Yes, my living room. No, my house isn't flooded. In front of my television. To the amusement of my family.
At July's ICAST, a new fishing game called "Rapala's Fishing Frenzy" was debuted and it attracted lots of attention. The graphics were very cool. So was the ability to digitally do everything from rip along a number of well-known lakes in a high-speed fishing boat to actually select lures, check GPS positions and fish finders and then go to marked hot-spots. It seemed like a great fun-based refresher course on electronics, lure selection and high-tech fish-finding.
It's all that - and more. The "more" isn't always a positive, at least for a guy who readily admits his first typewriter was a manual and refers to his computer as a "typewriter and file cabinet combo." So, I "let" my oldest daughter put the all-in-one rod and reel combination together, check the game out and take the first few runs at it.
Flying across the lake is fun, but watch out for those obstacles
At this point, it's only fair to admit I am the stereotypical non-manual reading male. My belief that "an instruction manual means nothing" has provided hours of amusement for my friends and family. It's also made me a fairly accomplished expert on how NOT to do things. And when it comes to video games, I am more than accomplished at NOT playing well.
As I watched, I tried to memorize the button combinations she was using to navigate around the lake, switch from boat driving to trolling motoring into position; then becoming the angler at the front of the boat tossing lures at fish.
This is the Rapala rig you'll be using. The drag's a little tough to figure out. When she hooked up a fish, I was too busy watching the fish run to watch her frantically winding the reel. After a couple of broken lines, she started catching fish. After about fifteen minutes, she said "great game" and headed off to do something else, leaving me to pickup where she left off.
Immediately, I created a new character (male/young) and hurdled my virtual boat down the lake, convinced that I was about to start catching monster fish like the many FLW and BASS pros I'd watched throughout the summer. After all, I'd watched them - and my daughter - catch fish.
Ninety exasperating minutes later, I was only starting to catch on. I'd rammed everything possible on the lake, tossed lures into the bushes and broken more line than a test facility.
But I was having a great time.
The game, even for a hardhead like me, is habit-forming. As I got more familiar with the controls and techniques, I found myself really getting into the fishing, forgetting I was playing a video game.
Fishing Frenzy quickly takes you through the mechanical process of fishing and gets you into the excitement of having a fish on the line. It mimics the actual techniques of fishing, boating, fishing electronics and GPS to the point you actually have a sense of what you'd need to do if you were "analog fishing." And the sense of accomplishment I had at landing a series of big fish was the same I imagine I'd experience if I ever actually land a big fish.
Unfortunately, I'm not as gifted an analog angler as my digital representation, but I don't think I'm unique in that respect.
Video games compress time and minimize failures in order to maximize enjoyment.
Knocked down returning a punt? "Reset" and go again. Ditto gunfights, car crashes and other situations that would be serious - if not fatal- in real life.
That's my only real concern about video games. And a fishing game can't be radically different in that respect, either.
They're bigger and more aggressive -and that's not all bad.
So, fish are more plentiful (provided you go where there are fish - that's common to both the digital and analog worlds), more aggressive on the bite, and larger than most "real" fishing. And I have no problem at all with that.
If you can't get out on the water in real-time, Fishing Frenzy is a fun substitute, and it has more exercise value than sitting on the sofa watching someone else fish on TV.
But skim through the instruction manual. You'll be glad you did.
Rapala's Fishing Frenzy is made by Activision, works on PlayStation, Wii and Xbox 360, is rated E for Everyone and is available from retailers across the country for around $40.