First and foremost: I can confirm that Ridiculous Fishing: A Tale of Redemption is, in fact, quite ridiculous ... like, chronicles of ridiculous. Though if you keep up on mobile gaming at all, you might have heard something about it already. Since its release last week, the new title from Vlambeer has ridden a wave of critical support that has garnered it a near perfect rating on the iTunes store. And it's obvious right from the start, Ridiculous Fishing has an incredible amount of sheen and polish to it.

The game has a bit of interesting history surrounding it. There was a moment where it was close to not even getting finished. Before it was released on the App Store, Ridiculous Fishing was a flash game called Radical Fishing, also made by Vlambeer (the guys behind one of my favorites Super Crate Box). After it appeared that Radical Fishing was catching on with people, an iOS version was put into the works, with fellow developers Zach Gage and Greg Wohlwend coming on board.

Unfortunately, they were undercut by the release of Ninja Fishing -- a clone of the Radical Fishing gameplay which was way ahead of the development of Ridiculous Fishing. And it didn't catch the Vlambeer guys by surprise either. In fact, there was a protracted back and forth between Vlambeer and Ninja Fishing developer Gamenauts, debating the legality of releasing the title. If you want to delve deeper into this story of copyright issues, the guys over at Polygon ran a great feature on it last year as part of their series 'Cloning Case Files'.

After Ninja Fishing was released, it seemed as though Vlambeer's mobile fishing game was dead in the water. Fortunately, the success of Super Crate Box on iOS was just the jolt that the Dutch indie studio needed to get the reels spinning again on Ridiculous Fishing, this time with the added motivation to make it as good as possible and just blow away the competition. That fire is certainly evident in the final product. Not only did the game come back from the brink, but it has landed with a huge splash. But what makes it, uh, ridiculous?

Every round of Ridiculous Fishing starts out with seasoned angler Billy casting his line down into the ocean. The idea then is to let the line run out as long as possible, all while avoiding fish by tilting your iOS device. This makes for a nice little challenge until the line runs out, then things go in reverse as you must bring it back in and snag as many fish as possible. This is when things get a little crazy.

Once you bring the lure out from the surface of the water, Billy catapults his catch into the air and you must use his gun to blast the fish into a fine pink mist. Depending on the number of fish you are able to blow away, Billy will then get paid for his catch and you can go spend that money on upgrades and power-ups. That three-step process is pretty simple when you break it down. But it moves so smoothly and feels so rewarding, it's really easy to put in a serious fishing session once you boot it up.

The first upgrade you'll probably want to get is the line extender, which will let you fish deeper and catch different aquatic creatures. There's a ton of upgrades and they all help you to advance in the game. Each one is well thought out, offering different twists and turns in the gameplay.

And the best part -- at no point are you cajoled into paying any real cash for them. After you plunk down three bucks to play this game, that's it! A refreshing departure from the preponderance of in-app purchases that are finding their way into just about every mobile game out there. It should come as no surprise that Ninja Fishing, by contrast, is rife with IAP opportunities.

As you continue to make your way through, the gameplay evolves along with the upgrades you continue to accumulate. You are still doing the same basic three tasks, but each time you upgrade, you gain access to new areas and environments. By the time you are fully upgraded, the game becomes more of an endurance test where you try and rack up the highest possible score. At this point, it feels like a whole different game and you're on a nice plateau that lasts for quite awhile.

Ridiculous Fishing even has kind of a story! The "Tale of Redemption" is not just about the perseverance of Vlambeer bringing the game back from the murky depths of stalled development (though I suspect that does have something to do with it), it's also about Billy's bad blood with the wild blue yonder. But I'm not going to spoil any of the chuckles for you. To find that out, you must play through the game and enjoy all of the great humor skillfully woven into the madness.

In my book, Ridiculous Fishing is about as good as it gets for mobile gaming. If you like solid, well-balanced gameplay; if you like a rocking 8-bit art style and soundtrack; if you like hilarious dialogue and situations; get this game. Heck, if you like having fun while playing mobile games, I can't recommend Ridiculous Fishing enough. Most importantly, if you were a fan of Ninja Fishing, get this one -- it's way better.


App Store Link: Ridiculous Fishing for iPhone & iPad | By Vlambeer | Price: $2.99 | Version: 1.0.1 | 48.3 MB | Rating 12+

10 out of 10 arcade sushi rating