January 17, 2020 8:13 AM   Subscribe

The Best Fishing Mini-Games [Kotaku] “Sometimes, between fighting monsters or zombies with swords or guns or whatever, you want to kick back and enjoy a different type of challenge in a video game. Fishing mini-games bring bite-sized blasts of outdoorsmanship to our adventures, and while some players hate them, I’ve found there’s fun to be had when fishing’s done right. Here’s a list of some of the best. The true joy of a fishing mini-game comes from mixing challenge with relaxation. You can relax and watch the rippling waters, but when the time comes and you get a bite, you’ve got to put in some work and battle with a scaley foe. These fights range from being complex simulations of actual fishing to bubbly arcade romps.”

• Why I love fishing mini games [GamesRadar+]
“Some people play games for the competition or the challenge; I play games to relax. So when I’m working my way through a combat-focused RPG and I’m offered the chance to sit by a river for a while and throw in a line, I am absolutely going to take advantage of that fishing minigame. RPGs feature a range of distractions from their main storylines, but fishing is a particularly common choice. And a lot of thought seems to go into creating unique, interesting fishing mechanics. There are plenty of hack-and-slash combat systems out there, but it’s rare to find two fishing minigames that work the exact same way. [...] Fishing is often situated outside the rest of the game; these activities use unique mechanics, exist in a separated environment, and reveal items that can’t be acquired any other way. Fishing is the only bonus activity in Dark Cloud, it’s one of the only pauses in the action of NieR: Automata, and is even a unique component within games that are deliberately trying to avoid combat, like Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles.”
• Fishing in games should be a relaxing activity, but also an exciting one. Which game does it best? [PC Gamer]
“In PC games, fishing is a much beloved and sought-after pastime. Sometimes it's a side activity or minigame, and other times—as in fishing simulators—it's the entire point of the game. But in MMOs, survival games, sims, and other genres, fishing is near and dear to our heart. A good fishing experience should provide two things: relaxation, and excitement. The act of fishing—casting your line and waiting for a nibble—should be a serene and calm experience. Once you've got a bite, however, reeling in your prize should be a bit of a rush. Below, in no particular order, we've rated the fishing experiences in a number of PC games, whether they're minigames, time-killers, or full-blown fishing simulators, by how relaxing and exciting they are.”
• Fishing never looked more badass than in this video game trailer [Polygon][Fishing Planet GameTrailer]
“Fishing is generally considered a leisure pursuit, undertaken as a relaxing summertime activity (except on a certain Discovery Channel show). But this trailer for Fishing Planet, a simulation fishing game from indie studio Fishing Planet, makes it look like anything but that. This two-minute look at Fishing Planet is cut like a trailer for a Michael Bay movie, with everything but the explosions. We’re treated to a man holding a fishing rod intently, ready to reel in the line at the slightest tug; pans across environments like an alpine lake amid snow-capped mountains and a swamp dotted with tall trees; and slow-motion shots of a bright green lure sinking underwater. And of course, there’s a grinding hard-edged rock song that kicks in once he manages to hook a fish. Fishing Planet debuted in August 2015 on Steam Early Access, where it is available as a free-to-play title for Linux/SteamOS, Mac and Windows PC. This trailer confirms a release date of Aug. 29 on PlayStation 4; that version will also be free-to-play. Fishing Planet will support the PS4 Pro (note that the trailer is available in 4K resolution).”
• I’m playing Stardew Valley as Ernest Hemingway and I finally learned how to fish [Polygon]
“FishingFishing is the worst part of Stardew Valley. That’s OK, because Stardew Valley is an extremely good game. On the positive — or maybe negative — side, it has an addictive 12-minute day/night cycle that regularly tricks me into playing for hours longer than I mean to. It has perfect sound effects, the music is soothing, and the storylines are touching. Being the worst part of a nearly perfect game isn’t a bad thing to be. But, still. The fishing. I recently bought Stardew Valley for the Nintendo Switch, after first playing on PlayStation 4. I don’t like playing as myself in games, but that’s not a problem, because I have a foolproof response to character customization. You might have heard of my preferred avatar. His name is Ernest Hemingway, and he taught me how to fish.”
• Switch fishing game turns your Joy-Con into a futuristic fishing rod [Polygon][Bakutsuri Hunters Game Trailer]
“Bandai Namco’s next game is a Japan-only launch, but we’re tossing it up here — casting about, you might say — because of the nifty peripheral it includes: a fishing reel, which is attached to the side of a Joy-Con controller. Granted, the premise of Bakutsuri Hunters sounds pretty rad, too: use your futuristic fishing rod to hunt down and land some mecha-sharks. But it’s a heck of a lot cooler when you’re using this contraption: That is the “Bakutsuri Giga Rod.” Bakutsuri Hunters uses the Joy-Con’s motion control to allow for a realistic line casting, short or long, according to the player’s throw. Then start winding that reel and bring that bad boy in. But wait, there’s more: Bakutsuri Hunters includes some custom fishing lures that can be scanned into the game via the Joy-Con IR blaster, and used in your virtual expedition.”
posted by Fizz (50 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Sad they left out My Time At Portia's fishing minigame. That one is a hell of a lot better than the awful Stardew Valley (I proudly skip the hassle of stardew fishing using CBJ Cheats Menu ) one. Less frantic clicking and frustrating bobbing, more just reeling in fish and keeping them centered as you do so.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:27 AM on January 17, 2020

