Best Fishing Minigames of 2018

2018 is coming to a close, and man, what a year for games. Sony’s first party exclusive lineup was bolstered with another handful of critically acclaimed titles, Microsoft acquired a ton of new studios, and the Switch got a Pokemon game and a new Smash game. With the end of the year comes discussions of things like “best soundtrack”, “best RPG”, or “game of the year.” We’ll leave those to Geoff Keighley because we’re here to talk about what really matters: fishing minigames. 2018 really was the year of the fishing minigame, and there was such a wide variety of fish to catch and lines to cast, leaving no virtual angler disappointed. Without further ado, here are the absolute best of the best fishing minigames that graced our consoles this year.

5. A Way Out

A Way Out’s fishing is relegated to a small portion of the game. It’s short and incredibly simple, landing it a spot at the bottom of this list. It does make interesting use of the game’s forced co-op, though. One player has to splash to scare the fish toward the other player so they can stab one with a makeshift spear. You only get one each, and then you have to leave. A Way Out is full of varied and fun minigames, but its fishing segment is sadly the weakest of the bunch.

4. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

Yakuza games have a reputation for their wacky side content, and Yakuza 6 is no exception. The Song of Life has stellar minigames, from a baseball management sim to karaoke to, of course, fishing. Rather than fishing with a rod, in this entry, Kazuma Kiryu dons diving gear and gets up close and personal with the creatures of the deep, armed with an oxygen tank and a speargun.

Yakuza 6’s fishing minigame earns its place among the angling elite because of its unique execution. Instead of some variation of casting, waiting, and reeling, Yakuza 6 lets you play a first-person rail shooter, complete with bonus pickups and boss battles. It even has a progression system, allowing you to unlock better spearguns and increase your lung capacity on repeated attempts. What really sets this game apart is how it weaves the fishing into the core gameplay. Completing certain substories and side quests will unlock new fishing locations and even exclusive spearguns. It drags you back into the depths to hunt down more piscine prey, and it gets better every time.

3. Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5’s fishing minigame is pretty standard. You have your rod, you cast, you wait, and you reel. It doesn’t do anything particularly exciting, but it’s a solid execution of relatively safe ideas, just like the core Far Cry experience. It doesn’t hurt that the game’s environments are beautiful, and the sound design is exceptional. 

That’s not to say Far Cry 5 doesn’t have any substantial fishing content. There are established records for each type of fish, and turning in fish that break these records will get you rewards, eventually culminating in the elusive Old Betsy fishing rod. There’s also a fairly interesting side quest involving a legendary fish known as “the Admiral”. Co-op play is a bonus as well, letting you and a friend cast your lines side by side in the ultimate bonding experience. For a good time with bait and tackle, look no further than Far Cry 5.

2. Monster Hunter World

Monster Hunter World, much like our ancestors, features hunting and gathering as its two core pillars. Fishing falls into the gathering category, and it plays a significant role in making sure hunters are properly outfitted for their escapades in the Ancient Forest. There are several different types of fish in Monster Hunter World, each incredibly useful. Sushifish reward players with rations and herbal medicine, integral to fighting off hunger and poison during a hunt. Whetfish scales can be used to sharpen weapons faster than a traditional whetstone, which can mean the difference between life and death in a fight. Goldenfish are an easy way to make a quick buck, opening up the budget for more expensive and useful support items.

Monster Hunter World also has a pet system where players can use a net to capture small creatures to keep in their rooms. This system also applies to fish, letting hunters store their most prized fish in an aquarium. Part of the joy of fishing is showing off your trophies. Monster Hunter World is one of the few games that lets you do this, and the game’s focus on multiplayer makes comparing catches all the easier. An emphasis on gathering and crafting keeps fishing a core component of Monster Hunter World’s gameplay loop, and it remains incredibly satisfying even a hundred hours in.

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 has the best fishing minigame in recent memory. Everything about it is sublime. The game’s world is massive, leaving players with no shortage of options when it comes to fishing locales, whether they prefer the streams outside Valentine or the Saint Denis docks. Each of the game’s 15 species of fish inhabit different ecosystems and prefer different bait and lures. Each species also has a legendary version that will take patience, preparation, and skill to catch.

Part of what makes Red Dead Redemption 2’s fishing so great are the game’s visuals. It’s not hard to see that Red Dead Redemption 2 is a good looking game, but taking a boat just off the shore in the early morning, watching the sun rise over a foggy horizon with your line in the water is such a special moment every time. From moonlit casting at a lake in the mountains or evening angling near Blackwater, there’s an overwhelming sense of peace and serenity no matter where you cast your line in Red Dead Redemption 2. 

However, what Red Dead Redemption 2 nails most about fishing is companionship. Fishing is a bonding experience, and bonding with Dutch’s gang is a key component of Red Dead Redemption 2’s narrative. Sometimes gang members will ask Arthur to go fishing with them, and they’ll share stories and advice, lines bobbing in the water without a care in the world. Fishing is also available in Red Dead Online, letting you experience companionship with your real life companions, making some much needed money in the process.

