Sega Bass Fishing is the best fishing experience on Wii to date. The graphics are quite good, and the lure selection, variable conditions, and challenging tournament mode make this game very rewarding. Sega Bass Fishing does a very reasonable job of recreating the bass fishing experience right in your living room. That being said, I expected a lot more from the game as the title doesn’t seem to be vastly improved over its Dreamcast predecessor. However, if you like fishing and you like videogames, you’re going to like Sega Bass Fishing.
Sega Bass Fishing has made its console return to Wii. The classic arcade and Dreamcast fishing game was a cutting edge title that suffered critically, but was popular with quarter feeders and sold quite well in stores. The original title for Sega’s much maligned machine offered gamers the ability to play with a controller that resembled a fishing reel. This gave the game unparalleled playability for the era. It’s been nearly ten years since its Dreamcast release, and Wii affords it the perfect platform to make its comeback.
Immediately, I noticed how good the graphics were. The arcade style of the game is very well captured by Wii. If you’ve had to struggle through some of the other fishing entries over the past year then you’ll be happy to know that Sega Bass Fishing is much more attractive. The surroundings of the 15 stages are very nice and the fish look really good. The underwater environments are also quite realistic and diverse. You can clearly distinguish varying types of structure, the characteristics of the bottom, and the size and types of fish to which you’re angling. If you’re expecting eye-popping visuals like something you might find on the other two consoles, then you’ll be disappointed. However, if you’ve become accustomed to the pixelated “jaggies” of Wii graphics you’ll be happy with the overall look.
This game is all about control, and the title does a good job of incorporating the Wii Remote. Sadly, it’s not perfect. In fact, there are a number of areas where I would like to see lots of improvement. For example, there is not nearly enough force feedback. I want to be able to distinguish between fish and know how to play them by how much vibration they send to the rod. As it stands right now, the amount of vibration will be nearly the same whether you’ve got an eleven pound lunker on the line or a one pound scavenger. Additionally, playing a fish correctly will depend more on aural and visual cues rather than tactile ones. Second, shaking and jigging lures is fun, but they don’t quite follow your movements. What you see on the screen is really just a rough approximation of what you were trying to do. It’d be nice if that were tightened up considerably. Finally, reeling with the Nunchuk attachment is tiring and monotonous. Admittedly, it works astonishingly well, but the Nunchuk simply doesn’t feel right in your hand and the movement is contrived rather than realistic. It would have been awesome if an attachment was released that incorporated a reeling mechanism like the controller for the Dreamcast did. Fortunately, gamers are able to use the A and B buttons to reel in as well. This completely negates the need for the Nunchuk, but it makes the game a lot more playable.
There are four modes of play including Practice, Nature Trips, Arcade, and Tournament modes. The Practice mode will help you hone your skills, and the Nature Trip mode will allow you to free fish and cruise around the various areas. The Arcade mode is a timed event that has players select a course and then play through four areas within that stage. In order to pass from one area to the next, you’ll have to achieve the specified weight requirement. Every time you hook and land a fish you will be awarded with a few seconds of additional time. These bonuses will vary depending on the size of the fish. In Tournament mode, you’ll enter into a field of fishermen and try to accumulate as many points as you can over ten different stages. Each stage is set in a different venue with varying conditions and only the top seven anglers are awarded with points from 1 – 30. If at the end of all ten stages you have the most points, then you’ll win a trophy that can be saved and kept in the trophy room. As you advance from stage to stage and tournament to tournament the level of difficulty will greatly increase.
Two of the best aspects of the game are the variable conditions and the collection of 20 unlockable lures. As you progress through the Arcade or Tournament modes you will be rewarded with new lures for various accomplishments. These lures look and work great. Every one of them has distinct characteristics that are accurately portrayed in the game.
The further you progress, the more adverse fishing conditions you will encounter, and it is essential that you match the appropriate lure type to the current water conditions. Factors like time of day, time of year, water clarity, available structure, and depth all play a key role in fish behavior. If you plan on mastering the game, you’ll have to be able to quickly identify what the best lure is for the task at hand, otherwise you’ll waste half your day chucking hooks at decidedly uninterested bass. Of course, this is a big reason why fishing is a challenge. Every fishing game tries to incorporate variable conditions and lure selection, but Sega Bass Fishing actually does a very good job of it.
Two of the worst aspects of the game are a lack of a deep career mode and the wimpy take animations. The Tournament and Arcade modes are very fun and well done. However, it would have been very nice to have a character creation sequence and the ability to upgrade your gear, win sponsorships, improve your skills, etc. It’s an element that more committed gamers will certainly wish was available. The weak take animations are also a bone of contention. Real bass certainly will sip their food into their gaping maws quite nonchalantly depending on the lure and the conditions. However, bass will also hit your bait with pure ferocity. In fact, bass can almost scare you if you let yourself daydream. It is imperative for games to accurately portray a hard hit surface strike as it is one of the most exhilarating moments in fishing. Sega Bass fishing doesn’t accurately render them with their take sequences. This makes it feel as if your simply hooking fish rather than coaxing them to strike.
To make matters worse, the sounds are not very good at all. In fact, the high-pitched beeping from the line tension meter and the incessant drone from the clicking reel effects will wear your nerves thin. Honestly, the sound of the line tension meter could be discarded from the game entirely and it would be far better for it. An emphasis on naturally occurring sounds such as birds, buzzing flies, waves lapping against the side of the boat, etc. would have been much better. The voiceover work is also cheesy, but it’s actually kind of nice in an arcade sort of way.
Disappointingly, the game strictly supports single player. Not only is there no multiplayer split-screen, but there is no online support either. It would have been great to be able to take on competition from around the world via online tournaments. Alas, there’s nothing, not even a leaderboard! It’s a good thing the single player mode is good enough to hold your interest.
Sega Bass Fishing for Wii is a good game that combines pick-up-and-play simplicity with some deeper gameplay aspects that should make it a fun choice for everyone. The graphics are nice, and the gameplay is pretty good. The controls and the lack of a career mode and no multiplayer options do leave quite a bit to be desired, but all in all it is a very fun game that does a good job of recreating the fishing experience in your living room.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
The visuals are very nicely captured and by far the best we’ve seen for fishing games on Wii. 3.8 Control
I was hoping for a lot more from this title, but they’re still pretty good. The addition of a reel attachment would have been great. 1.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Yikes! The high-pitched line tension meter has got to go! 4.1
There is a lot of fun to be found in this title as well as a lot of room for improvement.
3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.