Experience comprehensive first person fishing at the Aqua Lodge as Natsume continues their Reel Fishing game series (second on the Wii and eighth overall) with the visually realistic Angler’s Dream where time, patience and persistence pay off in the story mode or the multiplayer versus mode.
The game has some nice role playing features with the lodge, which has two floors and a basement. You move by cycling through areas instead of navigating freely in a free form “point and click” style, which saves time needed for the focus activity – fishing. The upstairs has a tackle area while the basement serves as an aquarium area where players can care for several fish in lake & pond, river & stream or saltwater tanks.
Fishing term knowledge reduces the learning curve, though most terms are self explanatory. For example, a livewell is just a holding place for up to three fish to “live well” until you transport them home and transfer them into an aquarium at the lodge. Fish can get “fattened up” in the aquariums then released back into the wild to be caught again for some great achievement goals, which isn’t such a “needle in a haystack” scenario if the ideal setting is chosen.
The remote and optional remote/nunchuk control combination works well as you can also use the special Wii Fishing Rod with Wheel controller for a more authentic simulation… a definite oxymoron, but fans will appreciate the option.
The settings, music and sounds enhance each experience with the controls providing the necessary realism. Settings include the lake, midstream, rocky coast, mountain stream, open sea, upstream, pond, beach, headwaters, downstream and south sea. The basic music score incorporates woodwinds and guitar while the sound effects and environment/ambient sounds add some realism. Each audio element can be muted in the options menu.
The fishing experience requires some strategy and finesse as casts involve a quick succession A-B button combination. Moving the remote forward into an arch, then hitting the A button, then B (trigger) button works best. Getting a bite takes the most patience. Fish sometimes seem to move at faster speeds, so a variety of quick and slow reel-ins help. Different casting styles like fly fishing, keep the experience a little different each time. Lure choice also affects the camera angle, which can shift into some nice underwater views.
The Wii controls have helpful properties especially when motion rumbles prompt key fish movements where players must act to get a catch. The music stops when you get a bite as each expedition has a reasonable time limit. Hit the – button to pause when not casting, which then opens options like change tackle. Hit the + button to pause any time. The main vice is an absent distance meter. A Tiger Woods Golf-type interface would work great here so players can aim accurately for prime hot spots marked by splashes and ripples in the water.
The several different types of fresh and saltwater fish all act differently, so players must incorporate some strategy into their approach. Strategy sources include various magazines and the guiding “Fishing Master” who gives some initial audio instruction at the beginning then switches to text only, presumably due to game format and memory limits. No difficulty levels though the two player challenge simplifies the catching process.
Great learning aspects and bonus incentives like badges and legendary fish like great king huchen, blue marlin, char, tarpon, brown trout and catfish. Angler’s Dream takes some effort and active learning supported by the in-game resources and medium level text content, which needs bigger font. Angler's Dream has onsiderable content for an affordable outdoor simulator at $19.99, which can prep players for the real thing in a short time, while the replay value depends largely on player personality and patience.
Reel Fishing: Angler's Dream is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.