Friday, November 20, 2015

Family Fishing (3DS) Review


Family Fishing is a 3DS game about, well, fishing and is aimed at slightly younger audiences.  It also has a cute anime style to the game and characters.  One strange but nice feature is the start screen which boasts two main options: Start Game and Quick Game.

Quick Game does just what it promises.  It will pick a character for you, your opponent and a location to fish in.  It's a nice option to have when you just want to jump in, but not one I would use more than once or twice.  I'd have a lower chance of it picking a character I like using, so I might as well just not use Quick Game.  Choosing to start a game will present you with some other modes: Campaign, Free Battle and Survival.

Immediately I thought, "Survival?  In a fishing game?  What, does the fish eat you if you fail?".  Nope.  The game is basically your character against your opponent, so you will just keep facing a random rival until you are defeated.  Not bad, and not a mode I would have expected.  Also, the computer in this mode seems a bit harder than normal.

Free Battle lets you choose characters for both you and your opponents and the location for the fish-off.  You can also set the strength of the fish and opponent to make it easier or harder on yourself, all of which are useful options.  It's especially nice to try out characters this way.  Campaign mode starts with your choosing one of the eight character, and then you must battle the other seven, one by one, until you've defeated them all.  The characters are kind of cool, since only the two children have names.  The rest are based off their relationship to the kids, so they are called Mommy, Daddy, Grandpa, etc.  It's cute.

The eight characters each have a starting rod and lure, which will help catch fish in slightly different ways.  The rods have different amounts of strength, reel speed and HP.  You can get other rods during a fight, so you aren't limited to your starting one.  The lures are specific for different sizes of fish, and you have to buy them from the store each round with points you earn by catching fish.  Sadly they can break if your rod's HP runs out when fighting with the fish, and you will have to buy another to use it again.  There's also a chaos lure that can hook any fish but with a low chance.  Given my track record with random chances (I tend to be unlucky), I stay far away from this one.

Each character will also have a unique special move to help you.  Once a meter is filled, the special move can be activated.  They have a variety of effects, from damaging fish to restoring HP.  I prefer restoring the rod's HP, since that will help in a sustained battle with the fish, but also might just save your lure.  You can also purchase items from the store during a match.  The button to use them is the same as activating the special move, and I've accidentally used an item when trying to use my special, so make sure the correct name is next to the button when you press it.

You may have noticed that I have yet to mention how to actually play the game.  Well, that is my way of illustrating how the game does it.  Namely, not at all.  In some ways I can appreciate the old-school simplicity of just throwing the player into the game and letting them figure it out, but not in an immediately competitive setting.  I would very, very strongly suggest when you start the game to check out the manual after pressing the Home button.  While I have not played many fishing games, I have played several fishing mini-games during my life.  Family Fishing is different enough that any prior knowledge I had doesn't help.  Seriously, read it before you play, as the game offers very little when you start out.

To start, you choose where to cast your line, and then have a timing press on a meter to determine how close to your aim your lure will land.  You can move the lure around a bit which will help attract a nearby fish to bite.  If it does, then you have to hold A to reel it in.  You also need to point your pole in the direction the fish is moving to send "aura" pulses down your line to lower the fish's HP.  As you do this, it will also send attack toward you.  If you switch your direction to match the fish when it turns, you will send a larger aura pulse to do more damage.

You must also keep in mind how angry the fish is.  As you reel it in, the fish will get angry, as shown by an anger mark above its head.  The longer you hold the button, the larger it will get until the fish sends an unblockable attack at you.  So, you need to let go of the A Button when the mark appears.  It's a strange balancing act to keep moving your pole around to match the movements of the fish while trying to not have it get too angry.  It makes the fishing much more active than I would have originally thought.

Personally, I found it really difficult to match the fish's movement at times because of the small screen and all the different fish and other things on the screen.  So while the game seems to be aimed at a younger crowd, half the time I had trouble winning!  Part of the difficulty was trying to see the fish and match its movement, but the other half was the game itself.  It didn't always seem to take a fish's HP at the same rate in different fights in the same area.  It really felt like "if the fish doesn't want you to win, you won't".  It wasn't really a problem in the Campaign until near the end, but it was much more prevalent in Free Battle and Survival.  There's also a boss near the end of each match, and catching it will net that person an automatic win.  I like that there is an alternate way to win, and they are the largest and strangest things to catch in the game, but they do require a lot of work to take down and are not always worth the trouble.

Family Fishing is kind of fun.  I like that it has a quick play option, and the different characters give some longevity to playing.  There's only five areas, so you will probably get tired of them by the time you are done going through the campaign and doing some free or survival battles.  The fishing was very unique and active, which is nice, but the game gives you no real help unless you read the digital manual.  While the game seems more aimed at kids, it can get more difficult in the later fights.

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