Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Enough with the Fishing Minigames!

 I was playing through the latest indie darling Hades, drinking in the rich atmosphere, the interesting reinterpretation of the Greek pantheon and trying to escape the underworld when out of nowhere a character hands me a fishing rod and says that if I spot any fish swimming in the currents of the River Styx I could catch them and...

...And then I tuned out. 


I've noticed that fishing minigames have infiltrated most of my favorite games, and are popping up in genres where they don't belong, almost like a computer virus set up by Bass Pro Shop has infected Steam. Since I seem to be the only one bothered by this, I figured I should be the one to bring up the subject, the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Where They Belong

Now wet me clarify that fishing in video games in general is not a bad thing as long as the fishing is part of the core experience. Farming games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing the fishing makes sense because that's part of what you do. In general any life sim style game where the point is that you're just quietly making a life for yourself for me is perfectly acceptable to have fishing in it. 

In the same vein, collector games like again Animal Crossing or more importantly the Pokemon franchise make sense because you're collecting things that live under water, and it's realistic to expect a person to try a pole and bait before dawning a full scuba suit to get a goldfish. In these instances fishing isn't only a core part of gameplay but adds to the immersion of the game itself, 

That being said...

Where They Don't Belong

Rule of thumb: Anything where the main character's main role is to be the stalwart hero of the land and save all the peoples of the land from bad guys, that's where fishing minigames don't belong. 

Take Monster Hunter for example. You spend hours fighting giant kaiju and turning their skin and bones into more fashionable underpants for yourself, and yet the game asks you to occasionally stop the epic monster fighting so you can put a line into water to catch a fish. The lurching difference in gameplay is as startling as it is frustrating. 

While I have no doubt that Frodo and Sam had to take time to catch dinner every once in a while, the films thankfully saved us from having to watch them sitting along the bank of the Dead Marshes trying to catch a trout. Video games in some effort to add realism, or more likely to extend run time, make us watch the mundane activities of the hero deciding what to have for dinner. 

A What-If Scenerio

Okay picture this: What if every video game, regardless of genre, had a Mario-Kart-like level where your character had to race around a track and win races. The game would stop you at one point during your adventure for an elaborate tutorial on how to drive your cart, special power-ups, and had items you could only obtain by winning races. I think most players would get halfway through a race watching Geralt of Rivia in a tiny go-cart race NPCs and rage quit the game. 

That's about how I feel with fishing minigames. They don't make sense in every game, and yet they're appearing in games anyway and the only reason I can figure is that Bass Pro Shop has some expert hackers that have infiltrated the gaming industry and are trying to create a new generation of fisherman. 


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