Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 29.10.2022

Review for Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits on Nintendo Switch

Fishing and video games have gone hand-in-hand for years. Generally, fishing in gaming rejects the notion that gameplay needs to be action-packed or non-stop. There's something to be said for a title that demands patience and aims to relax its audience. That title is not Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits, however. A sequel to the original Ace Angler which never left Japan and Southeast Asia, Fishing Spirits combines the serene art of fishing with the energetic thrills only an arcade can offer. It's a careful balancing act, but one that blends the best of both design philosophies together. Fans of the genre get something fresh, while prospective players don't need to be a fish fanatic to enjoy Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits.

Developed by Bandai Namco and based on the Japanese arcade title of the same name, Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits is a sequel to 2019's Ace Angler - the series' first home console port. Gameplay is designed around the idea of offering a faster-paced and actionized take on fishing as a mechanic. Rather than sitting back as fish bite the line, each catch is basically a battle of wills between man and beast.

There are two main control schemes to choose from: Handheld Mode/Dual-Controller Grip and Solo-Controller Grip. The former supports both docked and undocked play, but not the Pro Controller. Players can either keep their Joy-Cons attached to the Switch in handheld mode or place them in their grip to be used like a more traditional controller. Solo-Controller Grip is a motion-based control scheme that seeks to simulate the feeling of holding a real fishing rod along with playing on an actual Ace Angler arcade cabinet. With one Joy-Con in hand, players physically use the controller to cast their rod and reel it back in by rotating it. Both control schemes work well for what they're worth, but Solo-Controller Grip can tire out the arms easily during longer play sessions.

Fishing isn't as simple as just casting the rod, however. First, a Rod has to be equipped by pressing the Y-button to insert Medals. The higher tier a Rod is, the more it costs to equip. Normal Rods cost 3 Medals and Super Rods cost 5, for example. Medals are earned by catching fish, completing different game modes, exploring the hub, or answering fish-based trivia when speaking to NPCs. It all ultimately feels like an extra step to get to the gameplay, but Medal acquisition is fairly generous for the most part and only becomes a problem when trying to unlock expensive upgrades down the road.

Screenshot for Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits on Nintendo Switch

Once a Rod is equipped, players either press the A-button or swing the Joy-Con to cast their bobber. How far a line is cast depends on the timing of the Power Gauge and where the rod is aiming. Reeling is then done by holding A or rotating the Joy-Con. Players can't just reel and hope for the best, however. A Rod's line will break after too much stress.

Unfortunately, it's not always clear how best to reel a fish in. A lack of in-game explanations makes it difficult to fully understand the process. That said, higher tier Rods generally do a better job at keeping higher tier fish on the line. Fish can also be briefly stunned with an attack by pressing ZR/LR or shaking the Joy-Con left and right. Once a fish is caught, it'll aggressively try to break away - more so than other fishing titles. Gameplay is less about hanging back and waiting for fish to bite the hook in favour of actively reeling in multiple fish back-to-back. Ace Angler almost needs to be approached like an action title in that regard.

Rather than selecting modes from a screen, Fishing Spirits features a theme park inspired hub world called Marine Medal Mania where players can walk around, speak with NPCs, collect loose Medals, or visit different attractions (game modes). The main mode is Ace Angler+, based directly on the original arcade experience. In it, the player's goal is to spend Medals on Rods to earn Medals by catching fish. Excess Medals can then be spent to unlock new stages, Rods, and even fish. Ace Angler+ has a great pick-up-and-play quality that makes it easy to just jump in and fish for any length of time. There's no fluff or filler: just pure fishing so long as players have Medals to spend.

There are 263 different varieties of fish broken down across six distinct classes - Regular, Super, Rainbow, Gold, Mega, and Monster. Each fish has its own unique design, but they're obscured before they bite. Players can only tell a fish's type by their outline. Regular Class fish are small and black, Super Class fish are big and black, Rainbow Class fish have a rainbow-colour texture, Gold Class fish are completely golden, Mega Class fish are huge and surrounded by purple sparks, and Monster Class fish only show up after catching enough fish and filling up the Super Gauge. They essentially function as a timed boss fight where the player's reeling skills are put to the test. Catching every fish is bound to be a time-consuming endeavour, but the many Rods and stages on tap keep the gameplay loop diverse.

Legend of the Poisoned Seas functions as Marine Medal Mania's story mode. No medals are needed to fish here, with the main goal being to help new players familiarize themselves with the core controls and mechanics. With a classic world map to traverse, light story, and some simpler challenges, Legend of the Poisoned Seas is the best mode for newcomers. Anyone already familiar with the series, though, should have a smooth time diving right into Ace Angler+. The story isn't anything special, but it does have a good sense of humour about itself and doubles well enough as a tutorial.

