Apparently Fisherman's Bait is a popular arcade game in Japan right now. Would such a coin-op game fly in the states? Possibly. Konami's going to give it a try the PlayStation just the same.
In Fisherman's Bait, the fishing is amazingly simple with a sizable slant on the action element, if you can believe that. From the beginning you can select Beginner Mode to immediately acquaint yourself with the game. An onscreen tutorial shows you what to do as it happens. The general idea is to catch as many fish as you can in the allotted time frame. Variables include the threat of a snapped line and catching non-game fish like Bluegill and Snakehead. You may also compete for top three fish (in size) or total weight of all fish caught.
The lure selection is vast as well as an important part of the game. If weather conditions are rainy and cold, for example, certain lures will attract the fish faster. Once on the line, reeling them in is done by rotating the right analog stick clockwise. The left stick controls the rod placement. We have to tell ya, when the big fish bites and the controller starts vibrating it's quite exciting. The challenge of fighting the fish, while keeping an eye on the line-tension meter as well as the clock makes for an exciting bit of game playing.
It's safe to say Fisherman's Bait has broken new ground in the fishing genre by introducing previously unheard of "excitement elements." Nice graphics and competent gameplay should send it to the top of the digital angler's wish list.
Download Fisherman's Bait
It's interesting that "fishing" has become a specific game genre. It's not a novelty anymore--people are buying these things. Anyway, as you know if you read the preview, FB is currently a popular coin-op game in Japan. The reason it works in the arcade is the same for this PlayStation version--the challenge of the time limit and the insatiable quest for bigger and better game fish. The focus of this title is not on the serene waters and relaxing atmosphere, as other fishing games have tried. Instead, the objective is to land as many game fish (Large Mouth Bass) as you can in the time limit. It's actually quite exciting. The rod mechanics have been well represented by the analog controller. You rotate one stick for the reel while the other is for rod placement. Trying to land a "lunker" is the pinnacle of excitement. Heavier fish will push the line and tackle to their limits. While it seems simple, actually becoming good requires knowledge of weather conditions, fish feeding habits and the proper lures to use. You can most efficiently use your knowledge in Tournament Mode, but two-player Vs. Mode is by far the most entertaining way to play. Both players appear on the same screen fishing side by side. We had a blast playing this way. If you're looking for a fun fishing game to buy, this is it.
I would never have guessed in a million years that I'd actually enjoy a fishing game, but Fisherman's Bait works well because of its simplistic, arcade-type action. Anyone can pick it up and start fishing in a matter of moments. Two-player FB is more fun, because it adds a little competition. This isn't the type of game that will keep you "hooked" for hours or days on end, but it should be fun to pickup once in a while.
Hmm...you could tell me that this was the best fishing game in the world and it probably wouldn't matter. It certainly looks very nice (the fish look very...um, "fishy") and it has a certain oddly relaxing quality about it--but it's definitely something for a niche audience. Most people who like fishing are standing up to their armpits in a river somewhere already, aren't they? The two-player game is oddly compelling, though.
FB brings back memories from my childhood, which may be why I like this game so much. I think there's more to it, though. Unlike most other fishing games, FB truly captures what it's like to spend a day at the lake, thanks to some fancy rumbling, simple but effective analog control and a solid fishing system. No, the graphics aren't all that impressive (except for the 3D fish themselves), but for a fishing game this one is a definite keeper.
About a year ago, I inexplicably got hooked on a PC fishing game called Trophy Bass II by Sierra. My friends all laughed at me for playing a fishing game, and I hung my head in shame. "You have all these killer PSX games and you are wasting your time playing a stupid fishing game?" was what they said. I don't know why, but I really loved that game and there were not many choices when it came to fishing games on the old PSX. I thought I was doomed to a life of shame, playing fishing games on the PC.
Fast forward to today. I have outgrown my addiction to Trophy Bass II and have moved on to bigger and better things. The selection of fishing games on the PSX is still the same. I had almost completely forgotten about that time in my life until I received an innocent-looking package from FedEx with Konami's name on it. "What could this be?" I asked. As I innocently ripped open the package, I had no idea what I was in for. What is this? A fishing game for the PSX? A warm feeling started to grow in my belly and seeing that largemouth bass on the cover brought it all back, but now I will not have to hide in shame. A fishing game for the PSX!
From what I understand, Fisherman's Bait is a port of an arcade game, and it really shows. To get right to the point, this game was pretty disappointing in terms of a simulation, but not bad if you think of it as an arcade game. It is that simple. If you are looking for the real thing, you might as well stop reading now. If you are looking for action on every cast, this game may hold your attention a little longer than it held mine.
