I should probably preface this by saying I don’t know how to fish IRL. Just the thought of using live bait, impaling a wriggling worm on a tiny barbed hook, grosses me out. I’ve gone fishing once, maybe twice, with some of my more outdoorsy family members, but I couldn’t cast a line on my own let alone reel it in.
That said, I am an absolute pro when it comes to videogame fishing. It seems like almost every game (especially those from Japan) has a fishing mini-game tucked in there somewhere. Usually these mini-games are repeatable side-quests, and fishing can be one of the most profitable in-game activities.
But what’s most endearing is the whole idea of a fishing minigame. The intrepid hero, overwhelmed by the responsibility of saving the world, decides to take the day off and go fishing instead. So, without further ado, here are my picks for the top 5 fishing minigames!
5. Deadly Premonition
Deadly Premonition, Swery65’s weird and wonderful cult classic, features quite a few minigames. Between racing cars, playing darts, shaving, and of course fishing, there’s so much to do in Greenvale it’s a wonder Agent Francis York Morgan (just call him York, everyone does) has any time to investigate the murder he was sent there for. Fishing in Deadly Premonition is appropriately surreal, you never know what you’re gonna catch: ammo, pickles, a cup of coffee, hell, sometimes even fish! But once the novelty of catching strange shit wears off, it can get dull real fast.
Once you have a fishing rod, the Hero in Fable can go fishing just about anywhere. Even puddles will sometimes inexplicably contain Moonfish, which restore health and change day to night. Measured in inches, the bigger the Moonfish the more it’s worth, so fishing is a great way to make some quick gold. But even more valuable are the coveted silver keys, used to open silver chests, some of which you need to fish for. For the most part the minigame is easy and mildly entertaining, but trying to catch those last few, nigh-impossible silver keys can be pretty tedious.
3. Animal Crossing
Fishing is one of the best (and most efficient) ways to make money in Animal Crossing: the rarer the fish, the more bells it’s worth. The type of fish you can catch varies by location (river, ocean, etc.), season, and time of day, so collecting all of the different types and donating them to the museum’s aquarium becomes a highly enjoyable “gotta catch ‘em all” side-quest. Or perhaps fishing, trying to catch the legendary coelacanth on a rainy night to complete your collection, is the main game and everything else is a side-quest.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Many of you might be wondering why this isn’t #1 on my list. After all, Ocarina of Time is pretty much the standard when it comes to fishing minigames. In fact, it’s probably superior to most actual fishing games, you know, where that’s all you do (I sure as hell wouldn’t know). First introduced in Link’s Awakening (the first fishing minigame ever), fishing was perfected in Ocarina of Time (although some argue it’s even better in Twilight Princess). For the low low cost of 20 Rupees, Link can rent a fishing rod for an unlimited amount of time. Caught fish are weighed, and if they break the current record by a little Link earns Rupees. But if they break the record by a lot, Link gets a special prize (a Piece of Heart as a child, a Golden Scale as an adult). Mechanically, fishing feels as close to “the reel thing” as I can imagine given my limited experience. My only complaint is the game’s taxonomic simplicity (read: I want more types of fish). The aquatic diversity in the Hyrulian ecosystem is surprisingly sparse.
In my not-so-humble opinion, Okami has the ideal fishing minigame; easy to learn, hard to master, fishing in Okami is both fun and extremely lucrative. While the lovable pup Amaterasu herself can’t fish (due to a lack of opposable thumbs, I’m guessing), she helps various others by using her celestial brush to draw fishing line and aid them in reeling it in. In some instances fishing is required to advance the main plot or complete optional side-quests (at one point, for example, Amaterasu helps a little boy catch “the Whopper,” a huge fish fabled to have swallowed the moon’s reflection). But recreational fishing is worthwhile, not least of which because you can sell the fish you’ve caught for lots of yen. There are 43 types of fish, and like in Animal Crossing they’re only found in certain locations and at certain times of day. I know I’ve had a stupidly good time completing my “Fish Tome.”
When it comes to virtual fishing, Okami has no equal. But that’s just me. What’s your favorite fishing minigame?