Format reviewed: Dreamcast
Submitted by: Craig Hawkins
The joys of fishing. Wandering down to the river on a sunny but not sultry Sunday morning, rod in hand, covered from head to toe in mosquito repellent. Finding a nice secluded spot to settle your reclining chair by the riverbank; olive boonie hat in place, supply of Sherbet Fountain tubes at the ready; Desert Island Discs coming softly through earphones. Needless to say, we intend to catch no fish. It's inhumane and merely breaks the tranquillity.
There's no such serenity or moral quandaries here, though. Sega doesn't understand fishing, Sega understands videogames. Noisy, mental arcade videogames that occasionally involve fishing. In an abstract way SBF is like Crazy Taxi. Automobiles and passengers make way for boats and bass. A timer counts down as you endeavour to accumulate a target total weight.
Thankfully there's no Offspring to annoy you, but the music included is equally dreadful. Rawk and angling do not mix. It would be a more appropriate soundtrack to reeling in mutant sharks than bass. Exclamation marks fly thick and fast from the annoying announcer's mouth and the screen prompts. Bite! Tension! Fish!! Fight!!
Three (plus bonus) areas offer varying water conditions and colourful scenery to stare at while you play with your tackle. After choosing your lure, it's straight to battle. Cast your rod and wait for a hapless fish to take the bait. Small ones offer little resistance, big ones do their best to snap your line, some tease you as precious time ticks away.
When you get a bite, the aim is to keep your line steady and the fish under control with the aid of the tension bar. Then reel in, weigh and repeat with another fish. Gutted of any strategic depth, SBF is no fisherman's friend but remains a funky pick-up-and-play title to spend an hour or three with every so often.
Tournament mode attempts to prolong the entertainment but only lets the gameplay outstay its welcome. This is a true arcade experience, and as fun and well executed as Sega's fishing is in short doses, the dedicated rod controller is the star reason why the game is essential to all Dreamcast collections.