“A huge catch is yours to get, but living up to the title of this game means that only a quick flick into the air and shots from a gun to obliterate the fish will do.”
Allow me to present you with a palpatory examination of Ridiculous Fishing, then. That is gutting it like the fish you slay with your shotgun and fiddling with the itsy-bitsy organs that spill over the wooden bottom of the boat. First, let’s get a firm hold of the rod and decide just what it is that renders the primal act of catching fish such a pleasure. This would be the stomach of the game, considering that it is this that digests your soul with acids that sting with embracing and almost unquenchable jouissance. I’ve heard old men drone on about the act of fishing as if thrusting the rod out into the water was a sexual act (certainly a phallic one), the lake being the wild mistress that they tame. Personally, I find that apparent pleasure dulling upon the soul, being the flitzy and oft-distracted life form that I am. So simulation of this – ol’ standard fishing – in a game has no chance of interesting me. And no, not even with those flashing buttons that instruct you to mash while reeling in large bass; that’s just crap.
Enter Ridiculous Fishing as it slams down Game Design 101 onto the sturdy wooden table with its wet fins. Rule number X: don’t simulate if it’s boring. So, rather than staying with Billy, the game’s protagonist, as he catches rays upon the surface, we travel down and down with the hook into the depths of the waters where the fish live their weird little lives. The descent and ascent in this version of fishing are direct competitors, as you tilt your iOS device to avoid the fish altogether in pursuit of the bottom, or at least as far down as your line will let you. But once you’ve reached your limit or accidentally hooked a fish, everything reverses, and now you tilt to grab as many of the slippery buggers as you can before reaching the surface. And then what? A huge catch is yours to get, but living up to the title of this game means that only a quick flick into the air and shots from a gun to obliterate the fish will do. Touching the screen allows you to shoot at a specific spot, and with certain guns – those that can be dual-wielded – you can include extra fingers on the job for a joint aerial fish slaughtering.
But what’s it all for? Oh, don’t you worry; you’ll get plenty of money to spend for shooting the fish in this way, as you don’t blow any chances of obtaining an income when annihilating your catch, instead of turning it over like normal trade. Game rules, so don’t question them. You wouldn’t care to, either, because Ridiculous Fishing’s core play of ups and downs demands your attention and concentration. It is now that I realize why those old men find such pleasure in fishing, even if they prefer it without all the excitement Vlambeer offers. You penetrate the liquid membrane, reach down with your stick to find the gilled treasures, and then thrust them out into the open air to move on to the final act – the explosive release. The fish start to rain down on you, their wet bodies dripping all over your face, but not enough to blind you from taking the money shot – cock the shotgun, feel the power and earn your keep.
With a fistful of cash, you can then head to the store and spend, spend, spend! Attractive hats aside, everything on sale goes towards furthering your fishing capabilities. Strap a toaster onto your line and it will zap the first fish your hook runs into, allowing you to travel further down. Grab a longer line, a better weapon, a means to slow the fall of the fish and an object that lets you start a couple of hundred meters down in the water, rather than attempting the weave down from the surface. Essential among all of these wondrous items is the chainsaw lure, as that grants the ability to descend quicker and to cut through most fish as you do so as well. With this, those seemingly impossible depths will suddenly become attainable, and you’ll feel liberation, and it won’t be the last time. Or you could purchase a squid fashioned into a hat and, you know, seek the complements that you’re bound to get for such headgear.
Where might they come from? Byrdr. If you’ve been on the internet during these couple of days leading up to the release of Ridiculous Fishing, you should be aware of this word. Nay, it’s not a word, but a clever ARG set-up by Vlambeer, and used in the game itself. There’s been some fascinating threads chasing down clues and discussing what it could all mean, but rest assured that it’s related to Ridiculous Fishing, and the characters being named are all in the game too. We’re now getting a good grip on the lungs of Ridiculous Fishing, the breathing apparatus that keep it alive and make each moment functional and fun. The game may not be directly social as there’s no interaction to be had with other people, but you do get a pseudo-sensation that matches the likeness of social media with Byrdr and the many characters that talk to you through it in between visits to the shop and casting your line. They share banter with each other, egg you on in your efforts and comment on each purchase and change of location you go through. Stopping on that last note for a moment, part of what makes Ridiculous Fishing compelling to the point of not being able to stop playing until a finish has been sought is the way you progress. Of course, it involves catching fish. In each area of the game (there’s only four), you’re given a number of new fish types that you have to catch and destroy, as is the nature of the game. Only when you’ve caught so many different types of fish will you unlock the next area. I’m telling you, there’s nothing more thrilling than spotting a new fish on your way down and ensuring that you hook it on the way back up. And once you find out that there’s bigger catches at the bottom of each area, you’ll never be able to stop. The game caters to this too, as it has an endless mode in the last area that comes in handy when you have the never-ending reel.
“…you’re likely to still appreciate what you’ll find out, and will most certainly feel rewarded for your deep water journey.”
But where were we? Ah, yes, looking at Billy’s phone to check up on what’s being fed back to you by the crazy people on Byrdr. They do their job by making sure you always check on the notifications you receive in order to see what odd conversation they’re having. Then you look beyond the screen and see a blank wooden board, instead of the sleek curves of a technological device that you might have been expecting. Is this all imaginary? The realization that when you’re looking from Billy’s eyes down on to your device might actually be a hallucination starts to make you question the reliability of the protagonist and the genuine nature of everything you see on the screen. Is Billy so lonely that he creates an imaginary network of friends, or is he further gone than that – is he even fishing?
Reel ‘Em In
The heart. What makes Ridiculous Fishing tick? Unfortunately, we’re getting into spoiler territory now, and that means the game’s heart will remain a secret until you earn it. Needless to say, it is related to Billy, the many characters the game features through Byrdr, and the game’s rather touching narrative conclusion. If you’ve been following the build-up to the game’s launch through the ARG, then you’ll find the biggest pay-off as a few knots are straightened out. If you haven’t, then you’re likely to still appreciate what you’ll find out, and will most certainly feel rewarded for your deep water journey. It’s possible that a game about fishing may even make you feel things, inside your body – feelings. Not too much, mind. Don’t expect some epic tear-jerker or shocking revelation. It’s best you just go and play the game and find out for yourself. Rest assured that the game’s angular visuals and lighting, as well as the sumptuous music throughout match the rest of the game. An experience – and yes, it is an “experience,” as well as a great arcade game-style game – that any iOS device owner would be daft to miss out on, and if you do, then expect a slap around the face with a wet fish!
You can purchase Ridiculous Fishing for $2.99 on the App Store.