The game basically has a couple of modes of play, but the only one really worth playing is the tournament mode. This puts you in a three-day competition to bring in the heaviest haul of bass. Each day you have to catch a fish large enough to qualify and move on to the daily tournament competition. The tournament competition takes the three largest fish you catch and compares the total weight against other fictitious fishermen. If your pot at the end of Day 3 weighs the most, you are crowned the bass champion and win the big trophy.
This game does do some things right to go along with doing some things wrong. I will start off with what they did well and move into the bad. The first thing they did well was to give the player a great selection of lures to use. You have seven different lures that range from top water to bottom dragging. You can change the colors of the lures to match the water conditions. This will give you an opportunity to try fishing all the different lures that you would fish in real life.
Another thing they did that worked really well was the process of fishing itself if you are using an analog controller. This is one of the most creative uses of the analog controller I have seen to date. The left stick controls the rod and the right stick controls the reel. To cast, you push in on the right stick to start your cast. When the cast meter gets up to the point that you want to cast your lure, you press the stick in again. That is not the cool part, though. The cool part is the way that you crank your line in. You rotate the right control stick in a clockwise motion, just like cranking in a reel. Aside from the sore thumb, this worked great. It takes a little practice and you will have to build up strength in your thumb, but once you get the hang of it, you will really like this method. For those who are faint of thumb, you can use the standard buttons to crank in the reel, but that ruins one of the best parts of the game.
The other thing that is cool about the game is the view of the fish after you hook one. Instead of watching the boring fisherman stand there and crank, you will get a switching camera view that will zoom in on the fish, showing him jump, dive or take a big run. When the action on the fish gets a bit less exciting, the camera will zoom back out to the fisherman. I thought this was a great touch because you got a great idea of how big the fish was and what species it was. You would always know if you had a bass that was worth battling in, or if you had a catfish that you should try to break off. It is just hard to describe how much excitement it added to the game to see a close-up of the largemouth bass jumping out of the water.
Now for the not-so-good. First off, the game was way too arcade for my tastes. On the medium setting, you will catch a fish of some type on almost every cast. How real is this? I think there is a delicate balance that must be achieved in a fishing game between too much action and not enough action. This game has way too much action. It gets to the point where if you don't catch a fish on every cast, you start to think there is something wrong.
The other thing that made it feel arcade-like was that there was a stupid timer going on in the tournament. I am not talking about the day clock, because that was necessary, but you had a timer that would count down. As you catch fish, time is added to the timer. If it runs out, you have to continue. This had no place whatsoever in the tournament mode. I really think they should have added an arcade mode for this and left it out of the tournament mode.
Another thing that bothered me about the game is that it really did not make any difference which lure I used. I could cast out a different lure on seven different casts and catch something on every one of the casts. Where is the skill in this? Part of the challenge of fishing is to try and find the one lure that the fish are biting on. You have to do your research. You have to test a few things out before you find the hot lure for the day or even the hour. It would have made the game 10 times better if they would have just included this small feature. Make me work a little instead of just handing everything to me.
The last thing that bothered me about the game was that there just were not enough lakes. There were only four lakes but the worst part was that you could only pick from six to eight fishing spots on the lake. You did not have full control to explore for the secret fishing hole. The game basically dropped you in the middle of the fishing holes. Once again, give me a freakin' challenge.
Finally, my biggest complaint is that you have absolutely no control of what fish you catch. See, there are a number of different species of fish, but only bass count (that is pretty lame, also). You really have no control over what fish hits your bait. You just cast into the dark water randomly and hope. It would have been nice to have a fish finder or something that required a little skill to use instead of going on blind luck.
The graphics in the game are decent at best. I will say that I really liked the zoom-in-on-the-fish camera effects and the fish looked really good, but everything else looked bland. The water effects looked pretty bad, as did the shoreline. I guess that since this is a fishing game, the important thing is to make the fish look good, and with that they succeeded.
Fisherman's Bait started off entertaining enough, but quickly started to spiral downward to the point of boredom. This would not be a bad game to rent for a night, but after that you will have had enough. I am sorry, but I just need more of a challenge. This game is about as challenging as the old fishing game we used to play at our elementary school carnival. You know, where there is a partition set up and there is a person standing behind and a little kid throws his line over the wall and the person behind the wall ties a prize on the end of the line. I don't want the prize tied to the end of my line.