One of the big complaints with fishing games of the past was the need to purchase a separate controller to accurately simulate the mechanics that are such a big part of the sport. The Nintendo Wii’s unique control doesn’t have that problem because the Wii Remote is a natural substitute for the traditional rod-and-reel controller. Unfortunately, the unresponsive controls and monotonous gameplay in Rapala Tournament Fishing, the first full-fledged fishing game to take advantage of the Wii Remote, don’t make it worth a cast.
Rapala has a number of gameplay modes to play through, including free fishing, arcade mode, and time trials, all of which are as straightforward as their names imply. The most compelling mode in the game is tournament mode. Here, you start out by creating a profile, picking an avatar from a handful of rugged-looking types, and entering in various tournament events. The tournaments are all grouped by type, such as weight challenges, length challenges, and so on. To move onto the next tournament in the line, you’ll need to finish in the top 10 of all the events in the current tournament. The events are typically organized by fish species–such as a largemouth bass or crappie challenge–and, for the most part, the lakes and rivers you compete in will serve up the exact type of fish you want. In fact, only rarely will you haul up anything other than the exact species of fish you’re looking for, though the size or weight of the fish don’t always fit to the event requirements.
The controls in Rapala might seem overwhelming at first, but even nonfisherman will figure out the mechanics pretty quickly. To cast the line, you hold down the A button, make a casting motion with your arm, and let go of the A button near the top of your casting arc. Reeling in the line is as simple as moving the Nunchuk in a circular motion or pressing the A button. You can move the line either left, right, or back by moving the Wii Remote in the same direction and increase or decrease the drag on the line by pressing up or down on the D pad on the remote. There are also controls for driving your boat to various locations on the river or lake you are fishing. Both the fishing and boat controls have an alternate scheme if you are unhappy with the default. For the most part, the Wii’s sensor picks up the more subtle motions of your hand; unfortunately, the on-screen motions you make are quite noticeably delayed, presenting a strange disconnect between your movement with the remote and what your angler is doing onscreen.