Back that Bass Up!
I'm no expert fisherman, but I do reckon that fishin' is all about the bait. Yessir - your minnows, worms, California cheese. S'all about the bait. Lemme' tell ya': if you wanna' catch some whoppers, you've got to be a master...uh...selector of high quality fish catching tools. But more importantly, you have to select the right place to go - like, say, the real world? A virtual lake, like the one in Sega Bass Fishing, just don't cut it.
The world is undergoing a video game-ification, or as the media pundits like to call it, the 'Digital Age.' Rapidly, everything is being converted to binary - books, movies, and now...fishing. Simply put, video games lend themselves to environments not readily accessible to reality, environments such as the Mushroom Kingdom or playing a linebacker at the Super Bowl. When you complete your objectives, you are rewarded with points. Points provide satisfaction, bragging rights, and the feeling of victory.
Now in real life, when you fish, you are rewarded with fishes. You can eat them or make trophies out of them. And often times, you will brag about the one that got away.
But alas, you can't eat a virtual fish. You can't hang it on your wall. If you brag about virtual fishes to friends, they'll laugh at you.
To overcome this obvious reality problem, the game must be fun. It has to overcome these barriers by creating a paradigm shift (an overused term) where the virtual environment improves upon the real one. As a game, Bass Fishing just isn't that fun. There are peaks of interest when you've finally managed to nail a large catch, but this simply isn't a game you'd want to come back to and keep playing.
You cast your lure with a flick of the fishing controller. Wobble that lure a bit, tempt an unsuspecting bass, wait for one to grab hold, then pull that sucker in. Try to do that as many times as you can in a short amount of time.
And that's the flow of the game, whether you are playing Arcade or the original "scenario" mode. Arcade mode requires you catch a set weight of fish to move to the next stage (only 4 stages). Original ranks you depending on how many fish you were able to catch.
I used the Fission Fishing controller by Interact. The click of the handle matched the feel of a real fishing rod, but there's no tension in the turn. Instead the fishing rod just vibrates when you've hooked a fish. Those wanting the feel of real fishing should try... real fishing! Plus, the fishing controller is somewhat pricey considering there's only one fishing game out there. Perhaps they ought to figure out other ways to use it (a kick-ass Gatling Gun in some Quake-esque title?)
In the game, the fish is caught once you reel the line completely back to you. Sure, the fish will fight back and you'll have to let go of some tension, but once the amount of line out is zero, the fish is caught. I mean, the guy just yanks the fish out of the water. What about a net? Wouldn't a fish fight harder once the line is drawn so close? It comes down to a lack of reelin' realism.
Oh yeah, the announcer is the worst I've ever heard. Gawd, somebody get this guy a decongestant and a handkerchief.
While I know the game is centered on the wily bass, what about all the other fish? After all, there are many fish in the sea, no? Of course, I prefer women (I stole that joke from Pepe LePeu). During your fishing escapades, you'll see the occasional turtle or school of minnows float by, but if Sega ever makes another fishing game, I'd suggest more of a simulation with emphasis on realism and different kinds of fish.
The graphics are beautiful and the fish look very realistic. However, the fish don't interact with one another. I'm not asking for the fish to get it on ( Thank god. - Ed.), but it just seems like the fish act independently. There are two fish swimming in the same area. I snag one, and it starts thrashing about. The other fish just stays right next to it, blankly staring at the struggle. Normally, that other fish would swim away, his tiny little brain telling warning him of danger.
My only rationalization is that this is obviously a sinister bass with a penchant for watching his fellow brethren die. Try and unlock the secret bonus where an army of these evil fish jumps aboard your boat, forcing you to fight them off for your dear life. I wish.
In the end, either go completely simulation, or give me a ridiculously crazy arcade world of fighting fish battles. Sega Bass Fishing is that middle of the road game. But here's the bigger picture...
I'm just going to say it. It seems really pathetic to catch virtual fish. Fishing is about being outdoors, feeling the warmth of the sun on your back and lazing the day away. It's also about drinking your weight in beer. For the cost of the game and the fishing controller, you can get yourself a decent rod, a fishing license, and wonders above wonders - a real life experience!