Format: Dreamcast Genre: Fishing Released: 1999 Developer: Sega
I love this game because it’s just such an unlikely concept: who’d have thought fishing could be so much fun? It’s a bit like the TV show Late Night Poker – explain the concept to someone and they’ll probably roll their eyes in boredom, but when you see it in action you suddenly find yourself addicted. Likewise with Sega Bass Fishing – get past the naff-sounding concept and one go is all you need to get you hooked (sorry).
The best bit about the whole game is the sampled speech – I’ve no idea where they found the guy who does the voiceover, but he’s absolutely priceless. I’ve never heard anyone strangle the English language in quite such a fantastic and delightful way as he does – just click on the video below and have a listen to him say “select a casting point” to hear what I mean. The best bit is when you catch a big fish, which triggers a crescendo of J-pop guitar riffs followed by the voiceover guy excitedly booming “WOOOAH!!! A BIG ONE!!!” as your avatar struggles under the weight of an enormous bass.
The game is so dependent on sound that if you took away the wonderfully over-the-top music and speech, I reckon the game’s appeal would easily be halved. The act of reeling in a fish would actually be quite dull without the blare of hyperactive guitars reverberating in your ears and some ambiguously accented narrator demanding that you “LOWER THE ROD!!!” (with ‘rod’ pronounced ‘raaard’). Perhaps real-life fishermen would do well to hire someone to stand behind them and excitedly comment on everything they’re doing – it might make the time pass quicker.
In addition to the sound, the other main appeal of this game is of course the motion-sensitive fishing rod controller (dubbed the ‘Fission Controller’ by some wag). Motion control is two-a-penny now, but it was a real novelty back in 1999, and anyone who saw me playing with my rod would often be astonished by its capabilities (sorry, couldn’t resist). I seem to remember that the controller wasn’t all that sensitive, and it was certainly nowhere near as responsive as the Wii controllers, but it did the job well enough. And let’s face it, the game wouldn’t be half as much fun without the plastic fishing rod.
Speaking of which, has anyone played the Wii version? I’ve been very tempted to buy it for old time’s sake, but I’m not convinced that it would be quite the same without the proper controller…
Of course, the game wasn’t without its down sides. The chief disappointment was that it became repetitive quite quickly, although this was diminished somewhat by the ability to unlock extra lures. Even so, the game was quite limited in that it only had three levels (actually, I think it was four including the special stage) and just one type of fish to catch – after hours and hours of fishing for bass I was crying out for a bit of variety (“A perch! A perch! My kingdom for a perch!” etc.).
That said, the game had excellent pick-up-and-play appeal, and I found myself dipping into the arcade mode again and again, long after I’d grown tired of most of my other Dreamcast games. A true classic.
(Screenshots from http://www.ign.com)