Observer App of the Week 3/22: Ridiculous Fishing

Sheehan Hannan, A&E Editor

Platform: iOS (iOS 5.0 or later)
Price: $2.99

It’s easy for mobile games to go awry. Over-complication, ineffective controls, and ignorance of a phone’s capabilities can make a game into an utter waste of time, or even worse, a waste of money. But when a game knows how to exploit the medium, good things happen. One such game is Ridiculous Fishing. It’s damn ridiculous, but it’s also damn good.

The simple key to a good mobile game is addiction. To achieve success, a game has to be absolutely indispensible, the perfect filler for five minutes of free time. Ridiculous Fishing fills that niche nicely, even while it exceeds it. The game’s mechanic is remarkably simple: the player casts a line and dodges fish to get as deep as possible. After they hit something, they pull the line back up, collecting as many fish as possible and flinging them into the air, where they promptly unload on them with an array of automatic weapons.

Fish are worth money, and the fish deepest in the ocean are worth the most. Money earned can be used to buy upgrades and different weapons. Additional locations can also be unlocked by catching all the fish species in a given area, with each locale featuring a completely different color scheme, artistic tint, and varieties of fish.

Like any good mobile phone game, Ridiculous Fishing hinges its success on extreme re-playability. Even after unlocking all the upgrades, the ocean is ever deeper, with leaderboards for maximum depth achieved. It’s just an enthrallingly simple gaming experience that evokes the action-reward-goal formula of arcade games. It plays as both a time-filler game and as a sit-down-for-hours game, excelling at both.

Perhaps the most addictive part of Ridiculous Fishing is not actually the expertly tuned mechanics, but the beautiful art style. It’s vaguely vector-art-esque, with expert shading that seems inspired by classic graphics. Everything is constructed of heavily pronounced polygons with expert shading and simple arrangements that imply shape rather than directly portray it. Every character is vaguely cartoon-y, but with definite lines and thoroughly enjoyable color schemes that catch the eye and stick in the brain. It’s simply beautiful and new even after multiple hours of constant play.

Ridiculous Fishing is a perfect example of the advantages of mobile gaming. It’s easy to pick up, cheap at a meager $3, and makes excellent use of the hardware, mixing motion-based controls and simple touch interfaces. As a game, it’s simple in all the right ways, providing exceedingly rewarding gameplay with minimal investment. It will humbly steal hours upon hours of your time and leave you feeling much better than you were when you picked it up. In short, it’s a perfectly packaged piece of entertainment worth every cent.