Flick Fishing is the second game in Freeverse software’s “Flick Sports” series. Freeverse is a well-known publisher on the Mac games scene, and is becoming a powerhouse in the iPhone space as well. The previous “Flick” title brought the world of competitive bowling to the iPhone; Flick Fishing brings the same motion-controlled concept to angling. While we’re a bit unimpressed by the casting mechanics, this elegant game gets practically everything else right, from the rocking of a fishing boat to the pull of a fish on the line.
What we noticed first about Flick Fishing was the game’s immersive, detailed graphics. The loading screen is a very detailed rendering of a Freeverse-themed piece of fishing tackle. On the home scree,, the menu buttons float in water, which sloshes around as you move the iPhone back and forth. Once you’ve started a game, the fishing spots are equally detailed, with the best water effects that we’ve seen in an iPhone game–equal to those on many higher-end systems. Your viewpoint shifts as you move the iPhone, adding an extra degree of realism. Waves and reflections set the scene, with ambient wildlife, stormy skies, hazy dawn, and other environmental effects to add character. Upbeat music at the title screen and high quality ambient sound effects round out the game’s excellent presentation.
There are two ways to play Flick Fishing: you can just “Go Fishing”, or you take part in a tournament. When you go fishing, you’ll fish alone, without a goal or time limit. This free-play mode is enjoyable on its own merits, as well as good practice for competitive play. Once you think you’ve mastered the rod and reel, you can compete against a friend or the CPU. You can take turns with one iPhone, or play over a WiFi network. In any case, you’ll have 3 minutes to catch the biggest fish, or net the biggest catch, period. We found the competitive mode a bit frustrating, mostly because of the random nature of the game. Although there is a definite advantage to be had in knowing where and how to get the biggest fish–what sort of bait to use, for instance–the size of the fish you catch isn’t really up to you. We lost several games by a matter of ounces. However, when you’re on the winning side of this contest, especially against a buddy, it feels pretty good to bring in a giant swordfish. We guess that’s how real fishing works, too.
Unfortunately, the flick in Flick Fishing may be the game’s weakest point. To cast, you sort of smoothly tilt the iPhone away from yourself. A more natural motion to us (we’re remembering childhood fishing-hole memories here) would be to pull back the iPhone and then swing it forward. This was the motion we instinctively tried, with very poor results. Maybe Freeverse was afraid we’d clock someone in the head, or throw our phone into an actual ocean. There is an alternate casting method, where you swipe up the touchscreen. The swipe method is even less viscerally accurate, and was hard to trigger accurately at all.
On the other hand, it hardly matters how you cast, because your hook will fly no matter what. The real action starts once you’ve got a fish on the line, and this is where the game really shines. First, you’ve got to set the hook, by jerking back the phone, or swiping the onscreen reel. Once the hook’s set, it’s matter of line tension, timing and patience to bring in the fish. There are two gauges at the top of the screen when you’ve hooked something, the Line Tension meter, and the Fish Strength meter. As you wear the fish down, you’ll be able to bring it to the shore or boat. However, you must mind the tension on the line, or it will snap–no Ahi Tartare for you. The more challenging fish will keep you busy for several minutes as you bring them in, letting out a little line, reeling in, then letting out some more, gradually wearing them down. And when you finally snag them, you can store them in your tank, using a built-in “brag” function to email a buddy and crow about your catch.
Apart from the minor frustration we had with the casting motion, we had a lot of fun with this title. It sets a graphical standard that very few other games meet, and the gameplay is great once you’ve got a fish on the line. We definitely recommend this title if you’re interested in a fishing game, especially if you have a friend to play with.