iFishing Review—The Art of Letting Go
The last time I encountered a bite-sized fishing game was Flick Sports Fishing, an iOS-port Mini. It was interesting, for being a game that was all touchscreen with gyroscope support being ported to a platform having neither. Gameshastra did a commendable job translating the controls to the PSP’s analog nub, not to mention its stunning visual fidelity.
With iFishing, another iOS port in the fishing sim genre, everything seems to be a perfect match with the Vita: gyroscope, touchscreen, analog sticks, maybe the rear touchpad. Control schemes are bound to be bountiful. Then again, iFishing’s issues are never about the controls (though not even they are good) but rather its harrowing combination of insubstantial and tedious gameplay.
Graphics are beautiful, with its photographic background and soothing water animation in 3D, compounded by the already glorious OLED screen. Still, it is pretty obvious that developer Rocking Pocket Games skimped in the graphics department, by providing a retro-esque pixel festival in its map screen instead of a 3D animated one. This is also the case in the original iOS game, but no excuses; since it was first released way back in 2009, it could have been updated or something. If it’s the case that this is a conscious decision to mix photography, 3D, and pixel graphics . . . well, why?
Controls are mostly touch when it comes to handling anything, except for the boat navigation and fishing part, where you reel with the right stick. Throwing the line is done by touching the screen. This never works to my liking since it seems the player character suffers a seizure in that moment, as he throws the line wildly in random directions. Setting the line is great with the gyroscope. Reeling in a hooked fish requires a little patience and technique because there is a line tension bar on the left hand side that, once filled, will snap the line. Switching baits takes longer than it should be because it is buried in the menu and could have been easier if the shoulder buttons had been used to swap those things.
Again, the game mechanics are tedious anyway, and actual gameplay is an introduction to bedtime. The objectives are too limiting; you are only to catch a certain kind of fish per tournament, and all other fish mean nothing and have to be let go. In order to unlock other lakes, you have to get a certain amount of points. There are other extra awards that come with playing the tournament, though, so you could always try to achieve them. Tournaments have time constraints which you have the option to choose, with five minutes the shortest and forty minutes the longest, five-minute increments being in between. In Practice Mode, obviously, you can keep all your fish, and nothing is lost but your own precious time.
The lake navigation is a wildly different experience from the rest of the game, just jarring. Mostly it’s because of the graphics, I believe. I had more fun with riding the boat than the actual fishing, and that is not a good sign if that is not what the game is all about. There is also a “Luck” meter that basically tells you that there are no fish in the area, or you are using the wrong lure, which is good if you don’t like the challenge. Luckily, you can turn it off.
There are lots of missteps in the game’s design, and it is disappointing that this is just a throwaway port with many missed opportunities. With the game being older than my stay as the guardian supreme of PSPMinis.com, there should have been improvements across the board, but instead, the multiplayer was omitted (well, it’s an exclusive feature with the iOS version, as Android also has none of it) and the price is just eye-rolling, costing almost twice as much as its iOS counterpart. If you are indeed considering this game for your Vita, I guess there are no other options but to let that desire go.