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February 2007

Welcome to International Hobo's New Website!

We are pleased to announce this brand new website for International Hobo Ltd. However, since it is new, it is also rather untested - so please let us know if you experience any strange behaviour. IE6 users, we are aware of the problems with formatting and are working to resolve these issues. In the meantime, we recommend Firefox as the best browser to view this site.

Companies interested in hiring International Hobo Ltd for game design or script services should click on the Services tab on the menu, or use the Contact tab to send an email. You can also see a list of all Press Releases, as well as view old game concepts and design documents in the Samples section.

Note: People looking for the Demographic Game Design brochure PDF can find it in the articles section.


Zen Game Design

First published Develop 27 (April 2003) as 'My Karma Ran Over Your Dogma'

Wise blind elephants

"Five wise, blind elephants were discussing what humans were like. Failing to agree, they decided to determine what humans were like by direct experience.

"The first wise, blind elephant felt the human, and declared, 'Humans are flat.'"

"The other wise, blind elephants, after similarly feeling the human, agreed."

What is Game Design?

It would be tempting to think that it is readily apparent what the process of game design involves, but anyone who has looked into it will have learned that if you ask one hundred people to define game design, you will get one hundred different answers.

Rather than attempt to force a consensus (an endless and fruitless task), for the purposes of Zen Game Design, we shall invent a definition:

Game Design is the process of co-ordinating the evolution of the design of a game

Sometimes, the game design work is complete long before the end of the development process. Mostly, however, it is an ongoing process which only ends when the game is on the shelves.

Game design components can come from a number of different participants, including the producers, the programmers and the artists, as well as the game designer themselves. The game designer's task is sometimes to create missing components, sometimes to integrate conflicting components and sometimes to ensure that all the components will combine to create the desired gameplay experience.

What is Zen Game Design?

Zen Buddhism is a branch of the Eastern religion in which the underlying message is implied, rather than stated. Indeed, one of the key concepts in Zen Buddhism is that enlightenment cannot be expressed in words, as one must make a leap beyond the literal - it must be experienced, not learned.

It also includes the idea that there is no objectively correct and definitive perspective on anything - all experience is relative.

It is this idea which forms the basis for Zen Game Design.

The Principles of Zen Game Design

Zen Game Design is built on two basic tenets, which can be summarised as:

  1. There is no single method to design
  2. Game design reflects needs

These are the short forms of the principles. There is also an implied 'zeroth' tenet:

  1. There are methods to game design

This caveat may seem trivial, but there are some people with no appreciation for the work of the game designer, or who believe that the distinction between a game designer and a programmer is irrelevant. It may be true than some programmers can carry out game design, but it is also true that some programmers can draw. That does not equate to there being no distinction between programmers and artists.

The First Tenet: There is No Single Method to Design

Depending on your perspective, this principle will either seem abundantly obvious, or blatantly incorrect. It is important to remember that although someone may hit upon a good method for game design, that does not mean that the method is applicable to all cases, that it will always be relevant or that it is equally useful with all types of games.

The long form of this principle is as follows:

The more methods you explore, the more options you have

This is the nub of the concept. If you use one game design method, you have only one way of looking at a problem. If you have explored a dozen different game design methods, you have 4,096 (that is, 2^12) different ways of looking at a problem! (This statement is supposed to be evocative, not to be taken literally).

The more different game design methods and philosophies you study, the closer to an infinite set of game design choices you will get.

Seven Varieties of Design Methods

There are more ways to approach game design that could be summarised, but the following represent seven common methods. For each, a grossly simplified expression of the method is given.

  • First Principles

    A game that is developed from first principles takes a long view of the design process. The steps could be described as:

    Goals -> Game World Abstraction -> Design -> Game

    Using this method, you start by determining what you want to do, then you determine the nature of your game world abstraction. Only when you know how your game world will be abstracted do you proceed to design, and then implementation. Any game designed by Shigeru Miyamoto (Zelda, Mario) is likely to show evidence of this 'first principles' approach.

  • Clone & TweakThis is perhaps the most common design method in use. The steps could be described as:

    Existing Design -> Modified Design -> Game

    In essence, you pick an existing game (generally someone else's), adopt the pre-existing game world abstraction and then modify it to suit the needs of the 'new' game.

