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In-Fisherman Bass Hunter 64 Preview

Publisher - Take 2
Developer - Take 2 Interactive
Platform - N64
Release Date - December 1998
Type - Simulation/Sports

With the recent ROM price drops, N64 game development has ceased to be the privilege of the "big guys." More and more smaller publishers now dare to invest in 64-bit gaming and bring with them a unique flavor and line-up of titles. Some of these games have such limited appeal that the majority of gamers will pause for a moment and mutter a confused "what the?" under their breath, but it's often exactly these obscure titles that come up with the most charming and unique gameplay.

As with its first N64 game, Wheel of Fortune, Take 2 is banking on exactly this niche appeal with its latest project, In-Fisherman Bass Hunter 64.

Licensed by the authoritative In-Fisherman magazine, Bass Hunter puts N64 players in the water-tight boots of a rookie fisherman who enters four tournaments to catch the fattest fish. You are accompanied by a virtual instructor who coaches you throughout the tournaments and prepares you for the final square-off against the best of the best.

Bass Hunter's gameplay tries to simulate the real deal, without the fishy smell. Played from a first-person perspective, you set out in a boat in the early morning hours armed only with your fishing equipment and navigational tools. Using a compass, depth-finder, fish-finder, and a heavy dose of common sense, you find yourself the best spot on the lake and track down the biggest bass. In addition to selecting the right line, lure, and attractant, you will have to show off complete thumb control on the analog stick to provide the perfect lure twitch (who said fishing couldn't be a twitch game?).

When the Rumble Pak kicks in and lets you know that you have hooked a fish, the fight for the catch begins. Good control of the analog stick and quick reflexes are key to successfully hauling in a major bass. But even after reeling in the catch of the day the battle is only half over. You need to make it back in time for the weigh-in, otherwise even a humpback whale wonít get you first prize.

As you win each tournament, you receive better equipment, faster boats, and a wider selection of lures. The in-game items will duplicate real world tackle and equipment to a tee, right down to professional product endorsements that lend the game a realistic look and atmosphere.

On the graphics side, Take 2 promises realistic 3D frills with lots of transparency effects, polygonal fish and varying weather conditions. Next to mist lingering on the water in the morning, Bass Hunter will feature rain and sunshine on four distinct lakes filled with rocks, docks, and all kinds of plants. To make things more interesting, the game also offers several skill competitions, such as casting, flipping, and boat handling, and randomly generated tournaments that are different every time. Bass Hunter 64 is still early on in development and a few of the gameplay details havenít been nailed down yet. It would be cool if the game had a multiplayer mode of some sorts to make it more attractive for a mainstream audience.

Whatever form the game will take in the end, fishing fans and players interested in sims and "different" games will be happy to hear that the N64 is finally getting the genre that the Rumble Pak was originally built for. Along with Natsumeís Legend of the River King, Bass Hunter 64 should have no problems building up a quick fanbase when it ships later this year. It will be interesting to see if Take 2 can pull it off to reel in a title that will hook hardcore fishermen and casual gamers alike.