Fishermen don’t mind waiting. It’s half their sport. Video game players aren’t as patient. Sadly, Gameloft’s Fishing Kings HD for the iPad is more true to the sport of finishing than gamers would probably like. The game is well rendered, but will likely only appeal to the person who spends his Saturdays on the lake waiting to catch that illusive trout— everyone else is likely going to feel frankly bored by the game’s sluggish pace.
In Fishing Kings, you’ll travel to exotic locales like Lake Erie, the Bahamas, the Waikato River, the Amazon River and the Nahuel Hauapi River. By flicking your iPad forwards, you cast a line. When the line is in the water, you see your lure immersed in a massive underwater environment. If a fish (there are thirty-three species in the game) happens to swim by, you use your finger to spin your reel (located at the left side of your screen), which moves your lure, which attracts the fish. If the fish is seduced, it will latch on.
You can spin your reel in any direction to bring in a fish. A tension meter is on the right side of your screen. If the fish gets too frisky, the meter will let you know. To relieve line tension, you have to physically move the iPad in the direction the fish is heading. When the fish gets within ten feet of your boat, all you have to do to bring it in is give your iPad a little flick backwards.
Each fishing location has different missions. A small Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) at the top of your screen will let you know a level’s objectives. You can fish from three worldly locations (the other locations are locked) at the start of the game, but you have to complete the Bahama’s objectives before being able to complete any other location’s missions. By completing objectives, you get to unlock other levels in the game.
Location objectives differ, but can include catching three different types of fish, catching several fish of the same type in a row, or catching fish of different weights. Like in real fishing, there is no guarantee in the game that you will catch the right fish all the time. Luring fish can be a tricky business, as certain lure movements don’t attract certain fish. Also, there is no certainty that where you cast a line will have fish, or the fish you want. You will have to throw back quite a few catches, and recast your line several times before reeling in the perfect fish to meet an objective. Unfortunately, every time you catch a fish, or cast a line, you have to endure a video of you doing so. Like in real fishing, the game involves a lot of waiting. Sometimes that waiting can be suspenseful. However, more often than not, you’ll just get impatient.
Thankfully, while you’re waiting to catch fish, you’ll have some nice visuals to look at. Though I feel plant life could stand to be a little less two-dimensional, and the water could stand to be clearer, the fishers you play as (you have the choice between two men and two women), the boat you fish on, and the fish you catch— all are well detailed. Most every item in the game is bright and colorful and you will feel like you’re outdoors. Though you can accessorize your line, your reel, your lure and your rod, I found that these items are not exceptionally well detailed.
To me, the game’s biggest annoyance is its announcer. His comments are redundant and frankly unhelpful. You can turn him off in the game’s menu which I highly recommend.
What Fishing Kings HD does right is that it captures the feel of fishing. The anticipation of waiting for a fish can be exciting for a little while, and visuals mimic the outdoors well. However, if you’re like me, and it takes you several times to catch three fish of the same kind, you will get annoyed by the game after only a few missions. If I wanted to wait so long for a fish, I would just go to my local lake and actually fish.
[Sam Felsing is an editorial intern for Macworld.]