(Wii U)

Game Review

Rapala Pro Bass Fishing Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Dead in the water

In attempting to craft a realistic fishing experience, Rapala Pro Bass Fishing got one thing exactly right: you'll be sitting around doing nothing for most of the time you play it. Unfortunately that's due to its almost insultingly lengthy load times, but we'll still give it some credit for unintentional verisimilitude.

The experience itself is broken into two main single-player modes, and one sorely underdeveloped two-player mode in which you and a friend sit on the couch seeing who can land the biggest fish, or more likely just compete to see who can sit still the longest without ejecting the disc and inserting New Super Mario Bros. U.

The majority of the game can be found in the tournament mode, which sees you entering various competitions to catch fish. You compete with an avatar of your own creation, though don't expect much in the way of customisation. You basically choose your name and gender, and any changes beyond that are limited to unlockable shirts and sunglasses. It's during this extremely simple character creation sequence that the game's plentiful and preposterously long loading times make themselves apparent — as well as a never-ending frame rate stutter — so get used to it, because it won't be going away.

You can choose from various competitions that arguably increase in difficulty as you advance — more on this in a moment — and it's your job to steer your boat to high-activity areas and reel in the biggest fish of the day. The problems begin immediately, though. As the game doesn't come with a paper manual you'll be totally reliant upon the on-screen instructions, which scroll far too quickly to read and consist often of relatively complicated guidance that you wouldn't be likely to figure out on your own — the digital manual does at least explain what the buttons do, but without any explanation or context, which sorely limits its usefulness. While this of course would only be a problem until you learn the controls for yourself, the speed and complexity of the instructions means you may actually have to play through multiple tournaments before you even know everything you're supposed to be doing.

Once you pilot your boat to a spot of your choosing you can use sonar to detect what fish are there; target fish for that competition are blue, for easy identification. Then, unfortunately, you actually have to cast the line, which introduces a mandatory waggle so pointless and frustrating it retroactively justifies every complaint anyone's ever had about the Wii. You press ZR and then flick the GamePad upward while releasing the button to cast. It may not sound so bad, but the controls are so unresponsive that you'll have to positively snap the GamePad to get it to do anything. Of course, it's quite likely that your face is above the controller, so we hope you enjoy violently jerking a block of thick plastic towards your face, because you'll be doing it a lot.

Hooking a fish is even worse. Not only does it require yet another violent jerk of the GamePad towards your nose and eyes, but you'll also have to tilt it left and right to keep the fish in the centre of the screen. While you'd expect smaller tilts to yield smaller adjustments, the fact is that Rapala Pro Bass Fishing seems to only recognise the most violent gestures, so you'll be slamming the controller from left to right repeatedly, in the hopes that the game detects something.

If you do land a fish you'll see where you stand on the leaderboards so far. This is where the game's difficulty should come in, as it's your job to reel in the biggest fish of the day. However, there's no skill to finding the bigger fish — it's all random. Bigger fish might be in one hotspot, or they might be in another; you choose them at random and so your potential for landing the fish is random. What's more you're competing against CPU fishers who are also reeling them in at random. This means that sometimes you'll only need a 5 pounder to win the tournament and other times you'll need 15; you just keep playing until you draw a higher random number than the CPU draws. That's not much fun.

There are also obnoxious announcers who bleat over your every move, repeating the same few sentences from the small pool of voice samples included with the game. This makes it even harder to concentrate on what you're doing — not to mention the text-based instructions sailing past — and the best part is that the samples aren't all of the same volume. Some of them are barely whispers and others positively boom out of your speakers. This means that if you turn the volume up to hear one thing they say, you'll likely be blown backward by the next.

The second mode is based around free fishing, and thankfully it's much quieter. However there's not much to do apart from coast around on a variety of lakes and fish at your leisure. While this could be relaxing fun, it suffers from all of the same control issues as the first mode, and that rips "fun" right out of the equation. There are also a series of challenge rings you can activate, which present you with optional mini-missions such as hitting targets with your cast. It's not fun.

Rapala Pro Bass Fishing proudly boasts that it contains a wide range of real-world equipment and locations. As far as we can tell, they've all been lovingly recreated in this virtual world, so mission accomplished we guess. We just wish the developer had focused its attention on providing a better game, as no amount of accurate detail can redeem this one.

Conclusion

Rapala Pro Bass Fishing seems to wish to coast on its attention to detail, but the stiff, unresponsive gameplay, annoying intrusions, terribly long loading times and seemingly broken controls make it all but impossible to appreciate the smaller things. If your first thought upon seeing the Wii U GamePad was "I can't wait to smash myself in the face repeatedly with that while trying to reel in an imaginary fish," then this is the game for you. Otherwise, you should absolutely let this one get away.

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User Comments (22)

Savino

#1

Savino said:

The 3DS AR fishing minigame was the best I ever played!! (not that I played too many)
I wonder when they will do something like that again with more depth!

Nareva

#2

Nareva said:

That's too bad. I was really looking forward to this.

Hahaha.

No, seriously, does anyone look forward to fishing games?

Jollykarp

#3

Jollykarp said:

Fishing is one of those genres where realism directly works against the game's fun factor :(

There have been pretty good ones released in the past, although they've never quite matched the thrill of fishing in real life imo

Linkuini

#5

Linkuini said:

In addition to the AR Fishing game mentioned, I keep thinking back to how much I enjoyed fishing in that one little area in Twilight Princess. When Nintendo can toss something like that into a game as a side activity, it becomes even more embarrassing when dedicated fishing games fall so short of the mark. :(

Donjwolf

#8

Donjwolf said:

Too bad about the review. I have one of the Rapala games on PSP and that was pretty good.

StarDust4Ever

#9

StarDust4Ever said:

Maybe it's just me, but I find the real sport of fishing to be pretty boring, eg sit for hours sometimes with no bites, even when you can see the fish swimmingnin the water. Then you return to camp with a nasty sunburn. And I'm a person who generally loves the outdoors. Not much of a hunter either, although if you offer me wild game (venicen, duck, rabbit, etc) on a plate (cooked of course), I'll gladly eat it!

Back to what I was saying, anytime someone creates a video game around the concept of fishing, I have to sit back and ask "why?" Certain pastimes just don't translate well to video games. Period.

Donjwolf

#12

Donjwolf said:

@StarDust,
Have you ever played any fishing games? I've played a few and none of them had me sitting in a boat for hours waiting for a fish to catch. That's a part of the sport that developers seem to omit when making games. Fish are more likely to take a bite when you cast and you'll get one in seconds/minutes.

ste_wright

#20

ste_wright said:

Nothing will ever beat fishing in ocarina of time. I liked the fishing in twilight princess but it wasnt as addictive as trying to catch that hylian loach. As someone who enjoys fishing in reel life i never felt inclined to buy a actual fishing game. Probably because they all seem to be bass fishing which isnt available in the uk.

Doobah

#22

Doobah said:

This game is much better with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. As a big fishing game fan this one is pretty decent, cheesy fun. Not worth full price but there are worse fishing games. I say it's a 6/10.

I've been really enjoying this game and have been posting lots of screenshots in the Rapala Miiverse Community. I'm the alien dude ( Grayson ). I'm giving a play by play of the fishing exploits of my character Earlene. Search my profile ( GDoobah ) if you'd like to see Earlene's fishing adventures.

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