[25 August 2004]
Boy, I love fishing. There’s just something about the peaceful tranquility that the sport invokes between man and nature. Sitting on the bank, on a dock, or in a boat as the water gently passes along, fishing rod and reel in hand with the bait set. Yes, it’s one of those lazy sports. Some folks don’t like it. Myself, I find it a whole lot more thrilling than that other lazy sport known as NASCAR. At least you get to do something while you’re sitting on your butt when you fish. Something other than reaching for the next beer or bag of pork rinds (though of course, this does go hand in hand with fishing as well). At least the old arm and wrist is getting a little exercise when you fish.
My car’s trunk is still filled with my fishing gear: a tackle box loaded to the hilt, and a rod and reel now probably permanently bent thanks to being in there since 2002. I used to live in Tennessee, so I fished quite a bit. I have quite a cool set of lures. My favorite was this plastic cricket lure that I liked to load up with salmon eggs. That’d get ‘em every time. Sadly, I lost that lure on some rocks. Ah, well. Memories. But a couple years back I relocated to the north to the big city. So what’s a guy to do when he gets a fishing jones? Oh, we have three big rivers around here, but it seems the convenience is all lost. I wouldn’t even know where to begin scouting out good locations for catching some crappie or blue gill.
But all is not lost. Thanks to the good people at Sega, I’m able to go fishing again within the comfort of my own home. Yes, Sega Bass Fishing Duel brings all the thrills of the sometimes laid back, sometimes furious sport of bass fishing right to my PlayStation 2. Plus there’s no muss and no fuss. I’ll admit, I never was the best angler. Most of my time was spent retying lost lures onto my line, and jamming night crawlers onto the end of a hook and trying to deal with the mess that such an action produces in the aftermath. But hey, I’d catch a big one every now and then, including a bass. So I at least know what the real thing feels like, even if I wasn’t particularly skilled at the sport.
Luckily on Bass Fishing Duel, my hand is pretty much held for me the entire time. The excited male voiceover lets me know when a fish is near and tell me not to let it go over and over. It even tells me when to set my hook and how to reel my catch in. Boy, with all this great help, you’d pretty much think you were on auto pilot the whole time. But in a weird fit of a paradox, this isn’t really the case. You do have to work those fingertips and thumbs just a bit to reel in your fish successfully.
Just a moment. Let me get a cold one quick. All this virtual fishing has got me thirsty… ahhhh, that’s better. Now where was I? Oh yes. Not only does this game feature some serious fishing action, but it’s also loaded top to bottom with a bevy of lures. Everything from spinner bait and rubber grubs to jerk bait and surface skimmers. Hoo boy, I tell you a man could lose his mind just trying to decide which worm to use. You also get an electronic fish finder on top of all that, not to mention a cool, expensive fishing boat and an array of anglers to compete against. This is some hot action!
Plus it reminds me of being back in my home state all over again. I can fish from such great locales as dams (ah, TVA, how I miss thee and thy mercury-laden lakes), under bridges, and even in humid, tiny coves complete with pond scum lying on top of the water. I can almost smell the stench of rotting fish carcasses baking under the warm sun on a weekend afternoon. If they had only thrown in the chance of virtual sunburn and mosquito bites, this game would have had it all.
I jest, but in all honesty Sega Bass Fishing Duel is quite a bit of fun, even if the game’s premise would seem to be incredibly boring. I don’t think you’d necessarily have to enjoy fishing to enjoy the oddly addictive qualities found here. There is a real rush when hooking a 15 pound bass and trying to reel it in in a mad frenzy without having your line break on you. Plus there’s also the problem of not reeling in the plentiful northern pike, crappie, and bluegill that also want to take a bite of your bait (only bass count towards your overall score).
You can also win new lures, unlock other opponents and best of all, throw down against a friend in an array of two-player variations. Plus you’ll thrill to the cheeseball MIDI electric guitar and hilarious disco soundtrack. Yeah, there’s nothing quite landing the big one down by the overpass while getting down to the hottest bass licks this side of 1978. It’s all packed solid like dolphin-safe tuna right here.
So for whatever it may be worth, Sega Bass Fishing Duel is a surprisingly fun and satisfyingly addictive game with enough unlockables and challenges to keep one coming back for more. But perhaps the best thing about it is you don’t have to redock your boat on your trailer at the end of the day and then try to park it just so in the back yard when you get home. I was never good at that.