Just six months back, Big John Games released Big Bass Arcade on DSiWare, offering up pick-up-and-play fishing action on the go. While the game certainly did what it said on the box, the overly simplistic design left us wanting a bit more content-wise. Enter Big Bass Arcade on WiiWare, a revamped port of that game offering updated graphics and new, well-implemented motion controls — but little else.
The game is set up much like the original DSiWare release: you can visit any unlocked environment and fish your little heart out in Free Play mode, or compete in tournaments and complete challenges. Challenges have you catching certain fish within a time limit while the tournaments tally up the total weight of your catches. New lures become unlocked as you complete challenges and tournaments, but like the previous release, you might be better off sticking with a standard lure, as the bass can be finicky about fancier bait.
There are only four arenas to fish in, and while more environments would be welcome, the ones available do look quite good, with a sunny, tranquil feel – perfect for a relaxing bit of fishing fun. The reflection effect on the water is done especially well, but some of the surrounding buildings can be a bit blocky, so don't stare too far off into the distance.
Moving about each arena is necessary to search out pockets of fish, but you can't actually drive your boat around the pond, which would have been a nice addition to the game. Instead you move in a linear line left or right. This makes hunting down fish a bit more challenging, but it sure looks strange to see your boat facing forward and moving sideways through a pond.
One improvement over the portable version is the inclusion of motion controls, which make the game play a lot like the fishing mini-game in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Flicking the Wii Remote back starts your cast while whipping the controller forward launches the lure. There is a power meter that dictates the length of your cast, so timing is important. Rather than operating the reel on the DSi touch screen, you now use the Wii Nunchuk to pull in your line, rotating it in a circle.
You'll also be prompted to “set” the hook by jerking back the Wii Remote and must follow periodic motion prompts to keep your fish on the line, like twisting the controller left or right or whipping it up and down. This keeps the whole affair from feeling mindless, as if you don’t follow the prompts quick enough you lose your fish. There is also a tension meter the rises as you reel, but it rarely fills enough to effect gameplay.
Another welcome addition to the WiiWare release is the inclusion of a variety of fish. The original only had bass, but this version lets you collect other types, like norther pike or the unfortunately named crappie fish. Still, bass is king here, and it is the only fish counted in the game's tournaments. Catching pikes and crappies will actually hurt your score here, as they can come in and grab your lure just as you were about to snag a bass. This eats up time, and makes it harder to place well enough to unlock the other stages.
If you're looking for a laid back bit of fun, Big Bass Arcade delivers a simple yet satisfying experience at the low cost of 500 Nintendo Points. The overall package is a little light content-wise, and the different modes do feel a lot alike, but the act of actually catching a fish is still both easy and engaging — a rare combination.