N64 Review #12 – Bass Hunter 64
I have to admit, if you asked me to make a list of real life things I consider to be a good time, fishing is not on the list. So when it comes to video games, fishing video games are about as exciting to me as an all rice cake diet. Nonetheless, I made an oath to review the entire North American N64 library and so it is. Part of what I wanted to accomplish when I set out on this quest was to find games I would not have even considered playing under other circumstances that would turn out to actually be a good time. This is the first game on that quest that has that chance.
One of the things that one would most likely be concerned with in playing a game based on a hobby they know nothing about would have to be even knowing what it is you are doing. Having no fishing knowledge whatsoever, I was able to immediately pick Bass Hunter 64 up and figure out what was going on. You are given the option of just fishing for fun or participating in tournaments. I opted to fish for fun at first to get the feel of the game. Another thing to keep in mind on older games like this is that most of the pertinent information was found in the manual. Today, of course, a game is ridiculed if there is not an extensive tutorial available. Most of the time, when I review an N64 game, I only have the cartridge with no manual. The game did an impressive job of using both text and the HUD to let you know what was going on and what you should be doing.
In the fish for fun mode, you get to choose a lake and then find yourself on the dock ready to go. The thumbstick controls the power and direction of your cast, and A casts. The view is split screen, with the top screen showing your fisherperson (you can choose male or female) and the bottom screen showing your lure in the water. A reels in the line while the thumbstick lets you move the lure to try to entice hungry fish to fall for your ruse. Fish will come up and nibble the bait and hopefully you will be able to hook them. If you do, you then get to fight the fish, reeling them in and fighting with the thumbstick until they are your future dinner. The game then displays some information on the fish such as type and weight. Control wise, that is really it. It is simple and it is perfect. Very well done.
You also have the option of changing baits and lures in game as well as hopping into your boat to explore the lake for more fish. The boat handles pretty realistically but switching back to fishing mode stops the boat dead in the water, so to speak. What? You didn’t think we were getting through this without puns, did you? Silly you. On screen is also a Garmin fish finder which is helpful if you are either Garmin or are familiar with how to read a fish finder. I had no idea what I was doing with it and when it looked to me like there were fish on the display, I stopped and casted and without fail, there would be none. I can’t tell if that is a fault with the game or a fault with my ability with a fish finder.
Tournament mode gives the game a lot of replay value. You are entered in tournament after tournament where you must place at least 3rd to proceed to the next tournament. The game gives you a time limit, but does so in more of a real time interval so instead of say, having 5 minutes, the game will tell you that the tournament lasts from 7:00am to 12:00pm. It’s a small touch, but I have to admit, it added a nice layer of realism. It also gives you a reason to keep playing. I will say this about the tournament mode: when you get to 30 minutes to go there is an audible alert that makes me long for Link having half of a heart of life left. Seriously annoying.
The presentation of Bass Hunter 64 is excellent. Visually, I was stunned with how beautiful they were able to make it. The water has actual depth and reflection of the environment around it. The fish look like actual fish. Even your character looks good, which was not super common on the N64 for humans to look decent. The lakeside was always so peaceful and serene looking. That, when added with the very nicely done ambient noise, really made this a relaxing experience. I was out at the lake without actually having to brave the brutal Florida heat to do so. Very nice.
Much to my own surprise, I really don’t have anything negative to say about Bass Hunter 64. I am the last person that anyone would have expected to enjoy a fishing video game, but this is actually really good. If you are looking for an action packed adventure, this is not the game for you. By no means is it the best game on the console. However, if you are looking for something a bit different that what you normally play or looking to just relax for a little while, this is really not a bad way to go. It’s gorgeous, it has simple, easy to understand controls, and is actually fun. All in all, Bass Hunter 64 is a very well done game that might just surprise you the way it did to me.