Maybe you don't have any buddies. Maybe you work too much, or live too far from a decent lake, or perhaps you don't own any rods and don't want to invest in fishing gear. Whatever the case, you may be more apt to play a fishing video game than make the trek out to a serene lake to try your luck with the underwater life. If that's the case, then you'll have to make a critical decision before purchasing a fishing game - do you want a true-to-life fishing simulation or an action-packed arcade-style fishing game? While Bass Hunter 64 certainly has elements from both flavors, it doesn't do either style particularly well.
Bass Hunter is extremely straightforward in play. You choose one of two characters and then head down to the lake for some fishing. If you want more options, you'll have to play through its tournament mode, which puts you on different lakes, under various conditions, in a race to catch the biggest fish before your time expires. Once you've placed first on that lake, you unlock it for the nontournament mode. Another benefit of winning a tournament is the acquisition of points, which you can spend on upgrading your gear. Bass Hunter contains more than twenty different types of authentic lures, three different rods, and a much better boat, all yours for the buying. Once you're on the lake, you choose one of three different types of casting and go at it. If you don't like your fishing area, you can hop into your boat and troll along to a different spot, using your fish finder to locate the big biters.
The game sports a split-screen style of play. The top half focuses on your angler from a third-person perspective, while the lower half centers in on your lure and acts as an underwater cam of sorts. This is a pretty cool idea and lets you focus on what pleases you - your angler, or the fish swimming by your lure. Altogether, though, the graphics aren't all that eye pleasing, and I was unable to make any good use of the underwater cam, since the bass all look the same size until you pull them out of the water. And while milling about in your boat may have been the most amusing part of the game, the insane amount of pop-up makes it almost impossible to locate a decent spot without first flying by it.
The sound is best described as mediocre. There's a total lack of music until you hook a fish - at which point a singular upbeat track starts and tries to compel you to reel that bad boy in. The sound effects are generally boring, with an annoying whizzing of the line while you're reeling and hardly any ambient effects at all.
Reeling in a fish is divided between two buttons - reel fast or reel slow. And while the game tells you how far away your lure is, it doesn't let you know how deep it is, which prevents you from lurking on the bottom of shallow water with any sort of accuracy. And don't expect to catch any bass larger than four pounds; after playing the game for four days straight I only caught two fish in the four-pound range.
You'd be better off actually experiencing fishing in real life than trying to replace it with this game. Walking the thin line between simulation and arcade, this game ends up being neither and ultimately ends up being devoid of any sort of fun. Making you play the lame tournament mode before you can unlock any of the lakes or purchase any of the cool lures is simply tedious, and catching large bass seems to have more to do with luck than any sort of skill. This game falls short of the mark and only makes you wonder how you could have liked fishing in the first place.