Lowering our rods since 1997
Even though the Dreamcast sold like razorblade-embedded jelly babies, it’s hard to deny Sega’s impeccable run of software during its lifespan. I personally have waxed lyrical about these golden years numerous times, probably to the point of eye-rolling tedium.
But today I’d like to talk about one game that was overshadowed by its more recognised counterparts. I am going to talk to you about Sega Bass Fishing, and you’re going to sit there and like it. Hopefully.
Sega Bass Fishing wears its selling point proudly on its sleeve. It’s fishing. For bass. Of varying sizes. Hardly the most thrilling venue to make a game out of, but let’s not forget Sega had a habit, in the Dreamcast era, of turning the mundane into the insane. Taxi driving? Give physics and traffic laws the middle finger in Crazy Taxi. Reporting the news? Throw in a smoking hot pink haired woman who dances aliens to death in Space Channel 5. Driving a forklift? Shenmue, baby.
So what exactly does Sega Bass Fishing do to turn its gameplay into something fun and compelling? Well, nothing as extravagant as the aforementioned titles. No, your fishing rod doesn’t turn into a space shuttle and no, the fish don’t try and fry your brains with laser beams. You get in your boat, plonk yourself in the middle of a lake and you fish. So if it’s not the gameplay or the theme that Sega exaggerate, then what is it?
At this point you can probably see why Sega Bass Fishing didn’t shine quite as brightly as its more creative counterparts. You literally toss your reel into the lake, wiggle it around a bit and hope something (hopefully a bass) bites. Given that this was originally an arcade game, you have a giant timer in the top-middle of the screen indicating how long you have left to fish. Your aim is also incredibly simple: catch an accumulative number of pounds of fish that will allow you to move onto the next stage.
So it’s a more arcade-like take on bass fishing. Is that it? Not quite. It’s what happens after a fish bites where the magic unfolds…
Lower the Rod!!
The fish bites. Loudly accompanied by the game’s announcer shouting “FISH!!!” is a hilariously out of place guitar solo that turns this relaxing pastime into a nigh cataclysmic event. All the while, the fish is doing its best to free itself from your hook, and the same announcer is screaming instructions at you, such as “turn the rod left!” or “lower the rod!” It’s an intensity I imagine is shared by rally drivers when listening to their co-driver.
While Sega Bass Fishing’s soundtrack is certainly incredible, ranging from Seinfeld-esque slap bass to the aforementioned face melting guitar solos, there is truly one key reason to check out this game: that bloody announcer. This Japanese man doing his best to speak in English is no doubt chuckle-worthy, but also strangely endearing. He’ll let you know when that prize bass is “coming near,” he’ll verbally sugarcoat your catches with loud compliments, and even let you know just how big your fish is.
Continuously catching the biggest bass will allow you to qualify for the next, more advanced stage. Initially there are three stages but completing them all leads you to a rather unsettling change in tone. I’m of course talking about the Castle; a stage that’s so out of place in such a seemingly innocent game. Gone is the head-bopping slap bass of previous stages, replaced by a gloomy, lamenting and deliberately monotonous tune. The castle itself lies in ruins, with creepy statues and the skeletal corpses of medieval knights littering the depths of the lake.
Woah! A Big One!!
While Sega Bass Fishing didn’t make the splash (tee-hee) Sega had intended, it did spawn an enhanced port on the Wii and even swam its way onto Xbox 360 and Steam as part of the 4 game Dreamcast Collection, which also hosted Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi and Space Channel 5 Part 2.
Sega Bass Fishing won’t take you on an epic adventure. It won’t make you feel like a powerful god of destruction. Nor will it present you with a moral dilemma that has long lasting implications on the world, life and the universe as we know it. Sega Bass Fishing is pretty much content with offering an arcade fishing experience with a quirky Japanese announcer. But sometimes we need to ask ourselves; isn’t that all we’ve ever wanted?