Game Introduction – Fishing Joy

Fishing Joy on iPhone and Fishing Joy HD on iPad are iOS ports of a wildly popular arcade genre in China, Japan and many other Asian countries. In an undersea setting, you control a cannon on the bottom of the screen to shoot bullets at schools of fish. On contact, bullets will open up fishing net to trap fish. Each bullet costs coins, and each fish caught earns coins. It’s that simple.

Quick Start Guide

Basic Controls

There are really just two very basic controls in this game: the first is to adjust the level of the cannon – higher the level, the bigger the net and better chance of catching more valuable fish. Obviously bigger net costs you more coins too. The other one is to control the direction of the bullet by tapping the screen. Note that the net does not necessarily open at where you tap, which is arguably somewhat counter intuitive. Any fish that swim into the path of the bullet might touch the bullet and trigger the net to open.

Fishing Joy

Figure 1: Basic control: Use level one net to catch a one-coin fish

You might wonder why you’ll need a strategy guide for such a simple game. Well, this is indeed one of those typical easy-to-learn-hard-to-master types of games. So read on.

Maximize Expected Gains – It’s all about Probability

Without realizing there is a chance for fish, especially high value ones, to escape the net, novice players might get frustrated easily. This is one of the rare games in which user action does not generate deterministic results, which in my opinion is the uniqueness and beauty of it. In Fruit Ninja, a swipe either slices a fruit or a bomb, and in Commando 2, a bullet will surely damage the enemy if not killing him for good. This is simply not the case for Fishing Joy.

The likelihood for catching a one-coin tropical fish with a level one net is close to certain, but even with cannon set at level seven, some times a four-coin angelfish just won’t budge. What the heck?

It’s all about probability! So the key is to figure out the probability that a given type of fish can be caught by a given level of net. Equipped with this knowledge, you should then learn to pick the right net and shoot at the right school of fish.

For instance, let’s assume the probability for a level 4 net to catch a 2-coin yellow fish is 50-50. Then to shoot a level 4 net, which incidentally costs you 4 coins, at a school of 2 yellow fish, will give you an expected loss of 2 coins. For this fish-net combination, your break-even point is to shoot at a school of 4 yellow fish. As a bonus, if you can aim at the break-even position where there are also other high value fish (simply put, shoot at a large school of small fish with some big ones around) you will occasionally make some surprisingly huge gains.

Figure 2: Cast a level 7 net to a school of 2-coin fish and a turtle to maximize gain

Tackle the parade

Let’s apply the strategy we’ve learned above to a special situation, the fish parade that occurs between game levels. If the fish guarding the outside of the parade can give you a positive return for a given net level, pick that cannon and make the kill as fast as you can! You will be rewarded with your coffer filling up like crazy. Otherwise, hold off your trigger or try to shoot between the outskirt fish into the parade.

Fishing Joy

Figure 3: Fish parade

Lasers are a (Fisher)Man’s Best Friend

Now for the holy grail – the hammerhead shark. Maybe you’ll get lucky some day with a shark-kill using any of the regular nets, but that lightning hasn’t struck me yet after dozens of such attempts. Just be patient and watch your energy bar grow (on the bottom right corner). Once the energy reaches maximum level, your cannon will turn into a laser gun which will blast out anything on its path. You should kick yourself if you don’t use that weapon on a shark or two!

Fishing Joy

Figure 4: Use laser to catch a shark


The strategy and fun of Fishing Joy lies in constantly making quick mental calculations and picking the right cannon and right fish to shoot at. Equipped with this strategy and some patience, you will be well on your way to become a successful and wealthy fisherman. And if not, you can always resort to in-app coin purchases if you lack the latter.

Happy fishing!

Guide and images provided courtesy of developer Punchbox.