The premise in Fishing Resort is as simple as could be: You’ve arrived at Penangkapan Island Resort, you’re left to your devices to do anything you want on the island. Go wherever you want, and fish whatever you want. The island, renowned for its fishing activities, has several areas, each with a distinct climate and its own variety of catches.
Geographical plausibility aside, setting the game on an island with 8 areas, 3 types of climate and access to both freshwater and saltwater — not to mention the entire ocean surrounding it — turned out to be a greatly productive idea because the game has over 200 species of catches; and it means it too. From my observation, the developers didn’t make any intentional color swaps; any similarities can be attributed solely to Mother Nature’s designs. But of course, what fishing game would be complete without the quintessentials such as clumps of seaweed and driftwood? Yes, they count as catches; yes, they come in many varieties; no, don’t worry, they don’t appear too often.
You can’t go explore the whole island right away, though. The island has eight Major Areas, and you initially have access to only 3: Teman Paradise Beach (which you start in), Dua Ribu Lake, and Malam Jungle. In addition to that, no matter where you go, you need a place to stay, and that costs Points, which is the island’s currency. Each area has its own prices for lodging (per day) and transport (between areas). The most obvious way to earn Points is, of course, fishing; but there are also other methods (which I’ll get to later).
There are two styles of fishing: Float (Bait) and Lure. Bait fishing is as simple as “cast the line, wait for a hit, reel in”. That said, it does have some variety of bait. Float fishing is what I would call “passive fishing” in essence; in fact, it’s best to not move the float around, because fish aren’t attracted to mobile bait. Lure fishing, on the other hand, can be considered “active fishing”. Since lures are objects made to look like things fish might eat (insects, small fish, etc.) using inedible materials, they have almost no appeal on their own; their appeal comes from you maneuvering them in the water (like reeling them in slowly). It’s also more technical than float fishing, because in addition to various types of lure, there are also color variations. According to the game, some fish can only be caught using lures. It’s pretty much the opposite of float fishing: more technical, more varied and more specific.
Considering the level of species variety, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to display all those you’ve caught? The game seems to agree with you, because there’s an aquarium to display all the fish in. (Short story: The island’s aquarium owner dumped his job on you.) Any new species you catch will appear in the fish tanks for other people to see at a charge – but only if you have the tank for the right water (fresh/salt) and right climate (tropical/temperate/frigid).
You’re given only two small tanks in the beginning, so you’ll have to spend points to buy and upgrade fish tanks, which will attract more viewers so that you can charge more. From a perspective of game mechanics, the Aquarium also serves as a way to cover your lodging expenses at the least, and make sure you never run out of Points for emergencies.
While the main agenda is fishing, there are several NPCS throughout the island with sidequests for you. I especially recommend completing sidequests because not only do they yield handsome amounts of Points, but some particular types of fish (mostly large ones) are only unlocked as part of these, in the form of catching them for the first time.
Challenges and Activities are other forms of fun distraction from your routines. To give a few examples, there’s “Fishing Contests,” “Kayak Racing,” “Retrieval Challenges” (in which you have to maneuver a specific type of lure along a predetermined path), and my favorite, “ProFISHency” (in which you have to identify a random fish in a multiple-choice question). I recommend participating in all types of activities at least once. If you’re wondering why…
It’s because there’s an internal achievement system, called “Awards”. The game keeps track of virtually any statistic you can think of, and you’re awarded Points based on those. There are 3 types of Awards: Common, Special and Miraculous. Common Awards are based on accumulative numbers, like number of fish caught, types of fish caught, etc. They’re even ranked through Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, as you hit the milestone numbers. Special Awards are achievements mostly involving first-time occurrences like catching your first fish, staying the first night in each Major Area, or first participation in activities. Miraculous Awards are the ones you’ll really need to work for, varying from catching a certain “series/collection” of large species, to catching them all (and then one more for catching them all at the biggest size possible). They’re very demanding, but also come with nice rewards. You can click on an Award to read the conditions even if you haven’t done it yet.
Even with all the features I mentioned above, I left out a few others, like the digital camera and avatar customization. While Fishing Resort is simple, it has a lot of things packed into it. Oddly, I feel that the fishing experience is less dominant than the exploration and discovery aspects, which are almost reminiscent of monster-collection games like Pokémon. After all, who does monster variety better than Mother Nature?
The only complaint I have about Fishing Resort is that it’s not very good at — or rather, “interested in” — informing the player about fish in detail. For example, the Fish Index records the basic information for each fish (location, size, Points), but not any flavor text or diet information. It’d have been especially interesting to hear the sort of marine life information from an island nation like Japan. The lack of information also hurts the Bait/Lure aspect; the game provides zero hints on each fish’s diet, making Bait/Lure choice a trial and error if you’re looking to catch a specific type.
Food for thought:
1. To rack up Points, go to Malam Jungle with L-size tackles and fish up Alligator Gars. You’ll need some practice though, because they fight back without reservation. Once you get used to it, though, this provides an easy way to “grind”.
2. As part of a sidequest, after fishing in all eight Major Areas and catching 80 species, you can buy your own cruiser, which opens up the entire ocean around the island. This is a late-game feature, but I feel that it should be mentioned because it unlocks about 1/3 of the entire game’s content.
3. Those 200+ types of catches not enough for you? According to the Japanese site, there are 10 more secret fish to unlock through Passwords and Online, accessible from PCs in the rooms you stay in. Passwords are the same as the Japanese version’s, and I think online fish are unlocked by accessing the Network Rankings.
4. Speaking of which, both Japanese and US versions’ rankings seem to be on the same server. It’s interesting to at least take a look, because you wouldn’t believe how big the global record fish can be…