On the ill-fated Dreamcast system, Sega was reliant primarily on itself
for its sports ventures. In everything from NBA to the NFL, they had to
craft their own titles because of the lack of third party software
support. Thus, Sega set out to use their first party developers to
literally craft out two niche genres of sports: tennis and fishing.
Through franchises like Sega Bass Fishing, fishing was brought to the
forefront of the console world, albeit it had less of an impact than
Sega's tennis forays. Nonetheless, the fishing explosion on the console
side of things was nicely mirrored with continuing interest in hunting
and fishing titles on the PC. When Konami brought Great Outdoors Games
Bass 2002 (Bass 2K2) to the GBA, I bet the developers were hoping
whatever success bass fishing had gotten on other platforms would spread
to the GBA as well.
Fishing games, in general, have always been relegated to the leisure
sport category, often lumped with titles like hunting. In the
beginning, fishing titles were poor 2D executions of the actual thing.
A full 3D engine was brought on by titles from Sega and PC stalwart,
Sierra. What can 3D add to a fishing game? The developers here don't
posit that query because they have resorted to the usage of 2D sprites,
albeit very well animated 2D sprites. The fishing venues and fish are
all sprites, denoting the GBA's lack of power to tackle a full 3D
rendering, but the execution is just as well. Much attention is paid to
the fluidity of fish traveling underwater. The venues are photographs
of actual places, although the photographs' resolutions are not as clear
as they could be.
Because of the use of 2D graphics, there is very limited mobility for
your fishermen. Try as the developers might, the combination of good
animation and static photography is a fait accompli that does not
measure up to contemporary expectations. Bass 2K2 invokes all of the
usual trappings with a campaign and free fish mode. You can compete
alongside a human player too, in a bid to fish for the largest catch in
a certain amount of time. Some of the more innovative and deeper modes
of play found in PC counterparts are curiously missing.
The actual fishing, lure and reeling are well done for the GBA interface
but it certainly doesn't give any sense of actual fishing. After a few
tries at the game, you'll have memorized some of the eye-hand
coordination movements you have to execute in order to successfully reel
in big fish every time. With that said, Bass 2K2 does not feature
completely anemic gameplay. It simply cannot rise above mediocrity.
The actual title of this game denotes a plan for Konami. Obviously
they want to do Great Outdoors Games of other activities. The yearly
2002 denomination denotes some sort of continual effort to improve on
this. As it stands now, it resembles the first infant titles of
Sierra's first Trophy Bass series; a decent game but not anywhere near
an actual simulation. The music and sound are certainly a step in the
right direction, although fishing titles are never known for exemplary
sound. Like with all franchises, it will take some time to improve this
one. Thus far, Bass 2K2 is at its best as a diversionary title; more
like the experience of playing a few minutes on a PDA. Unfortunately,
with the GBA's dimensions, it won't be an oft-used diversion.
Hopefully, next year's version will feature deeper (no pun intended)
simulation modes and gameplay.