Red Dead Redemption 2 gets so much right, and the fishing absolutely does not get the credit it deserves. That’s why we’re crowning it the official Circle Square Games Fishing Minigame of the Year for 2018.

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SouljaGame Console Announced, Available Now

While Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Scarlett are still a ways off, renowned video game developer DeAndre Cortez Way, better known as SouljaBoy, has broken new ground and released the first ninth generation console. The SouljaGame Console and its accompanying handheld, the SouljaGame Handheld, were announced today and are available to purchase now.

The SoujaGame Console is a powerhouse, boasting a crisp 720p output and over 800 preinstalled games. The SouljaGame Handheld is nothing to scoff at either, featuring over 3,000 preinstalled games playable on its 3″ screen with the ability to download more. The Handheld can also be connected to a TV, similar to the Nintendo Switch.

All jokes aside, Soulja Boy’s line of gaming hardware is sadly a sham (and also a little shady). The SouljaGame Console and Handheld are actually just cheap knock off emulation boxes sold under the SouljaGame name. The devices are manufactured by Anbernic, which sells its products on AliExpress, a Chinese retail website that sells internationally. The SouljaGame Console is actually Albernic’s “retro mini video game console“, and the SouljaGame Handheld is their “2018 portable video handheld game console.”

SouljaBoy is actually selling these devices at a markup. Both retail on his website, souljawatch.com, for $199.99 each, but the console and handheld are on sale for $149.99 and $99.99 respectively. On AliExpress, they’re available for $105.99 and $72.99.

The devices come with preloaded games, none of which are listed. The SouljaGame Console reportedly supports PS1 games, GBA games, SEGA games, and more. The SouljaGame Handheld page says it supports Switch, 3DS, and Vita games. The promotional art features screenshots of everything ranging from Pokemon to Tekken to Tomb Raider. Now, while it is possible Sony, Nintendo, and SEGA all put aside their differences in the name of cranking that Soulja Boy, it’s highly unlikely they licensed their games for this console. The only thing they can probably agree on right now is a cease and desist.

SouljaBoy is a huge fan of games and seems to be genuinely proud of his products. He tweeted that his first customer “brought tears to [his] eyes. Tears of joy!” He also plans to “continue [his] tech company and evolve it in the gaming world.” 

It’s a shame this news broke today. This would’ve made a killer Game Awards announcement.

Will you be purchasing a SouljaGame Console? Are you going to trade in your Switch for a SouljaGame Handheld? Be sure to let us know down below, and stay tuned to Circle Square Games for everything SouljaGame.

Please Play Yakuza Kiwami

Look. I get it. You’ve never played a Yakuza game.

The Yakuza games have always had a small but dedicated following here in the states. Originating on the PS2 over a decade ago, the series has spanned 7 mainline entries, three console generations, and numerous spin-offs. Despite having been around for so long, Yakuza hadn’t really found its footing in the western world until last year’s release of Yakuza 0 on the PlayStation 4. Coming out at a relatively slow time of year and being a prequel to all of the other games, fans were quick to get word out about the perfect jumping on point for their beloved series, and the game blew up. It didn’t do huge western AAA numbers, but it cemented Yakuza as one of gaming’s greatest, and new fans were hungry for more. Now Yakuza is starting to get the recognition and appreciation it deserves, and SEGA plans to bring remasters of every mainline entry to the PS4. Yakuza Kiwami is the remake of the first game in the series, and luckily for you, it’s free with PlayStation Plus this month.

Now you have no excuse.

I know it’s a busy time of year. A lot of you are still working your way through Red Dead Redemption 2 or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Maybe some of you are enjoying some Hitman 2 or Spyro. But let me tell you why Yakuza Kiwami is still worth your time a year and a half after its initial release.

You can hit people with bicycles.

Yakuza is a lot more than that, but yes, you can beat up mean looking henchmen with bicycles. Not just bicycles, but pretty much anything. Traffic cones, swords, giant signs, fish, you name it. Yakuza’s combat is relatively simple – there’s a light and heavy attack, a block, and a dodge, standard brawler fare – but these items, along with heat actions, spice things up. Now you’re probably wondering “what is a heat action?”. A heat action is a devastating context sensitive move that uses a bar of “heat” which your character builds up as they battle. Unleashing a heat action rewards you with an incredibly satisfying animation depending on what weapon you’re holding or where you are in relation to certain objects, like ledges or microwaves. These moves are really powerful and always fun, and some of them get really creative, especially later in the series.

Alongside weapons and heat actions are four fighting styles that can be changed at any time during a battle. Brawler style is balanced. It’s somewhat slow but the moves pack a significant punch, and you can pick up items in the environment to use as weapons, like the aforementioned bicycles. Rush style is much faster, focused on quick dodges and sidesteps, preventing you from picking anything up but allowing you to nimbly avoid attacks and retaliate with rapid counters. Beast style is the slowest of the bunch, but hits the hardest, automatically using anything in your general vicinity as a weapon, covering the widest ranges possible while taking reduced damage at the cost of mobility. The fourth style is where things get a little interesting. Dragon style is built up over the course of the game, starting with few moves and a lack of viability but slowly becoming the most powerful style in the game. So how do you upgrade and improve Dragon style? The Majima Everywhere system.

