I don’t hate fishing games. While the act itself can be tiring in real life, certain games like SEGA Bass Fishing can be really fun romps in timing, precision, and collection. Let’s Fish! Hooked On is a new entry in this genre, and while I can enjoy a good fishing game, and while I do love my PlayStation Vita, I really do not like this game.
As the cover of Hooked On illustrates perfectly, what you’re getting for 20 dollars is a fishing game starring very young Japanese girls. The fact that the playable characters are mostly young Japanese girls doesn’t matter so much to the plot or gameplay, but the game is so bare bones that the characters being young girls almost seems like a way to secure a small audience.
Specifically, the gameplay is just fishing: you sit in a boat at one of several lakes, you pick your character with their arbitrary special abilities, you pick your bait, you cast your line, and you try to catch fish by swiping the touch screen with good timing and reeling it in. While it never drags so far into incompetency, it does nothing new or interesting for the genre, and even worse, it does nothing for itself to keep the game more interesting as you progress through the story mode. In other words, though I personally gave the game a fair several hours, I reckon you might be sick of it within an hour.
Outside of a poor tutorial (it’s a screen displaying the controls and an environment. Don’t expect any real help learning the controls), the game is separated into Challenge and World Tour. Challenge simply relies on catching fish at a location and meeting goals in the process (like trying to get a combined seven pounds through catching three fish, or something like that). It’s progression free, and a decent diversion should you end up liking the game enough to dig into it.
The World Tour mode is the meat of the game — the story mode. Each of the four characters (Jamie, Ryuji, Kano and Ai) have their own story, though don’t read into this too much. The cutscenes are humorously reminiscent of old GBA games, where the cutscenes are voice-free dialog between character portraits over still background images while generic low-quality music plays in the background. The story revolves around the four characters and their relationships with a fishing tournament and each other. The cutscenes are a sad effort, and the characters are so bland that I couldn’t see any appeal in the mode whatsoever.
The gameplay is likewise nothing special. You compete in one of three tournament classes: Amateur, Professional and Master. If you get first place after twelve competitions, you go in to the next, more-difficult tournament class. As for the goal in these competitions? It just comes down to getting the right weight or number of fish. In other words, if you catch enough big fish, you will be rewarded by being able to catch more big fish. Outside of occasional ability-boosting skill points and some bonus lures, that is ultimately World Tour mode.
Technically, Hooked On still fails to impress. The graphics don’t come close to pushing any Vita capabilities, and the touch controls are a weird option that never feels as right as the buttons do. Furthermore, the voice acting during fishing sequences is really cheap and terrible (the male character, Ryuji, is particularly bad), and the music sounds like a bastardized version of the infinitely superior Hot Shots Golf soundtrack. The same fluttery relaxing music is in full swing, but the lower production values are way too evident.
And when it all comes down to reality, some of you will buy this game because you want a Vita fishing game, or you want a Vita game where you can play as young anime-styled girls. And if you enjoy it for one reason or another, that’s great. Regardless, I do have a responsibility to tell you that as a bystander who played this with no expectations, this is a really dull, uninteresting, and terribly boring game.