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TNN Bass Tournament of Champions

Genre: Sports Developer: Imagitec Design, Inc. Publisher: American Softworks Players:Released: 1993

While never destined to have the mass appeal of other sports titles like Madden or NBA Live, the fishing genre managed to carve out enough of a niche to ensure a handful of games released on the Genesis. The TV network TNN gave its license to this game as well as a sequel. How does it stack up to the competition, and is it any fun?

The game gives you lots of options for free fishing and tournaments. You choose from six different bodies of water and then you can pick the time of day, the season, the weather, the temperature, the wind speed, and even wind direction! There’s a store where you can purchase better equipment. Once you get out on the water, you get an overhead view of your boat, which you can pilot over to any promising spots. One side of the screen is taken up by a menu displaying the options you chose and even a depth-finder, a device which shows a visual of how deep it is to the bottom and if any fish are present in the near area. It’s a very nice touch and something not many other fishing games have utilized to my knowledge.

The actual fishing aspect is pretty much what you expect. Once you change from the overhead map to the fishing screen, there’s a mini map of your area of water showing where and how far your lure is out and yellow dots specifying where the fish are. It takes a lesson from golf games in that you have a meter that rises and falls. The harder you cast, the farther your bait goes. As you reel in, the bait gets shallower and shallower, so make sure to pause every now and then to let it sink a few feet. You can access your tackle box and choose which rod, line, reel, and bait you want to use. It’s a pretty intuitive interface.

The graphics are nice, and for a late-release game, you’d be forgiven for expecting more, but a 16-bit fishing game really doesn’t require that much in the graphics department. Most of the game, you’re just looking at water and the horizon in the distance. The water effects in this game are perfectly average. I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse, but they get the job done well. The computer loves to taunt you if you’re not catching anything, and there’s a good bit of variety to the hints and jokes that scroll across the bottom of the screen. Nothing side-splitting, but a little humor never hurt.

The controls are slightly wonky. B is the main button, while A and C alternate for left and right. It takes some time to get used to, but it’s still manageable. I find the music charmingly endearing. The melodies are pretty catchy, even if the instruments used weren’t the best choice. Emulating the sound of the banjo through the Sega Genesis sound chip was a strange choice. I imagine they were aiming for the country demographic, but it’s still strange to hear coming out of the system.

The game gives you lots of options and customizations while for the most part eschewing boring menus and text. It will take a bit of playtime to get used to the mechanics of play, but once you understand, finding and catching fish becomes very manageable, much more so than in real life. Gameplay is fun, the graphics do their job well, and overall it’s a well-polished game. If you’re inclined to give it a whirl, it  TNN Bass Tournament of Champions accomplishes almost everything it set out to do, and is a very enjoyable simulation game for any virtual fisherman.

SCORE: 6 out of 10

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