Super Black Bass 3D
Release Date: October, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Rising Star Games (Starfish)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”
Super Black Bass 3D is a new fishing simulator for the 3DS from Star Fish. Star Fish was formed from the remains of HOT*B who produced the original Super Black Bass for the SNES. Its goal of being a fishing simulator video game is where Super Black Bass 3D excels. By which I mean it is a video game and it does contain fish. This is about the nicest thing you’ll hear me say about it. I honestly wanted to enjoy this game, I was a big fan of the original Super Black Bass from HOT-B on the SNES. I was never any good at it, but spent many hours playing it with my Dad. I would have been happy if Super Black Bass 3D had just been a direct port with some 3D tacked on, but instead they decided to make a full-on modern sequel. They then went and utterly failed at every component of making a video game.
Hook those bass (hopefully)
Making a fishing game should be pretty straightforward: you catch fish. Somehow they managed to get this completely wrong. The controls are horrible, although they had some good ideas about using the motion sensor to simulate actually moving a fishing rod. The implementation is just a travesty. Lying in bed with my 3DS resting on my stomach, I kept casting just from the movement of breathing. Closing the lid of the 3DS results in a cast every time. My cat squirming around next to me made my hideous avatar launch his lure into the flat gray abyss of Genesis Pond with reckless abandon. Not to mention some of the motions for different casting techniques never seem to work, and in the process of tossing your 3DS around like an idiot, the top screen flops open and closed and it feels like it may break. After casting, actually catching a bass is approximately twice as hard as catching a real-life Unicorn.
You can catch other fish with minimal effort, but the Bass that actually count for something are effectively impossible to ever reel in. 99% of the time they will snap you line at the slightest hint of pressing the “A” button, or they will simply get off the hook; at which point the game declares your hook fell off. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to replace my hook after the first time that happened. After a while, I discovered the trick to successful Bass fishing: before you start the tournament, just spend all your money on the strongest fishing line. Now just wait for a bite and hold “A”. Presto! The game just went from facepalm-hard to laughably easy.
The next issue is money. You see, snapping a line results in replacing both your line and lure, which cost money. OK cool, just go to the shop like it tells you to and buy some more. Except…you can’t. The only way to visit the shop is to exit back to the main menu, which can only be done by forfeiting the entire tournament. One day at a time. You have to sit through about 10 minutes of painful “cut scenes” and unfathomably slow leader board results screens to actually escape. Funny thing about that shop once you get there is that it costs money which you can only earn in tournaments. But if you run out of lures and money, you can’t fish any more. The only option is to delete your save file and start over from scratch. That’s right folks, Super Black Bass 3D is the first ever fishing game with perma-death.
Conveniently, you can format your save data right from the pause menu, which is a nice touch. This same menu also features such options as changing measurement units from “Metricgram” to “The Imperial system of units”. The localization is astounding. My favorite is when you go to change boats before you actually own a boat, and a warning pops up “You have no set of Boat to use.” Yes, Super Black Bass 3D, a winner is you. On top of broken English, everything is navigated by borderline useless pictograms, so trying to figure out what you’re doing will take a while.
The worst part of the whole experience is the fact that the game isn’t just frustrating, and boring, but that it’s literally broken, plain and simple. There are times where it will simply stop responding to control inputs. Sometimes the motion sensing gives up, or pressing the “A” button results in precisely nothing happening. It’s great to spend 15-20 minutes trying to find a bass, and when you do, you can’t do anything because the reel button just stops working.
Fishing… of the damned.
Graphically, Super Black Bass 3D looks completely on par with some of the best games ever made…for the Sega Saturn. The character models are serviceable at best, which is perfectly fine for a fishing game, until you see the faces. The horrible faces that will haunt your dreams for years to come. “M.C. Terry” is pure nightmare fuel. Super Black Bass 3D might be the scariest game I’ve played all year. It makes up for the models with the animation however. The first time you see the M.C. Terry waving his arms around, or the competitors clapping on the podium, you will have no choice but to begin laughing for a good five minutes. Again, these are people and Super Black Bass 3D is all about the fish, so I can let that slide. The models for the fish are a little on the blocky side, but overall actually look pretty accurate. Right up until they move. They don’t wag their tails so much as the whole model shakes back and forth 45 degrees. They also turn and move at sharp unnatural angles, there is nothing even approaching fluid. This issue persists across everything in the game. It feels like it runs at about 15 frames per second: every motion, every movement is horribly jerky and slow.
The backgrounds may as well not be there, the water looks horrible, when it doesn’t clip out of existence completely, and there is next to nothing on the bottom of the lake aside from some sort of half-hearted repeating texture and the odd 2D plant or log. Lilly pads on top the water are just decals that don’t interact with anything, the fishing line looks like it’s about 6 inches thick. Oddly, the lures are actually decent looking. I still can’t figure out why they bother calling it Super Black Bass 3D, when pushing the 3D slider all the way up results in precisely nothing happening except for your fishing line splitting in twain. It’s literally painful to look at and I had to turn it off to avoid a headache.
As far as sound goes, the only things you will ever hear are water splashing, the clicking of your reel, and every once in a blue moon some wind blowing. There’s some generic music that loops every like 30 seconds. there are a couple voiced lines while fishing that are hardly understandable Engrish. The voice actor sounds a lot like the guy who played Ryu in Shenmue, so I just liked to pretend that’s who I was playing as, which made things more amusing.
Let’s not go to the lake.
To be completely honest, I can’t help but feel Super Black Bass 3D was intended to be a DS game. Everything about the game feels horribly dated, as if they were making it for the DS, then at the last minute tried to port it to the 3DS instead, somehow taking a couple years to tack on atrocious 3D effects and janky motion controls. The copyright date of 2011 would seem to support this. Super Black Bass 3D is broken, period. On top of looking like something a couple interns whipped up over the weekend, the game play is just dull and frustrating, there is zero incentive to ignore its faults, especially when one of those faults is buttons not working. The original Super Black Bass for SNES was better in every single way, including graphics. You can get a deeper fishing experience playing Ocarina of Time.
I could forgive all of this if Super Black Bass 3D was a simple little throwaway $5 eShop game to waste an afternoon on, but that the publisher honestly expects people to pay $20 retail on it is downright insulting. If you do buy it, I recommend not playing it as a fishing game, but rather an interactive episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000; it’s a lot more fun that way. Truly, Super Black Bass 3D is passable only because it manages to be so terrible it loops back around to hilarious.