Super Black Bass 3D
3DS | Rising Star Games / Star-Fish | 1 Player | Out Now
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1st May 2013; By KnucklesSonic8
Time and again, this disposition has backfired, where instead of being a strong contender for future iterations to emulate, you're left with an example of the wrong course of action. Far be it for Super Black Bass 3D to actually make a compelling case as one of the only fishing sims available on the two-year-old handheld. In many ways nonsensical, this blatantly stiff offering is driven by bad execution, with no correcting agents whatsoever to make for an even-level outing.
It's important to first establish that Super Black Bass 3D isn't a complete train wreck from the standpoint of how ordinary fishing sims are set up. Two modes are available, one for tournaments and another for casual, restriction-free fishing. Equipping you with an acceptable tool set, default lures, lines, reels and rods are made available to you, with upgrades existing in the shop to expand the draw you have on certain kinds of fish and the limitations in distance enforced by your selection of casting gear. The drawback during tourneys is that in order to replenish your supply of materials, you have to call it quits and forfeit yet-to-be-completed rounds, seeing as you can only visit the shop while on the Main Menu.
When out on the field, navigation involves selecting a square on a grid at which to station yourself, pivoting from this defined location using L and R. The indicator to the very left of the 3D Screen, known as the Fish Finder, serves as your above-sea-level guide for how far away fish are from your current position. The menu layouts are a bit convoluted for a game of this make, and there are delays when you tap selections to make state changes out on the field. And as terrible of a job the game does when it comes to explaining controls and other matters, these aspects are not prime areas of concern. Physical actions, on the other hand, constitute a major blunder on the game's part.
Trying to get a hang of the control systems at work will quickly reveal that authenticity was mistaken for gimmicky renditions. When it comes to casting, players must hold their 3DS out and tilt the top side towards their chest, quickly making a forward snapping motion. For close-range casts, you're expected to aim the system downwards and make a quick scooping motion. When positioning the handheld accordingly for either methods, your on-screen character doesn't react in like manner to your changes, but the motions are captured without much trouble and your launch power is measured rather fairly.
From here, reeling is done by holding A and tilting the system left or right to move the line in a certain direction. Truthfully, it doesn't make much of a difference to follow through on this suggestion; you're better off just re-doing your whole cast than trying to force it a certain way. Hooking a fish is accomplished by more or less shaking the system for a brief jolt or setting it down as it bites. There's no resistance, just a window of opportunity where the fish freezes for a second so you can grab on. Following this, you'll be tugging every which way, tilting in all directions to secure the fish and direct it as you continue reeling with the A Button. You just have to be cautious not to raise it too high, as doing so will snap the line.
If you're expecting a high-speed, fast-paced struggle to ensue, you will be severely underwhelmed. The process involved is dull, slow and drawn-out, to put it plainly. There is an emotion system in place where icons appear above the fish in question to indicate mood, but these never prompt an increase in speed or anything that would aid the overall pacing, thus not really affecting the player's reactions in any distinct way. And between all the rod movements and the behaviour of the prospective catch, you'll quickly be overcome with this feeling of getting nowhere, as it feels like minutes go by before you can even see some progress on your behalf in guiding the fish to your character.
A lot of this has to do with not only the ineffectiveness of the gimmicky control systems, but also the fish AI. To be frank, the intelligence is really, really lousy. Oftentimes while slowly surveying the area, any nearby fish will make a pass at your lure, perhaps even attracted to it for several seconds, and then quickly turn tail in the other direction as though they were scared off. On other occasions, fish leap at the lure or catch sight of it seemingly out of nowhere, as if detecting some faint aroma from miles away and then making a long trek in your direction, with you watching on in disbelief.
Then there's the strong unrealism in the way fish behave during the action sequences where you actually manage to land a hit, with them following the line in a dead straight line for 20, 30, even 40 metres without any fuss, whereas previously, they were being unruly and pulling you further and further away from the boat. So it's either that the range of detection is too inconsistent or the behaviours are too static, with hits being something to savour because of their infrequency. It's really quite senseless, and ultimately this faulty attribute really stifles the game in all areas, only stiffening further as you try to fight with the system and its upsets to regain control.
If these attributes of functionality aren't enough to spoil the experience, Super Black Bass 3D's presentation will make for certain you see the game as being downright rotten. A poor sense of depth, an inability to measure visual distance effectively, and a lifeless atmosphere are all foremost observations in an immediate sense when looking through an underwater lens. Even when viewed at the topmost level looking down, the ground appears flat, with the water quality being more smoggy than clear. Though the camera alters both automatically and with manual button presses, the chosen far-away viewpoint leads to this outlook of abyss-like underwater conditions where fish are seen as white specks with no dimension, and so on.
This isn't to say the environment is empty, rather that there are few elements to be found. Patches of grass seldom found at the bottom of lakes are a strain to look at, especially with 3D enabled. The same could be said of the lily pads that obstruct the camera from certain angles, taking on fuzzy appearances. But really, the game's performance as a whole is atrocious. Character models are absolutely hideous; weather effects have no subtlety to them; simulated movements aren't even remotely fluid; and 3D effects often exacerbate visual upsets. The framerate is horrible in places; there are regular delays to be experienced while making menu selections; and settings are so damn ugly and ridiculously dated that I can't even compare them to an older platform. I can just say you won't think of this as a 3DS title.
Super Black Bass 3D's blemishes make it intolerable, and that's all there is to it. If the shoehorned mechanics and bad design decisions don't repel you, then certainly the grossly inferior pacing, inadequate fish intelligence and the murky atmosphere will. Super Black Bass 3D is irredeemable, and it's shocking to see its repulsive attributes do such a derailing number on it. At least it excels at its portrayal of what rock bottom looks like.
09/30 - Simply Awful
Gameplay 3/10 - Gimmicky control systems, ineffective ideas and executions, inadequate pacing and overall process, terrible fish AI and responses
Presentation 2/10 - Embarrassing performance, bad framerate, hideous models and settings, slow to respond, lacks clarity, poor sense of depth
Enjoyment 1/5 - Stiff and dull, frustrating to get nowhere, unrealistic and senseless, slow-paced and unexciting, presentation a negative influence
Extra Content 3/5 - Five tournaments and locations, new gear and assorted fish to discover, online rankings, interference makes value of features moot
Equivalent to a score of 30% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System