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Fishing Derby - The Atari Times

Fishing Derby

Reel 'em in with "Fishing Derby"
by Brian C. Rittmeyer

September 20, 2001
Today's generation of video gamers would probably find it hard to believe that a game like Fishing Derby by Activision for the Atari 2600 was an award winner during its day. Not only was it an award winner "back then," it's still a fun game today. Fishing simulation games might be common today, but back when most video games were shooters, Fishing Derby was different.

In Fishing Derby, you face off against the computer or an opponent to see who can reel in the most fish. You're sitting on piers on opposite sides of the screen, with bright yellow fish swimming below. Drop your line, dangle it in front of a fish, hook it and bring it in - players push the joystick left or right to "extend" their fishing pole, and push down to descend it. The deeper fish are worth more points, but take longer to catch and bring in. Conversely, the shallower fish can be landed faster, but aren't worth as much. And this game is a battle of points - whoever gets to 99 points first wins. Whoever hooks a fish first gets to reel it in first - if you hook a fish before your opponent brings up his catch, you'll have to wait. The fish appear to fight on the way up, but it doesn't really effect the speed of bringing a fish in. Pressing the fire button while reeling in a fish speeds it up.

Could be a rather relaxing game, except for one thing.... SHARK!

That's right, there's an ominous, black shark patrolling the waters between the piers. He moves back and forth, pacing, unpredictable. He's too lazy to get his own meal, he wants your catch! This is what makes the game interesting. You'll have to position your rod, and vary the speed at which you reel your catch in, to avoid the shark. If your fish touches any part of the shark's body, he gobbles them up, and no points for you! Considering the size of the shark in relation to the space between the piers, he can make things difficult for you - or better, for your opponent! Without the "shark factor," as it came to be known, the game wouldn't be as much fun.

There is no music in Fishing Derby, just sound effects - the sound of hooking a fish, the chomp of the shark eating your catch and points ringing up. The graphics are good if not eye catching - the players are represented by stick figures on either side and the fishing poles "extend" in rather unrealistic straight lines. The fish are a bright yellow, while the shark is all black - fitting, but gray may have been a better choice.

Fishing Derby may not be the ultra-realistic simulation enjoyed by today's video game generation, but it's good competition. While some games may not age gracefully, this one has. The challenge is in getting more fish, and more points, before your opponent does. A game like this is timeless.

Fishing Derby

(c) Activision

Life sucks without a title screen...
The only thing missing from this scene (aside from the fish) is the cold brewsky.
The shark is on the prowl. Get your own fish ya wanker!
"Don't fight me baby! C'mon! Just a little bit more..."
Fishing Derby
System: 2600
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Sports
Graphics Score: 80%
Sound & Music Score: 85%
Gameplay Score: 95%
Control Score: %

Final Score: 90%

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