Title :Sega Bass Fishing
Platforms :Sega Dreamcast
Publisher :Sega of America
ESRB Rating :Everyone
Game Rating :9.0
Review by :Richard Rae

I used to scoff at the concept of a "fishing simulation." I'm not a sportsman, and I never enjoyed fishing… but after only a short time with Sega Bass Fishing, I was forced to rethink my position. And I was extremely happy to do so, since this is one of the most addictive and enjoyable videogames I've ever played. 

Sega Bass Fishing is a 3D bass-fishing simulation for the Dreamcast, and is the American version of Get Bass!, its original title in Japan. Your basic object is simply to catch the most and/or biggest fish you can in the time allotted, using your choice of a variety of lures. Once your catch's total weight equals or exceeds the goal for the level, you can move on to the next level and location. 

There are essentially three modes available for play. "Arcade" mode is identical with the Arcade version of "Get Bass!" The excellent "Original" mode lets you take part in SBFA (Sega Bass Fishing Association) tournaments at Lake Paradise or Lake Crystaldew, where your progress from Amateur through Masters levels depends on rankings you earn. "Practice" mode lets you hone your fishing skills, test out your lures, and catch fish with no time limit in weather conditions and the time of day of your choosing at any of the main sites. 

The graphics in this game are superb, with beautifully rendered backgrounds and little details, such as cars parked at the lodge or boats tied up at the dock. This detail also extends underwater, where debris, driftwood, rocks, and lake grasses can be found. The fish, though, are truly the stars here. The bass are photo-realistic in appearance and have uncanny natural behavior and motion, whether swimming, striking, or leaping from the water. 

Game play mimics real bass fishing techniques. In a given area, you choose a lure from your tacklebox (more difficult-to-use lures can net you a bigger fish). You then select a spot in the lake you want to cast to, taking into account the time of day and other factors (such as whether or not you see fish outlines beneath the surface), then cast your lure. Once the lure is in the water, the camera switches to an underwater view as you reel in your line, flicking the rod or using other methods to try to get any nearby fish to take an interest in the lure and strike. 

Once a fish hits, the real fun begins! You quickly must set your hook (which gets you an onscreen cry of "Fish!") and then fight to reel the fish in, maneuvering the rod realistically to compensate for the spectacularly thrashing fish's movements. This is an exceptionally challenging part — especially with bigger fish — because you must take care not to let line tension get too high or your line will break. Failure to hook the fish quickly once it hits also can result in the fish getting away. 

Although this game can be played with either the standard Dreamcast controller or the special Fishing Controller available, this is one game which really requires a Fishing Controller in order to get the best and most authentic experience possible. The controller is like a fishing rod handle, complete with reel, the required buttons, a thumb stick, motion sensors enabling natural casting and hooking motions, and vibration motors that convey every hit on the lure, every struggle of the fish, and the increasing line tension as you battle to reel the fish in to land it. Playing with just the regular control pad, even if it has a Jump Pack or vibration unit in it, doesn't cut it. 

The only real complaint I have is with the lengthy and varying load times between stages, option selection, and even the final credit sequence. The delays are much worse in the Arcade mode, to the point where I thought the system had locked up (despite the "now loading" screen). Fortunately, these delays occur between sequences and never interrupt play in progress. 

I tested the waters, cautiously went for the lure, and fell for "Sega Bass Fishing," hook, line, and sinker. I'm convinced almost anyone will find themselves "hooked" by this appealing, fun, and challenging game. 

This article is copyright (c) 1999, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 18-Oct-99