The Wii continues to dictate how games are presented on the console. The latest is example is Rapala: We Fish, which is a follow-up to the realistic Fishing Frenzy that was released a year ago. The difference this time around is that the developers has completely switched the game around to be more casual-friendly, and of course feel more like a party game instead of a downright simulation. I guess playing to what works is the norm in the business these days, but for a game like We Fish it just doesn’t mesh well. The Rapala series has always been better as a serious fishing game; this comes across as simply a wasted effort.
The idea behind We Fish is to take the slow, methodical sport and turn it into a fast-paced race against the competition. The biggest change from the previous game is just how cartoony and over-the-top everything here is. You can now use your Miis within the game in addition to the highly stereotyped roster that is included on the disc. Your boat motors around the lake like you are playing a game of Mario Kart and even the fish look ridiculous and are over-proportioned in most cases. Now I don’t want anyone to get me wrong here. If you are a younger gamer looking to take on wacky fishing endeavors this game is totally for you, but those thinking having the Rapala name attached means authenticity are in for a rude awakening.
Once you have everything set you are dropped into an area and the main goal is to fill up your meter by catching fish before everyone else does. The linearity of the game really drags down the open-world nature of these titles. There are only specific sections unlocked and you are usually forced down one path the majority of the game. Each area and challenge has specific objectives such as catching a certain amount of a type of fish or just a set number of fish and/or weight. This as I mentioned turns the game into a dash for cash type of deal where the player who can accomplish it the quickest wins. Not bad when playing with kids and people who don’t normally enjoy the sport of fishing, but not exactly what some will have in mind when they pick this one up.
Controls are almost counterproductive when it comes to accessibility. The actual fishing itself isn’t too hateful as you will use the Wii remote to cast and the nunchuk to reel in your catch, but controlling the boat is some of the worst design I have come across. Instead of controlling it with the analog stick as you might imagine you instead steer it by tilting the Wii remote left and right. Now I am all for using motion controls when they A) enhance the experience or B) actually come across as functional, but when you sacrifice something as simple as movement for motion controls, I tend to not appreciate them. The fishing itself is tolerable and actually the highlight of the game. Tossing the Wii remote back to cast reminds me of Sega Bass Fishing, and tugging on the remote to hook a fish is great. These are the types of things that motion control was designed for.
The tournament makes up the bulk of the game but there is more here to keep things interesting. As you can imagine there are lures that will help with various kinds of fish, unfortunately the selection is miniscule when compared to the last game. There is also support for up to four players on the same console, which ended up being much more fun than going it alone. Of course the consequences of trying to fling four Wii remotes in tight quarters is something I don’t recommend, the game is actually quite a bit more enjoyable when playing it with friends. Outside of that the game offers very little replay value outside of revisiting the challenges once you complete the main game.
Visually as I mentioned before the game takes on a much more simplified and cartoony look. Characters are a bit over-the-top and the fish are even worse. Watching your character hold a fish over their head in order to return it to the dock and score points is ridiculous and the overall look of the game feels juvenile. Environments are poorly constructed giving that rushed game vibe. The music is equally annoying as it feels just as forced as the rest of the game. Overall I was sorely disappointed in what has become of the Rapala series. Even if it is designed with a younger demographic in mind, they deserve better production values than this.
Rapala: We Fish is not a good start to bringing the series to a younger crowd. The controls are counterproductive and the layout and pacing of the game are simply mediocre at best. There are a lot better ways to make a simplified fishing game; all you have to do is take a history lesson from Sega. As it stands We Fish is definitely a missed opportunity for a genre that feels like it was designed to be played on the Wii. If you have young kids and they are dying for a new fishing game it will suffice, just don’t expect it to impress.