Game Over Online ~ Bass Avenger

GameOver Game Reviews - Bass Avenger (c) Simon & Schuster Interactive, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Bass Avenger (c) Simon & Schuster Interactive
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 90, 16MB Ram, 45MB HDD, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 68%
Date Published Thursday, October 12th, 2000 at 08:35 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

When Deer Hunter first hit the shelves, like many people, I was baffled at the longevity of what seemingly was a totally mediocre product. Months later, after still seeing the title top PC Data sales charts, I ventured to try that title on my own and found that it was after all, quite a mediocre title on a then new genre. There is no doubt Deer Hunter and its competitors have spawned a completely new genre in gaming. Like all new genres, its emergence also encouraged other would-be competitors to spawn a mockery of it in order to cash in on quick fame. Scream had its Scary Movie, James Bond had its Austin Powers, while Deer Hunter had its Deer Avenger; a game about deer hunting in reverse. In a similar fashion, Simon and Schuster Interactive give us Bass Avenger. Like Deer Avenger, Bass Avenger is a game about fishing in reverse.

You take on the persona of a giant bass in a lake who is hell-bent on reeling in all manners of fishermen and whoever happens to be near the lake. The game works similar to fishing games in that you must select a lure, cast it in a manner pleasing to the catch and then patiently reel it back in hoping to attract the attention of the fishermen. Once hooked, the fishermen will resist by kicking and screaming. Your bass fish is equipped with three different fishing lines: 400lbs, 200lbs and 100lbs. The lower the number, the more you have to balance between reeling them in and giving them some leeway. To accomplish what seems to be a difficult feat, all you have to do is click one mouse button to reel and not click it to let the catch tire itself out. Too much of the former action will bust your rod while too much of the latter and your catch will break free.

In the course of the game, you can pick between two lakes, one of which is your regular lake with the usual greenery while the other is set in icy cold conditions. The differences between the two lakes are purely cosmetic. Once you get over the initial novelty of the game, you'll settle in to a pattern of trawling around the waters in search of fishermen with a fishermen finder of your own. When it beeps, you proceed to the action screen where you'll select the bait and cast it. Once caught, you have the option of keeping the fishermen or tossing it out. If you elect to keep it, it is inducted for the duration of the game in an underwater trophy room complete with details on what bait was used and how heavy the catch was. Each fisherman weighs differently and the more they weigh, the harder it gets with a lightweight fishing line. Your targets include some stereotypical fishermen: the old man with a neat boat, the redneck fishermen, the rich fishing guy with a yacht, the burly wader and many more. For those of you who aren't into fishing at all, it's hard to really get any of the humour. Those who actually fish and see these types of fishermen will get a kick out of it. As most of the game consists of hand-painted cartoons, it might even be a turnoff to some. But once you settle in, the cartoony look isn't so bad and is fitting for the genre. Think Monkey Island 3 or the last of the Leisure Suit Larry games.

What makes a spoof of a genre memorable is its humour. There is no shortage of sarcastic humour in Bass Avenger. Your persona often talks about fishing and there's even a button to taunt the target. Some of the lines are rather humorous while others are forced requiring some prior knowledge to fishing. The discourse can get pretty funny but really not at the rate that you'll laugh out loud like say in Monkey Island or Grim Fandango. The game can only be played in three modes and those are really how long the game duration is: 10 mins, 20 mins, or 30 mins. Thus, it owes its longevity really to its humour. The fish isn't really all that fishermen like, he sounds more like some wise guy out of New York. His targets, the fishermen all sound like the stereotypes they represent. The fat Russian woman sounds like an immigrant with a heavy accent while the preppy rich fishermen sounds like some snobby guy out of Princeton. All these are great and there is a fair amount of speech put in so as to minimize repetition. After three or four games though, it starts to wear thin. Eventually, after a few days, you'll have heard just about everything the game has to offer. The rest of the sound effects are typical of your everyday fishing environments such as the sound of small motorboats, seagulls, water splashes. There is music in the game but it is sparse and is mainly a redneck country-like spoof of what the developers think fishermen like to listen. The speech is cleanly recorded and none of the audio exhibits any artifacts. The only wish you could have is for the developers to include more. The game only weighed in around 300 megs on the entire CD and there could potentially be double the content. With the simplistic overhead this game runs on, it shouldn't be too hard to generate that.

As mentioned before, this game is pretty limited. There is no multiplayer mode, the single player mode only includes a whopping two lakes. More lakes would have definitely added to this game's value, although I guess the fishing experience will be roughly the same, as you will run into the same situations over and over again. There are only a pre-set number of fishermen on lake and on land. Near the shore, you'll find more colourful characters like the mental asylum escapee, the trouser-wearing bear among others. I found some of the AI for the shore characters lacking. If you cast something in front of a character in an overt and aggressive manner, they will move away. Since shore fishermen with waders can't move deeper into the lake, they will flee away off-screen. If the path they select intersects the deep parts of the lake, they will be stuck and the catch is pretty much guaranteed as all you have to do is wait for them to calm down to cast again. Each character has an affinity towards a specific item. For example, the convict likes beer or alcohol. The redneck seems to like toilet paper. The old man likes a bra and the preppy rich guy likes men's entertainment magazines. Part of the initial excitement is finding out which characters like which items. After you get those down pat though, the game becomes more like a chore.

The developers seemed to be conscious this would be primarily a diversionary game. It is a game that you would enjoy if you want to play it while your computer crunches at an algorithm or merges a few database tables. Thus, there isn't a save game option but you can save automatically when exiting the game. This is helpful, as I can't imagine any veteran Bass Avenger players who would want to sit down for a lengthy 30-minute session. That said though, they fail to include the option to run this game in a window mode. The game only runs in 640x480 mode but that is really more than adequate for the hand-painted graphics. There really is no evidence it uses 3D acceleration. One can expect even the most modest machines will provide a playable experience. The introductory cinematic sequence is the only sequence of any appreciable length in the game and it is rather bland. In fact, it reuses graphics from the game. As expected, there is no mode for 3D sound or surround sound either. There is one particular note I want to make about this game. Although it ran comfortably in Windows 2000, it periodically crashes, at least in my particular set-up. This occurred most when choosing starting conditions for the game or at the very last second of a fishing trip. Needless to say, the latter was particularly frustrating to deal with. On a separate hardware set-up with Windows Me, no problems like this were encountered.

Having said all that, Bass Avenger is not entirely an awful game. But you do have to be into either fishing games or fishing in general to really appreciate any of the humour. I'm not an avid fisher but I have been fishing for the past four years, enough to be aware of the humour. To put it mildly, the technical side of the game is rather simplistic. Since other spoofs have come out, like Who Wants to Beat up a Millionaire, the existence of this title no longer shocks anyone. Its cousin, Deer Avenger, has spawned not one but two sequels already. After hearing that, I did expect a bit more from Bass Avenger. But I can't say it isn't a solid game. It has limited goals but it accomplishes those goals, sometimes elegantly. Thus, Bass Avenger is really like soufflé, it is light and can only be taken in not too great amounts to really appreciate it. And I think that's the way anyone should approach this title.


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