And therein lies your main criteria for whether or not you should buy this game. Do you like fishing? Do you enjoy hours spent on the water waiting for an elusive bite, only to finally hook a tiny minnow? Do you live for broken lines, lost lures, and the endless trips to the fishing shop? If all that sounds awful to you, then just go ahead and stop reading right now; this game is not for you. But…if you are willing to face (and even love) all of that for the exhilarating feel of hooking the big one, the sense of accomplishment at the finish of a tough tournament, and the outright joy of picking the perfect setup for a great day of fishing, then you are the exact person this game is made for.
In most things, the video game versions are a souped up version of real life events. Racing games have fast cars and spectacular crashes, army games go straight to the explosive action of battle, and and even platformers feature almost nonstop action to keep gamers hooked. Super Black Bass 3D is not like that at all, and that can be a good or bad thing, depending on where you’re coming from. While a nonstop thrill ride of reeling in monsters has an undeniable appeal for some, the idea of a game that feels like real fishing when you can’t be out on the boat is a real plus for fishing devotees (or wannabes who want to get a feel for the sport).
The most obvious thing that Super Black Bass 3D does in the way of realism is the use of motion control. To cast your line, you actually throw your 3Ds out in a casting motion (hold on tight). An overhand sweep casts short, while an underhand cast sends your line soaring far. Moving the 3Ds to the left or right will adjust the angle of your throw, and things like weather will have an effect as well. There aren’t any buttons to hold down, you simply select casting and then throw out when you’re ready, and that helps it to not feel awkward. However, it did take some getting used to, particularly because if you don’t hold the 3Ds very securely your throw will rock the hinges a little alarmingly (and if you have kids playing, there’s always the not so slim chance of the whole thing going flying through the air).
Once your line is in the water, you’ll want to reel in slowly or in spurts, whatever your particular trick is for attracting the big one. Reeling is done simply with the “A” button – no stylus or motions needed. You can also auto reel quickly by pressing “A” and “B” together, which is very handy if you need to recast in a hurry. If fish are nearby, you’ll see a little icon above their heads indicating whether you’ve snagged their attention. If one bites, you need to jerk the 3Ds up to set the hook, and you’re off on the fight.
Reeling it in isn’t simply a matter pressing the button. The fish is going to fight you, so you’ll need to wear it out a bit without giving it enough leeway to wriggle off the hook. This is done with a combination of working the reel button and wiggling the 3Ds. Pulling up on the 3Ds will pull the line tight, wearing out the fish faster, but it can also snap your line – which means you both lose the fish *and* your line/lure. Laying the 3Ds flat will ease the tension on the line, but may allow your fish to escape. You’ll have to use a good combination of reeling skills and the right line to snag a big fish, but there is a gauge that helps you keep the tension just right.
When you begin the game, you have a small amount of tackle in your inventory, most of which you’ll lose pretty quickly trying to get used to how the game plays, because the line you start with is pretty chintzy. You can always go off to the shop to find different lures and various lines, and even bigger items like new rods, waders, and boats. Of course, all of that takes money, and you don’t have a ton of it to start with. You can earn more money buy winning tournaments and selling fish, but if you want to do that you need to be able to catch them. The game does have a bit of a learning curve for newbies to fishing games (or your kids), so losing all your tackle is a huge setback. The very first tournament is free to enter, but that won’t do you any good if you have no line or lures to catch anything with. Investing in some good quality line early on is almost a must.
The animations on the game have me a bit torn. On the one hand, they’re pretty decent for a fishing game. The underwater environments are very basic and the people are kind of wooden, but the fish themselves are very well done. It’s definitely not top notch in any of the peripheral areas, and that was disappointing, but the animations of the fish are where the main focus should be, and that did not disappoint.
Super Black Bass 3D does fishing simulation pretty darn well. The fish are realistic looking, the casting and reeling in has a familiar feel, and you’re constantly at the shop in search of better tackle. But just like real fishing, you’ll have to spent a lot of time casting, reeling, and throwing back small fry before you catch the big one. For true fishing fans, it’s a great choice for a little angling when you can’t get out on the lake. For gamers who just want to try a different game, it can be a bit frustrating both in its basic peripheral animations and in its realism.