Fishing Girl Game

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Fishing Girl, the first release from developer Luna Drift, is a short browser game. Here's my take on a game that turned out to be more than the generic title suggested. It's been around since 2008, and has inspired a recent, bafflingly popular game on Steam by the name of Cat Goes Fishing ((hyperlink to review)).

What's Going on?

I played this game after Cat Goes Fishing. Being unimpressed with that offering, I was expecting very much the same thing when I first started Fishing Girl. Immediately, however, I found this not to be the case.

Before casting off for the first time, I was presented with the rather distressing message; "Help, I'm lost on an island, come find me!" This was puzzling at first. I have a fishing rod, and I've clearly got to catch fish otherwise the title would make no sense at all. But how do I find someone on an island by catching fish?

The only way to find out was to start fishing! What I noticed here is that Fishing Girl presents much more of a challenge than its successor, as even the basic lures are limited in number. Smaller lures can be stolen off the hook by larger fish, and larger lures will be gradually nibbled away by small fish - so there's also a level of challenge introduced by having to avoid undesirable fish.

Fishing Girl is developed by LunaDrift.

Art and Sound

While this is a browser game played in a small, fixed window, Luna Drift somehow managed to pack a great deal of character into the art and animations. My character is a pink creature that looks to be a mix between Kirby and Pikachu. I have a friend behind me who identifies the species of fish that I catch, who jumps up and down excitedly. What background there is has a simultaneously mystical and cutesy character. The fish themselves are basic yet no two species really look alike.

The sound doesn't quite meet the same standard. The music certainly adds to the ambiance of the game, but it is decidedly low quality by today's standards, very short and repeats ad nauseam. It's a harsh track that, had the game lasted longer, I would have eventually turned off.

Upgrades

All of the progression in Fishing Girl comes from the upgrades - chiefly in the form of rods and lures. Purchasing an upgrade has two requirements; the first is having to actually cast into it, and the second is to have enough points in order to purchase it. Lures can be purchased in batches if there are enough points available. This is a neat little way to add a bit more challenge to a short game, certainly a more engaging option than the usual alternative of buying everything from a store.

I noticed that the upgrades weren't fixed, either. The closest one always appears to be the smallest lure - likely done to ensure that the player doesn't get stuck without any lures and unable to progress - but the ones further out swap between a couple of options.

The progression of rods goes from starter to silver, then onto gold and finally onto the 'legendary' rod. The latter is the most expensive upgrade in the game and is required for achieving both of the game's endings, so this is what I was chiefly saving up for.

A Proper Objective

Fishing Girl gave me an objective right from the start. One with an urgency that is compounded by the art style and ambient music. I have to save my friend. It's amazing what difference that this tiny bit of story and purpose made to the game.

The reveal of a second ending after finishing the first also gave me a reason to give the game a second go, too. I felt compelled to play, and not at all bored by my experience.

Challenge and Reward

Often with short browser games like this, there's very little challenge, and I feel unrewarded for the time invested. Fishing Girl delivers. There's a perfect balance of challenge inherent in the mechanics - having to cast just right to land on the correct reward beacon, having to avoid the wrong-sized fish for my lure - and reward, from either ending.

This is especially true in the 'experienced fishing girls' difficulty setting, where the fish are more attracted to your lure and hunt it down mercilessly. The smaller fish will always take a nibble out of bigger lure, too, rather than occasionally. Casting is also slightly harder in the experienced setting, which is the only change that seems a little like a pointless frustration mechanic.

Final Thoughts.

I finished the first playthrough in 26 minutes, and the second in 30 minutes – both while taking notes. It's a short game. That being said, it's a free game too, and the length prevents a feeling of disinterest. Something that Cat Goes Fishing, which isn't free, failed to do.

I felt thankful for the experience it had given me - there isn't really much more to be asked of a game.