GDC 2010: Hands on with Fishing Kings on iPhone


GDC 2010: Hands on with Fishing Kings on iPhone
| Fishing Kings

Students are hooked on phonics, fish are hooked on bait, and iPhone gamers are hooked on fishing games.

Fishing Kings is Gameloft's take on the ubiquitous fishing expedition complete with flick casting and touch-enabled reeling. It's a number of subtle touches, though, that hope to set this approach apart from the school of other fishing games that are swimming in the App Store.

Nice rod

Unlike previous fishing games on iPhone and iPod touch, here you hold the device in landscape mode. Casting is still tied to accelerometer, but you're flicking with both hands instead of with just one.

Before casting your line, you're able to set a target at the water's surface by tapping anywhere on the screen. The force with which you flick your handset determines the strength of the cast. If you're unhappy with the result, a quick tap of the hook at the top of the screen resets the line and you can try again.

Should you find things agreeable, the view switches to show the line underwater. Here you can scope out the fish and monitor your bait. Any nibbling fish can be teased by reeling in your line a tad, which is done by drawing circles around the reel icon in the lower-left.


Get a fish to bite down hard on the hook and you obviously need to reel it in with fervour: however, you can't just start spinning the reel as fast as possible to bring in the fish. A tension gauge pops up on the right side of the screen to track how close your line is to breaking. Letting up on the reel brings the tension down, so finding the right rhythm is crucial to preserving your line and pulling the fish from the water.

Fish are worth all this work not because of the money they fetch at market, but more for the prize money collected from competing in fishing challenges.

These comprise the single player campaign, which takes you to five locations including the crystalline blue waters of the Bahamas, temperate Great Lakes, and deep Amazon River. Each location has multiple fishing holes to visit.

Fishy career

Completing challenges - catching a set number of fish, a certain species, or a specific size - nets you cash for purchasing new equipment. Lures, rods, line, and reels can be bought that improve your proficiency and raise your likelihood of reeling in the best catches. For example, marlin are attracted to different lures from bass and so acquiring enough money to buy specialised lures is important.

Precisely how this plays out over the course of the game - in essence, whether this progression is strictly linear or if it's more dynamic - is something I'm curious to examine in the final version.

Additionally, fishing in the early levels didn't offer a taste of what it's like bringing in bigger fish like marlin. The difference involved in reeling something big in versus smaller fry is another element to be considered in review.

Fishing Kings will be available for iPhone and iPod touch later this month.
Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.