Platform: Playstation 2

Genre: Sports

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega

ESRB: E (Everyone)

Released: Q4 2002

 

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Sega Bass Fishing Duel

Score: 7.8 / 10

 

In what might be a strange coincidence or might instead be a cruel psychological experiment being conducted by the dark masters at Armchair Empire, I just received, for the second time in recent memory, a surfing game and a fishing game for review at the same time. The first time it happened the surfing game (Transworld Surf) was great and the fishing game (Big Bass Fishing) was putrid. This time the surfing game (Kelly Slaterís Pro Surfer) was even better, so I was really nervous about the fishing title. Luckily, Sega Bass Fishing Duel is a solid, if unremarkable, example of the weirdly successful genre.

 

For owners of the Dreamcast (may she rest in peace), Sega Bass Fishing Duel (SBFD) might seem familiar. SBFD is basically a port, with minor upgrades, of Sega Bass Fishing 2. The "duel" comes from the newer gameís addition of a split-screen fishing mode. Otherwise, SBFD is pretty much the same game, which is fine because Bass Fishing 2 was a solid sequel to an already well-made game.

 

Anyone reading this who just canít understand the appeal of fishing games might as well stop reading. SBFD is a good fishing game, but it does nothing new or exciting that might make the game appeal to a broader fan base. In fact, SBFDís big appeal is it does exactly what fans of fishing games would want it to doóin spades. SBFD offers the player dozens of locations to fish, an amazing variety of lures, a create-a-fisherman function, free fishing and tournament fishing modes, and solid, predictable fish-catching mechanics.

 

Iím sure there are people out there who use the free fishing mode, but I imagine for most people the meat of the game is the tournament mode. Organized like actual fishing tournaments, the SBFD tournaments cover three days of fishing. Doing well in tournaments unlocks other tournaments and awards the player with new lures. There is some fun to be had here. Coming in to dock with fifty pounds of bass aboard is actually pretty rewarding.

 

Though most games in the genre tend to make catching the big fish the challenge, SBFD seems more focused on finding the big fish. It is marginally harder to catch an 18 pound monster than a 2 pound runt, but landing a fish of either size isnít particularly difficult. What is difficult, however, is finding the monster fish in the first place. Most locations are overrun with small fish and non-counters like pike and crappie, but the really big ones are few and far between. This, along with the slight increase in difficulty landing the big ones, makes hauling in a monster fish feel more satisfying than I suppose it should.

 

Besides the free fishing and tournament modes, SBFD also includes a "Vs." mode. This can be played against the computer, but I the real appeal is that it can be played head-to-head against a real opponent. This is handled split-screen and the whole process is smooth and reasonably enjoyable. What my opponent and I couldnít figure out is why anyone would play a split-screen fishing duel when there are so many more exciting split-screen games on the PS2. Alas, de gustibus non disputandum est.

Graphically, the game is a slight step up from the DC version. The above-water graphics are colorful, but low detail. Underwater is just as sparse, but the fish themselves look and move great. Overall, this isnít much of a game to show off the PS2ís power, but it isnít a mess either.

 

In the end, SBFD is worth buying if you just have to have a fishing game in your collection and havenít got around to purchasing one yet. If you hate fishing games, this one isnít going to change your mind, and if you like fishing games but already have SBF2 for the Dreamcast, SBFD isnít really different enough to warrant a purchase.

 

- Tolen Dante

(November 17, 2002)