The first fishing title arrives to Kinect, Rapala For Kinect, but it’s primarily geared for kids in my opinion. Adults will have to wait a little longer to enjoy a fishing simulation for Kinect. If you don’t know anything about Rapala, here’s the synopsis:

If you’re fishing without any gear it means you have ninja-quick hands – or you have an Xbox Kinect! Reel in the big catch using nothing but your own body in this motion-controlled Rapala fishing adventure. The intuitive commands make play as easy as a relaxing afternoon on the lake…until the fish start biting! Reel ’em in fast as you race the competition and the clock. Hop between fishing spots in fast-paced solo or competitive play. The action almost never lets up, with an average of just 45 seconds between when you cast your line and when you bring in your catch. Drop-in/drop-out multiplayer lets anyone join whenever the urge bites.

Overview

Rapala typically has a sense of a real fishing experience in past releases, so I’m guessing this was a test as once you start fighting with a fish, you will realize how much you need a reel accessory as in past Rapala’s. It’s also a complete arcade aspect, which really reminded me of Sega’s Bass Fishing, so if you are looking for some serious fishing, you’ll have to wait. The content is a little on the lacking side, but for kids, this is probably fun for them since it’s repetitive. Overall, it’s probably an ok title but only if your kids love fishing games.

The Menu

The menu has several options, it uses a modified Dance Central type, and it works for the most part, sometimes when you want to scroll down, it doesn’t seem to know what you want, so you have to do the process over, more of a nuisance than an issue. The menu consists of Arcade, Boat Race, Fish Face Creator, Unlockables which is just a record of what you have unlocked and User Menu which are your normal options with the Kinect tuner and volumes. On the left side, there is an Aquarium section, but I cover that separately in the review.

Arcade

I suppose this is the career aspect portion of the game. The way arcade mode works is you are fishing in a tournament against 3 other people, in a set time limit and 3 rounds per area. There are a total of 5 lakes, with 4 of them locked in the beginning. You have to finish 1st at the end of each tournament in order to unlock the next one, so there is a little challenge factor as the computer opponent seems to be very good in the later levels. To guarantee a win though, each lake has a boss fish which is a huge monster fish and you do eventually want to try to catch them. They are random from what I could tell, as the first boss fish, Titan, I caught in round 2 in the first lake, and Viper, the 2nd boss fish in the second lake, I caught in Round 3 with 5 seconds left, barely making it.

There are 24 different kinds of fish total to catch, and I believe there are 80 lures you can use to catch them from what I can tell, most of them are locked though and you have to earn all of them. As you start fishing, you don’t get to pick a spot with your boat as in previous titles, so you are ready to just start casting. You are instructed to scroll around with your left hand. It doesn’t mention to toss with your right hand, although if you just do a casting motion it works. It doesn’t matter how hard you cast, the lure will go to the spot you indicate with your left hand.

Lure Action

Once the lure lands, there’s a couple of different things that can happen. The first is normal, lure is in the water and on-screen indicators will inform you which way to tug the line to give your lure action. What’s weird is the lure’s talk, I’m guessing in a fish language, so it sounds really strange but kids think its hilarious. I thought the first level, I had language set in Japanese or something. Every time you tug on the line, the lure will talk to the fish, so make sure your kids have gone to the bathroom before they play this game.

The other things that can happen are you do a pro retrieve, and you have to do this motion gesture to call the fish and it hooks automatically. I’m not quite sure the point of it, but it’s there. The last type is where at soon as it hits the water, a fish is ready to hook on and you just have to hook it. To hook it, you will do one of three gestures but wait for it to tell you. I was trying to be cool and set the hook by myself and I kept losing fish because I wasn’t doing what the game wanted. Once you hook it, the fight begins.

The Fight

You start fighting by just holding your rod at certain points, reeling is done automatically. Then the weirdness kicks in, but kids do like it that’s why I really feel this is a kids game. Once the fight goes on for a little bit, the game will then ask you to “Choose One”. You have the options of choosing easy, hard or hold.  Just hold your imaginary rod to one of the directions to pick what you want. I noticed no difference in points scored between all 3, so it doesn’t really matter. What kind of fish you hook is where points play a factor.

Anyway, with easy you first beat up your fish by either punching it or slapping it, you have to do this 10 times alternating hands/fists. After you beat it up and if it’s still not ready to give in, you then have to do a pose – I’m guessing you are just scaring the fish with your antics – and if it still doesn’t give in, you do a fish frenzy and you basically are scooping up the fish to get it in, and if finally that doesn’t work, then you go back to the holding rod positions until it does.

The hard catch isn’t much different, but instead of beating it up, you have to do 5 poses, like samurai, ninja, salute, etc. After the poses, you go into fish frenzy mode again but typically it doesn’t go farther than that to reel them in.

The hold mode is actually more realistic, called the semi pro mode, where you actually fight with the fish by making rod adjustments. You just have to keep positioning your rod and holding it, but sometimes you have to move the rod while holding positions and if you mess up, the fish weakens your line. If it weakens it enough it will break your line, which is why you have “lives”. You start with 2 for each location, but can gain extras in the boat races. Once the fish is weak enough, you’ll be prompted to hold your rod up in order to bring him in so it is a different experience than the main arcade aspect.

