In the late 1990s, US arcades were exploding with wacky arcade games in an attempt to draw back the crowds of years past. Sega Bass Fishing, with its big screen and clunky fishing controller, was right at home next to the skateboarding simulations and safari driving games. Like the Dreamcast port before it, the new Wii version brings all the flashy silliness of the old arcade to your living room. Sadly, despite a small sprinkling of extras, the core game remains largely untouched. If you played the arcade version or the Dreamcast port, then you've already played this game.
Sega Bass Fishing offers four modes for you to get your fish on: Practice, Arcade, Tournament, and Nature Trip. Practice mode is a good place to start to familiarize yourself with the fishing controls. Arcade mode is exactly what it sounds like: a perfect re-creation of the old arcade game, minus the quarters. Tournament mode has you fishing in 10 different spots in a ranked competition to score the most fish. Finally, the new Nature Trip mode lets you fish without strict time limits and cheesy Sega rock music.
Like the old arcade game, you will have seen everything Sega Bass Fishing has to offer within the first five minutes. Fishing through the tournament will net you new lures and a few trophies if you perform well, but other than that, there isn't much to find here. This shallow feel could have been avoided had there been more customization or options. You can pick where you cast but not how far out, and casting side arm or overhand is done at random. Other than the lures and map settings, there isn't much you can do to drastically change the experience. Both Arcade and Tournament modes make you fish against the clock, which can get frustrating quickly because just like real bass, sometimes they bite and sometimes they don't. There are no multiplayer modes or online features to hold your attention after the single-player is over.
Sega Bass Fishing might not be much deeper than the fishing minigames offered elsewhere on the Wii, but at least it controls well. Casting is done with a flick of the Wii Remote, though as previously mentioned, how you flick doesn't really matter. Your control over the rod doesn't start until the lure hits the water. Once there, you can flick and shake the rod to dance the lure around in the water. You can reel in your line using the buttons on the Wii Remote or by winding the Nunchuk, which is the better choice because it offers more levels of sensitivity. Hitting the right spot with the right lure can mean the difference between landing a 12-pound bass or a guppy. You'll want to select your lure according to the temperature, time of day, and weather. The default lures available at the beginning work OK, but you'll catch more fish if you can unlock the fancier models through the Tournament mode. Each lure functions a bit differently; some require a steady reel, while others need to be yanked around to attract fish. Though selecting the right lure helps, many times, success is left up to chance.
Once a fish bites, and you've yanked the Wii Remote upward to set the hook, the battle begins. While the smaller fish are easy to pull in, hooking a big bass can result in an epic struggle. Just as it did in the arcade, a goofy-sounding voice will shout out commands when you've got too much tension in your line or when you need to tilt your rod. The Nunchuk replicates the old fishing controller well, letting you crank it when you first get the catch and slowly reel it in when the tension is tight. The inaccurate line-tension gauge and the lack of feedback to tell you if you're tilting your rod enough hamper the fun of snagging a big one. These annoyances result in a few broken lines or loosened hooks, but they don't happen so often that they completely ruin the experience.
It's been 10 years since the original Sega Bass Fishing debuted in arcades, and the graphics look like it. Sure, they've been smoothed out a little and most of the textures look a bit cleaner, but the Wii can do much better. The completely generic fisherman looks like he wondered out of Time Crisis, and the water effects are shameful for a game with so much water. Even the menus and heads-up display are identical to the old version. At least, the fish animate and behave realistically.
The sound is classic Sega. Your fisherman enthusiastically spits out "Bite it!" every few seconds while Sonic The Hedgehog-style elevator rock bumps in the background. Hooking a fish brings up the tension gauge, which is accompanied by an assortment of warning alerts and bleeps. It definitely bumps the excitement level of the sport up a few notches. The Nature Tour mode ditches the music for ambient sounds but keeps the nerdy fisherman's voice.
Sega Bass Fishing won't keep you entertained long. As a stand-alone game, it doesn't offer much more than the handful of fishing budget games or minigames found in the dozens of Wii minigame collections. You might find some quick nostalgic thrills with Sega Bass Fishing, but this is one catch you can throw back.