Diving into the Dreamcast’s library has been something of a thrill these last few weeks. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s an underrated gem that was well ahead of its time. While it by no means had a perfect library, there really are some true classics in there. Of course there are some interesting selections which remind us that while games can be an avenue into other worlds, or a surreal version of our own world, sometimes we just want to be able to relax with something a little more on the slow side. Enter Sega Bass Fishing: a game that is exactly what it says on the tin.
Sega Bass Fishing is a game that pretty much requires that you modulate the expectations you have. This isn’t about expansion or exploration. It’s about one activity only: fishing. In the vein of Crazy Taxi, Sega Bass Fishing has an Arcade mode which offers players a limited time to catch fish in one of the game’s four stages. There’s also the Original Mode, which features a fishing tournament. Finally, there’s a Practice Mode (in all honesty, though, isn’t all fishing practice?), which should be fairly obvious. All of that said, Sega Bass Fishing is still a game that involves limited to no variations of the same activity, and that can get monotonous pretty quickly.
Now, Sega Bass Fishing isn’t as slow as real fishing. Still, it’s not a high-speed game either. As a fishing simulator however, it’s perfect. The arcade pacing helps keep things fairly brisk, and you’re given a pretty healthy amount of time to fish as much as you can. The game does also liven things up by making the fishing relatively simple at first, and then combative once you actually get a fish on your lure. It’s frankly hard to not feel a little prideful as you keep racking up bigger and bigger fish. The Original Mode also helps keeps things interesting with its tournament gameplay, in order to spur you to catching — you guessed it — more and heavier fish. That the game throws in additional lures for you to experiment with also doesn’t hurt. That said, the game still suffers from the problem of not enough variation. While it is a fishing simulator, what works for the Arcade (i.e. the lack of stages), is a huge drawback on a game that can be played without limit on a home console (or PC).
Interestingly enough, the graphics are pretty sweet for a game of that era. Considering that this is a game about getting locked in mortal combat with fish, the underwater world looks impressive, with the fish models being particularly noteworthy. Compared to its contemporaries, like Crazy Taxi (again) and House of the Dead, that lack of necessity to cram the game with content allowed the developers to focus on the visuals, and give it a richer look.
Sega Bass Fishing is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand: it is indeed a fun game to play. On the other hand, it doesn’t quite work as a home game due to the lack of variation & things to do. It owes far more to the Arcade world. In the end, this is a game that’s good for short bursts of fun, and definitely deserves to be played in its “home habitat” so to speak.