River King: Mystic Valley
A casual pick-up.
Putting the word ‘harvest’ in front of any game revolving in the slightest towards the farming culture has paid off for games in the past. Harvest Fishing tells the unlikely tale of a young boy, whose sister has fallen into a comatose sleep, even if they can still communicate. His goal is to become a worldly renowned fisherman by only using a fishing rod, instead of professional equipment. By capturing the infamous River King fish, he hopes to use his scales to wake his sister and gain stardom; but this will require loads of training. From then on, the fishing may commence ad nauseum. It’s hardly the best plot device, but then again, what ever is?
The colorful title doesn’t skimp on the cutesy appeal, but strangely doesn’t apply this to the slightly more realistic fishing visual. Otherwise, bright anime displays of fishing spots and residents fill this game, together with environmental noises of wildlife. The game has to appeal to the littlest people, so any interaction is as elementary as possible and the game never picks up beyond anything basic.
As mentioned, the goal is to capture and collect fish and work through the ranks of fisherman fame. By catching critters, our hero is given points, which can be used as currency to buy more necessities, such as bait or better rods. But capture also grants experience to become more skilled and catch bigger prey, which ultimately progresses well throughout the game. As more challenges in fishing spots are completed, more locations will open up with different water types and different fish, but also different residents. Sometimes, a small monster child will appear that can become a sidekick, following our boy around and helping out when necessary. By feeding this critter, it too can level up, become bigger and unlock a specific skill, such as flight or the ability to break rocks that block a path.
In every spot, the main focus of the game will always be fishing; lots and lots of repetitive fishing. By using the touchscreen, players need to reel in catches with a circular motion or veer to the side if the fish threatens to get away. Each rod has a certain line strength, viewable in the screen above, that can’t be strained, lest the line be broken. Naturally, as fish get bigger, they’ll put up more of a fight and as such, it can become quite the struggle.
But this also becomes Harvest Fishing’s biggest downfall for 2 main reasons. First off, this mechanic makes up for the gross majority of the game. Throw a line, wait for fish, fight with fish, capture fish, and repeat process. It’s fun when it’s all brand new and each new spot will bring back some enthusiasm, but ultimately, there isn’t enough variety to keep the gameplay entertaining, like other Harvest titles for instance. Secondly, as this circular motion is repeated literally thousands of times, there will be a strain on the touch screen, no matter how much care is put into it. Consider Harvest Fishing like a quality test for the touch screen, where a certain action is repeated until the thing breaks, to check the item’s durability.
Luckily, the game at least tries to throw in some superfluous variety, such as collecting fish cards, bugs, plants and other various tidbits. Sporadically, a resident will offer a slight mini-game as well, but this is the bare minimum when it comes to breaking the pace. Yet, the game also throws certain challenges in order to proceed, which can be quite the fun puzzle and fishing in itself offers many lures, bait and other various aides. Keep in mind however that these items usually come with a steep price and will require many captures before becoming accessible.
Harvest Fishing or River King: Mystic Valley as it’s also known isn’t top-shelf entertainment, but can best be viewed as a casual pick-up. The simple outlook and gameplay gets rounded out with some variety, but not enough to bring this cutesy title to new levels. Still, it’s a decent title to waste some time with and gradually get to the end goal. There is definitely enough length in the game to make sure for an entertaining enough title for a considerable amount of time, for those that can’t get enough agriculture.