Sega Bass Fishing 2
Hitting the lakes with Sega's latest fishing game.
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When Sega Bass Fishing hit the Dreamcast in '99, the game became an unlikely hit for the system. Based on Wow Entertainment's arcade entry in the burgeoning fishing genre, the game mixed accessible gameplay with a few sim elements. The DC port featured clean graphics and gameplay that were faithful to those in the arcade version, an original mode specifically for the home version, and support for the Dreamcast's fishing controller. For its follow-up, Sega Bass Fishing 2, Wow will be offering a mix of old and new that should both please and challenge fans of the original.
Sega Bass Fishing 2 keeps the clean look of the original and refines it a bit. The game's graphics are still crisp and detailed but offer more diversity. You now have more lakes to choose from, with several areas in each to fish in. Each area showcases a good deal of variety in the graphics for the various environments above and below the water. You'll see boathouses, bridges, piers, forests, and cattails along the shore or over the water. After casting your line, a whole new world beneath the waves will come into view, and it's nearly as scenic. Rock formations, tires, and other debris (does Greenpeace know about this?) form a surreal obstacle course for the game's finned stars to roam through. The fish look especially fetching thanks to fluid animation and to smooth modeling, which cuts down on visible seams. While not quite as attractive as the fish, the fishermen are well detailed. Their main appeal lies in the fact that you can actually customize their look a bit, which keeps them visually interesting. You'll have several body types to choose from, both male and female, and you can change their clothing and accessories (sunglasses and hat) along with boat color.
The tweaks to the game's graphics are just a hint at the differences between Sega Bass Fishing 2 and the original. The meat of the changes and additions can be found when you start a game. You will now have a choice of free fishing and tournament modes to fish around in. Free fishing is essentially the equivalent of the original's arcade mode: You fish in any of the game's lakes for a set amount of time and net as many fish as you can. You'll be able to adjust a few options--such as season, time, and weather--before starting your free fishing game. Tournament offers four competitions--Amateur, Professional, Top Anglers, and World Championship--for you to claw your way to the top of. While Amateur is open to any player, to participate in subsequent competitions, you need to have ranked third or higher in the previous competition.
Once you're on the lake in any of the game's modes, the tweaks to gameplay start to shine. Control has been modified to offer support for the game's new functionality. The B button lets you toggle between locking the boat in place and moving it--you now have the freedom to pull up anchor and roam around the fishing area. The X and Y buttons are used to increase and decrease the boat's velocity, reflected in an onscreen meter. Another new feature is the onscreen fish finder, which lets you look for areas loaded with fish. After finding the right spot and anchoring, you cast your line via the R trigger (or by waving the fishing controller) and wait. You move the lure with the D-pad and R trigger or with the reel, depending on which controller you're using. Once the fish is close to the boat, a gauge appears onscreen, and to successfully catch the fish, you'll have to line up a moving block within a colored patch on the gauge and press A. If it's lined up properly, you'll net the fish; if not, you'll either lose it or have to try to net it again.
As in the original Sega Bass Fishing, you'll be able to keep track of your performance throughout the game. Sega Bass Fishing 2 uses a "data book," which stores information on fish, tournaments, and lures for you to review. It's like the diary option from the first game. When your performance is good you will be rewarded with new lures; diligent fishermen will find a horde of them in the game.
Our early build of the game played well and managed to keep our attention as much as the original did. The new gameplay features and HUD display in the game worked pretty well, although the fish finder isn't vital, since you can usually see the fish below the water's surface. Being able to move around the lakes really adds to the game, because it gives a sense of freedom missing from the original. While it would have been nice to see some online functionality and a multiplayer mode, Sega Bass Fishing 2 still has a lot to offer. The refined graphics and gameplay tweaks are solid expansions to an already strong game, and they leave us eagerly waiting for the game's August release.