See that guy? That’s Majima. And he’s everywhere. Goro Majima is a series mainstay and fan favorite due to his very colorful personality. Majima wants nothing more than to fight protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, and he will go to extreme lengths to do so. As Kiryu roams the streets of Kamurocho, he can run into Goro Majima at any time. Sometimes he’ll be hiding, sometimes he’ll show up in side activities, sometimes he’ll just be walking down the street. Whatever he may be up to, if Majima sees Kiryu, he won’t back down without a fight. Defeating Majima unlocks new abilities for the Dragon style, making what would just be a fun diversion a worthwhile investment.

Majima Everywhere is just one of the side activities in Yakuza Kiwami. Yakuza games are chock full of interesting and diverse side content. They all feature compelling stories, fun gameplay, and tangible rewards that affect your game. For example, Yakuza 0 has a bowling minigame. If you bowl well, one of the employees will reveal to you that she has a bowling form fetish and really enjoys watching skilled bowlers. She asks you to return frequently, and if you do so, you win a chicken (appropriately named Nugget) that can then be used as a manager for one of your properties in the game’s overarching real estate minigame. Each of the game’s substories are as wacky as they are endearing, and you’ll find yourself wanting to do nearly every single one you come across.

That is, unless, you get gripped by the main storyline, which can happen very easily. Sometimes the plots of these games are so captivating you’ll be sprinting through the sights and sounds of Kamurocho, ignoring substories and shops just to see the next story beat. The Yakuza games have phenomenal stories and some of the best Japanese voice acting I’ve ever heard. The performances are consistently stellar no matter which entry you choose, and the writing is filled to the brim with twists and turns that’ll keep you hooked for hours on end. 

The boss battles are phenomenal too. You know how in action movies when people take off their shirts before they fight, things are about to get real? Every boss fight in Yakuza is that times ten. Lots of shirts get torn off in Yakuza. Not just shirts, but entire suit tops, jacket and all, in one fell swoop, and yes, everyone has tattoos all over their backs. Boss battles even have their own unique QTEs and heat actions that create these cool little cinematic setpieces mid-fight. All of this is set to the most banging soundtrack with guitars blaring over a sweet bassline. They even bust out the pianos for the more dramatic encounters. There’s a boss fight early in Yakuza 0 where someone is speeding towards Kiryu on a motorcycle with a lead pipe, and Kiryu stances up. That’s how insane these fights are. Sometimes you fight the same person repeatedly over the course of a game and the music changes and evolves each time. Every fight is a treat and the bosses are all memorable, partly due to the smart writing but mostly due to how cool the setups and showdowns are.

Yakuza games are also basically virtual tourism. Their representation of Japan is pretty much one to one. From hostess clubs to Don Quijote stores, exploring the worlds of Yakuza 0-6 is as close as you can get to Tokyo, Osaka, or Hiroshima without actually going there. The attention to detail in these games is absurd, and the localization holds nothing back, resulting in a truly authentic Japanese experience. People hand you pocket tissues when you walk down the street. You can go to SEGA arcades and play Outrun. These games do an incredible job of transporting you to another place and immersing you in another culture, and very few games achieve this to the degree Yakuza does.

The games are all, for the most part, set in the same fictional district of Tokyo called Kamurocho. The world is small, but dense, and you start to learn where certain businesses are and what is on each street. Setting each game in the same area might sound like it’d be a bad idea, but because each game is set in the same district of Tokyo and they’re set over a span of almost 30 years (1988-2016), Kamurocho evolves and changes from game to game. You’ll walk down familiar streets and find new stores there, you’ll see that a lot of the businesses from Yakuza 0’s 1988 Kamurocho aren’t there in Yakuza Kiwami’s 2005 Kamurocho, and that both of these differ greatly from the modern day Kamurocho in Yakuza 6. These changes make Yakuza’s world feel more real than it already does, which helps, because Yakuza games are just as much about the ever-changing climate of Japanese culture as they’re about the politics and rivalries of Japanese gangs.

Essentially, Yakuza games are gripping crime dramas with wacky substories and minigames and flashy combat. It sounds like these would clash with each other tonally, but Yakuza balances comedy and drama in a way few other games do. The games never take themselves too seriously while also being incredibly grounded at the same time. The result is a wholly unique experience you can’t get anywhere else, and with the first game being free right now, you have no excuse not to give it a try. It’s only free for two more days, so if you haven’t grabbed it by now for some reason, be sure to get on that. 

And once you finish it, play Yakuza 0. And then Kiwami 2. And then 3 will be out next year. And then 4. You get the idea.

Will you be giving Yakuza Kiwami a try? Are you already a Yakuza fan? How about that Dragon Engine? Be sure to let us know your thoughts down below, and keep it here at Circle Square Games for everything Yakuza.