It's not that easy to turn a sport like fishing into a video game, but Sega had a nice little hit on their hands roughly ten years ago with Sega Bass Fishing. It's only seen a few additions in the journey from arcade (1998) to Dreamcast (1999) to Wii (today), leaving the fun bits to be overwhelmed by its quarter-munching roots.
Sega Bass Fishing is divided up into four modes, two with goals and two without. Practice and Nature Tour let you choose a setting and start bringing in the fish without any pressure. Arcade is the original game, and Tournament is basically Arcade with a kinder time limit and more levels. It's not a bad little selection for a budget title, honestly, but the limited gameplay ends up sinking the game without a trace.
As your intrepid fisherman starts out on his quest to snag a hefty load of bass, he's treated to a lovely camera flyby of the area. The water is gorgeous, fish are swimming in a very fishy fashion, and the backgrounds look good despite the dated low-poly look. Details such as the way the water changes depending on the light in the morning or late afternoon, or the reflection of the scenery on the rippling water, go a long way towards making Sega Bass Fishing look prettier than its polygon count warrants. After taking in the scenery and scouting the surface of the water for the silhouettes of the fish beneath, it's time to flick the remote and send the lure flying.
are rated for surface, shallow, medium, or deep water, and choosing the right one is important. The water temperature dictates how far down the bass are swimming, not to mention how hungry they're likely to be. The ravenous fish of the evening only need a surface lure plopped in front of their faces to catch, while a mid-day fish is likely to be swimming deeper and not all that interested in food.
Once a bass is on the line the fun part starts, but it's let down a bit by inconsistent motion-sensing and instructions. Bringing a fish back to the boat without the line snapping takes some finesse as the bass swims back and forth, fighting most of the way. It's important to manage line tension by swinging the remote in the direction the fish is swimming, but as often as not it feels like random flailing will save the day. On top of that, the classic cheesy Sega announcer seems to bark out orders at random, often advising you to move the pole right for a left-swimming fish on a high tension line. Even weirder than bad instructions is when it actually works.
While reeling in the fish is the fun part, the rest tends towards tedium. The ticking clock makes every cast count, and when you've sent out four lures in a row with no bites, and reeled in over 30 feet of line each time, it stops being fun. Watching a fish just stare at the lure, thinking its useless fishy thoughts about whether to take a contemplative chomp on the shiny, moving thing gets old when you've got to constantly reel the line in bit by bit to keep the lure at the proper depth. It's not uncommon to go almost three hours (about three minutes in real-world time, thankfully) of a four hour tournament with barely a nibble, only to have the fish go nuts as the sun starts setting. Yes, I get it, mid-day fish aren't that interested in biting, but having every effort at piquing their interest go unrewarded and without even a slight hint as to what's going wrong just isn't fun. It's hard to care about the subtler details of a game when bored and annoyed.
Sega Bass Fishing is by no means a complete failure, as anyone who's pulled in a 15-pound monster can attest, but the combination of stretches of tedium, inconsistent controls, and an unforgiving time limit that won't even let you finish reeling in that last fish on the line make this impossible to recommend. Sega Bass Fishing is worth a few quarters in the arcade, no question, but just doesn't cut it over the long haul.