“This is Billy,” says Ridiculous Fishing, Vlambeer’s iPhone re-imagining (App Store, $2.99) of their Flash game. “He fishes like a champ.” And fish he does, in this amazing and truly ridiculous mobile game that will challenge you as often as it makes you laugh.
The Deadliest Catch
The game starts innocently enough. You toss your fish hook over the side of a small, retro-pixelated boat. As it descends, you avoid the passing fish because as soon as you snag one, your hook starts to ascend. On the way up, the game changes: now you have to hook as many fish as you can before you hit the water’s surface. The deeper you go, the trickier it gets, until you hook the rare boss-type fish at the bottom of each area.
Then it gets ridiculous.
Once out of the water, the fish are flung into the air and you tap the screen furiously to shoot them with the firearm of your choice. Each blast drives them higher above the clouds, the moon, and eventually the stars. I prefer the mini-gun for this portion of the game, but I’ve yet to unlock all the guns (maybe list in parentheses some options of other guns?) in the game.
The fish explode in a haze of red when shot, their demise accompanied by a monetary value for spending on upgrades at the local shop. Some of these power-ups are critical—like the boot, which lets you skip 100m of water—and others—like the jellyfish “Jellmet”—are purely for show and have no practical function. Standard upgrades are given their own ridiculous twist, like the “World’s Most Expensive Hairdryer” which functions as shield by electrocuting the first fish it encounters.
I especially liked that the game’s controls were designed with one-handed mobile play in mind, which was a problem I encountered in Year Walk. As you descend, you twist your phone right and left to avoid hooking fish. When firing your gun, you tap the screen for semi-auto weapons and drag around for full-auto. Unfortunately, I found the gyro controls a bit wonky on the iPhone 4S, though it performed much better on the iPhone 5c . The game even felt a little more responsive when I played it on an Android device.
Ridiculous to the Core
While the gameplay and premise of Ridiculous Fishing are fairly ridiculous, there’s even more. You’ll spend a good amount of time playing on Billy’s phone, which appears to be constructed from a plank of wood (stay tuned for Sascha Seagan’s review of the iPlank) that even shows the actual time and your iPhone’s battery level. From here you can navigate to different fishing grounds, visit the shop, learn more about the fish you’ve caught in your Fishopedia (“#2 Best fishing guide of 1996″), and browse an in-game Twitter spoof called Byrdr.
As silly as all these are, they also hide helpful hints. One Byrdr exchange between two, uh, birds, suggests that something special happens at a particular time. Likewise, the Fishopedia entries occasionally contain strategies for catching rare fish, in addition to general nonsense.
Ridiculous Fishing is an addictively fun game, but it also has a pitch-perfect tone. From the Fishopeida entries to the chainsaw lure to beautifully retro graphics, everything is deliciously weird. Even the small flourishes are delightful, like how the jaunty tune that accompanies a descending lure sounds like it’s being played in reverse on the way back up.
And though the game is easy to learn, it consistently manages to challenge me. Though I’ve been playing for days, I’ve only just finished the second area, and I still haven’t discovered when the redemption begins. I can’t wait to find out. Grab your pole. Load your gun. It’s time to go fishing.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc