Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A drunken angler once said, "There's a fine line between fishing and sitting on the dock like an idiot." But as Activision's classic Fishing Derby proves, there's a even finer line between pretending to fish and sitting on the couch like an idiot.

Gameplay: There are six levels to Fishing Derby's little pond, and the deeper you drop your line, the more you'll score. (That's not a euphemism; this is a title from Activision, not Mystique, so settle down.) Fish are worth one to six points, depending on how deep they are when you catch them, and the first player to 99 points wins.


However, securing a permanent place in the Fishing Derby Hall of Fame is not as simple as dropping your line in the water and reeling them in; you've got to get your catch past the quick and wily and unpredictable shark, which can be quite difficult. Luckily for you, programmer David Crane included some helpful advice in the game's manual: "WATCH OUT FOR THE SHARK! I've made him quick and wily and unpredictable. If your fish touches the shark anywhere, he'll turn in a flash and snap it up. So try to keep your fish away from him while you're reeling in."

These days, you'd have to shell out 20 bucks for a separate book with that sort of strategy, but Activision included it in the manual, for free. Thank you, David Crane. You are a gentleman, and one hell of a programmer.

Could be mistaken for: ESPN2 from midnight to 4:00 a.m.; Outdoor Life Network from 4:00 a.m. to 3:56 a.m.

Kids today might not like it because: The rumors about the secret "Hot Catfish" mod, where you have 8-bit sex with a mermaid, aren't true.


Kids today might like it because: Just like real-life fishing, it's a great excuse to pound a few cases of beer with your buddies instead of painting the deck.

Enduring contribution to gaming history: Buoyed by the success of Fishing Derby, David Crane lured players onto the race track with Grand Prix, and eventually landed hits like Kaboom!, Freeway, and the greatest catch of them all, Pitfall!


Wil Wheaton once caught a hundred-pound sturgeon on 20-pound test.

Image courtesy of atariage.com


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