I'll be digging into these links in a bit, but just a note: the Polygon Stardew Valley link goes to an article about Fishing Planet rather than the Simone de Rochefort article (the correct link is https://www.polygon.com/2020/1/17/21069128/stardew-valley-fishing-sucks-ernest-hemingway).
posted by minsies at 8:32 AM on January 17, 2020

Stardew Valley fishing has gotten a lot better since the 1.4 update. ConcernedApe was aware of how difficult it was in early game stages and made it much more approachable and it is. It's not an exercise in frustration the way it previously was.

All that being said, fishing in World of Warcraft will always be my favorite. I don't play any longer but I have fond memories of maxing out that skill and then catching rare fish, transmuting them into potions and making some serious bank in the Auction House. It was also super relaxing, like I just wanted to fish and then turn my fish into potions and make some gold to get better gear. That was the only reason I played WoW.
posted by Fizz at 8:33 AM on January 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

WoW fishing is something enjoyed botting. Turn on my machine, set up my fishbot, come back an hour later with a bag full of fish sand increased fishing skill. Legion was the first time I embraced actually fishing, they made it a more adventurous activity even though at the end of the day you're still waiting to click a dipping bobber.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:36 AM on January 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

Sad they left out My Time At Portia's fishing minigame.

It's listed in the PC Gamer link.

Looking back, the fishing was one of the more memorable parts of Car Cry 5. More enjoyable than the forced plot developments that's for sure.
posted by biffa at 8:38 AM on January 17, 2020

Mod note: Fixed that Hemingway link!
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:39 AM on January 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Car Cry 5

Would totally play this typo.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:43 AM on January 17, 2020 [10 favorites]

Lord of the Rings Online has the best fishing. Not so much because the mechanics were in any way unique or detailed but because you get to sit around the Shire listening to Chance Thomas doing his best Howard Shore impression while you do it.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:46 AM on January 17, 2020

Stardew Valley fishing has gotten a lot better since the 1.4 update.

What, fishing changed in 1.4?

*updates SMAPI and mods*
posted by Gaz Errant at 8:48 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

What, fishing changed in 1.4?

I think he just made that slider/bar that you have to keep behind the fish a bit easier to control and not as fussy. I'm not sure if new fish were added or anything like that. You can always look at his patch notes to confirm.
posted by Fizz at 8:53 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

So much time fishing in Breath of Fire games!

