Now that the Game Boy Advance has been on the market for a little over six months, almost every genre of game has been represented in some form, so it's no surprise at all that a fishing game is being released for the handheld. Great Outdoor Games Bass 2002 from Konami is a fine example of how a game can be stripped down to its barest essentials and still be a great game.
Similar to most other fishing games on the market, this game comes with the standard tournament and free fishing modes, and it also makes use of the link cable for some multiplayer action. As you might expect, the tournament mode pits you against the clock to catch the largest and greatest number of bass in the time allotted, while free fishing lets you leisurely hone your skills at the any of the available fishing holes in the game.
Bass 2002 takes a decidedly low-tech approach to fishing. You pick the lake and location in which you want to drop anchor, and you're then presented with a first-person view of a lake and an extremely limited range of motion. After casting, the view switches to 2D view of the lake. While most modern fishing games take the full 3D approach, such as Sega Bass Fishing, this game takes the tried-and-true approach, forsaking 3D-rendered fish for photo-realistic bitmaps and carefully drawn sprites. While the game is not a technical marvel, it succeeds in its simplicity.
A minor tweak to the standard gameplay mechanic of fishing games is what truly sets this game apart. When you select your lure, a small graph is displayed directly below it. The graph displays the suggested path of travel for the lure once it's in the water, and it links directly to the appeal meter on the right side of the screen. The concept is simple--follow the suggested path of your selected lure and the meter raises. When it gets high enough, the fish can't resist the lure anymore. After a short bout of button-mashing and keeping a careful eye on the tension meter, the fish is all yours.
Graphically and aurally, Bass 2002 is well above average for a Game Boy Advance game. As previously stated, the hand-drawn and -animated fish are impressive looking, as are the photo-realistic environments that you cast your lure into. The game also has a bouncy country-fried soundtrack that fits well with the feel of the game, especially the fast-paced banjo-led song that plays when you have a fish on the line. While the game's effects don't stretch the limits of the GBA's capabilities, they impress in largely the same way that similar effects did back in the 16- and 32-bit days.
Even more impressive is how much fun the game is to pick up and play. The controls in this game are extremely easy to get a hold of, and as such the game should be playable by just about everyone. Another great feature of the game is the ability to save your game at any time, something that should be a requirement in all handheld games. Being able to throw your line in for a few minutes at a time and save your prized catches without having to devote a long time to the game is perfect for the gamer who doesn't have the time to commit to a full session of fishing.
In closing, Great Outdoor Games Bass 2002 is a good game that fits perfectly into just about any gamers' library of Game Boy Advance games. Solid graphics and sound and fun gameplay are things just about everyone can appreciate in a game, and while the fishing genre doesn't have the widest appeal, the arcadelike aspect of the game opens it up to a wider audience.