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If any game can convert a non-fisherman into someone who actually uses words like Jointed Shad Rap, Hula Popper and Buzzbait, it's the action-packed arcadery of the Sega Bass Fishing series. It doesn't make you hunt down the fish, and when you find them, they're ravenous. What does that leave? Action, mostly.
While most fishing games make you spend huge amounts of time seeking out the fish, Sega Bass Fishing spreads them three layers thick just about everywhere, and then shows you their silhouettes between casts. And casting is mindless - you simply put the reticule where you want it and swoosh the Wiimote.
With that taken care of, the reel, er, real skill comes in selecting the bait most likely to entice your piscean prey, dangling it in front of them as tantalizingly as possible, and then dragging them to the boat without them snapping your fragile fishing line.
We'll handle the second part of that challenge first - the Wiimote works as your fishing rod, pointing up, down, and to the side according to your gestures. Reeling in can be done using the buttons (there are three speeds, depending upon which buttons you hold) or by "turning" the nunchuk like a crank or just shaking it up and down like a lunatic. It works, but we'd still love to see someone make a real fishing pole controller (not just a goofy add-on).
Getting the fish to bite is fairly simple - while they're not likely to swallow an old shoe, these scaled leviathans will hit just about anything else you throw in. Older fish are pickier though, and various lures will prove more effective during different times of day, seasons, weather conditions and locations. Various lures like to be jerked and jiggled at different speeds, but it’s still pretty easy for any gamer to pick up and start snagging bass in only a few minutes.
There are, however, some small but lingering frustrations. Both your line and the underwater camera flop from side to side a bit more than they should, which can be disorienting, and you can adjust the direction of your cast, but not the distance. When you have 30 seconds left on the timer and there are fish 14 feet away, it sucks that you have to heave your lure out 30 feet or more and reel back in to get to them.
In fact, a more precise casting scheme is just one of the modern elements that the game lacks. There's an updated look that’s fairly nice (thank goodness), but not only is there no online play, there's no multiplayer mode at all. Our fondest memories of fishing games - and also of actual fishing, come to think of it - all involve multiple people. Let us play together. Also, clearer instructions about how to use the various lures would be welcome, as would the chance to customize your character's clothes, appearance, or voice.
These aren't crippling faults; they're just a too-strong reminder that this is an enhanced arcade game, not a full-blown, evolutionary sequel. Of course, if arcade-y is what you are looking for, then you’ll really like Sega Bass Fishing, especially at a lower-than-normal retail price.
Mar 6, 2008