I could kind of see an FFXIV sub just for tourist & fashion-fishing.
posted by curious nu at 8:53 AM on January 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've spent so much time in WoW fishing too. Every now and then, I think about going back so I can get the legendary pole from Legion. I think I have every fishing tool and toy in WoW, except for the fishing tournament stuff. I'm also liking fishing in Dragon Quest Builders 2. Some decently rare catches. And every catch can become either a meal or something to display in your aquarium, assuming you built one.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:56 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

The fishing is one of the reasons I quit Stardew Valley mobile after checking it out for a few days. Fish were like 90 percent of the bulletin board requests, yet the minigame was enragingly frustrating, not the feeling I want from my peaceful little builder game. Maybe I'll try again if they port the patch to mobile.
posted by tavella at 9:11 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

What, no Animal Crossing?!
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:14 AM on January 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Maybe I'll try again if they port the patch to mobile.

ConcernedApe said it is coming, looking like it will hit before end of Februrary. So fingers crossed.
posted by Fizz at 9:17 AM on January 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

(am i seriously the only person who really enjoyed fishing in stardew valley? cause i did it was my favorite part)
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:18 AM on January 17, 2020 [10 favorites]

Just a plug for the Labo fishing game, which is teriffic. If you build the piano it also functions as a scanner which lets you add your own fish.
posted by q*ben at 9:22 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I always enjoyed the fishing in WoW, even the contests to get special rewards (I’m clean now, don’t remember the specifics). Actually, a lot of the side games in WoW were more fun than the main game, now that I think of it.

The Fishing Planet trailer was sort of ridiculous. I kind of expected a super-muscled fish to emerge and start a high speed fish-fu fight with the fisherman.
posted by drivingmenuts at 9:28 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Stray thought: are fishing mini-games the distant ancestor of loot boxes and gacha games?
posted by mmcg at 9:29 AM on January 17, 2020

I loved Fable but hated Fishing in it.
posted by zinon at 9:31 AM on January 17, 2020

Stray thought: are fishing mini-games the distant ancestor of loot boxes and gacha games?

I mean, kind of. It's not hard for a money-grubbing exec to see the lottery mechanics of a fishing game and think, "what if but with real money!?!"
posted by Fizz at 9:32 AM on January 17, 2020

Deadly Premonition had the best fishing music.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 10:04 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed getting eaten by an alligator while fishing for catfish in RDR2.
posted by Chuffy at 10:14 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Came to bitch about fishing in Stardew Valley, was not disappointed. I remember liking it so much in Animal Crossing!

(I just ignore any fishing-related thing. Yes, even the newest version. ugh ugh ugh)
posted by kalimac at 10:24 AM on January 17, 2020

I hated fishing (and gathering jobs generally) in FFXIV when I first started, but then I discovered it's fun to play while buzzed. When I started the final expansion recently, I was almost more excited to get to the new regions to gather and fish than for the actual story. What happened to me?!

New patch will have ocean fishing, so fishing raids? I'm excited for it.
posted by zenzicube at 10:27 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I like fishing in Stardew Valley. It does help to do it a lot so you get better at it, eat the right food first, and buy the right tackle for the particular fish you're trying to catch. Then, it's fun.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:33 AM on January 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

And it's also super important for getting certain recipes and gifting certain individuals you want to date/marry.
posted by Fizz at 10:34 AM on January 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Gameboy Color & a copy of Legend of the River King 2, right here on my desk in constant arms reach.
posted by rifflesby at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2020

Fishing is the first thing I modded in Stardew Valley. I just gave up and installed a mod that does away with the minigame entirely and lets you auto-catch any fish you hook. I have accepted defeat in that I will gain no fishing skills but, on the plus side I have so many fish.
posted by darchildre at 11:05 AM on January 17, 2020

I hate fishing in Stardew Valley, but once I found out you can level up without actually catching any fish I chilled out about it and just put in the time (and read the wiki so I can find all these fish the Junimos want that only come out in the dark/rain). I also have fish ponds and a fridge full of fish I can haul out and duplicate as desired in them, so realistic!
posted by momus_window at 11:08 AM on January 17, 2020

I've been trying to pin down the reasons why fishing mini games. The closest similar thing is hacking mini games.

