'Let's Fish! Hooked On' is an exclusive title for PlayStation Vita.
Let's face it: Fishing is not exactly the most exciting sport out there. Sure it has it's moments, but those moments are usually few and far between with little more to do than sit back with a cold beer and cast reel after reel into the water with the hopes of snagging some sort of relevant aquatic life. With Let's Fish! Hooked On from British game developer Wired Productions, that sums up the bulk of the game -- without the beer, of course.
Players of Let's Fish! Hooked On will find a pair of play modes at their disposal: World Tour and Challenge Mode. The latter is pretty much what it sounds to be with the player being presented with a set of challenges for each stage that must be satisfied before progressing to the next one and is easily the more appealing of the two play types. World Tour (for better or for worse) puts the player into a story-driven mode, which is something not often found in a game like this.
In World Tour, players get to take the role of one of four selectable participants in a high-profile fishing tournament to prove themselves the... umm.... top fisherman in the world. Each has his or her (usually her) own backstory and reason for competing. The story concept is nice and more of these games should at least consider adding such a mode, though these hypothetical future games should have something much more in depth and interesting than the story found in Let's Fish! Hooked On as the one found in this game fails to keep the player's interest for very long at all. Still, there is some enjoyment to be had in upgrading one's skills and accumulating a nice collection of lures throughout the process.
As far as actually playing the game, it can be controlled one of two ways: via the Vita's touchscreen or through traditional button controls. Both are active all the time, so if players prefer to press 'circle' to cast their reel rather than tapping and swiping and visa-versa for reeling in their catch, they have that option always open to them. Once a fish has been hooked, the game turns into a quick-time event driven affair where a diagram appears from time to time in the middle of the screen containing an icon for both the hook and the fish. Players simply drag the hook to the fish to keep it on the line while reeling the catch in via a separate slide controller on the far right. It's actually quite simple to operate, though there isn't too much variety involved aside from larger fish just being a bit harder to reel in than smaller ones.
There is a tutorial that allows player to figure out the basics, but it's largely text based. Rather than demonstrating to the player how to do things, it literally spells it out then let's the player figure it out for himself via (if nothing else) trial and error. While there are some people who would do just fine learning how to play this way, it's not the preferred way to do a tutorial. It would have been better if it literally showed the player what he's doing and how to do it. Even a pre-recorded video of how to play would have been better.
Graphics in Let's Fish! Hooked On are largely hit-and-miss. The overall quality seems to be there as above-water environments look well enough (though the water's surface is often far to mirror-y for my tastes). Below the surface, things look a bit dull and basic. In short, everything seems a bit too sterile. This is a fishing tournament, right? Where are the fans? Where are the competing fisherman? Level after level, it's just your character and her boat in the foreground and a nearly-generic environment in the background.
One big downer in the visuals department is the cheap-looking HUD. Compared to the rest of the game, they appear as lower-rez than they should be. It's a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but a bit more polish would have been appreciated.
Wired Productions' Let's Fish! Hooked On is, at it's core, an almost-average game that will have its moments in the sun -- especially if those moments are on those rainy days (or road trips, waiting for an airplane, etc.) where there's little better to do. It does have its place with full-on fishing fans so long as they're not looking for an actual fishing simulation. For everybody else, Let's Fish! Hooked On is little more than that game with an awkward title that let's them kill some time here and there.
(Wired Productions supplied a copy of this game for review.)
Version tested: PlayStation Vita