Ridiculous Fishing is a game that carries a sad story (cue violins).
Vlambeer, the indie studio based in the Netherlands (more violins), was working on an iOS port of its hit Flash game Radical Fishing when the team discovered another games studio had stolen its idea and used it to win acclaim and generate App Store cash.
Crushed by the theft, Vlambeer was reportedly close to canning the project altogether, but was buoyed by an outpour of support from the community.
It is said that to be successful on the App Store you have to either be first or best. Vlambeer wasn't first with its own idea, but it clearly has outperformed its imitators. Ridiculous Fishing is a polished and beautiful blast of iOS entertainment that - sob story or not - is a valuable game worthy of your attention.
It has about as much in common with fishing as Mario 64 does with plumbing. Play is split into three sections: First you cast your line into the water and descend your lure as deep as possible, avoiding the various fish and jellyfish that populate the ocean. Once a fish bites, the tables turn and players must pick up as many fish as possible as the lure pulls to the surface.
When it finally does reach fresh air, all the gathered fish are flung skywards, initiating a bonkers shooting gallery in which your fisherman must gun down his catch using an arsenal of uzis, miniguns and even a bazooka (this is Vlambeer, after all).
This is the 'ridiculous' part of the fishing, but it's by no means brainless; each fish will flap through the sky differently, and so gunning a mixed batch down requires quick reflexes and fast thinking.
Each kill earns the player cash, varying based on the rarity of the fish. Money is then spent on upgrades to help you catch more fish and earn even more cash.
Purchasable items range from the straightforward to absurd; various lengths of line can be unlocked (with an infinite length one as the final unlock), allowing you to descend further into the depths of each location and find rarer fish lurking at the bottom.
Then there are different types of lure, including a chainsaw which can be used to carve through fish on your way downwards.
Bathtub suicide devices, specifically a hairdryer and toaster, can be purchased and will zap fish which try to bite - essentially offering players an extra life. Meanwhile, improved weaponry like magnums and shotguns let you gun down even more airborne aquabeasts. And then there are the hats, just because.
Fishing for compliments
It's not the depth (ho ho) that initially catches the eye when playing Ridiculous Fishing, but the distinct art style. The game brings together an interesting mixture of angular, geometric graphics (the sea surface is corrugated and the moon is a hexagon) along with jazzy chip-tune music that presses all the right buttons.
Meanwhile, Byrdyr - the game's fake-but-real Twitter app which updates with fictional status updates from fishermen - is a delight to browse.
It's also refreshing to have an iOS game with an in-game store that doesn't try to badger players with any real-money in-app purchases from the moment you start playing.
Ridiculous Fishing is nonetheless a finite title, one which can be finished in a matter of days if you're good enough. Billy's Fish-o-pedia, which collates and offers hints on how to catch each fish, is the only real reason to keep playing beyond unlocking the four main areas.
It also gets slightly repetitive fairly quickly when the novelty wears off, and you're left with what elementally is a dodging mini-game, a catching mini-game and a basic shooting mini-game.
It's not an essential purchase then, nor is it Vlambeer's best work. Ridiculous Fishing has pushed a dodgem game idea as far as it can go and the result can sometimes feel like there's more style than substance.
Whether that sounds like a game worth £1.99 will determine whether you'll bite.
You'll fall in love with Ridiculous Fishing's style but the honeymoon period ends faster than you'd think.
- Looks fantastic
- Great sense of humour
- Upgrades are ridiculous
- Gets repetitive
- Can be completed in a couple of hours
- Tilt controls aren't ideal