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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Sega

Ups: Lots of fishes; cool minigames; good replay value; online play. 

Downs:  Maybe you think fishing games are stupid?

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast

screen01-01.jpg (5537 bytes)I’ve never seen such blatant false advertising on a game in my carreer as a reviewer, and I’ve never gotten such a kick out of it before. Sega Marine Fishing boasts over 15 different types of fish on the back of the CD. That’s just plain wrong. There are well over 20 different kinds of fish you can catch, and I’d even go so far as to guess there are 25-30 species in the game. Now, Sega, don’t go getting modest on us. Let’s keep it on the level.

screen02-01.jpg (5002 bytes)Sega Bass Fishing got me into the rod and reel genre. I’ve told people time and time again that the games are really fun, but I still suffer ridicule from the rest of the twenty-something’s I hang out with. And I even live in Idaho, where fishing is a common bond between logger and hippie, carnivore and lettuce-head. But the old drawback has been the fact that most games have you catching only a few different types of fish, and there usually aren’t a lot of play modes. SMF fixes all of that.

screen03-01.jpg (4355 bytes)There are still the basic Arcade and Original modes. Arcade is just like the machine in the mall – only at home you don’t have to keep pumping in quarters. Keep hitting Continue and you can win the Arcade mode the first time around. That’s not what we’re here for. The Original mode in SMF has been greatly improved. Now, there are several different minigames to play. The minigames are training levels, and there are five of them: Fight Training, Fishing Training, Total Weight Training, Casting Training, and Lure Action Training. By doing well in these training modes you unlock different items. The items can then be earned by fishing in the Free Fishing mode, where there is not time limit. Each fish you catch in Free Fishing will give you a different item you’ve unlocked in the training modes.

screen04-01.jpg (4352 bytes)The items vary from new lures and sunglasses to bits and pieces for your aquarium. You can build an aquarium with the items you unlock, and you even unlock the fish that will go in the aquarium. You view the aquarium through a complex network of moving cameras that you can "hitch a ride" on as they move around the tank. While it’s not exactly action cinema, the whole aquarium aspect did keep me coming back again and again. And lest you think you can unlock only a few rocks and a treasure chest for your aquarium, let me correct you. You can unlock dozens of rocks, fish, plants, beddings, and both mobile and stationary objects such as submarines, divers, and, yes, treasure chests.

The gameplay and graphics are very good, too. Basically, controls are the same as in Sega Bass Fishing, or almost any other fishing game for that matter, so you probably know what to expect. And the game does support the fishing controller, which greatly enhances the experience. The graphics have improved over Bass Fishing. The water and light effects are just great, and there is a lot more detail to environments. You’ll notice divers, sea turtles, whales, plants, and coral among a whole lot of other debris and life below the waves. Of course, what you’re really interested in seeing is the fish.

screen05-01.jpg (4027 bytes)These are the fish that Sega says you’ll catch: Skipjack Tuna, Bluefin Trevally, Great Barracuda, Giant Trevally, Sailfish, Napoleon Fish, Dolphin Fish, Yellowfin Tuna, Dogtooth Tuna, Amberjack, Blue Marlin, Permit, Tarpon, Stingray, and Shortfin Mako. In addition, you’ll catch Coelocanths, Hammerhead Shark, Sea Bass, and a bunch of others. Needless to say, SMF packs in a lot more variety. The fish also act and look quite differently. They like different lures, different environments, and are quite easy to tell apart, sometimes even from the view above the water. The fish all fight quite differently – a 50 pound Skipjack is a whopper, but it’s nothing compared with a 376 pound Hammerhead.

And if the variety of play modes and fish species isn’t enough to keep you interested, Sega has included online support, too. Pushing SegaNet to the max, SMF allows you to enter tournaments online and send a bizarre kind of email. You can compete against your friends and family in different locales all at the same time, saving yourself the price of a condo in Cabo or the effort of walking across the street to your friend’s house. The email system that works with SMF is bizarre indeed. You can send messages and items you’ve earned to other folks. The messages are "encoded" as fish, so you catch them and kind of get whatever pops up. You can tell the game to give you all messages or you can specify messages from male or female anglers only. It looks like Sega thinks us console anglers might have a problem getting dates, and they may be right. Whether you’re looking for love or just out for a goof, it’s a neat idea and I’m glad to see such innovative use of the online capabilities of the DC.

screen06-01.jpg (1947 bytes)Overall, Sega Marine Fishing is a kick in the pants. It’s the perfect party game; it’s the perfect weekend solo mission game; it’s just a whole heck of a lot of fun. The play is fairly simple, and there’s no plot or intrigue to speak of, but there’s just something really rewarding about catching fish. And since I always "catch and release" anyway, I’m not really missing anything by doing it on the TV. So if you have even the slightest inclination toward this kind of game, go immediately and check it out. And if you’re a doubter, stay away – Sega Marine Fishing might just change your mind.

--Shawn Rider