It was with trepidation that I went into Let’s Fish: Hooked On. The anime characters were an instant draw for me personally, but outside of the fishing mini-games in the various Zelda games I had no idea what to expect. I have never played a full-fledged fishing game and I mainly wondered if I would have the patience for it. Well, thankfully this game is very arcade like and you don’t have to literally sit in a boat all day waiting for something to bite. However, you do miss out on the best part of fishing, which is getting drunk all day, while catching nothing on a boat in the middle of a lake.
Let’s Fish: Hooked On is brought over to us by Wired Productions and it was developed by Sims Co. If you know your stuff you should recognize some of the people who worked on this small title. Sims Co. is the same group that brought us Sega Bass Fishing and if you look at the character art you should recognize the style of Poyoyon Rock (Akio Watanabe) who you may know from anime such as The World God Only Knows and Nurse Witch Komugi.
The first thing you will notice about this game is the very colorful anime styled characters. You are first introduced to Jamie who is a very cute girl who seems to have a problem with properly buttoning up her shorts. Now, an interesting thing about this is how the anime characters clash with the very realistic looking fish and backgrounds. It’s quite an interesting visual pallet but it works and not once does it slap you in the face as being jarring or out of place.
The technical quality of the graphics themselves isn’t really anything to get excited about. Sure they are colorful and they look crisp on the vita’s screen, but when you zoom in to get a better look at locating fish you see some really awful textures and just a general washed out look to everything.
The mode I played the most was the world tour mode. You select one of four playable characters and then compete over the course of a year in various tournaments and get ranking points based on how you placed in those matches, this determines your class. You have Amateur Class, Professional Class and Master Class which are normal tournament style and then you have Skill Up in which you complete a fishing based challenge to earn skill points. Skill points are obviously used to get new skills which can improve your fishing prowess.
In addition to the beefy world tour mode there is Challenge mode where you complete various challenges very similar to the skill point event in world tour. The interesting thing about Challenge mode is that you can upload your best times and scores online to see if your fishing skills match up. Training mode is basically exhibition and allows you to fish with any time of day/season you want, and Underwater View allows you to look at the fish you have caught which proves that you don’t kill them after you catch them, this came off as a nice gesture.
The actual fishing part of the game is solid, if not a little simple. You cast your line, wiggle your lure around to entice the fish and wait for it to bite. The game gets interesting when the fish does bite as it enters fish battle mode. Basically the fish is trying to break your line and you have to tilt your joystick and swipe the touchscreen to various on screen prompts, all while drawing in your line and checking on the line tension to make sure it doesn’t get too high and snap. The bigger the fish, the more difficult this is and it can get really tense at times. Rinse, wash, and repeat. That is the core gameplay, but it’s fishing, I’m certainly not expecting rocket science with this game.
To spice up this gameplay a bit you can purchase the skills I mentioned earlier, earn more lures which allow you to cast deeper lines, and switch your character up which gives you access to different available skills. In world tour mode you also have to deal with different weather, seasons, and times of day which can change both the amount of types of fish you encounter as well as the location to the big fish of the area.
This is all well and good; however, it’s the presentation where this game really starts to fall apart. Remember how I mentioned Jamie earlier? Well, she is a twin tailed blonde, with a fang, who doesn’t properly button her shorts, and she has a bandage on her socks. These are known as moé traits, and if you don’t know what moé is, I feel it’s something we have to get into for you to properly understand where I am coming from with this review.
Moé is basically cute, however, it goes much deeper than that. Moé includes having something cute but also with traits that give you an uncontrollable feeling of warmth and joy inside. I often hear a lot of people pair the term up with a huge impulse to protect the moé character like a parent would protect their child. It’s not something that is easy to explain and it’s a very abstract concept, which the countless internet wars over this term prove, but the way I broke it down is probably the simplest and easiest way to understand the term.
The reason I point all of this out to you is because the English localization unfortunately failed to import any of this over from the Japanese version. The English voice acting does no favors for the cute/Japanese feel of this game. There is a huge difference hearing a Japanese high pitch voice screaming out stuff during a fish battle as opposed to a woman who sounds like she is in her 40’s, and monotone to boot. This might not seem like a huge deal to most people, but if the target audience was anime fans, this can make all the difference in the world so it is certainly worth noting.
More issues start to pop up as you are playing the world tour mode and observing the story sequences. The character dialogue cannot be advanced after you read a certain line and lines stay on the screen for what seems like forever. This leads me to believe that the Japanese version had a fully voiced world tour mode, however, I couldn’t confirm this, so if anybody knows drop a comment down below. If this is true however, it would really explain the long pauses on just two lines of text, but that still doesn’t explain why they couldn’t make it skippable for the non-voiced western release.
The audio they left intact is pretty decent sans the voice acting itself. The music doesn’t offend and sets a nice mood for the game, although I remember Sega Bass Fishing being much lauded for its memorable soundtrack so this isn’t quite up to par with Sims Co.’s previous work. I played with a set of Turtle Beach mobile headphones and the sound effects are all fine and exactly what you would expect out of a fishing game. Good water sounds, good reel sounds, and the lures all make their own unique sounds as well.
Overall I didn’t think Let’s Fish: Hooked On was a bad little game, I did end up getting quite addicted to it. The world tour mode is really handheld friendly and is great for killing time right before you have to do something. The whole thing is really easy to pick up and play and doesn’t require a huge time investment.
If you are looking for a decent fishing game for handheld than I certainly recommend this title. However, if you are an anime fan looking for an anime styled fishing game then you might have to look into it a little bit. The fishing gameplay is solid, but changes to the Japanese feel of the game might sway you a bit.