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TNN Outdoors Bass Tournament ’96

Genre: Sports Developer: Imagitec Design, Inc. Publisher: American Softworks Players: 1 Released: 1996

TNN ’96 is the sequel to the first TNN game, which I happened to really like. It was a great fishing game that was in some ways ahead of its time and offered plenty of customization. In three years, Imagitec Design had a lot of time to improve the design. So is this game a newer, shinier, better-playing game, or is it an unnecessary sequel?

Well, both of those, actually. The music is pretty much the same as the first game: peppy, fast-paced banjo riffs that just don’t sound good filtered through a Genesis sound chip. The melodies don’t seem to be as catchy as the first game, but there are still a few catchy tunes here and there. The sound effects are a mixed bag as well.

The gameplay is fairly par for the course. You start out the game with some standard tackle, but have the chance to shop for some upgrades before entering a tournament or free fishing. You can buy new bait, rods, reels, and even new boats. You get to choose from a pretty wide variety of lures (crankbaits, spinners, jigs, and poppers). You can choose rods from light to heavy, pick from a few different kinds of spinner or open-face reels, and choose 15, 20, or 30 lb. test line. Once you get enough cash, you can even upgrade to three different types of boat. It’s pretty much all carried over from the first game, but here all lures, rods, reels, lines, and boats have nice, clear descriptions, which is a nice upgrade.

So now its time to hit the lake and catch some fish! You get a overhead view of the lake and are able to motor your boat around the various coves and piers and islands. The graphics here look more than decent. The water effects are great, and the islands and land look fine. My only gripe is that the default boat moves painfully slow, and movement is controlled by holding down the up button to go forward and hitting left and right to steer.

Then you set down to fish, and here is where the game falls apart. Instead of the fisherman’s perspective from the boat looking over the water, the fishing here takes place from an overhead perspective. And it is ugly. There are precious few rocks and logs to break up the bland ground, and everything is a murky puke green. And good luck finding the fish, because they are also the same green! They blend in so well, you’ll find yourself reeling right over them because they look just like another rock. It’s so disappointing that they chose this after the very nice engine they had for the previous game. Gone is the sidebar, replaced by a tiny bar at the bottom displaying line depth, feet, and the speed of reeling. It’s a major downgrade. Overall, the terrible graphics and color scheme make the game much more frustrating than it needed to be, and not nearly as fun. Hooking fish also seems to be a bit more random than the first game, as sometimes, they will just pop on your line once you reel over them. All in all, it’s not terrible, just terribly disappointing.

TNN ’96 ultimately fails to improve upon its predecessor, and in a few areas, it’s markedly worse. The graphics may have been changed (for the better and worse), but it does not have the charm or design of the first game. The interface has been simplified too much, the music is worse, and overall, it’s a downgrade from its older sibling. Is it worth playing? I’d check it out at least. It’s dirt cheap if you want to buy a copy, and it’s still an interesting footnote in the library, but as for me, I’ll stick with the original over this watered-down sequel.

SCORE: 4 out of 10

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