Review: Let’s Fish! Hooked On
Let’s Fish! Hooked On is the Vita’s first fishing game designed specifically for the handheld. Sure, iFishing beat it out by a few weeks, but that was a PSM game and therefor in a separate weight class, right? While this may be the case, Let’s Fish! Hooked On left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Neither game delivered the fishing experience we may have all hoped for on our portable game-changers. Hooked On managed to deliver a sophomore-ish Story mode with some interesting anime characters and a long-legged Challenge mode, but not much else.
There are only two main modes of play in Let’s Fish! Hooked On: Story mode and Challenge mode. I had a real problem with the fact that the features trailer advertised “4 challenging game modes” which included Training and Underwater View. Training mode allows you to pick a fishing spot, choosing the weather conditions and time of day, and fish for 18 minutes. At the very least, I was hoping there would be no timer to tell me when I had to stop. Training mode doesn’t offer any kind of challenge, but is the closest thing to a no-frills fishing experience.
Underwater View is literally a waste of time. Its an on-rails camera that pans through the level giving you an underwater perspective of what to expect. You can use the motion controls to lean the camera left or right ever so slightly, and speed the camera up with the press of a button. But there is no way to jump off the rails and act as though you are swimming through the level in search of that perfect fishing spot from a fishes point of view. The point of Underwater View can be achieved much more quickly by just playing in Challenge mode or Story mode to begin with given the learning curve to the rest of the game.
Normally I would play through a game’s Story mode before trying out any multiplayer modes or alternative modes designed to waste my time, but Let’s Fish! Hooked On’s Story mode encouraged me to play Challenge mode first to unlock lures. When you start out there are only a handful of lures in your possession so Challenge mode is actually the best place to start. I began challenge mode by picking one of four characters, just as you do in nearly all the other fishing modes. The level select screen reveals a fine assortment of 11 fishing spots to choose from, with nearly half of them locked initially. In each level, I had to complete three fishing challenges to be awarded three stars a la Hot Shots Golf. The challenge requirements were to catch X number of fish, weighing a total weight of Y, with a time limit of Z.
What Challenge mode taught me most of all was that picking the right lure was paramount, but knowing which one was the right lure for that level was like finding a needle in a haystack. The fish would randomly decide which lure they wanted today. Right as though one particular lure was feeling lucky, the fish would lose interest in it completely. This happened frequently and for challenges requiring me to catch fish within a short period of time, finding the right lure had to get done quickly. After having unlocked most of the game’s 240 lures, I could then venture off deeper into Story mode with much greater success.
Story mode was a little less grueling and allowed me to sit back while the seldom elaboration of Let’s Fish! Hooked On’s four out of place looking anime stylized characters set in realistic looking environments told their stories. Other than the story’s written dialogue, these characters were lifeless and not very interesting. Their voiced dialogue was equally as stiff and repetitive. After picking the character I then had to choose an event to play. At first I had to play a bunch of Skill Up challenges to earn skill points. Eventually I’d be forced to enter a tournament but my skills would not be enough to win. Rinse and repeat to earn more SP and soon enough the tables would turn. This all became very tiring and repetitive.
Let’s Fish! Hooked On had several quirky ways of delivering a fishing experience. Instead of using a depth finder like most finishing games, a silhouette of the top half of a fish in the water would appear only when zoomed in. This indicated if there was a fish in that general location, but didn’t tell of which species, how many, or how big lay beneath. Later on in the game I figured out that my character was telling me if I have the right lure selected or if I needed to change it. Whenever I’d drop the lure in the water, if ever my character didn’t speak the fish would ignore my line. When my character said something like “I saw that”, the fish would all swarm and get hooked.
The game allows you to use the touch screen, directional pad, and the left analog stick for rod and reel action at anytime. This was my favorite feature in the game because I didn’t need to go into an options menu just to change the controls. If ever I wanted to try out a different control method, I could do it on the fly. For example, double tapping the rear touch pad or a quick press of the R button would zoom in and out before casting. Circle button worked for quickly reeling in or I could use the touch screen to reel in slowly. Casting was as simple as tapping either the circle button or the front touch screen two times to set how far to cast off. But there was considerable lag with the second tap that would completely throw off my timing.
Hooking a fish and fighting with the fish utilize the same tactic. While the game prompts you to touch the screen and drag a hook icon to a fish icon, the left analog stick worked so much better and faster with no chance of failure. While fighting, I found that nearly 90% of the entire game was a cinch by utilizing the circle button to reel in the line quickly and just rotating the left stick. Hooked On does not penalize you if you input the wrong direction, only if you take too long. Coupling the fast hooking and fighting with fast lure discovery and quick fish finding is what led to getting through most arduous and the most difficult tasks.
Let’s Fish! Hooked On was definitely exciting at first being the premier fishing experience on Vita, but quickly glaring issues began to surface. In Story mode there were often some pretty severe difficulty spikes. The soundtrack gets old real fast, especially when failing a level over and over again. The Old Bridge level had some really bad flickering shoreline graphics and one of a few levels with the dreaded low-res grass. Fish were very robotic in their movements. If I cast a lure they weren’t interested, they’d let me know by hovering in place. When they liked what I was offering they would pull a U-turn with the turning radius of a school bus and enter a stare down contest with the lure; the lure almost always won. Fish would swim right through solid objects and would frequently pop in and out of the level.
The one thing that aggravated me the most about Let’s Fish! Hooked On was the fact that it didn’t allow screenshots. Anytime I tried to take a screenshot a system dialogue would tell me that I can’t take a screenshot of this screen, when in fact I couldn’t take a screenshot of any screen in Let’s Fish! Hooked On. How am I supposed to brag about the 16lb 11oz Large Mouth Bass I caught to Twitter? How about sending screenshots to friends or using one as a background image? Every game on Vita should support this feature.
There are no multiplayer modes whatsoever. In addition to sending them a screenshot, I would have liked at least to be able to send my PSN friends a challenge for a little asynchronous multiplayer fishing. What I was able to do was to upload the stats after a challenge was completed. This took my biggest fish, total number of fish, and total weight stats and placed me according to the leaderboards. The top 100 leaderboards can then be viewed at anytime from the Challenge menu, but this offers no replay value in the end.
Let’s Fish! Hooked On comes with 31 trophies including a platinum for only $19.99. Its a commendable offering to anyone who must play a fishing game on their shiny new Vita right now. But if you’re a fishing game purist and prefer more depth to the experience, you may want to let this one go. I really wanted to like this game, but with only two game modes, no online multiplayer, robotic fish, an unyielding timer, and so many other issues, Let’s Fish! Hooked On was a bit too shallow for my tastes.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
What I Like:
- Finally, Vita has a fishing game
- Choose between touch or physical button controls without changing any options
- Challenge mode is fun while it lasts
- Story mode showcases the four uniquely designed characters
- Loads of unlockables including 240 lures and a handful of levels
What I Dislike:
- No screen capture support!!!
- Music gets annoying fast
- Fish jerk this way and that like robots; sometimes not moving at all
- Fights are either super easy or the line breaks
- Fish swim right through solid objects
- Rainy weather slows the game down to almost half
- Flickering textures and low res grass don't add to the majestic scenery
- No extensive use of Vita's functionality; no near or multiplayer