Fans of Sega Bass Fishing rejoice - it's time to dust off the fishing controller for the latest outing on the water: Sega Marine Fishing. This time around, you can expect more of the same gameplay that made Bass Fishing such a blast to play, and there are also bigger fish to fry.
Sega Marine Fishing isn't exactly the most accurate fishing simulation in the world, but Sega has stripped fishing down to its bare essence: hooking and landing fish. You can opt to use the standard controller or the widely available but not widely used fishing controller. While the special controller offers a more realistic feel to the game by simulating an actual rod and reel, it offers no real advantage in the actual gameplay. In fact, the game is easier to play with a plain-vanilla Dreamcast controller.
In terms of modes of play, you're offered two choices: original and arcade. Being the slimmer of the two, arcade mode lets you jump right in and catch fish. The game is set over four fields, three of which are readily selectable, and the final one becomes available when you clear the previous three. Upon starting the game, you are given a limited number of lures to choose from and a limited amount of time in which to land a preset point value worth of fish. Each different species of fish is worth a certain number of points, and you also receive bonus points for the weight of each fish. Once you've surpassed the required number of points, you move on to the next stage. Unfortunately, this is about as involved as the arcade mode gets. Combine this with the fact that you are also given unlimited continues when the timer runs out, it makes for a fun, if unchallenging, experience.
Original mode, on the other hand, offers much more in the way of gameplay. You can choose from five different minigames to hone your skills, visit an aquarium to view the fish you've caught, or dive right into the meat of the game - free fishing. While free fishing, you have no time limit, so you can sit back and try to catch as many different types of fish as you can. Catching fish will also earn you new lures and items for use in the game. Once you've acquired all the items you can, you can head back to the minigames to open up more slots. After a while, you'll build an impressive collection of lures and other goodies, such as new music to listen to.
Another new addition to the mix is the network feature, which allows you to enter a tournament to win rare lures and such. While it would have been nice to be able to fish with a buddy live over SegaNet, sadly, this is not the case. The innovations are small, but it's refreshing to see more and more games take advantage of the Dreamcast's online capabilities.
On the whole, Marine Fishing is a graphically pleasing game, and the series has definitely been improved by leaps and bounds since Bass Fishing. Wow Entertainment has taken the virtual fishing experience to new depths by improving the textures and animations of the fish and making them more lifelike. The water effects have also been greatly improved, which enhances the experience both above and below the surface in Marine Fishing. Overall, a much prettier picture of the sport has been painted this time around.
Musically, the game is somewhat spotty. While the game excels in terms of graphics, it comes up a little short in the sound department. The bulk of the in-game music is fast-paced, loud guitar rock. While the music adds to the excitement when you have a fish on the line, it gets repetitive fast. This can easily be remedied, though, by unlocking new songs by catching certain fish in original mode.
In the end, Marine Fishing is an easy game to get into, and it's fun to play. It would have been great to have two-player or online modes of play, but overall, these shortcomings are minor. The final outcome is an improvement on the small family of fishing games, and while the game may not hold up in terms of long-lasting value, those looking for a quick fishing fix without getting dirty will be more than pleased with this offering.