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Rapala Tournament Fishing
Preview By: Jared Black
Developer: Magic Wand Productions
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Fishing
ESRB: Everyone
# Of Players: 1
Online Play: No
Accessories: N/A
Estimated Release: 11/14/2006

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When Nintendo revealed the Wii’s unique Remote & Nunchuk controller, several genres immediately stood out as natural fits for it. Along with swinging it like a sword and using it as a gun, fishing is a sport that instantly seemed like a natural fit as well. Nintendo itself even recognized this early on, going so far as to include an exclusive fishing mini-game in the Wii version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Activision has decided to take that even further, and will release the system’s first true fishing simulation at launch in the form of Rapala Tournament Fishing. Developer Magic Wand Productions is certainly no stranger to the genre (having worked on 2004’s Rapala Pro Fishing for PC), and also has similar development experience porting several Cabela’s titles to GameCube. Thus, if any developer can realize the potential of the fishing genre on Wii, it should be them.

Rapala Tournament Fishing

I was actually a big fan of the Dreamcast’s fishing titles and the Fission Fishing Controller years ago, and if done right the combination of the Wii Remote & Nunchuk definitely has the potential to work even better than that did thanks to better motion-sensing technology. From what we know about the game, Magic Wand is certainly on the right track towards utilizing it properly. The Wii Remote will be used to perform most actions, including casting the line, jigging (wiggling) bait to attract that big catch's attention, setting the hook, and adjusting line tension. All of these should be natural movements, given that the shape of a fishing rod is virtually identical (albeit longer) to that of the Wii Remote.

The Wii Remote can also be turned on its side to steer one of six licensed boats from manufacturers Ranger and Lund, with Activision promising that each will be “recreated with the highest level of detail.” Activision also promises effective use of the controller’s built-in vibration, as well as the Wii Remote speaker to capture the "epic battle" between fisherman and foe. Presumably, this will involve lots of thrashing around in the water, as well as a thud when the fish first bites down on the player's hook.

Meanwhile, the Nunchuk will act as the reel, with the player physically spinning it in a circular motion to reel in the line. While this may not be as convenient as having an actual reel mounted on the side of the Remote (as most fishing controllers would), it should be a workable solution since the player will probably not be reeling constantly. More importantly, it doesn’t require the purchase of an expensive fishing controller to get the full experience, as past games in the genre have.

Rapala Tournament Fishing

As all fishermen know, one of the things that makes or breaks a fishing trip is the location. Fortunately, there will be a nice variety of those to choose from as well. In all there are 16 levels in the game, based on real-life locations such as the Kanai River in Alaska, Lake Victoria in Africa, and Lake Okeechobee in Florida. In these 16 locales you’ll catch 27 different types of fish, including Largemouth & Smallmouth bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, Rainbow Trout, King Salmon, Catfish, Nile Perch, King Mackerel and many more. Presumably each of these will react differently as they would in real-life, with Activision promising that fish A.I. will be extremely realistic and able to adapt to new situations and the surrounding environment. From what we've seen the environments look fairly basic, but you'll probably be staring at the fish and lures more often than not and those appear to be pretty detailed and realistic. Still, we're not talking about a graphical powerhouse here to show off to your friends on launch day.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Rapala title without Rapala gear, and there’ll be plenty of that as well. Over 300 Rapala lures are planned for the game, with “multiple” rods and fishing line, and even helpful tips from Rapala’s Pro Staff to get fishing newbies up to speed.

With the promise of realistic fishing controls using the Wii Remote & Nunchuk without the expense of a costly fishing controller, and at a budget price of $39.99 MSRP no less, Rapala Tournament Fishing is sure to be tantalizing bait for fishing enthusiasts and gamers looking for something a little different on launch day.

Posted: 2006-11-02 16:35:48 PST