Super Black Bass 3D Preview
You bet your bass there are no puns in this article.
Whether you’re a true fisherman, a lapsed amateur, or someone who has never even put worm to hook in your life, fishing games can be a lot of fun – when done well. After the Wii’s motion controls led to an onslaught of questionable fishing games available at your local Academy Sports & Outdoors, the whole genre got pushed even farther off of the typical gamer’s radar. This April, one of the great fishing series tries to make a return when Super Black Bass 3D is released on the 3DS, but it’s uncertain if it will capture the classic majesty of the Black Bass series heritage.
Even those who haven’t played a full-fledged fishing game have probably dabbled in the mini-games tucked into Zelda titles (to much praise) and into other games like Nier (to much complaining). Regardless of those mini-games’ quality, they give a good idea of how most fishing games operate. You cast a lure, hope to get a fish’s attention, yank back with the joystick or Wii remote to set the hook, and reel in your catch without letting it escape. You also can’t be a meathead and break your line by pulling too hard. Although fairly simple, the games will typically randomize the fish size, strength, and other factors to keep you trying again and again to catch something even bigger. Those basic mechanics have been there since the beginning, but not many people were into fishing games until the Black Bass series started showing up in the late ‘80s and the idea started to get some attention.
The Black Bass for NES graced every video rental shop’s shelves for years and was always there for consideration if every other game was already rented. Nobody really wanted to buy or rent The Black Bass, but when they did it was a pleasant surprise. The series really started to gain some fans with the SNES game (the third one released in North America), Super Black Bass.
For some reason, Super Black Bass did almost everything right that was possible at the time. Starting off in a top-down view of the lake, you steer a boat to the best fishing spot you can find. When you kill the engine, the camera shifts behind your fisherman and you cast your line. The camera follows the lure across the water in a pretty good simulation of three-dimensional rendering and then the view shifts to a top-down perspective where you try to snag the biggest fish in sight and the classic battle between fish and man begins. It’s a great combination of strategy, luck, relaxation, and tension – much like actual fishing, but without the worm guts and chiggers.
Other entries in the series followed, and did a decent job of hanging on to the fans that Super Black Bass had acquired. Then the series that had made appearances on several Nintendo systems came to a halt, with no releases on the N64, Gamecube, Wii, or DS. There was certainly a saturation of fishing games during part of this time thanks to the Wii controller’s obvious fishing pole capabilities, but none of those were of the Black Bass pedigree. Finally, Rising Star Games has decided to bring the series back to us, and hopefully it will live up to its potential.
There are scant details available so far, but what is known gives reason for both hope and concern. On the bright side, the game is going to allow you to sell the fish you catch and buy better gear – which promises to create an addictive leveling-up system to keep you compulsively heading out to the lake. Also, the 3DS’s online capabilities allow for leaderboards that should add a real sense of competition between other players instead of only comparing your catches to goofy A.I. competitors. There’s also varying weather and environments to a degree that wasn’t really possible on the SNES. Then we have those classic fishing mechanics to give us a solid foundation for hours of fishing fun… or will we?
Rising Star Games has decided to take cues from all of those Wii fishing games and make use of the 3DS’s motion sensors and gyroscopes. The company is touting that you’ll be using these capabilities to cast your lure and set your hook with the game’s “Real Rod System.” Now, that sort of thing can work well on Wii games, but on the 3DS it could be problematic. With a portable system, you’re going to be looking at the screen while simultaneously needing to yank and twist the entire 3DS to catch those elusive bass. This will most likely lead to some awkward moments where your eyes can’t catch what’s happening on screen when you really need to be able to. And forget about using the 3D setting if you’re going to be tilting and jerking the system all over the place. Unless they’ve figured out how to use the minutest of motions to get the game to respond, this could be a game breaker.
Perhaps all of those worries are just outright pessimism bubbling up and a relaxing weekend at the lake will put it all in perspective. Hopefully, Rising Star Games’ “Real Rod System” will put us right back in those 16-bit lakes of yore where we were at peace. Or maybe they’ll at least give us the option to just use the d-pad and we can forget all this newfangled gadgetry and just catch some fish.