Super Black Bass 3D Review
I haven’t been fishing in a while. In fact, last time I went, back in the UK, I managed to get my friend’s expensive new lure and line caught in the higher branches of a far-off tree and subsequently got banned from approaching any of the fishing gear we had set up. So, like any gamer would do in the early 2000s, I pulled out my Gameboy Advance and proceeded to play Metroid Fusion until everyone else decided they’d had enough of not catching any fish, and we went home. When I was given the opportunity to play Super Black Bass 3D on the 3DS, I figured my fishing past had come full circle; I was now able to play a fishing game on a handheld, rather than playing a handheld while fishing, and all with the opportunity of not losing any expensive lures. Unfortunately, within my first five minutes of Super Black Bass 3D, I’d already broken three lines and lost three lures, so I guess in that respect it’s a fairly accurate representation of the sport.
Super Black Bass 3D starts off in fairly standard fashion, asking you to pick a gender and enter the name of your character. Following this, you are given the option of playing through a brief tutorial, which teaches you the basics of the game, most notable of which is the casting motion, as this requires you to physically flick your 3DS forward in an imitation of how you actually cast a real fishing rod. Whilst this mechanic is quite cool and creates a great deal of immersion into the game, it does its part in discouraging you from playing the game in public, both for the weird looks that you will undoubtedly receive from flailing your arms about every couple of minutes and for the potential of being sued for poking someone in the eye with a wayward 3DS corner.
Unfortunately, the tutorial isn’t particularly helpful if, as I did, you accidentally press the continue button midway through an explanation of a feature, as there’s no way to get the game to repeat itself, meaning that you will be moving your 3DS in all kinds of different directions in the hopes of hitting the sweet spot that the game requires of you. Furthermore, the tutorial doesn’t really teach you much about the basics of fishing itself, so for novices, this game can have a steep initial learning curve. The box boasts that the game presents a fishing experience that can change depending on the time of day, water temperature and weather conditions, but this isn’t really explained in-game, and neither are the different types of lures, lines and rods, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. For a novice fisherman such as myself, this means that most of the time I was merely chucking my lure into the water and hoping for the best, not really knowing why some casts were more successful than others.
Mechanically, the casting of your line is really the only interesting function that Super Black Bass brings with it. There are four different types of cast that you can perform – Overhead, Sidehand, Backhand and Pitching – and each is performed by tilting the 3DS in a different direction before flicking it forward. Once you’ve set your lure into the lake, the only button that you’re required to press is A, which reels your line in. If you’re lucky enough to get a bite, a quick flick upwards of the 3DS ensures that the fish is hooked, and then the fight begins to reel it in. Most of the struggle consists of pressing and holding A for a couple of seconds, giving the fish some slack, and then repeating, sometimes tilting the 3DS slightly to change the angle of the line. Despite the fact that a fight with a fish is often seen as the most exhilarating part of fishing, Super Black Bass 3D’s reeling sections are pretty dull, seeing as you’re only really required to press one button. These segments have graphical issues as well as, at various points, the fish on the end of your line seems to stutter, almost as if it gets caught on something invisible. The line also frequently cuts through the fish itself, particularly when the fish is attempting to swim away. What’s more, the fish don’t really seem to swim normally towards your lure once they’ve spotted it; rather, they seem to flail wildly around a point that appears to be located just in front of the center of their face, and merely move in your direction, flopping around madly as they do so.
Once you get into the game proper, Super Black Bass gives players the chance to try out two different modes: Free Fishing – which is fairly self-explanatory in that you fish in any of the available lakes with no competition – or Tournament, which allows you to partake in a number of different competitions, spread over the various lakes in the game. There’s also the option to visit the shop, which allows you to buy different rods, lures, lines, and even boats for those mid-lake excursions. The bulk of most gamers’ time will probably be spent in the Tournament mode, though, as this is where the game seemingly points you. Whichever mode you choose, you’ll never feel as if Super Black Bass 3D is a taxing experience, be it emotionally, physically or mentally. Much of your time in the game will be spent casting, waiting for a bite, and reeling your rod in. There are no high-adrenaline moments within the game, something which will be seen as perfect by some and the worst gaming experience imaginable by others.
In each Tournament, you are given a set of rules, which often range from the times of day that you can fish, how big certain fish have to be, and how many fish you can have in your possession at one time to count towards your final score. For example, the first competition you enter, the Local Tournament, allows you to catch and hold up to five fish, and from there you can replace and release any further fish that you catch that will give you a greater chance of winning. The tournament runs from an in-game time of 6am to 6pm, which in real-world time is about an hour and a half. You are able to save mid-tournament, which is a nice touch for those who only have a few minutes here and there, and you are also able to leave a tournament early and weigh-in before the set end time, although this can leave you at a disadvantage against your AI competition, as it gives them extra time to catch the “big one”.
When you’re on the shore of each lake, the 3DS’ touch screen gives you the opportunity to examine various statistics or move to different points of the lake, either for better luck or different varieties of fish. From the touch screen, you can access your Livewell, which tells you which fish you’re currently in possession of; your gear screen, which allows you to switch up your equipment; and your fishing records, which allow you to see which types of fish you’ve caught in the past. Moving around the lake is easy, with each lake’s map broken down into squares. All you need to do is touch a particular square, and the game will ask if you wish to move to it. Loading times are minimal, although moving around does cost you in-game tournament time, usually amounting to about 10 minutes, so it’s nothing too crucial.
Aesthetically, Super Black Bass 3D is fairly unremarkable. Visuals are quite sparse around each lake, and the underwater scenes are largely murky and indistinct. Character models are particularly ugly, as they look like something you’d expect from the early days of the PS2. However, the visuals are never offensively bad, and it’s always pretty easy to see what you’re supposed to be doing. Even the 3D portion of the game, which is boasted about in the game’s title, is pretty much nonexistent and adds nothing to the gameplay. The background music admittedly does an admirable job of remaining in the background, never once becoming overblown and intrusive, and often adds to the relaxing nature of the game. The one downside to the audio design is the reeling sound, which is particularly piercing, and unfortunately, due to the nature of the game, is heard a lot.
Fishing games aren’t particularly common, and so, when one comes along, it’s understandable that fans of the sport will be interested in how it performs. Super Black Bass 3D is the kind of game that will likely appeal to fans of the genre, as it represents the sport of fishing fairly authentically. If in the real world you find the thought of a day by the lake, rod in hand, unbearably boring, then it’s likely that you’ll find Super Black Bass the same. On the other hand, if the idea of relaxing in the shade while keeping a close eye on the bob of your lure and watching the world go by at a serene pace appeals to you, then you’ll more than likely enjoy your time with the game. It does have its issues, even if these aren’t game-ruining for some, and, much like its real-world iteration, the game works at an incredibly serene pace. Super Black Bass 3D isn’t likely to win over any converts into the world of fishing, but it may just tide over those who already live for their days by the lake.
Super Black Bass 3D scores a 3.25 out of 5
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