Also available on PlayStation 4 and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 05/23/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Did you ever wonder what the result would be of an unholy union between a fishing game, an RPG, and a visual novel? No? Well, here’s the answer anyway. Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure struck me as a bizarre-sounding game when I first saw it on Play-Asia’s website totally unaware it had gotten a North American retail release. It seems like it’s always on sale on Play-Asia, so I picked it up for like $10 figuring “For that price, how bad could it be?” As it turns out, it really not bad at all! I mean, I’m not sure I’d call it “good” per se, but it’s a lot better than I was expecting.
You play as a trio of college students in their university’s fishing club trying to decide what to do a report on. They’re wandering through a local museum when they see a painting about an “elusive fish” that catches their interest. They end up chatting up a guy who knows the artist and go to meet him and ask him about the fish. That turns into an extended camping and fishing trip for them as they try to clean up the waters around the mountain village where the artist lives in hopes of coaxing the legendary fish to come back and show itself. The story is told in anime-style dialogue boxes like a visual novel, and each of the three characters has a level and gain experience. Sean, the plucky and kind of dumb character, is your main fisherman and gains experience for each fish you catch with his ability upgrades making it easier to catch said fish. Neil, your nerdy geek character, can craft new lures, reels, and rods for you and gains experience from gathering materials as you fish and from crafting new equipment; his abilities expand the array of equipment you can craft and allow you to upgrade that equipment. Alice, the token girl of the group, cooks your dinners and snacks and gains experience from that cooking to let her unlock new dinners and snacks to prepare. Because of course the woman does all the cooking. Way to be woke, Natsume.
The game can feel a little repetitive at times, but I actually found myself enjoying it a LOT more than I was expecting to. Once you get into the swing of things, the fishing is a lot of fun albeit arcade-y and simple (which is perfect for me). My biggest complaints are that the game doesn’t look impressive in the slightest. To be honest, it looks like an upscaled Wii game. Textures are just downright ugly, and the only thing that looks like it’s even from the early HD era let alone the Switch and PS4 is the water which, admittedly, does look rather nice. My other big complaint is the writing; it’s dreadful. The dialogue feels stilted and awkward a lot of the time, and I can’t help but wonder if part of that was due to lazy or careless translation. Still, though, while the game may not look very good and have a garbage story with flat characters, the actual fishing is pretty fun, and that’s what matters. Just don’t expect a lot of depth here; there are only about 20 different fish in the game.
Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure is definitely less shovelware than I was expecting it to be. It’s definitely not a “must-play” or a central collection piece, but it’s a fun little fishing experience if you’re into fishing games but don’t necessarily want the complexity that more simulator-style games have. It’s usually like $15 or less on Play-Asia, so next time you’re over there importing games, go ahead and throw it in your cart. The Asia English version seems to be cheaper than the North American version or at least was when I ordered it a few weeks ago. It’s no killer app, but it’s a fun time.