Let this one get away.

I’m trying to think of any game based on a TV show that I found enjoyable. You hate to throw around the term “cash grab,” but, by and large, tie-in games take a popular show and hope even a small percentage of the millions of people who watch the source will be gullible enough to shell out some money to make the game version profitable. Whether the game itself captures any of the spirit of the show, or is even enjoyable, doesn’t seem to matter.

Deadliest Catch is a reality show about crab fishermen, and how brutal and dangerous the job is, all for something you might take for granted in your local supermarket. I have never watched this show, but from the commercials and “next on” ads I’ve seen, it paints a pretty grim view of the work; storms wracking the boat every second, injury and death around every corner. I’m sure it is thrilling, and can understand why it makes for good TV.

The video game adaptation has very bad graphics, janky controls, poor design, and is, worst of all, boring. In it, you take command of your trawler, and learn the step-by-step process of industrial crab fishing: finding a location, loading the trap, recovering the trap, and sorting the crabs. In the bonus stage (“land”), you also get to buy ship fuel. It’s as exciting as it sounds.

To start, you look at a map of the sea and figure out the best place to lay your traps based on the habitat. You sail there, then go through the laborious process of winching the trap into the loading pay, attaching a buoy, adding bait, closing the trap, launching the trap, then waiting for a bit until you recover the trap, remove the buoy, put the buoy away, empty the trap, winch the trap back into storage, and then sex the crabs.

Yes, sex the crabs. You can only sell large male crabs. Anything else gets you a penalty. You do this by selecting a crab then rotating it with the JoyCon sticks until you fill up the two circles that tell you its gender and size. Sort them into piles, then move onto sexing another crab.

Having returned the unusable crabs to the sea, you return to port to sell the rest. Now, do it again. It’s that much fun.

You can also hire workers to help you on the boat, allowing you to further automate already tiresome tasks. These brainless NPCs must be assigned to a task, and if you don’t assign them in the right order, they won’t address the problem themselves.

Visually speaking, the game just looks bad. Working on a commercial fishing boat looks grim based on the commercials, but the low resolution graphics and bad camera placement don’t help. Trying to winch a trap into position can be done from two controls, both of which have terrible camera angles, and you can only hope to pick one up by flailing around the general location of the cages until one of them turns white. Thankfully, this process is rendered so badly that they don’t even make you line up the traps to place them or store them. I can only imagine what kind of a nightmare that would be on graphics that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the ’90s.

The part of the game you do have to finesse is steering the boat. If you fish multiple locations, going back won’t automatically place you in the correct spot to recover your buoy (and there’s only one spot you can do that from). Sitting in the captain’s chair with two very tiny windows, you must adjust your speed and direction to bring them into range. You then head out to see if you did it right, and if not, well, it’s back to the controls to adjust it further.

It’s not that the game looks bad and simplifies an otherwise interesting task. I recently found a low-rent game about ship breaking to be oddly relaxing. But Deadliest Catch: The Game isn’t relaxing, it’s repetitive, finicky, and badly designed. I’m sure the reality show mines a lot of drama out of  the personalities of the crew (which is, after all, what reality shows are actually about). But in this game, you’re accompanied by dumb robots who can’t help but do what you tell them to do.

If this game was given away for free to promote the show would be one thing, but to expect someone to pay for a game this bad is laughable.