Killing a sea turtle with a shotgun is fun, but zapping a manta ray with a laser beam might be even better. Really, no matter which technique you use to take out fish in Ridiculous Fishing, you're going to have a good time. After a prolonged development, the iOS game from some of the minds that brought us Super Crate Box, Hundreds, and Spelltower is finally available — and it's one of the best titles to hit the platform in quite some time.
Then it's time to pull out your gun
Playing Ridiculous Fishing consist of three main activities. The first has you dropping your lure into the water, which you then have to navigate as deep as possible, carefully avoiding fish and other obstacles by tilting your device left and right. Once you either snag a fish or reach the end of your line, you'll do the same thing, only in reverse — as the line makes its way up, you tilt the lure to catch as much unsuspecting sea life as possible. Then it's time to pull out your gun. When the fish reach the surface they're tossed into the air, and it's your job to turn them into red mist using a wide range of deadly firearms.
It sounds absurd, and it is, but it's also incredibly enjoyable. And the better you do in one section, the better chance you have in the next. The experience is made even more addictive thanks to the sheer amount of things there are to see and unlock. Diving deeper lets you capture new fish, which helps unlock new locations, where even more fish can be found. And killing fish earns you cash that can be used to buy everything from new lures with built-in saws to futuristic laser beams that can take out multiple fish at once. There's always a reason to play just one more time, because there's always something new just around the corner. It's a feedback loop that makes Ridiculous Fishing a hard game to put down. And it doesn't even have any in-app purchases.
Of course, the violent, PETA-enraging concept wouldn't work if the game looked like Crysis. Instead, Ridiculous Fishing features an angular, cartoonish look that somehow manages to make the mass destruction of innocent sea life absolutely adorable. Hilarious animal descriptions and a strange Twitter-esque feature called Byrdr further add to the bizarre, lighthearted tone.
It makes the mass destruction of innocent sea life absolutely adorable
But for a game that's so fun to play, Ridiculous Fishing has had quite the tortured development process. Game studio Vlambeer originally got to work bringing its browser hit Radical Fishing to iOS back in December 2010, eventually enlisting the help of developer Zach Gage, artist Greg Wohlwend, and Hotline Miami composer Eirik Suhrke. But six months later a clone called Ninja Fishing beat them to it, launching to both commercial and critical success. The game was nearly identical mechanically, only with slicing fish in place of gunplay. The situation demoralized the team to such an extent that progress soon slowed and eventually stopped completely. "It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Ridiculous Fishing nearly ended Vlambeer," producer Rami Ismail wrote in February. People eventually moved on to other projects — Gage released the word game Spelltower, while Wohlwend worked on Hundreds.
"We weren't going to let the clone get away with the whole thing."
But the game refused to die. After spending a year away from it, work on Ridiculous Fishing started again in 2012. "Obviously we knew that there was a good game in there somewhere," Ismail says of coming back to the project after such a lengthy layoff. "We knew we had been extremely excited at some point, but that we had lost that somewhere along the way. It was also a point of pride — we weren't going to let the clone get away with the whole thing. But more than anything, it was the fans and press and amazing outpour of support we had — and thankfully continue to have — that pulled us through."
He describes finally releasing the game after so much time as "a pretty unreal feeling." Even though Ninja Fishing nearly killed the game, Ridiculous Fishing ended up as an amazing experience that's up there with the best games iOS has to offer. Ismail hopes that it will also serve as a lesson. "We managed to pull through, but we had the means of reaching out to people through our fanbase. Someone just starting out does not have that luxury and amazing games might be lost forever due to someone filling their pockets with a mediocre clone," he explains. "A lot of people complain about the lack of originality in games? Well, here's something you can do: don't buy clones."