Sega Bass Fishing Review (XBLA)

Game Review: SEGA Bass Fishing
Release: October 05, 2011
Genre: Fishing / Outdoor Sports
Developer: SEGA
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Players: 1
MSRP: 800 MSP or $9.99 US
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

Bass fishing is not the first thing that comes to my mind when thinking of video game content, but I do like to see games that stray from the highly saturated genre of shooters. So I loaded up Sega Bass Fishing, packed a lunch with a fried Spam sandwich and returned to the fishing trips of my childhood from the comfort of my living room sofa. Strapped into my virtual Bass Boat, I take to the lake to see if anything is biting.

Here is what Sega has to say about the game:

“In SEGA Bass Fishing, players can cast their lines at eight different fishing holes, utilising 14 unique lures while battling realistic weather conditions that affect fish behavior. Players also have the opportunity to master their angling techniques to catch as many fish as possible in four tournaments, where the best of the best cross fishing rods! In addition, exclusive to the PlayStation 3, you’ll be able to get that realistic fishing experience right in your living room with the PlayStation Move motion controller. Cast off and reel in with a simple flick of the wrist.”

At first glance, the game’s graphics will not knock your socks off. This is not a remake, but a port of the original Dreamcast game with some tweaking for HD widescreen. Once you cast your line into the water and see first hand how the control of you poles and speed of reeling effect the lure in the water, you will be hooked. It really feels like fishing – even if the fish always tend to be hungry – which makes for the best fishing trips. Am I right?

The game breaks down to three modes: Arcade Mode, Original Mode and Practice Mode.

  • Original Mode puts you through a series of tournaments where you have limited windows of time in which to fish. Score is kept by the weight of you catch and placing in the (pre-determined) top 10 earns your progression to the next series. As you progress through the tournaments, additional lures are unlocked as rewards.
  • Arcade Mode is exactly that.  This operates as if you walked up to a machine in an arcade and dropped in a quarter.  You begin with two minutes and must earn additional time by catching fish and meeting weight goals.
  • Practice Mode is just kickin’ back and fishin’; no competition or time limits. This is the closest thing to a relaxing day of fishing, just jump in the boat, pick a time of day, a location and the preferred weather. This is my favorite mode.

The game mechanics are the star of this game. With the left stick you control the direction of your pole. The right trigger controls the speed of reeling. Combine this with the accurate rumble feedback and it’s not to hard to imagine that you are actually fishing. Getting a fish on the line is made truly enjoyable by the lure-cam, giving you an underwater view of the action. Getting the fish in the boat is a completely different challenge – just like real fishing. A meter constantly shows the amount of tension on the line – and if it is too slack the fish will get away, too taught and the line could break. The fight to get your catch in the live box feels just right.

Even though the game mechanics feel spot on, Sega should have gone further with the graphics. Even though this is an HD version (port) of a classic game, it would have been great to see the graphics completely overhauled with more detailed models and recreated menus and pictures. Many of the menu screens are just stretched to the HD aspect ratio unless the Display Mode is set to “Wallpaper” rather than “Full screen”, then they are displayed in 4:3 with a pad around the edge.

While this new HD version of Sega Bass Fishing is not all that much of an improvement over the original, it remains a fun-to-play game that is a pleasant departure from shooting stuff.  At 800 Microsoft points ($9.99) this is not a bad deal, but there is a better deal to be had.   Sega Bass Fishing is part of the Sega Dreamcast Classics for Xbox 360 (with three other games) at a retail price of $19.99 US (Amazon has it now for about $15 US).  Sega Dreamcast Classics also includes Space Channel 5 Part 2, Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure, so if you are also interested in these Sega remakes, this may be the way to go.

  • Realistic Lure Use
  • Varied Locations and Time of Day
  • Three Modes of Play
  • Blend of Crisp HD Port with Outdated Models and Graphics

Final Score: 8 out of 10

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