Wednesday, November 24, 2010

General RPGs' Minigames 8: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass's Fishing

Hey, guys. Yeah, I know I did a rant about fishing minigames already. Sorry. In my defense, I didn't anticipate touching the subject again. I thought that one would pretty much cover the entirety of the loathsome fishing minigame experience. I mean, I did mention pretty much every terrible idea for fishing minigames in there that I could think of and had encountered. I figured it'd cover everything.

But, my friends, Nintendo is the most creative game company on Earth. And while this is usually a good also means they can find new forms of torment that none of us could have prepared for.

So here's the deal. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass has a fishing minigame. And in many ways it is just as horrible as any other modern day fishing minigame that my rant outlines. I mean, jeez, the process for reeling the damn catch in is just ridiculous. TLoZPH goes out of its way to use the DS Stylus as creatively as possible, and unfortunately, sometimes it's more trouble than it's worth. Fishing is one of those times, because as annoying as standard fishing minigames' complicated mechanisms are with a controller, they're apparently much worse when you're trying to use a stylus.

There's also the problem of finding the fish worth catching. In order to reap the benefits of doing this stupid minigame at all,* you eventually need to get rare fish, or else you're wasting your time. Unfortunately, this is one of those many minigames where acquiring the rarest target is basically left to the mercy of the game's random number generator to decide when, where, and if it's going to show up.

But you know, this is nothing the other rant wouldn't more or less have covered. I mean, it's annoying as hell, but not unexpected. So what makes TLoZPH worse than usual? Getting to the goddamn fish.

See, in most games, spots to fish at are more or less permanent. You see a little patch of lake/ocean/river/pond/swamp/stream/coast/fjord/well/sewer/spilled soft drink that has a fish swimming around in it or jumping up in the air above it, and you know you can fish there. You can fish there as soon as you see it, you can fish there the next time you come by, you can fish there 30 hours later into the game. Sometimes a location becomes inaccessible because of plot reasons (if your protagonist gets stranded in a different dimension, chances are that you've lost your chance to haul a trout out of Peaceful Swimmers' Lake Beach Resort), but in general, once a fishing location, always a fishing location.

This is not the case in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Each time you get onto the world map, the fish have moved to a different place, and if you're interested in wrangling an angler, you'll have to figure out where the damn fish have gotten to and haul your ass over there. This is an inconvenient enough process under normal circumstances, but keep in mind that this is TLoZ: Phantom Hourglass. Which means that going anywhere on the world map involves that intolerable boogeyman of game play infamous to Suikoden 4 and TLoZ: The Wind Waker, Sailing. As in those titles, the further you progress through Phantom Hourglass, the more time you devote to strategies to lessen the duration of your Sailing as much as possible, so this minigame's requirement for more of it is really annoying.

But it's not the worst part.

The worst part is not that you have to go to new locations all the time via the indescribably boring process of Sailing. No. The worst part is not that the fish's that they move constantly. Like, they don't just switch their locations every time you return to the world map. The fish continue to move while you travel to them. Meaning that by the time you get to where they WERE, it's no longer where they ARE. In addition to the frustrating fishing controls, in addition to the irritation of tracking down the right fish for your reward, in addition to the aggravation of having to add more Sailing to the game just to get at the fish each time you want to play the damn addition to all that, you have to CHASE these things down!

Who the fuck is the sadistic MADMAN at Nintendo who came up with this?

* Benefits which, by the way, are not NEARLY worth the trouble--when it comes to Zelda games, I've been a Find Every Heart Container Completionist for almost 20 years, and even I said "Fuck this shit," and gave up on the Heart Container you can get through this minigame.

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