NINTENDO DS REVIEW: SUPER BLACK BASS FISHING

Don't fall for this one, hook, line or stinker. by Cole Smith

May 10, 2006 - Fishing season is almost here, unless you're reading this review a lot later than it was originally posted, which could mean that Christmas is closer at hand. Whatever time of year it may be for you, you'll want to warn anyone that might take it upon them to buy you a videogame for a birthday or Christmas gift to not purchase Super Black Bass Fishing for you. After you read this review you'll be in no danger of buying it for yourself. I think we have all bases covered, or is that basses?

Fishing games in general have always been a bit questionable in my opinion. Sega's Bass fishing series was an interesting diversion as far as videogames in general go, but it didn't have any lasting power, which is evidenced by the lack of popular fishing games in today's market. Fishing games make for a fun arcade experience or perhaps as an unlockable mode or mini-game, but to base an entire game on the genre is just begging to have your product heaped into the bargain bin - with no refunds or exchanges.

I don't even know where to begin with this one, so excuse me while I dive in and start bitching at random.

You might be fooled into thinking that since this game appears on the DS that it must incorporate new touch features in the gameplay. That's exactly what the developers want you to believe. They are using the DS as their main marketing tool. By releasing this game on this unique system, the developers are hoping that gamers will naturally assume that the gameplay is up to standard. It's like an ugly girl hanging out with two hotties in hopes of bringing up her ranking through association; there might be three chicks altogether - but one is still a pig.

Super Black Bass Fishing employs the touch control but only in the most minimal of applications. It does nothing that couldn't be handled by the D-pad. The gameplay is so similar to the original Game Boy Color version of Black Bass Fishing, that I was just astonished at how brazen the developers were in releasing what amounts to a decade-old game. Sure the graphics have been improved, slightly, and there are some new gameplay features but considering that Bass Fishing wasn't even a good game to begin with makes this all the more appalling.

There are three modes: Practice; Tournament, and Multi-player. They are all basically the same, as far as the gameplay goes. Once you pick out a location you move your boat by touching the various arrows on the screen, something that you could have easily done with the D-pad. When you finally settle on your location, it's time to cast your line. This is also accomplished with the touch system. Just place your finger where you want the cast to go. A power meter will appear and to activate it touch it once. When the meter reaches the desired power touch it again and your line will be cast in the general direction that you pointed out earlier.

In order to actually catch a fish you have to entice them. They aren't going to come to you unless you do something with that lure. By moving the lure you should be attracting the attention of the fish. A lot of times they will just remain motionless waiting to be brought to life by some arbitrary command. When the fish finally begin moving around things get a little more realistic. They do check out the lure and they will bite but you're not always guaranteed that they will remain on the end of the line. In one of the most ridiculous features that I've ever seen, there is a fish "mood" display that shows the range of emotions that a fish goes through during this dance that we call fishing.

As insane as this mood meter sounds, it actually serves a purpose - but it could have been implemented a lot better. When the fish is in "rage" of "feisty" this is the perfect time to hook the little bastard. Just push down on the D-pad and then make circles with the stylus to tighten the slack and reel him in. There is a tension gauge that will fill either toward you or the fish. You have to balance the tension out when you're reeling the fish in or you'll lose it. If the tension is too high on either end just stop for a moment until it balances out and continue on. There's nothing more to it than that. The mood meter also seems arbitrary. There's little that you can do to change the fishes' mood; apparently they don't respond to flattery either. You'll just have to sit on your ass and wait, like a real fisherman, except you probably don't have a cooler of beer and a pack of smokes on hand to pass the time. The last thing I need is a videogame to attempt to teach me patience. The only thing this game taught me was restraint - from smashing it into tiny shards.

The hype claims that there are more than 500 fish but I doubt anyone in their right mind is going to actually count them all. I'm also sure that a lot of these fish are just repeated. As it is I've only seen a few bluegill and bass and I've seen quite a few that looked identical. Graphically the game is one of the worst looking on the DS. I can't think of a more awful looking game. The textures are so low res that the water looks like a meadow. It reminds me of Atari's Duck Hunt. At any moment I expect the snickering dog to appear holding a fish in his paws - snickering at what a fool I've been to have purchased this game.

Features:

  • Reel in over 500 fish from a slew of different bass species like largemouth bass, Florida bass, spotted bass, Tilapia, pike and muskie among others
  • Use the DS touch screen to reel in your fish, move your lure and yank the rod to pull the fish in
  • Search for fish throughout some of the best lakes for bass fishing in the world
  • Fool the fish with 24 different types lures, the best of which are acquired by winning tournaments
  • Work your way up to become a Bass Fishing champion by competing in amateur tournaments and then working your way up to the National Bass Tournament
  • Take on up to three friends in a 4-player fishing competition via the DS wireless link.

By Cole Smith
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Super Black Bass Fishing (DS)
1.5
Graphics
Sloppy, low res, cheap and ugly - reminds me of my first wife. Ba' boom!
3.5
Control
Cast, hook 'em, reel 'em in. Be careful not to hurt the fishes' feelings.
2.1
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The cutscenes look like they were made in Flash - only worse.
2.0
Play Value
If you get any replay value out of this game there's something wrong with you.
2.0
Overall Rating - Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: DS
Dev: Starfish
Pub: Majesco
Released: Apr 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best