    It's quicker and easier than creating a whole new design concept, and for this reason is quite appropriate to many short time-budget games projects, and for sequels. Why start from scratch when you can learn from your previous abstractions and improve upon them?

    There is, however, little or no excuse for using this method on an original AAA product.

  • Meta-rulesSome Game Designers are attempting to produce a set of meta-rules, sometimes believing they are uncovering "the rules of game design", sometimes merely trying to provoke debate. The implied method is generally:

    Meta-rules -> Design -> Game

    Two very different examples of a Meta-rule approach are Noah Falstein's 'The 400 Project', and Ernest Adams 'Dogma 2001'.

    'The 400 Project' is involved in identifying 'rules of game design' and ascribing to them a hierarchy of precedence such that some rules trump other rules. The approach can produce some interesting discussions which can help inform design decisions, and this is probably the greatest value of this method. (Whether the formal 'trumping' structure is useful or an ever-growing encumbrance is open to considerable debate).

    'Dogma 2001', by contrast, was not intended as an all-encompassing design method, but rather as a mental (and perhaps pragmatic) exercise for game designers to provoke original thought and return the game design focus to the design, and away from technical issues.

    Any collection of meta-rules can be a useful method to employ, provided it is recognised that these "rules" are not universal laws, but rather formalised observations.

    It is also doubtful that any design process can proceed using only this method.

  • Expressing TechnologyIn developers without an in-house designer, design can often be more about finding roles for new software technology. Quake is an example of a game which demonstrates the use of this method. The method can be expressed simply as:

    Technology -> Game

    Often, this method is combined with a Clone & Tweak approach. It's not a very interesting method from a design point of view, but it can be useful - although your technology has to be top-notch if you are going to produce something worthwhile.
  • The Frankenstein ApproachWhen you have to give up on your first design and start from scratch when you've already produced a sizeable chunk of software or art, the Frankenstein approach comes into its own. Conkers Twelve Tales becoming Conkers Bad Fur Day is a good example by all accounts, and Half Life too seems to have made use of it. The method works principally:

    Materials -> Design -> Game

    Like many methods, it generally works in concert with other methods. A game designer may be involved in producing an entirely new game world abstraction, or it may be a simple case of a well chosen Clone & Tweak.

    Obviously this method is primarily used to rescue a project in trouble, but it can also be used to produce a new game from existing materials by bringing in a new game designer to reorganise and abstract a new design from the existing materials.

  • Story-driven DesignGames such as the classic text adventure The Hobbit, and more recent adventures like Broken Sword and Shenmue involve use of a method in which the story that will be told drives forward the design process. The method can be expressed as:

    Narrative -> Design -> Game

    Although this has been mostly used with adventures, any game with a plot can benefit from the use of this method.

    Note that the narrative can be generated by the employment of a variety of different methods. One of particular note is design-integrated narratives, a first principles approach which can be expressed as:

    Goals -> Game World Abstraction -> Design-integrated Narrative -> Game

    The idea here is that you identify both your game and narrative goals first, then you produce a game world abstraction that supports these goals, and from there develop the narrative and the game design in parallel.
  • Iterative Design ("Design by Committee")Under the right circumstances, iterative design can be a very powerful method, expressed briefly as follows:

    ->

    Meetings Design -> Game

    <-

    The idea is that you develop your design through the process of developing a design-version, holding team meetings to revise the design and repeat until you get everything right, or run out of time.

    It can produce excellent games. It can also cause projects to overrun time and cost budgets and get cancelled. Historically, there are many more projects in the latter category than the former. In short, be very cautious about using iterative design as your core design method.

When we talk about 'the design', what we are really referring to is the design documentation. This is roughly equivalent of an abstract specification in industrial software development, and offers the same advantages.

Even though the design documentation is almost certainly maintained by a single individual (usually the game designer), design isn't the sole prerogative of the game designer by any stretch of the imagination. It's just the game designer's role to co-ordinate the design process.

The Second Tenet: Game Design Reflect Needs

Why should it be that there is no single, ultimate solution to the game design dilemma? It is because every game is experienced by more than one person.

Perhaps if you were creating a game that only you will play, you could develop a single, perfect design method. Provided of course your tastes don't change...

The long form of this principle is:

Game design must be egoless, balancing the desires and needs of all participants.

