Reel Fishing: Master’s Challenge is the latest title in Natsume’s long running sports franchise. I believe that hunters of all things aquatic have been enjoying the series since the days of the Sega Dreamcast. At the time of writing Master’s Challenge is available exclusively for the PlayStation Vita. There isn’t a retail version of the game to buy so if you want the oppor-tuna-ity to catch some digital flounders you’ll need to download a copy off the PSN store. Is the game a stinker (like a month old skate) or a brill-iant fishing simulator? Read on to find out.
Surprisingly, for a fishing game, Master’s Challenge has a story mode that spans across fifty levels. Rather than go with the obvious “player taking part in a contest” yarn the melodramatic plot follows an expectant father who is reminiscing about the times when pop taught him how to fish. The narrative is rather dull, although there are moments when I found it unintentionally funny. Even if it’s a tad cruel, I couldn’t help but chuckle when it’s revealed that the protagonist’s parents split because his father would abandon his sickly mother in order to go off fishing. Needless to say, you won’t miss much if you tap start to skip the text introducing each stage. Its all just setting up a finale were you must capture a zombie like albino fish that only emerges on foggy days. This is the Silent Hill of fishing games folks!
Reel Fishing is easy to master, which is a welcome relief as my previous fishing endeavours on the Vita have not always been pleasant (due to a poor tutorial and inability to catch anything I gave up on 2013’s Let’s Fish: Hooked On.) The aim of each mission is to reel in a specified number of fish. The early levels are a doddle although as the story progresses the objectives get trickier (sometimes you’ll be required to hook fish of a certain weight for example.) Even so failure seldom happens aside from the levels that impose a five-minute time limit. Success in those missions can boil down to luck, which is frustrating. Seriously, how many anglers do you know that restrict their fishing sessions to a mere three hundred seconds?
To snag a fish you must first select your desired target from the tackle menu and then purchase some bait. With the shopping complete it is time to cast off, which is accomplished by pressing circle. Once that is done the waiting game begins. There’s not much to do aside from watching your bait float on the surface or sink to the seabed (depending on what type of lure you picked.) Tapping on the D-Pad lets you wiggle your hook, which may tempt nearby fish to take a bite (much like waving a Mars Bar in front of my face.) Upon snagging a blighter you’ll be required to reel them in by holding down one of the face buttons. Keep a close eye on the power gauge because reeling in Nemo when the bar is full will result in your line snapping (much like my belt after the consumption of a large meal.)
My rating for Reel Fishing: Master’s Challenge is a three out of five. I actually enjoyed the game a lot, but then again I’m the sort of weirdo who spends hours of time in MMOs playing the fishing mini-games (every guild has one.) I can’t give the game a higher score because the asking price is steep when you consider that the gameplay on offer is no deeper than what you would find in an inexpensive mobile title. The missions all play out the same with the only difference being the background graphics and the design of the fish swimming in the area. If your tastes mirror mine however Reel Fishing is a good handheld time waster. Aside from the story mode there are various rods to unlock, optional quests to complete and purchasable decorations to pimp out the aquarium that houses your catches. Okay that’s enough typing for today. I am fin-ished with this fishing review.