It has to be something that won't fit the regular game so they will give it a very distinct mechanic, but not something they will simply exclude from the game entirely, or simplify down to "press F to fish."

Maybe character customization comes close? People don't typically call it a mini-game but it has its own conventions how they work.
posted by RobotHero at 11:12 AM on January 17, 2020

I really liked Red Dead Redemption (though still haven't finished it). But for all the attention to detail they put into the birds and land creatures and the whole tracking & hunting mechanic, the fishing minigame was ... disappointing. A minor quibble, but still. I liked Stardew Valley's fishing much better, though I'm learning here that lots of other people found it way too hard? It's been a while but I don't recall it being that difficult but maybe I'm only remembering my endgame state where I had the best rod and max fishing skill.
posted by mhum at 11:13 AM on January 17, 2020

I find it soothing to fish in Minecraft. (Plus, nametags. Can't get them any other way.) My son and I nearly automatically build a fishing dock when establishing a new base.

Favorite recent fishing game though? Breath of the Wild. But it has no fishing game, you say. Shock arrows + a pond, I reply. Who needs a pole? (Plus, I never played a Zelda fishing game before that actually let me EAT the fish after catching them!)
posted by caution live frogs at 11:13 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've been trying to pin down the reasons why fishing mini games. The closest similar thing is hacking mini games.

My take is that fishing in MMOs got started mainly just a way to disguise how badly those games disrespected your time. You're less likely to say "fuck it, I'm not waiting an hour for that stupid quest mob to respawn" if the game gives you some little minigame to play while you wait.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:14 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Stardew Valley fishing is nearly impossible at first (on mobile at least) but the in-game learning curve is kind of exponential, to the point where the right equipment gets you a very high catch rate with even the most wiggly fish. Even then I had to consult the wiki to figure out when and where all the fish would show. Buying them from the cart or Korbus was a nice break, too.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 11:32 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Breath of the Wild. But it has no fishing game, you say. Shock arrows + a pond, I reply

Or whistling!
posted by oulipian at 11:44 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I remember finding fishing quite difficult when I first started playing Stardew, but becoming much better at it and eventually enjoying it. I've recently returned to it as part of a multiplayer game after several years of absence and I find it quite easy, but I don't know if that's muscle memory or the update.

Also, I still enjoy Warframe fishing. You are an immensely complex biomechanical being with technology that allows you to traverse the stars, and yet you fish by SPEARING THE MOTHERFUCKERS.
posted by brook horse at 12:05 PM on January 17, 2020

Hello, it's me, the only person in the world that liked fishing in Stardew Valley. Yes, even the early game before you skill up. Yes, even before the 1.4 update. I have no idea why I liked it, because I usually have a stunningly low tolerance threshold for frustrating game tasks.
posted by pemberkins at 1:52 PM on January 17, 2020 [4 favorites]

You are an immensely complex biomechanical being with technology that allows you to traverse the stars, and yet you fish by SPEARING THE MOTHERFUCKERS.

And sometimes you're trying to hunt electric fish so you need to switch to an electric spear.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I still have fond memories of Breath of Fire III's fishing minigame. That one took some skill and timing to do well.
posted by wanderingmind at 2:39 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I hated fishing in Stardew Valley at first, but I gritted my teeth and got good at it. It was a good way to get easy $$ early on in the game. The update to 1.4 has definitely made a difference. This playthrough I got to 10 skill levels in fishing before anything else.
posted by Gray Duck at 3:34 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I really liked WoW fishing. It was extremely serene, and no dumb minigame, you hung out at a lovely spot, looked for fish pools, and fished them. Yeah, there was a little timing to learn, but not trying to make a dumb bubble stay in the right place. It felt somewhat like real fishing.
posted by tavella at 3:37 PM on January 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

I find minecraft fishing a bit meh but creating an autofishing setup is a great technique to get enchanted, books, fish and exp.
posted by jclarkin at 4:07 PM on January 17, 2020

