Ridiculous Fishing by Vlambeer for iOS (and presumably other mobile platforms in the future) is an incredible indie game for any type of player. I am so confident in the greatness of Ridiculous Fishing, in fact, that I’m not writing about how awesome it is (I’ll let others do that) – instead, I’m going to write about how the game exemplifies a theory I have that fun things are fun.
What was that?
Yes, fun things ARE FUN.
The basic idea is that when a game concept that is enjoyable is transferred to another context, whether on the same platform or not, the delight that the players experience is not lost (as long as the implementation is good). This is why games like Field Frogger, a game that I took to IndieCade and Come Out and Play San Francisco, and Outdoor Left 4 Dead, a popular iD Tech Camp field game, retain the basic mechanics and success of their respective inspirations. Sometimes, the fun is amplified when reimagined into a new world, which is why I believe that Ridiculous Fishing is so wonderful.
Ridiculous Fishing is a game in three parts: Avoid, Catch and Shoot. These are all strung together seamlessly, but require different bits of skill and can be considered the three acts of the game.
The player casts a fishing line straight down into the 2D ocean and “Avoid” begins. The only job of the player is to keep the end of the fishing line (which travels at a constant speed) from touching any obstacle on the way down.
This game is exactly like the classic arcade and home console game “Night Driver,” except updated with enough tweaks and controls to give the player a strong connection to the action. Frogger also had a similar “Avoid” game during the first “highway” section. “Avoid” has always been a strong and fun mechanic – and it remains fun in Ridiculous Fishing.
The moment a player hits an obstacle, the fishing line starts moving back up through the water and “Catch” begins. The only job of the player is to capture as many fish (by simply coming in contact with the hook) as possible, avoiding any fish that happen to have negative scores or effects.
There are many “Catch” games over the decades, but the first one that comes to mind with this act is the bonus stage in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sonic needs to move back and forth on a half pipe, collecting as many rings as possible while avoiding hazards. The action is almost identical in Ridiculous Fishing, which is great, since Sonic is fun and the fun translates perfectly.
Once the end of the line hits the edge of the water, all of the fish are flung straight up into the air and “Shoot” begins. The only job of the player is to blow up as many fish as possible before they fall back into the ocean and swim away (while avoiding the negative scoring fish, of course)!
“Shoot” is and always has been a very popular mechanic in gaming – and I believe that Missile Command, a classic video game from the 1980’s, shares almost the same feeling as the final act of Ridiculous Fishing. Again, fun things continue to be fun.
The designers of Ridiculous Fishing know exactly what they are doing – they strived to make the perfect game by combining three very successful and solid game types (not to mention collecting, which would add too many words to this supposedly brief post)! If your goal is to create games in the future, you should start paying attention to what is fun. You don’t need to reinvent gaming to create something amazing – you can simply take pieces of what already works and make something RIDICULOUS.