Big Catch Bass Fishing DS (Nintendo DS) - Review by Jeremy



OK all you outdoor-loving folks, here's a new game that will give you yet another excuse not to go outdoors and get mud on your boots. Big Catch Bass Fishing is the latest fishing game for the DS, allowing you to sit in dry, temperature controlled conditions while 'catching' all manner of fish from around the world. Released by 505 Games, this DS game claims to be 'realistic', but the great news is you don't need a boat, you don't need any tackle, and you don't need to be near any body of water whatsoever. How realistic can it be? Well let's see.


Some of you may remember 'Super Black Bass Fishing' with fond memories. I believe it was the first fishing game for the DS, debuting in 2006 with claims that 'you'll feel as if you're actually fishing'. Oh please. I dropped my mobile phone in the loo the other day, and not wanting to put my hand in my own waste, I had to use the loo brush to extract the phone. It was challenging, and it felt way more like actual fishing than 'Super Black Bass Fishing' ever will. I don't recommend that you try my kind of fishing simulation at home, as my phone now smells and only works intermittently. I also don't recommend that you try 'Super Black Bass Fishing' - it doesn't smell, and it works perfectly well, but it is an appalling game.

And I'm afraid Big Catch is pretty much exactly the same. Possibly worse (hang on - is that even possible?). There are a selection of thirty different places in the world to fish, and eight different fish to try and catch. There is only one place you can start, and then as you catch fish, the other places unlock. The bottom screen features you in a little boat, and you cast your lure into the top screen, winding it back until a fish grabs it. A battle ensues, in which you have to make sure that the fish doesn't come off your line. If you win the battle, the fish flip flops on the bank, suffocating, until you put it in your bucket.

There are three ways to fish: you can fish in a tournament against other anglers (aim: get more fish than them), you can fish for weight (aim: get heaviest bag of fish) or you can fish for numbers (aim: get most fish). The trouble is, there is no difference in these game variations other than the aim - the fishing experience is exactly the same. The only challenges appear to be twofold: firstly, pick the lure that catches more (or bigger) fish, and secondly, don't let the fish come off the line once its hooked. And that's it. Could a game be found more wanting? I think not.


First of all, you get to move your boat from side to side with the D-pad. Then you get to choose the casting direction with the D-pad. Excited yet? You cast by touching the A button twice, and you reel in your lure with the A button too. If your lure passes a fish, you use the D-pad to move the lure towards it until the fish is hooked, and then wind it in with the D-pad. The fish will pull, and this shows on a meter on the right. If the fish's pull combined with your pull exceeds 75% of the meter, the fish comes off. So all you have to do is release the button every time it gets close. That, my gaming friends, is the almighty challenge for your dextrous fishing fingers. I am struggling to see if there is any skill required whatsoever?

The stylus, I hear you cry. Could the stylus not be employed in this realistic outdoor game - perhaps it could be used as the fishing rod? Could this be the key to the game's excitement? Alas, no. The only use I could find for the stylus was as a pointed instrument with which to pierce my eardrums so that I couldn't hear the abysmal music any more (see below). Apparently you could use it to cast - instead of touching the A button twice, you can touch the screen twice - WOW! And then instead of using the D-pad to retrieve a fish, you could touch by the sides of the fisherman instead! What stunningly innovative use of the stylus! Seriously, pick your nose with it, clean your fingernails with it, spread peanut butter on your toast with it - use the stylus for anything else, 'cos you sure ain't gonna need it for this game.


A strange mixture of graphics in this game; it looks like the developers spent a lot of time on some elements, such as the look of the fish and lures, and then maybe did the rest one-handed and blindfolded. Some screens are cartoony in style, (e.g. the crowds viewing your catch), while others are an attempt to look realistic (e.g. the fish swimming around your lure), while others are just plain rubbish (e.g. the map of your venue before you fish - what is the point of that when you can't move around it?). The actual fish themselves do look realistic - the body details are correct and they move in a pretty fishy sort of way; this is perhaps the only positive thing I can say about this game.


Why would they deliberately use music that makes you want to kill yourself? The soundtrack to this game has GOT to be the worst repetitive string of notes I can imagine. If I sat down right now and composed a piece of music that could be used as an instrument of torture, I don't think I could do better. As I said, shortly after starting the game I used the stylus to pierce my eardrums (yes, the volume control on my DS is broken), and I only did this to quell my urge to remove my whole head with the stylus, which would have been messy.

I couldn't decide which was worse - the intro music, which makes you want to press start lightning quick so you don't have to listen to it for long, or the game play music, which is so remotely far away from the beautiful outdoor sounds of a real fishing trip that it's like fishing in a mall. A mall of torture perhaps. Ironically, there is the odd bird twitter in amongst the music, as if to taunt you for not going outside and hearing the real thing. There is a splash sound, and a reel winding sound, and a splashy sound here and there, but you won't hear them because you will have either turned down the sound (if your volume control works) or you'll have been tempted to actually use the stylus for something, as I did.

Dual screen

The upper screen is the one where you'll be demonstrating your fishing skills. It's here you see the fish, the venues (which all look the same, in different murky colours) and your lure wobbling through the water. Graphically this screen gets all the action, while the lower one is rather boring - a bloke sitting down fishing and the very, very basic options.

Final comments

Well I myself am a keen fisherman - the sort that goes outdoors once in a while in search of real fish. This game couldn't be a more depressing alternative to the real thing if it tried. But even as an indoor game that isn't trying to be like an outdoor sport, it is still extremely poor. There is barely any variety in game play, or skill required, or excitement of any kind. The stylus is irrelevant, the music is a form of persecution, the graphics are incongruous and unimaginative. It is hard to see why anyone with more than half a brain would want to part with money to buy this game.

Pro: Errrr... the look of the fish.
Con: Absolutely everything else.
Final score: 1


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Boxart of Big Catch Bass Fishing DS (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Sports
Publisher: 505 Games