How very interesting. For those of you who are familiar with Lost Garden, you may already know the origins of this game. I remember back when that game-making challenge kicked off. This XBLIG release is not the first or only version of "Fishing Girl," but it is the first one I've played - and it's a nice filet of casual gaming.
With graphics courtesy of the Lost Garden guru Daniel Cook, there's no denying the high level of visual appeal. The smooth simple lines, and colorful fish against the neutral background create a beautiful little world that's pleasing to the eye. The clean interface and easy to grasp concept follow suit - creating a casual experience that will appeal to a wide range of gamers.
So what are we talking about here in terms of gameplay? Well, it's time to go fishing - that's right. You're little bear-like creature has access to rods, some lures, and a lake stock full of small, medium, and large fish (along with some superhuge sharks). In general, it's as simple as casting your line and reeling in some fish - you only will use one button (well two, but barely), and you won't be sweating over it. In fact, this game has the opposite effect - it's actually really relaxing and I believe that to be the intent.
There are some intuitive gameplay elements that add to the feeling of progression and reward. Certain lures are better than others, and only work on the appropriate fish. Larger fish will strip you of smaller lures, and weaker fishing rods won't allow you to cast very far or deep into the lake. You eventually need to catch enough fish so that you can earn money to buy upgrades and progress towards the endgame (which I will leave unsaid).
There are varying rarities of fish too, so as you become better at casting, you can attempt to catch the rarest fish and earn more money. This concept taps in to the addictive "collector" mentality, and it's hard to temper the desire grab those fish that are most elusive and hard to come by.
One nice bonus that I appreciate is that there is a little story involved that will help motivate you to keep fishing and progressing - nothing monumental by any means, but effective. Another nice little touch is a built in achievement system that rewards you for hitting certain milestones and achieving perfect casts, etc. They are well-conceived to make you keep playing towards separate goals and had these been real achievements, they'd actually carry some serious weight.
The main issue some players will have with Fishing Girl is that the challenge level is really low, and the overall experience is quite short. Because other Flash versions of the game exist (although most are quite different than this version), I can't imagine this being priced at anything other than 80MP. But at that price, it's a perfect fit and a very worthwhile impulse buy. While nearly polar opposite to I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMBIES 1N IT!!!1 (grrr), it's another great example of simple but well-designed game that will appeal to many at that price. It's a nice trend we're seeing. If you're open to a more casual experience and enjoy a little fishing, I recommend this one.
(you can also see a trailer on Eric W's blog here)