, your iPhone is here for you.

‘Fish Out of Water’

“Fish Out of Water” (iPhone; Rated 4+; $0.99) is the latest game from Halfbrick, the geniuses who brought us “Fruit Ninja” and “Jetpack Joyride.” This game is an entry in the “fling ’n forget” genre, where you use your finger to drag and “throw” fish in a certain direction, and then watch to see what they do, perhaps pressing on the screen to speed them up a bit while using up reserves of “boost” power.

This being a Halfbrick game, it’s no surprise that the formula here has been tweaked and refined into ways that give the game a surprising amount of appeal, even if “fling ’n forget” isn’t your thing. There are six different fish to fling, each of which handles in a unique way. There are mini-goals to achieve. There are five crabs, judging your flings in terms of distance and number of skips. There are power-ups. There are leagues and leaderboards and achievements. There are even changes of weather every hour that change the game significantly, particularly when rare weather patterns like snow and tidal waves make appearances.

Combine all these features with an utterly appealing, bright-colored look, and you have one of those games that you can’t believe you got for a mere 99 cents.

‘Ridiculous Fishing’

If your interests are a little more hostile to the fish themselves, maybe last month’s “Ridiculous Fishing” (iPhone; Rated 12+; $2.99) is a little more your speed. “Ridiculous Fishing” combines an endless runner mechanic with frantic shooting action and a dash of “gotta catch ’em all” fevered collection.

The goal of “Ridiculous Fishing” is to catch as many fish as you can all at once. Send out your lure and avoid the many fish in the sea for as long as you can for the sake of allowing your lure to go as deep as it’s able. Once the lure hits a fish, hits the sea floor or runs out of line, it starts coming back up. As the lure is reeled in, you try to position the lure to run into as many fish as possible, essentially “catching” them. When the lure finally reaches the surface again, the fish attached to it are flung out of the water, a slowly spreading shooting gallery to be shot down for money.

Obviously, developer Vlambeer wasn’t going for realism. It is an utterly “ridiculous” game.

Much like “Fish Out of Water,” though, it’s also a game that you keep coming back to. Whether it’s toward the purchase of new equipment to help you travel deeper into the water, toward finding new lands or toward catching the rarest of rare fish, “Ridiculous Fishing” keeps you involved hours longer than it takes to make it to the game’s “end,” marked by the sudden emergence of a shockingly poignant story.

Granted, it’s not hard to be poignant by comparison when the game itself involves shooting fish with uzis and frying them with submerged toasters, but the point remains. Both “Fish Out of Water” and “Ridiculous Fishing” are brilliant ways to stave off daydreams of fishing. Neither offers the peace or stillness of actual fishing, but would you want them to?

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