December 12, 2011
On a superficial level Fishing Resort is a fishing simulator with the same Wii remote-based motion controls numerous other Wii games in the past have employed. You hold the Wii Remote in one hand and the nunchuck in the other (the default is for right-handed users but there's an option to switch available for lefties). After finding a place to fish you cast out the rod by flicking the Wii Remote and reel in the rod by spinning the nunchuck like you would on a real reel. The motion-based actions generally work well, but there are encounters with misreadings by the regular Wii Remote sensors as opposed to Wii MotionPlus. This generally only affects those who are used to more twitch-based actions on the Wii so it shouldn't be much of an issue when it comes to the fishing sector.
These minor control issues also carry over to the non-motion controls found in the game. Because of the Wii's dual controller setup, Prope had to assign the controls in a somewhat odd fashion. For instance, the Wii Remote's directional pad has four different functions depending on what direction you press. Unlike games such as Twilight Princess which had a tiny but visible HUD to remind the player what button did what, Fishing Resort removes all of that in an effort to immerse the player into the lush and vivid scenery (which we'll detail later). And once you are in a menu the buttons react differently depending on the interface that's given as one menu might use motion controls while the other uses the analog stick, so for the first few hours players might accidentally press the wrong buttons till they learn the game's finer intricacies. This isn't to say that putting a lot of varied controls isn't a good thing --- it's just that Prope didn't go about implementing it in the best way possible considering the demographic of this title.
Of course, a fishing title wouldn't be complete without fish, of which Fishing Resort has over 200 different varieties ranging from a few inches to several feet long. The group of islands that Fishing Resort's world is made up of run on the currency of "fishing points", which are most easily obtainable by catching fish and reporting your finds to the hotel you're currently residing at in the game, which are then added the local aquarium for later viewing which can be upgraded if the player so wishes.
Early on in the game you only have access to the most basic of rods and bait but over time more and more options are available to you unlike some other fishing simulations that give you a preset array to choose from or only offer a single set to use throughout the entire game. The game doesn't make it clearly obvious from the outset what combinations are better than the others unless you take specific fishing classes offered at each hotel or talk with the locals, however, likely in an effort to allow the player to experiment themselves. There's good and bad aspects to this depending on your viewpoint, but having some sort of in-game encyclopedia or guide would have helped assuage the issues of those who wanted a quick and easy explanation without the visual frills of a teaching instructor.
Getting back to the fishing points aspect, the game does reward players with points for doing other activities besides fishing. Numerous RPG-style fetch quests are available and can be picked up by talking to the various other vacationers that are visiting Fishing Resort's island. These range from delivering items from one person to another to even some longer lines of quests that end up with the ability to catch some of the game's rarer varieties of fish. Fishing Resort also rewards the player for exploring the game's world and options as almost every activity will reward the player with an achievement plus fishing points, such as taking your first picture using the game's in-game camera to buying your first set of fishing supplies. All of these achievements are recorded in a log that can be viewed in the player's hotel room, which is a nice touch since the Wii doesn't natively support an Achievements/Trophy system. The non-fishing point aspects do a lot to help break up the occasional monotony that's inherent in the fishing genre and is an excellent addition that pulls apart the title from the norm.
Of course, one single location would become rather boring quite quickly, so it's good to see that Prope added the ability to go to various different locations including a beach, a jungle and even a frozen wonderland where the player can go ice fishing. Besides having their own unique aquatic ecosystems they also have various methods of transportation ranging from bicycles to canoes and even your own yacht. However, you can't wander around these areas for as long as you please as the game does utilize a day/night system. For more casual players this works quite nicely as it allows for a quick 30 minute or so session of play (although the game auto-saves after you make a significant purchase or complete a certain objective or quest), but more hardcore players might initially find this too restrictive until they unlock the ability to stay out later and go out earlier a few hours into the game.
Outside of these minor issues, Fishing Resort is a technical marvel for the Nintendo Wii console, which by far hasn't had the best reputation for third-party developed games. Graphically it's a wonder, especially with its lighting system during sunny days when the sunlight radiates through the trees. The character models are a step above the Nintendo's Mii creations with the same cartoony-like atmosphere to them but with a more human touch as they'll visibly react during catching a fish or in the game's countless other activities. And unlike the Miis you have a plethora of different clothing options to choose from with the clothing differing depending on if you chose the male or female playable character at the start of the game. You have a small selection of clothing options from the outset with the remaining outfits having to be purchased from the local shop near the hotel. One minor issue with this system, however, is that for clothing that has multiple color options you have to buy each one individually instead of getting every combination in one purchase. With 100+ different pieces of clothing and with many of them having at least two or three different colors it seems like this design decision was made just to further pad out the game as it takes a while before you can amass enough points to unlock a decent amount of the clothing options available in the game.
Being a Wii title there's obviously some jaggies to be found but Prope did a decent job at using the game's cartoonish graphics to hide this as much as they could. For most fishing game players, having inappropriate background music playing during the game is a big no-no. Thankfully, Fishing Resort doesn't cross this line as it only plays background music inside the hotels and buildings and leaves the outside areas to natural ambient background noise such as frogs croaking or ducks quacking. It really makes you feel like you are actually in a real-life resort and not just imagining that you're playing in the game's one.
For more casual players Fishing Resort is an instant buy as long as you like the laid-back gameplay style it provides as you'll have an ample amount of secrets, competitions and good old-fashion fun to be had. But for gamers who are a bit twitchy with their button presses or prefer a more action-based title it might not be the best fit if you can't relax and learn the understand the finer touches of fishing and letting things go as if you were in a real-life resort. It's not going to be a game of the year by far, but Fishing Resort easily is one of the best fishing titles on the Wii and one of the most technically proficient for this genre.