Game

Developer: BadBones Productions
Price: $1/£1
Size: 69.3 MB
Version: 1.8.2
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Fisherman

Developer Ciro Manna, aka BadBones Productions, has clearly been taking notes from Tiny Touch Tales and Slothwerks. There’s plenty of the former’s Card Crawl and the latter’s Meteorfall to Fisherman Cards Game.

Thankfully, Manna is an attentive student. This is a solitaire card game that’s bursting with color and personality. There are creaky elements, but its ramshackle charm will win the hearts of fans of the sub-genre.

Cards can be shifted onto empty slots

Each nautically themed round presents you with a 3 x 3 grid of stacked cards. As you tap to turn each one over, you might encounter enemy skeletons, weapons for tackling said creatures, maritime bric-a-brac for selling, or perilous oceanic encounter cards.

These cards must be dealt with using one of three context-sensitive card slots at the bottom of the screen. Each slot enables you to equip shields, hold potions, fight enemies, tackle storms, capture fish, and more depending on the specific nature of the card.

Encounters ask you to pick a direction

Encounter cards have the potential to be a life saver, a bank account sweller, or a ship wrecker depending on their outcome. Each comes with a monetary cost that can be paid to skip them altogether.

But the real interest comes when you engage with them. Dragging and encounter onto the central slot opens up a new grid corresponding to the eight directions on a compass. Here you select which way to go, either paying for a heads-up on what lies ahead or leaving it in the hands of fate. Perhaps you’ll hit a damaging storm, or else land a bumper catch of fish.

Catch fish to pay for powerful new cards

Catching fish might sound like a pointless pastime, as it’s a currency that has no immediate application to your run. But it’s key to unlocking more powerful cards and customising your deck of cards in between runs. This is crucial to moving beyond the first couple of levels, as you’ll soon encounter overwhelming numbers of hard-hitting enemies and sea monsters.

While it’s fun, Fisherman Cards Game perhaps lacks the clarity of the very finest games in the genre. After extended play we still didn’t quite understand the breadth and form of our deck – were we replacing low-tier cards with our purchases, or supplementing them? And how close were we to leveling up our ship?

Finish the deck and beat the boss to unlock new levels

The game is frustratingly vague about such things. There’s a Sea Book to consult, but the English translation doesn’t always make things abundantly clear.

But the crucial point is that we kept coming back for another run. Accompanied by expressive cartoon presentation and a real ear worm of a sea shanty for a backing tune, we always felt compelled to return. In Fisherman Cards Game, it always feels like you’re just another run away from an exciting break through.

Fisherman Cards Game - a charming seafaring solitaire game
A charmingly idiosyncratic, if not massively tactical, solitaire card game
The Good
  • Charming nautical theme
  • Fun 3 x 3 take on the solitaire genre
  • Varied yet intuitive interaction system
The Bad
  • Systems not always fully explained
  • English translation could be clearer
  • Not the most tactical game of its type
4.0Overall Score