Fishing games are definitely a niche genre. The most popular titles are almost always those that are more of the arcade variety, as far as gameplay goes. The fishing simulator style of game is rare on consoles. (There’s a game called Pro Fishing Challenge, that was released on the original Xbox, that I’d recommend tracking down if you still have one laying around.)
Fishing Universe Simulator is obviously in the latter category. Everything from where and how your lure moves in the water to controlling the tension of the line so a fish doesn’t snap it, is up to you. The fish are even able to wrap your line around snags like trees and rocks. No training wheels here, this is a simulation after all.
Originally a mobile game, Ultimate Games decided to port it to the Switch. Should they have bothered? Is this the game to get if you’re in the mood for some fishing action? I’ve been spending hours on the water to answer those questions.
The Places You’ll Go & The Fish You’ll Catch
Fishing Universe Simulator includes 12 different bodies of water to wet a line and try your luck. You’ll be visiting everywhere from Poland, France and the UK, to Canada and the United States. After the initial tutorial pond, you’re going to have to sell some of your catch to earn money, so you can afford to unlock each location.
There are numerous species of fish to catch across the different environments. On one lake, you’ll be chasing Perch, Pike, Bass, and Catfish. There are rivers full of Salmon and Trout, among other species. Some places have Bream, Roach, and different species of Carp. (Do I have your attention, Match FIshing fans?).There really is a nice variety of fish to try and catch.
Bait and Tackle Options
Tackle, Bait, and Gear is another place where Fishing Universe Simulator has content to spare. There are different fishing rods and reels, to suit different styles of fishing. The lure and bait options are almost overwhelming. Live bait options range from bread, cheese and fruit, to worms, leaches, liver, and live fish. The artificial bait choices include everything from in-line spinners and spoons, to soft-plastics and crankbaits. You’ll have no problems finding something the fish will be willing to bite. There are also a range of hooks, floats, and even chum, all available for purchase in the game’s Tackle Shop.
The game also has a handful of fishing boats that you can buy, extending your range of fishing opportunities. Not only that, there are also two fish finders available. One even identifies the species and potential weight of the fish swimming around you.
Modes and Missions
There are two modes of play available. There’s a Free Fishing mode, where your only limit of how long you can fish, or how many you can catch, is the size of the net you have to bring along with you. Once your net is full, it’s time to go. Either that or start culling your catch and weed out any little fish you’ve kept.
The second mode starts you off in Poland, with only two bodies of water available to fish. Each lake or river has a handful of quests to complete before you earn your license for the next location. The game does let you cheat this a little bit by letting you just outright purchase a license for a body of water, bypassing the quests and allowing you to fish the new location immediately. It’s a nice feature for anyone that finds themselves up against a particularly challenging mission.
The one big thing missing from this game are online multiplayer modes of any kind. Even simply allowing gamers to play the Free Fishing mode online with friends, would make this game infinitely re-playable.
Controlling everything in Fishing Universe Simulator is positive, for the most part. Casting your line couldn’t be easier. You move your targeting reticle to a location you want to place your bait and press the X button. A second tap of the button sends your lure or bait right to the spot you aimed. Hooking a fish and fighting them back to the boat also works as it should for a simulation. You have to pay attention to the line tension and what the fish is doing, if you hope to ever land the monsters that swim in these waters.
Controls that feel well and are predictable, are very important in a fishing simulation. Without quality controls, no fishing game would be worth a damn. Fishing Universe has tight controls that allow you to learn the finer points of landing a 100+ fish.
The boat handling is janky, but completely doable. Controlling the boats never feels frustrating. They’re just not going to win any awards for precision. I purchased the dark green inflatable (with outboard) and never spent a dollar on any of the others. I never saw any need.
The Sights & Sounds of Nature
The graphics in Fishing Universe Simulator are adequate. And that’s being generous, by today’s standards. The locations themselves are great. The water is nicely done and, while not photo-realistic, do a nice job of making you believe you’re on the water. The backgrounds are flat, static photographs. They are an obvious sign of the game’s mobile roots. The equipment, fish, and the disembodied arms of your angler are all up to the same level. Think original Xbox/PS2 era.
At first glance, it seems like you’d be able to jump in your luxury fishing vessel and explore the entirety of whatever lake or river you’ve chosen. You’d be very, very wrong. One of the biggest flaws in Fishing Universe is how limited you are in your ability to explore these wild environments. You’re able to walk around on land, but only to a very limited degree. Pull that $20k boat out, and you’ll find yourself running into invisible walls out on the lake in no time. It’s sad that the developers didn’t have time (or desire) to flesh out the different locations so they were fully explorable. It would have added to the immersion factor, instead of jolting you out of it when you inevitably run into a virtual wall.
The sound effects are a slight improvement over the graphics. The reel’s drag sings appropriately, when you’re reeling or straining to land a fish, and the sound of the water is subtle, but effective. The rest of the ambient noises are actually relaxing. With one glaring exception…
There’s a lake that has some really nice fish swimming around in it. The problem is, there are ducks also living at the pond. And they don’t ever shut up!! There were countless time’s I’d be fishing, just wanting to relax, and the constant sound of the ducks honking made wish the game were a hunting sim instead. Then I could take out my hunting rifle and put an end to it!
There is one technical issue in Fishing Universe Simulator, that I found to be annoying but not unforgivable. When you catch a fish, you’re given the option to either release it, or keep it, and bring it back to seel in the market. You can also choose to release a fish that’s in your net….except you really can’t. Every time I would scroll through the list of fish in my net, deciding which of my friends to pardon, a random fish would be released, and not the one I had highlighted. It’s an obvious bug. One that I’ve written a bug report on and submitted to the developer.
Fishing Universe Simulator isn’t the best fishing game that’s ever been created. It is, however, a more than capable fishing simulation. For anyone who considers themselves a hardcore angler, this is a game you could get hundreds of hours out of. If you have never gone fishing and have no interest in learning the ins-and-outs of outsmarting something fishy, stay far away. Unless you’re looking for a napping simulation. This would work great for that. (Just stay away from that damn duck pond!) It’s almost that simple. Fishing Universe Simulator is a love it or hate it kind of game. I suppose all of these fishing/hunting titles are. If you are interested, the game is available for $9.99 USD on the NA eShop.
7 Recommended Fishing SimulationDoes most things right, including everything that matters most
- Nice variety of fishing locations
- Great variety in the types of fish to catch
- Loads of Fishing Bait, Tackle, and Gear
- Actual fishing controls feel, and work, as they should
- Offers two, distinct ways of playing
- Graphics engine isn’t modern, by any means
- Environments are not as open and explorable as they ought to be
- Annoying bug when trying to manage your catch inside your net
- No Multiplayer modes at all