Fishing Resort hands-on preview

Since Yuji Naka left Sega, we%26rsquo;re not really sure what to expect from the creator and his new studio Prope. After last year%26rsquo;s cute Ivy the Kiwi, Naka seems to be channeling a love of the simplicity of fishing, perhaps first expressed in the Big the Cat levels from Sonic Adventure. Though in the Sonic creator's newest title, Fishing Resort, your island vacation has more options than just fishing all day.

Obviously Fishing Resort is mainly about fishing, but unlike other Wii angling titles that have some major flaws, this entry in the niche genre relies on simple game mechanics, mixes up the variety of terrains you travel to, and has far more options for activities than you'd expect. For starters, the game is surprisingly easy to pick up and play. By holding the Wii Remote in one hand and Nunchuk in the other, you cast your line with the remote, just like you would a real life fishing rod. You pull your line in using the Nunchuk as the reel by making small circular motions. If the water is shallow enough. you can zoom in to where your line is sitting and see which fish are near by that might take your bait. Unfortunately, it's hard to stay zoomed in once you've gotten a nibble, so most likely your catch will be a surprise.

Speaking of surprises, Fishing Resort%26rsquo;s collection of over 200 varieties of fish, ranging from a few inches to several feet long, which was deeper than we expected. You can catch pretty much anything that's out in the water, from sharks to eels to swordfish to salmon, depending on what part of the island%26rsquo;s multitude of terrains you're on. Though you may also end up catching some stray driftwood and other junk floating in the water that you can't actually see when you zoom in to your line.

This island resort isn%26rsquo;t just made up of tropical beaches either; the landmass includes a snowy mountain you can climb to go ice fishing, a jungle swamp to fish for more exotic creatures, and fresh water lakes and rivers near the mountainside. %26ldquo;Wherever there's water, there's fish,%26rdquo; according to XSeed Games PR. When exploring the land, you can earn alternative modes of transportation like bikes, rafts, kayaks, even yachts to get to your next destination. Of course, once you've visited one area of the island, you can always jump back to it again from another part of the island in an instant, in case taking the scenic route isn%26rsquo;t your thing.

Besides fishing single player, up to 4 players can join in co-op and play fishing related mini games, and Fishing Resort offers other activities you can do when you need a break from casting. After getting some points for trading in the fish you caught, you can customize your cartoony avatar to your liking with the large assortment of clothes you can purchase. Go kayaking out in the open sea, ride a bike along a mountain trail, or visit the huge aquarium inside your hotel.

Speaking of the aquarium, ever wonder where the fish you've caught throughout the game go? No, they don't just disappear or turn up later as that night%26rsquo;s dinner; they end up in the hotel's vast aquarium. Not simply one massive pond that they've tossed all the fish into, it%26rsquo;s actually separated out into different and quite large tanks, differentiated by the types of regions they%26rsquo;re found within the game. Like your avatar, you can customize and build up your aquariums by buying underwater landscaping with points.

Need to get points faster? Yuji Naka and his team at Prope have come up with a creative solution for that. As you build up the insides of your fish tanks, other guests staying at the resort can visit them as well. At the end of the day, you'll see a report of how popular each of your regional aquariums was, allowing you to improve the conditions. It's simple: the more people visit, the more points you get, it%26rsquo;s a cleverly simple way of adding an in-game economy.

Above: Sharks, marlins and other fish swimming in one of the aquariums

Compared to other fishing games out on the market already, Fishing Resort seems to be one of the more interesting. Despite the typical Wii style characters and the seemingly mundane subject matter, the controls are solid and easy to maneuver, and you%26rsquo;re given so many different toys to play with, it seems like it%26rsquo;ll be hard to get bored on the idyllic island. And it%26rsquo;s hard to deny that it feels great to hook the biggest catch of the day, virtual or otherwise. Fishing Resort hits the Wii sometime this fall.

Aug 11, 2011