You are ranked on your whole fishing process, but I’m not sure what variables are associated to figure out your grade. You are graded with an C, B, A and an S. I did try going fast and going with a big fish but slower, but results were similar.

Basically, the process is wash, rinse, repeat. Your goal is to come out with the most points, or just get a placement which is based on your score, such as 3rd, 2nd, and 1st. Each round is timed and there are 3 rounds per lake. If you are fighting with a fish when time runs out, you are allowed to finish up with that fish. There are random times when a gold-fish will swim by, I believe this is the boss fish although I couldn’t confirm as when it switches to underwater view, it doesn’t look anything like what you were looking at from above.

The boss fish give you a real fight, it would have been nice is most of the fish were like this. It took me about 5 minutes literally to reel in one of them, they just take a while and you do get tired doing all of the gestures so it’s kind of cool in that aspect. Here’s a video of the arcade fishing session so you can get an idea of how it works:

Boat Race

After each round, you get to do a boat race, but it seems sloppy to me. You only race against one other person, but overall you are racing against 4 although you can’t see the other 2, but I’m guessing because the course width is so short, it only allows space for 2. The steering is done via a steering wheel motion but it doesn’t work very well. Apparently if you lean into your steering, you can turn sharper, but I couldn’t get it to work properly. My whole problem with it is that I have a real boat and this isn’t anything like it. Even the Jet Ski game in Cabela’s Adventure Camp, the controls were more realistic than this game is, but then again, for those that don’t know, jet ski’s are propelled with an intake of water with impellers to produce thrust and the boats used in Rapala are outboards with a propeller that just cut into the water, so they do steer differently – maybe that logic was applied, I’m not sure but still outboards steer a little better than this game shows. If the controls worked better, it may have been more enjoyable in my opinion, but more than likely, kids won’t care about the controls either way as they are more interested in banging their boats into each other.

A quick note for future Rapala games, start on the boat aspect of the game as well. We should be able buy/sell boats, upgrade equipment on them like fish finders, seats, trolling motors, even let us go to the next level with ocean fishing, I’ve always wanted to catch a Marlin – that would just be sweet. If racing remains, let us get into regular racing boats like offshores as well.

The boat races are locked by default and as you win each one, you unlock them as well. There are 3 races with each of the 5 lakes as well. If playing the arcade mode, you do get to obtain items that assist you with the fishing portion such as a Pro-Rod (attracts fish easier), a GPS unit (helps you find bigger fish better) and a Sports Drink which gives you an extra life. There’s also a turbo boost in the race that you can get and you do have a boost option by pushing both arms forward towards Kinect. Here’s a video of the boat racing, it’s ok to me, but again, kids will probably find it more interesting:

Fish Face Creator

This thing is really weird, but again, kids think its hilarious. You basically put your face on a boss fish, so when you fight with the fish you can beat yourself up or your friend. It just looks really silly, but again it’s for kids so they will love it. I believe you can put your fish on all of the fish but I didn’t bother trying all of them as I still had some locked.

Aquarium

This is another kid add-on. Why I say it’s for kids, or those that are kids at heart, I can’t remember how many times I yelled at my own to not bang on our fish tank, I’m not sure if it’s a myth or not, but I was always told not to do it and passed it down and never asked why. Anyhow, there’s no parents with your own aquarium. You keep most of the fish you catch, I guess it’s kind of animal torture technically, but from a kids point of view, it’s just fun. You can wait for the wish to swim up close to you, then bang the heck out the glass to scare them away. Here’s a video of it:

Multiplayer

The only other option in the game is to play multiplayer. It is 2 player simultaneous and you get to fight over the fish. Whoever is better with “lure dancing” I’ll call it, gets a chance to set the hook with the fish. Boat racing is also two player simultaneous, but the majority of the game is the same as single player. If you have 2 boys that love fishing, you may want to consider this game.

Graphics and Sound

It does seem as they used cel-shading for the fish and lures only, I’m not sure if I like it or not but mixed in with the avatars, it sort of fits. The music is normal Rapala music so its nothing spectacular. The announcer is a normal arcade voice that may get annoying if you are listening to it while your kids are playing. Being its a water world, there’s not much for graphics. Fish make bubbles and what not, but that’s basically it.

Conclusion

Overall, from a kids point of view, it’s probably a cool game to add to their collection, but not a must have like some other titles. Kids really need to love fishing in order to enjoy this game and I’m not quite sure of the longevity as even though the process is repetitive, you won’t be catching the same exact fish each time which again, is another up in the air title and why I gave it a 5. As for us adults, we will have to keep on waiting. Activision should be smart enough to realize the next Rapala must come with the reel accessory and utilizes Kinect more so in a realistic manner. Hopefully all this patience we keep being forced with pays off in the long run.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Rapala For Kinect
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