Screenshot for Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits on Nintendo Switch

Shark Fever is a non-fishing-based mode where players instead shoot Medals to knock down other Medals off their platform. The main goal of the mode is simply to earn more Medals outside of fishing. Shark Fever is far and away the least engaging attraction gameplaywise, offering little in terms of mechanical depth or fun factor. Ace Angler Party fares a bit better, serving as a local multiplayer mode with many different game types based around fishing. Battle Mode has nine variations where players catch unique fish or aim to hit a certain weight/score first. There are nine competitions available - Sushiro, Gindaco, Ottotto, Unfortunate Animal, Rainbow, Big Game Rush, Weight, First Tuna, and Crazy Catch. Battle Mode is also the only part of Ace Angler Party that can be played in Handheld Mode/Dual-Controller Grip. The rest can only be played with the Solo-Controller Grip control scheme.

Minigame Mode focuses entirely on motion-based games and using the Joy-Con like a fishing rod. There are 12 modes available with their own gimmicks - Goldfish Scooping, Turtle Tops, Harpoon Hunt, Dinner Time, Gator Panic, Shark Escape, The Fast and the Focused, Careful What You Fish For, Fishing For Gold, Fish-ful Thinking, The Big Haul, and Tuna Race. Tour Mode takes the games from Minigame Mode and turns them into a continuous competition where players play through multiple minigames at once. Whoever has the most points wins at the end of the course. There are three courses available of varying lengths. The Short Course consists of 3 games that last 5 to 10 minutes; the Medium Course consists of 5 games that last 15 to 30 minutes; and the Long Course consists of 7 games that last 30 to 45 minutes. Finally, Master Challenge allows players to play Minigame mode against CPUs.

Compared to Ace Angler+ and Legend of the Poisoned Seas, both Shark Fever and Ace Angler Party leave a lot to be desired. The minigames wear out their welcome fast and Shark Fever fails to make use of the central mechanics. Theoretically, Online Ultimate Angler Competition lets players fish against rivals in the same vein as Ace Angler+ or Legend of the Poisoned Seas, but no other players were available for a network test. That said, the concept of playing a mode like Ace Angler+ online is an enticing one. The minigame modes aren't particularly fun for competition, but fishing against other people on the same stage feeds into the inherent frenzy present in Fishing Spirits' gameplay loop. Again, though, it should be made clear that no other players were available to actually test the online mode.

Screenshot for Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits on Nintendo Switch

The last three attractions aren't game modes. Ace Angler Aquarium features a Fish Gacha Machine where players can spend tickets or coins to unlock fish to add to their aquarium. New stages are unlocked in accordance to how many fish are in the aquarium. My Character Center lets players buy new clothes and items for their customizable avatar. Finally, the Lucky Roulette can be spun every half-hour to win extra Medals or Tickets. In the end, half of Marine Medal Mania is worth engaging with on a consistent basis while the rest of the theme park honestly comes off like filler content. So much so, that pressing the Start button opens the Fishing Pad and allows players to quick-travel between attractions without even needing to interact with the hub.

Fishing Spirits runs well as far as performance goes, albeit not without some hiccups. Load times in particular run long when booting up. Attractions take less time to load, but still a bit more than should be expected. Presentation-wise, a charming Animal Crossing-esque aesthetic, a pleasant soundtrack, and great fish designs keep the experience visually dynamic. The only major issue as far as presentation goes is the lack of English voice acting. This normally wouldn't be a problem, but several lines are missing subtitles that non-Japanese speakers will simply be unable to understand. It's not enough to make anything unplayable, but it can be annoying as it fundamentally leaves some players in the dark and makes the localisation feel incomplete.

Screenshot for Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits combines the Zen of fishing with an arcade-esque gameplay loop that'll keep players coming back for more. Not every game mode is a hit - with Shark Fever and Ace Angler Party standing out as duds - but Ace Angler+, Legend of the Poisoned Seas, and the core gameplay loop more than make up for it. There is a massive variety of fish to catch, with several different stages and Rods to unlock as well. The actual fishing mechanics aren't explained too well in-game, but they're intuitive no matter the control scheme. Load times are on the long side and the gacha elements needed for unlockables aren't exactly welcome, but they're not deal-breakers, either. At the end of the day, it's just fun to sit back and experience a more action-packed take on fishing. Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits offers fishy fun for everyone.


Bandai Namco


Bandai Namco





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Comments are currently disabled

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?

There are 1 members online at the moment.