gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 – Xbox 360

Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 - box art - Xbox 360Review by Johnus Maximus

George Bush believes that human beings and fish can co-exist peacefully, but I’m sure many anglers will disagree and tell you that the endless struggle between man and scaly beast is one that will never end. Be it for food, for sport or for fun, fishing is a way of life for many.

In October 2008, Fun Labs hoped to capitalise on the niche market of fishing games with Rapala Fishing Frenzy, which was published by Activision and available for Xbox 360, Wii and PS3. Unfortunately only die-hard fishing fans need bother, as this game is a big pile of “carp”.

If you made it past that awful fish pun then please accept my apologies as you read on. If you couldn’t tell from the opening paragraphs, I was none too enamoured with this game, in fact it was nigh impossible to play the game for more than an hour without wanting to throw the disc across the room. I haven’t felt this way since I got Hydro Thunder on the N64 for Christmas one year.

Perhaps I was expecting too much from the game, as all of its features seemed to lack depth and quality. To begin with the game is only playable as a single player game, negating one of the finer aspects of fishing – sitting around with your buddies and shooting the breeze. Next, you are limited to two pre-made characters to represent you in the game, one male and one female, both of whom have the dorkiest expressions I’ve ever seen and wearing clothes that look like something the Chuckle Brothers would throw away.

There are three playing modes available, Tournament fishing, where you must catch a specified number and type of fish within a time limit, Quick Challenge, which is essentially the same as Tournament fishing but with less time and a wider range of tasks, and finally Open fishing, where you can experiment with the many fishing spots and lures to try and master your techniques.

Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 - screenshot - Xbox 360
And Bully’s special prize…. a speedboat!

Once you pick a gameplay mode you head out to one of the fishing lakes, which are based on some of the world’s top fishing locations, such as Lake Okeechobee in Florida, Clear Lake in California and the North Pier in Blackpool. Okay, so maybe not that last one.

Out on the water you are free to pilot your boat around anywhere on the lake, with a helpful map to show you some of the fishing hotspots. Driving a ridiculously loud speedboat over the top of a major fishing spot does not make the fish any less eager to jump onto your hook though, so don’t worry about taking your time with the boat controls. In fact, sometimes you don’t even need to pay attention to where the major fishing spots are, as long as you get the ‘attract’ sequence correct you’re okay.

With a flick of the right analogue stick you cast out your lure and watch it slowly sink in the water. Wait a moment and you are prompted to move the stick in a circular motion, this attracts a fish to your hook. Once it bites you then begin the task of trying to reel in the fish, which is done by keeping a balance between reeling and line tautness – not enough reeling and the fish gets away and if the line gets too taut then it will snap. Whilst doing this, inane and irrelevant quick time events pop up and demand you bash some buttons to make them go away.

Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 - screenshot - Xbox 360
At least the fish look realistic..

What’s annoying about all this is that the quick time events don’t seem to do anything but irritate you, with the cheesy voice-over guy yelling “GREAT” and “TIME WARP” at you over and over again, all the while some bland Euro-trance thuds in the background. If you succeed in reeling in the fish you are shown its size and rating, and then off you go again to catch another one until you either get bored and switch it off, or succeed in your tournament/challenge.

During the course of the game you will unlock new rods and new lures to use, apparently they have been authentically modelled to behave as they would in real life, but I can say firmly that it makes not one bit of difference what reel or rod you use, everything in this game is achievable by pure luck.

It’s not all bad though, at least Fun Labs were able to get the fish and the water to look good. The water doesn’t look as nice as it does in a game like Kung Fu Panda, but it does have a very realistic look especially when viewing through the underwater camera. There are more than 20 different species of fish in the game and they actually look very realistic and wriggle about in a very fishy way.

Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 - screenshot - Xbox 360
Barry Chuckle poses with his catch of the day

It’s difficult to write any more than this about the game, as I honestly detested my time playing it and can say without hesitation it is the worst game I played during 2008. Worse than Turning Point and Pimp My Ride put together. Avoid it like the plague.

Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 gets half a brown trout out of five.

Half star

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009, Computer Gaming, Xbox 360.