Strictly a catch and release title.
Fish On 3DS is a no nonsense, arcade-style fishing game by Agetec for the 3DS. With no frills or gills, it is decidedly focused on one thing: catchin’ some sweet, sweet bass. Unfortunately, this dedication falls short and casual fishers are left with an unremarkable gaming experience that gets lost in the current.
There are three main modes to tackle: Tournament, Challenge, and Training. The main focus is on the Tournament Mode, which offers a choice between Amateur, Pro, and Masters competitions. The first two consist of five cups, while Masters brings players in for the long haul as they compete for a single, shiny cup. For each cup, players must gain the highest score in one or several areas as they race against the clock. There are ten areas in all, with locations like Old Bridge, Port Town, and Japanese Temple. The differences are mostly aesthetic, with slight changes to the underwater terrain.
Once the timer starts, you are given the limited ability to move your boat left or right along a default path as a circle moves in the distance, showing you where you can cast your line from the boat’s position. Other than choosing a lure, no other modifications can be made; your avatar automatically casts once you lock in the position with the A button. You can thumb the spool while the line is in the air with the A button, but I never noticed a significant difference whenever I tried.
The game switches to an underwater mode once the lure hits the water. To hook a fish, you must first gain its interest (indicated by an insanely out of place pink heart, thought bubble above its head) by jiggling the Circle Pad and teasing the fish by reeling in a little at a time. The game is insanely ecstatic every time you manage to snag a fish, displaying big comic book text as a disembodied voice yells at you to “Reel it in!” The game even switches from calming, location appropriate music to excited guitar riffs to really bring the excitement home. Strategies change as you attempt to balance the tension gauge of the line and avoiding obstacles as voice and text commands give you directions to move in. There are two reeling speeds to choose from to keep the tension in the green, press B for slow and A for fast.
Unfortunately, that’s as far as the game goes to connect you with the world of fishing. While sometimes challenging depending on the temperament and size of your bass, it’s hard to feel a real engaging fishing experience as you stare intensely at the tension meter and keep an apprehensive finger over the Circle Pad. It’s not a smooth process, and at times the tension gauge seems to randomly dart off in a direction just to make you jump. The fish tend to be scattered randomly throughout the area, and sometimes the biggest accomplishment is finding any at all as you watch the clock tick down. This could be the most realistic aspect of the game actually, waiting and hoping for a nibble.
Lures are the collectable of the game, and luckily there is no short supply of them. Every time you catch a fish or win a tournament, the game rewards you with a new one, which definitely comes in handy since you can lose fishing lures to broken lines when you’re not careful with the tension meter. The game boasts 400 lures, each with their own stats and success rates for different times of day, weather conditions, and seasons. There is a noticeable difference to their controls; for example, a spinner lure sinks, but will rise as you pull it in, while the opposite is true for crank lures. It’s usually a good idea to stick with common types of lures, since the bass’ behavior doesn’t change much, any type of lure will usually get the job done in most situations, and you don’t have to risk losing a rare lure to a line snapping.
The other two modes are unlocked after finishing the Amateur Tournament’s first cup. In Challenge mode, players can try to hit a Total Weight goal before time runs out. This comes in three difficulty modes with three locations each. It’s not a simple task as bass occasionally prefer to arrive fashionably late to the fishing party. True, this matches the definition of a challenge, but it feels more like being cheated when you come up short.
Training mode is a more relaxing experience, merely pick your location, season, time, and weather and go fishing for as long as you want! True, the competitive drive is gone, but if you’re looking for a leisurely fishing trip type of feel, this is the mode for you.
An odd little mode that feels more thrown in than intentionally planned, is Exploration Mode. Instead of fishing, this mode turns the tables as you swim through whichever underwater location you desire, utilizing the 3DS’ gyroscopic sensors to look around. True to real life, the fish don’t throw wild parties or anything when fishermen are not around, and this merely gives you the same view as when you are fishing, sans fishing line and lure. The inclusion of this mode is made even more puzzling as this really forces you to stare in detail at the sadly poor graphic quality the game offers.
Animation is stiff and unnatural, which would be okay if it didn’t extend to the actual fishing lure, an important part to actually catching fish. Wiggling the lure around makes it hop back and forth in odd ways, even flashing in and out of existence at some points. The overall style doesn’t blend well either, as the detailed environment and fish become a stark contrast to the bright and simplistic tension gauge. There is no way to customize your avatar, which was surprising since the game allowed me to either take a picture or use my Mii for my fishing license. With this customization tease, I would have liked the option to pick a girl at the very least.
A surprising addition is the use of StreetPass in the game. Players can trade fishing licenses (which includes all your game stats and accomplishments) and can gift lures.
With a wide selection of fishing games to choose from, it’s hard to understand why the developers of Fish On 3D decided to simply not put more effort into their game to help it stand out. It’s nice to appreciate it for what it is: a straightforward, arcade-style sport fishing game, but at the end of the day, it comes up short of its potential. If you prefer your fishing to be a simple endeavor between you and a bass, this game could be your answer. However, if you’re looking for anything more, even if it’s just another type of fish to look for, you might want to cast your line elsewhere.