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XBLIG Inspection: Fishing Girl (aka grinding zen)

An ongoing look at some of the titles available on XBLIG, with an emphasis on both excellence and originality...

Note: this article is based on the original review at http://www.xboxindiegames.co.uk/ -and there's over 1500 more to read!

Fishing Girl is an interesting little item: it was the product of a prototyping session, where people were given the artwork and a set of basic rules; as a result, there's several variations and iterations to the theme floating around the interwebs.  but for now, we're primarily interested in the XBLIG version...

Boxart

Presented via the medium of cutely abstract vector graphics, Fishing Girl kicks off with an animated introduction, in which Fishing Girl is separated from Fishing Boy due to their islands drifting apart.  The aim of the game is to bring these two lovelorn characters back together, though the exact way in which this is achieved is something best discovered by the player!

Screenshot

In any case, the only way to reach this goal is to fish the waters between the two islands, via a simple "one button" mechanism: pressing the A button once will draw the rod back for a cast; pressing it again will trigger a cast, sending the line and lure sailing out into the ocean.  Once the lure lands in the water, it begins to sink, following a simple arc which can be shortened by tapping on A - holding A down will bring it all the way back for another cast.  If the lure comes close enough to a fish, it's attention will be attracted, causing it to follow the lure until it gets close enough to bite it, after which it can be reeled back to the shore. 

There's also a hierarchy of fish: small fish can be used to catch medium fish, which can in turn be used to catch large fish. Though care needs to be taken, as if your lure isn't big enough, the larger fish may simply snap it off the line and swim off...

Screenshot

That sums up the core gameplay: cast, catch, retract - all actioned from a single button. Each fish is worth a certain amount of coins, which can be used to upgrade your rod (for distance) and lure (for fish size).  Accessing the shop is managed in an unusual way: there's a bouy floating in the water, which you must hit with your lure - and the buoy moves after each successful hit!  Once you have more than one lure, you can swap between them at will, which can be useful as each lure is only attractive to certain sizes of fish - and some can even kill the fish you're attempting to catch!  Also (in theory at least), it's possible to fish out the waters, leaving you with nothing to catch!

In many ways, FG reminds me of Miner, Dig Deep: both involve simple but well-implemented grind-based gameplay: here, you catch fish to buy upgrades to catch bigger fish. This is far from a bad thing: the simple one-button gameplay and ambient music mean that FG is nigh-on perfect for relaxation purposes: it provides something to occupy the hands while the mind unwinds.

Screenshot

With that said, it's perhaps a bit too simple; the original prototype design included concepts such as daily cycles, fish fighting back and "lives" (in the shape of a limited number of lures available each day): while I'm not convinced these would all be a good idea, something to add a little more substance to the gameplay would be appreciated.  And if nothing else, Fishing Girl is crying out for a competitive two-player mode.

In any case, the graphics and rulesets are still available, so if anyone feels like tinkering...

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