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Shimano Xtreme Fishing (Wii) artwork

Shimano Xtreme Fishing (Wii) review

"There's blood in the water. When your sharp shots puncture a fish's scales, a satisfying red cloud disperses around your unfortunate target. Your high-powered harpoon will make short work of anything that moves."

There's blood in the water. Shimano Xtreme Fishing lets you relax on the lake with a rod and reel, but it contains two unique methods of hunting: bow fishing and spearfishing. When your sharp shots puncture a fish's scales, a satisfying red cloud disperses around your unfortunate target. Some even flail about while you try to skewer it one or two more times. That is extreme. Without the E.

Spearfishing is depicted as the most active of the three choices. In this mode, you squeeze into scuba gear and swim around a full 3-D ocean environment that includes shipwrecks and sunken airplanes. Little treasures full of bonus points are even hidden amongst the coral. Your main target, though, are the finned creatures that inhabit the sea, and your high-powered harpoon will make short work of anything that moves.

That includes sharks. The predators are always quick to zero in on your location. Two or three will surround you, then take turns zooming in to use you as a chew toy. Our iron Ahab can absorb three maulings before he suffers the consequences of losing precious points (instead of body parts). Even though the blood in the water can end up being your own, the attacks definitely don't maximize the gore. In fact, there's no bite animation at all; you and the shark simply meld and overlap into the same space, an effect that serves as an indication of Shimano Xtreme's overall graphical limits.

Using a bow and arrow works identically to spearfishing, except it lets you operate from the safety of a boat. It's an unsinkable craft; even if you ram it full speed into a dock, the vessel will drift right back into the lake. The boat also introduces one big difference; it's a little harder to track your target peering through the surface of the water. That's especially the case when you're reeling in fish that require more than one shot to subdue. If the target is too far away, you can only see the splashing produced by its final struggle to stay alive. Delivering the killing blow becomes a matter of luck as you basically fire blindly towards the disturbance.

Using the bow or the spear, the struggle ends once you've poked enough holes in the fish. With lines connected to your projectiles, you just have to jerk back the Wii remote once to take possession of the deceased. Fishing with the rod seems like it would be less eventful, but it's deceptively intense; the struggle is only beginning when the fish takes the bait. The fight takes full advantage of the remote's motion controls. You mimic casting out the line and can even wiggle the lure as you reel it back. Once the catch is hooked, you have to periodically jerk the remote in a certain direction – a quick-time event – lest the beast slip away.

You can also simulate the reel by spinning the nunchuk controller in circles. This is tied to a tension meter that appears at the top of the screen. Reel in too quickly or often, and the line will snap. Too much slack, and the hook will lose the fish. The process is potentially exhausting. A tournament setting will require you to catch dozens upon dozens of fish; you would have to perform the action almost nonstop for thirty to forty-five minutes. Fortunately, there's a single button that serves as a substitute, plus this game-saving alternative is much more precise.

Tournaments serve as bait to keep playing. Each discipline of fishing has its own career mode that contains at least four of these events. A tourney is divided into several small objectives. You may have to bag a quota of a certain species, or the game may give you a time limit and let you catch all you can. Either way, you need to weigh in as many fish as possible, the larger the better, in order to earn the highest possible scores. Achieving certain benchmarks will earn new equipment as you progress. However, since the tasks never really change, the first tournament doesn't feel much different from the last.

Not even when you're angling for a radioactive catch. Shimano Xtreme Fishing's greatest strength is the amount of species to hunt. Some are as common as a smallmouth bass or channel catfish. In the exotic Amazon, you can corral golden dorado, payara, and several types of piranhas. There are almost sixty legitimate specimens to find. As you pull any catch from the water, you'll see a realistic representation of the fish in full detail; it's the pinnacle of Shimano's graphical capabilities. Although it does get silly later in the game when you visit a nuclear power plant and track down mutant species like the heat seeker, glowing lurker, and zombie fish. It would have done just as well to stick with realistic wildlife.

Of course, a level of realism is a naturally sacrificed because of the Xtreme spin. This is still a game where the main highlight is firing off harpoons and arrows like you're blasting a shotgun with infinite ammo – an attribute that brings some fun to multiplayer contests. The developers deserve some credit for bringing variety to what could have been just another Wii fishing game. Even with that boost, however, there's no way Shimano Xtreme Fishing can sustain your interest for the amount of time its monotonous challenges demand. This one isn't a keeper.

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Staff review by Benjamin Woodhouse (January 07, 2010)

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