Developer: Cavia Inc.
Release Date: February 26, 2008
When the Wii was launched in 2006, one of its showcase applications was the fishing mini-game from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It was placed in Wii interactive units in stores across the country. It was even demonstrated live at E3 of that same year, to much fanfare and positive response. Since said mini-game was well done, it's no surprise that it, along with Wii Sports, drew so many people who didn't normally play video games to the system. However, fishing games were slow in coming, and the ones that did (Rapala Pro Fishing, anyone?) were pretty boring and even managed to overcomplicate the concept.
Enter the return of Sega Bass Fishing, one of the more critically hailed fishing games. Having premiered first in the arcades (and then on the Dreamcast with its own fishing controller), Sega Bass got you into the game fast and provided cheesy-yet-pumping music to get you into the fishing groove. Fishing in Sega Bass isn't so much a leisurely way to pass the time as it is a fight for supremacy. It's just you, the fish, and the right bait. It's a battle of wits, timing and endurance.
With the mock fishing rod into your hand, it's your job to cast the line, wiggle and move the hook around, and lure in unsuspecting fish. Mind you, this is actually the easy part, but it's also the one that requires the most patience, as many real fishermen will tell you. The hard and infinitely more fun part comes when you actually manage to hook a fish. The music changes here to something much more frantic as your battle begins. The fish will, of course, fight for its life, while you do your best to make sure you get dinner! A sufficient combination is required jerking of the rod, reeling in the line, and sometimes even letting go to cut the fish some slack and lull it into a false sense of security, only to pull it back in again! Ha! Just kidding, little fishie! You're gonna go great with drawn butter!
… where was I? Right, right.
The game's addictive, it sucks you in, and it's a great way to get some simple, easy and fun fishing going on. There are a few layers of "depth," like using different styles, weights and colors of bait, along with different fishing locales and differing weather settings, but that's about as far as it goes. Sega Bass keeps things as non-intimidating as possible, and that's what makes this game the perfect fit for the Nintendo Wii, a system currently located in the living rooms of people who have found video games intimidating for three decades running.
The fishing mechanics of the arcade and Dreamcast versions translate almost perfectly to the motion-controlled system, though the clever may find ways to cut corners à la Wii Sports. You don't have to rotate the Nunchuk in an exact direction to reel in your line, for example, but it's seriously much more fun and more sensible if you just play the game the way it's intended.
The one place Sega Bass loses its points is in the fact that it's a port. This wouldn't be bad on its own, but this is a bare-bones port with absolutely nothing added from nine (nine!) years ago. This is a double-edged sword: While the core fishing gameplay remains as good as ever, pretty much everything in the bells and whistles department suffers. Graphics remain Dreamcast-era, and as much as I love my Dreamcast, technology has advanced. A nice graphics overhaul would have done the game justice. Advanced rain and water effects, added animations, the ability to see the fish really and fluidly squiggle when hooked ... it's easy to fantasize, but it's just not here. Instead, I boot up this game and I'm instantly 19 again —and not in a good way. The funny thing is, few people will notice because of all of the low-resolution dreck that's currently strangling the Wii's lineup anyway.
Since the game is a no-frills port, opportunities for expansion have also fallen by the wayside. With so many of Sega's franchises getting revivals and remakes, the calling of being able to participate in your own story-driven fishing tournament is quite strong. Heck, some sort of lasting single-player motivation would have been welcome here. Where are the unlockables? The mission modes? The cameos from Sega characters? So much more could have been done here. In the wake of Sega Superstars Tennis, there's really no more excuse.
Still, the port aspect is really the only black mark I can think of against Sega Bass Fishing. It's great for quick bursts, it works as advertised, and it has that "one more game" addictive quality. For less than $30 (or perhaps even $20 now, considering how long it's been on shelves), you can get a game that, unless you're some sort of high-end hook-and-line scholar, scratches every single fishing itch that you could ever conjure. It's actually a shame that all of the "fishing controller" shells currently on the market tend to come with other, inferior fishing titles. Even so, go ahead and get Sega Bass Fishing.
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