Ridiculous Fishing takes a simple concept and pours in creativity, humor, and inspiration
Ridiculous Fishing was a victim of cloning early in its development, and the subsequent stories and discussion about clones and blatant idea theft in the app store left developer Vlambeer demoralized and rudderless.
I spent some time with Vlambeer's Rami Ismail during last year's PAX, and he still can't talk about the situation without his face pulling into a grimace. While development of Ridiculous Fishing was put on the back burner for a time, they returned to the game and fought back in the best possible way: By making the case that you can clone an idea, but you can't clone the creativity of the artists behind it.
Simple doesn't mean stupid
Each round of the game takes place across three sections. You drop your line and tilt your iOS device left and right to avoid fish and sink as deep as possible into the water. Once you hit a fish, the play reverses and you tilt the device to catch as many fish as possible on your line. Once you break the surface of the water you have to shoot the fish out of the air to gain money to buy upgrades.
You can purchase new hats, hair dryers that allow you to hit a single fish and keep moving downwards, lights to illuminate the deep vastness of each location, and new weapons to shoot more fish. Avoid the jellyfish, as they take money away from you, and they have the bad habit of spawning in the air. A bad shot from an explosive weapon can all but wipe out your cash reserves.That's all there is to it, and with a little skill you'll gain at least a little money every time you cast your line. The game continues to pile on new ideas and mechanics however, and these increase the stakes of each cast. A chainsaw attached to your hook allows you to cut through fish as your line sinks, and you can buy more gas tanks to give you more time to do so. Then you find fish you can't cut through.
You'll get excited every time you find a new fish, and you'll see some friends from other indie games swimming around the water. Each fish has a colorful description that you can read on the in-game wooden iPad, and there's even a twitter-like service called Byrdyr that allows characters in the game to communicate with each other. There's a surprising amount of surprises and fun content to be found in the game's margins, including some groan-worthy puns. I've played for hours and still have yet to see every fish, although I've ostensibly “beaten” the game.
It's been interesting to see members of the press and other developers on Twitter express surprise at the lack of in-app purchases and microtransactions, even though we all claim to hate such things. There is nothing more to buy once you purchase Ridiculous Fishing, the game arrives complete and finished. It's even a universal app, working on both iPhone and iPad.
You simply explore, find the neat hidden fish, explore the mysteries of the deep, and blow the living shit out of fish before they hit the water again. The art is bright and crisp, and strongly reminiscent of Cincinnati native Charlie Harper. There are no details of the game that seem left to chance, as everything feels beautifully designed by hand.
That shouldn't be a surprise, as the art was done by Greg Wohlwend (Hundreds, Gasketball, Solipskier), it was developed by Zach Gage (SpellTower, Bit Pilot, SythPond), with music by Eirik Suhrke (Spelunky, Super Crate Box, Hotline Miami), and design, business and development from Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman. I'm likely leaving some people out, and I apologize, but holy hell. There may be a bigger super-group in indie gaming, but I'll be damned if I can think of one.
Ridiculous Fishing is a simple concept that was turned into a game where a crew of incredibly talented people didn't take anything for granted in terms of presentation or polish. The results speak for themselves.