I believe Washington Irving had something when he said "There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a gentleness of spirit and a pure serenity of mind." After all, fishing can be a quite contemplative hobby, and most attempts to translate it into game form focus on the player's patience and attention. Certainly this is the case for 2/3s of Radical Fishing, Dutch developer Vlambeer's new simple idea game release. Of course, the other 1/3 is spent blasting sea creatures into bloody chunks in exchange for cash and upgrades. But hey, we all find serenity in our own way, right?
Each round of Radical Fishing is split into three distinct mouse-controlled phases. First, cast your line into the ocean with a click of the mouse, and play fish avoidance as your hook travels deeper and deeper. As soon as you snag a fish or run out of line, you immediately begin reeling in and phase two begins. Here, you attempt to snag as many fish as you can upon your hook, while making your way up to the surface. Once you reach the surface, all the fish you've collected are flung into the sky and phase three begins. Using the mouse and your collection of weapons, you'll be pumping the airborne sea-dwellers with as much hot lead as you can manage. Each eviscerated ocean-dweller grants you money, some more than others. You then use this money to purchase upgrades for use in the next round, such as longer lines, more powerful guns, water-clearing chainsaws, electrifying toasters, and others. You'll need all of them to reach the treasure that's rumored to be at 500 meters deep. Happy fishing!
There are those who won't see the appeal in mincing innocent fish into a cloud of red. These people are probably much more mature than I am. Even ignoring the inherent strangeness of the premise, Radical Fishing's MS Paint graphics and MIDI-style music make for a pretty surreal time. A fun and addictive time, certainly, but undeniably surreal. There isn't really much of a plot beyond striving to reach the bottom of the ocean to fill your fish encyclopedia, and not much of an end goal beyond earning achievements and posting high scores. However, while each of Radical Fishing's three phases would be lacking individually, the combination makes for more than the sum of its parts.There is a charming simplicity and impish humor to Radical Fishing that makes it a nice little experience. It just goes to show that if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; give a man a game about fish, he'll play for, I dunno, maybe a week or so?