I have a soft spot for Monster Hunter World's fishing--not so much for the minigame itself, but the results. The best is there a "whetfish" that is one of the common ones. Catching one gives you a scale that's better and faster at sharpening your frequently minivan-sized weapons than actual whetstones.
posted by Drastic at 5:09 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Fishing is maybe one of the least interesting things about last year's A Short Hike but I gotta use this excuse to mention that it's one of the most delightful games I've played. It's a sweet and gentle exploration game. It's short -- you can play it in one or two sittings -- but deeper than it looks. It's got some of the best flying/gliding in video games and the writing is very smart, fresh, and funny.

And you can fish.
posted by straight at 5:27 PM on January 17, 2020

My favorite fishing...or, whaling, I guess, is in Katamari Damacy. (Factorying and islanding, too)
posted by Guy Smiley at 8:10 PM on January 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Fishing in Haven and Hearth is a lot of fun. Everything dropped into water and lost enters a worldwide pool and can be fished up again. If you miss click while dipping your little bark kuksa into the water it disappears and you don't get a drink of water after all. And if you kill a duck on the wing over the water it plops into the drink is gone. People also dispose of their trash stone, seeds and old gear by dropping it into the water.

This means that fishing has an interesting percentage chance of bringing up stuff that other people have thrown into the water or lost, as well as the possibility of catching fish. Fishing is absolutely one of the best pursuits for a new player because you need better quality materials to advance and you can get it, along with tons of curious trash by just standing by the bank patiently while you run to the kitchen to make tea and a sandwich.

In one game I spawned on an island and couldn't get off it until I had tar to build a rowboat. The island had several biomes but unfortunately none of them had apple trees, wheat or barley which I needed to increase my con stat, so I was fishing in hopes of getting a fish that provided some con when it was either roasted or dried, and I fished up an apple core some other player had tossed into the water after eating the apple. Now that island has several apple trees on it in various areas where they wouldn't have grown without me planting the saplings.

The more advanced fishing rod tells you what fish is in the water which is a great saving in effort when you need to find a fishing spot that has roach or plaice or some specific fish in it. And for those really, really ambitious players fishing goes all the way up to the stage where you can build an enormous ocean going boat and attempt to spear a whale and get it ashore all without him destroying your boat and leaving you in the water to drown.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:15 AM on January 18, 2020

I loved the fishing in RDR2, one of the many ways you can enjoy how beautiful and detailed the game, and how peaceful.

I didn't love it as much as riding around on the horsies, because horsies. But I loved it.
posted by biscotti at 5:16 AM on January 18, 2020

FFXIV fishing is clearly the beloved pet project of someone on the dev team. It's so simple at first, but at higher levels I've often found myself looking at the conditions to catch something and whispering what the fuck. For instance, you can only catch a fish during certain weather conditions, with certain bait. Then once you catch that (quite rare) fish--or five or six of it--you get a five to twenty minute buff that lets you possibly catch an even rarer fish. Or you catch a high quality fish and use that as bait for another, bigger fish, sometimes with weather or time conditions, sometimes in chains of 3 or 4 until you catch the final, rarest fish. You end up with fish that, if you miss their window, you won't have another chance to catch for a real world week. Some fish can only be caught after you use a resource heavy buff that lasts for less than five minutes. And there are hundred and hundreds of fish! All with their own descriptions, some of them pretty long and silly. I love it.

Happy to see others mention BoFIII. I probably spent more time fishing in Breath of Fire III than I did playing the actual game.
posted by the liquid oxygen at 7:08 AM on January 18, 2020

Anybody remember Amazon Trail, a later entry from the Oregon Trail people? Instead of Oregon Trail's hunting minigame it had a spearfishing minigame. You could catch massive 200-lb fish sometimes, but also dangerous stuff like electric eels or poisonous fish, or break your spear on a floating log, etc. I loved it! Great game in general. (At one point you get to poison somebody who chokes to death horribly in front of you!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:16 PM on January 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

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