Pop quiz: Which of the following doesn't belong on this list? Pokemon trading cards, retired Beanie Babies, or fishing lures....
Yes, it's sad but true: The shopping masses probably won't fight tooth and nail to collect fishing lures this holiday season. However, if that idea piques your interest - and you're not afraid to admit it in public - a fishing simulation might satisfy your craving. One recent option is Bandai's Bass Rise - but unfortunately, it's not the best "catch" around. Despite its impressive graphics, Bass Rise has gameplay as shallow as the water shorelines you'll fish in - making it entertaining only in short spurts.
In the game, you can catch three kinds of fish: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and bluegill. Aside from catching fish, the motivation to continue playing comes from collecting more lures (hundreds in all) and finding new fishing locations: lakes, canals, docksides, etc. Tying the game together are story sequences featuring other anglers who offer advice and challenges, such as catching a set number of fish in five casts. In addition, the game sports a multiplayer contest mode that supports up to four players - but they don't compete at the same time, which deadens the appeal a bit. Instead, each player gets a fixed number of chances to cast and haul in a fish - and the largest catch wins.
Here's the anatomy of a standard gameplay sequence: After choosing a lake, you rotate around a fixed position to find different areas to cast. After making the cast, the camera switches underwater to the bait's point of view. Using bait twitches and reel speeds to attract fish, your fisherman uses the rod to hook a fish when it bites. This triggers the "battle" process, in which you attempt to reel the fish in without snapping the line. In a few cases, the computer will instruct you to move the rod in a certain direction. Depending on the size of the fish, such battles can last between one and five minutes; novices should be able to catch their first fish within ten minutes of play, and the lakes are well stocked in places, so there's no problem with waiting for fish to show up.