PC Gaming Reviews

Sega Bass Fishing Reeled In A Big One In The Arcades

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SEGA Bass Fishing - Windows PC

SEGA Bass Fishing

Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: March 4, 2011
Available as: Digital

Today is Friday and what else goes well with Friday than a fish fry? Unfortunately, these fish aren’t meant for cooking or eating, but as a professional sport. Sega Bass Fishing was always a title from Sega’s catalog that felt both out of place and a mainstay in the company’s history. It’s even a part of the Dreamcast Collection, including a digital compilation of iconic Sega Dreamcast titles. Sonic Aventure DX, Jet Set Radio, and Space Channel 5 are all legendary titles that debut on the Dreamcast. Even Nights Into Dreams, an inclusion I always felt was interesting as it was not an original Sega Dreamcast title, was eventually included as well. 

Sega Bass Fishing joins Crazy Taxi as one of the two games in the Dreamcast Collection to be originally based on an arcade game, which adds to its deceptively simple controls. The game was released in 1997 under the Sega Model 3 hardware. This would also be the same hardware that would run Daytona USA 2001, which meant Sega Bass Fishing’s graphics were pretty impressive at the time. For a game that centers around fishing, the water physics was naturally the game’s biggest highlight as weather conditions affected the bass accordingly. Water splashes were realistic and the tension of the line was replicated in the vibration of the fishing rod.

"Enjoy your fishing."

The game was eventually released in September 1999, almost a month after its launch in the United States. It also came with an exclusive Sega-branded fishing rod controller, that can also be used for other games should an event decide to run a Soul Calibur tournament and call it “Pole Calibur.” Sega Bass Fishing can be played just as well with a regular Dreamcast controller as well. 

Many Dreamcast owners’ first experience with this game can be dated back to a demo disc that was included in several Sega Dreamcast consoles. I remember it had House Of The Dead 2, Power Stone, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, and this game as playable demos. It was a fun time, yet with downloadable demos being a thing, it’s a past-time that I don’t ever see returning sadly. Regardless, one of the most vivid memories I had was with the deadpan announcer with his iconic one-liners. “Enjoy your fishing.” “Time bonus.” and of course “FISH!” when a player lands a bite.

The announcer's voice remains iconic through his varying level of excitement without breaking the monotone.

Sega Bass Fishing’s gameplay is simple. There are three courses along Lake Paradise, the lodge, inlet, and cape areas. The player can start at any of the three stages, yet the order changes depending on the starting location. Certain areas have different bass behaviors depending on the time of day, which can alter the strategy used to catch the bass. Once an area is selected, the player selects a bait to use, separated by various difficulties and traits. There are four types of bodies of water, the top of the surface level, shallow, middle, and deep ends of the lake. Each lure also has a special mechanic used to alert the surrounding bass to its location.

One of the most effective lures for bigger bass, the Pencil Bait, sits on top of the lake’s surface, meaning that the player will have to wait for the bass to swim up and bite. Other lures sink to the bottom of the lake, alerting some of the basses to swim towards it or below its level. The Pencil Bait and lures similar to it attract the larger bass as they are more prone to swim toward the surface. This also means they are quicker to lose as it won’t take much to break the line as opposed to catching them within the body of water itself.

Reaching the Palace level makes for a foreboding atmosphere uncommon for a fishing game.

Since each section of Lake Paradise is different, knowing which lure to use to attract a specific type of bass is key to ensuring you always get the best one. Larger bass can meet quota quickly with one catch, but they are far more difficult than catching the average size bass. Since the player is on a strict time limit, there’s a risk-reward feature involved when it comes to going for the big catches. There’s never a reason to avoid the “risk,” as it’s far more satisfying to catch that record-breaking fish.

Completing all three courses unlocks a bonus stage, the Palace level, in which players need to catch a “super bass.” It is here where players will more than likely catch their first “record-breaking” twenty-pound fish, but I was lucky enough to first encounter mine in the Cape area. Following this, a jazzy tune with a bass swimming in some ancient ruins plays during the credits followed by placing your initials on the leaderboards. That’s the gist of an average arcade playthrough of Sega Bass Fishing, but there is a console-exclusive “Original Mode” that adds replayability.

There are three exclusive levels in the console/PC version.

The “Original Mode” is a year-long fishing competition where a player begins at a certain course and fish all day separated into different times of the day. The first stage of the competition is at the Lodge area, from morning to noon, and dusk. Each time of day lasts two minutes, there are no continues, and the top 10 advance to the next round. It doesn’t change the core gameplay, but rather it adds a tournament mode. There is also a new lake, Lake Crystaldew, with its own three unique courses, the Bridge, Reed, and Cave areas. As this is a port of the Dreamcast version, sadly, the bonus features in the Nintendo Wii version aren’t included.

Sega Bass Fishing is a weird game to experience both in the arcade and at home. Fishing games aren’t exactly the most popular video game genre but it was enough for Sega to develop a sequel, Sega Marine Fishing, released in the arcade in 1999 and the Dreamcast the following year. A console-exclusive sequel, Sega Bass Fishing 2, was only released on the Sega Dreamcast in 2001, which was around the console’s twilight years. Neither of these titles was ever released on other platforms despite an early PC version of Sega Marine Fishing based on the “Sega PC” line.

While not the easiest and it does require planning, obtaining a Record Size fish is satisfying.

Players who want to play a quirky yet surprisingly fun and in-depth arcade title can always find Sega Bass Fishing on sale via Steam. I’ve been on a “Sega” kick lately after the unfortunate news of Daytona USA, so expect to see me revisit several Sega arcade titles, ranging from unique fishing titles to beat 'em ups and everything in between.

Sega Bass Fishing is available on Steam, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 via their digital platforms. It is also backward compatible with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

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