Review: Rapala Pro Bass Fishing is a decent, yet gimmicky Wii U experience
Let it be known, fishing just isn't my thing. I'd happily take a five minute session of Sega Bass Fishing than put myself in a boat at five in the morning and figuring out the best kind of cheese marshmallow bait to catch something as simple as a minnow. That being said, there are those who make fishing out to be along the lines of a religion, and that's who Activision had in mind when they made Rapala Pro Bass Fishing — though the game is far more approachable to casual players than I would've expected.
Throughout your fishing journey in Rapala, it's a little shocking to see how much you can unlock. As you gain access to new outfits and gear, you actually start to feel the changes that are being implemented into your character. The ultimate goal is catching those prized fish that you dream of. You'll fill up your tackle box with choices, and become better prone to reeling in that ideal catch and adding it to your virtual collection.
For the most part, the game makes ideal use of the Wii U GamePad, though there are times it feels a bit gimmicky. Steering the boat with the device almost feels natural, and with a quick tap of the touch-screen, you can turn on the Fish Finder to see where the most ideal places are to drop your line. It's when the game tries to turn the GamePad into a rod itself that it gets a bit weird. You actually have to thrust your device back and then forward, just about perfectly, to get the best cast. Then you must lean it left and right (along with the analog stick) to get your fish to come. After a few tries, it actually works to a certain degree, so we can't complain too much. It just feels, like I said, gimmicky.
Along with the off-and-on gameplay (which is true to the spirit of fishing, if that's your thing), Rapala comes with a number of modes to choose from. Perhaps the biggest draw is Tournament, where you compete against AI opponents in the hopes of cashing certain fish around the area. There's also a great Fish-O-Pedia, where you can learn about all the mechanics of fishing, as well as the various types of aquatic life just within your grasp. There's even a tutorial on how to use lures, in case you need an explanation. If being competitive isn't your thing, a Free Fishing mode is also available.
If there's any area where Rapala could use some improvements, it's the presentation. The fishing looks rather bland in places, with minimal animation for your character. There's not too much variety in the settings either. However, the underwater fishing action is authentic enough, and the fish move around like the real deal; though, in some ways, Sega Bass Fishing is a better-looking experience. The soundtrack is comprised of mostly twang-twang stuff, and the in-game announcer doesn't do much to perk up the proceedings.
With some visual tweaking and better control options, Rapala Pro Bass Fishing could've easily moved its way to the top of the Wii U pack. There are certainly enough features included here – such as the helpful Fish-O-Pedia – that may have you thinking twice about putting it back on the shelf.