The idea that the game designer must be egoless may come as a shock to some, especially since many game designers hide a secret belief that they are the greatest game designer in the world. (However, unless your credit cards read 'S. Miyamoto' this is unlikely to be the case).

To understand this principle, we need to look at who are the participants in a game project.

Participants & Advocates

The notion of a 'participant' describes anyone with an interest in the project - it could be the development team, someone with a financial stake in the project (such as the publisher) or it could be the audience. All these people participate in some portion of the game's life - both before and after release.

However, it is self-evident that it would be impossible for every participant in a game to be involved in the design process. Because of this, certain participants function as advocates for groups of participants. For example, the External Producer generally acts as the advocate for the Publisher.

By looking at different participants in a game project, and different advocates, we can gain a different perspective on the design process.

Seven Varieties of Participants

Who participates in a game project?

  • The AudienceThe audience's goal is to enjoy the game, and whatever else you do, you must satisfy this participant! Since we cannot truly know the audience's attitudes to a game before it is released, we need models to allow us make informed decisions.The most basic audience model in use is:

    "All games players think like me."

    It is entirely useless unless you are the only person who is going to play the game. More sophisticated models recognise demographic groups, and attempt to learn the tastes and needs of these groups, for example:
    Casual, Hardcore(Basic demographic split)
    Hardcore, Testosterone, Casual, Parental(ihobo demographics)
    New Hardcore, Lifers, M&M's, Generation Next, Social Gamers, Golden Gamers(Bennallack demographics)
    Focus groups can help provide feedback from the audience as well - but it must be mediated intelligently. The goal of a focus group is to assess audience response - not to yield control of the design to a dozen strangers!
  • Publisher (Advocate: External Producer) The publishers goal is to get the best return on their investment - and it is never too late for a publisher to pull the plug if they will not get a return on their investment. The usual advocate for the Publisher in the development process is the External Producer; their role is to represent the needs of the publisher in terms of reducing the cost of development and maximising the profit (since both these work towards a better return on the publishers investment).Some developers resent the publishers involvement (or interference) in the development process - but this is generally because the External Producer is trying to usurp control of the design process. When an External Producer acts wisely, as an advocate for the publisher's needs, there is not a problem.

    Just in case, developers are advised to follow the Steel Monkey's lead and have a clause in their contract allowing them to dismiss the External Producer if they are unsatisfied. Getting the right advocate for the Publishers needs makes the whole process go more smoothly.

  • Developer (Advocate: Producer) The internal producer mirrors the role of the External Producer, acting as an advocate for the developer as a whole. The developer's goals vary. They want to get money for salaries, certainly, and they may (but not necessarily) want to turn a profit as well. But for the most part, the developer's goal is to professionally produce a game, so meeting milestones, and satisfying the publisher are inherited goals. From the Producer's point of view then, the developers interest in the design is that it should be achievable, and as project status changes, changes in the design may be required. It is then the game designer's role to adapt to these changes.
  • Programmers The goal of the programming team is to implement the game, and as such they need the power to interact with the design and ensure that it is realistically implementable.In many cases, the programmers are also representatives of the audience, but like focus groups this does not mean that they should dominate the design process. Neither should their views be ignored.

    It is desirable for there to be an advocate for the programming team as a whole (the lead programmer, usually). Issues that the programming team need to report can then be advocated on their behalf, which is more efficient than each programmer trying to influence the design process individually, although this is less of an issue with smaller teams.

  • Artists The artists parallel the programmers, and also benefit from an advocate (a lead artist) to bring forward their issues.The producer should be able to turn to the artists for advice on art and animation issues in the same way they can turn to the programming or design team for advice on their specialities.
  • Marketing/PR Their goal is to sell the game to as many people as realistically possible. This may mean being an advocate for the audience, but more often it means ensuring that the game is a product that can be marketed.Like it or not, the marketing and PR teams are important participants in modern games development. With this in mind, it is desirable for them to have an advocate in the development process - rather than having them try to make changes to the game for marketing purposes when it is realistically too late to do so.

    Since few marketers are design-literate, the game designer or producer sometimes has to act as an advocate on behalf of them. The important point is that there be dialogue between marketing/PR and the development team at some level.

  • License Holder These days, more and more games have an extra participant: the license holder. Their goals are to ensure that their brand gains something from the game, and also (like the publisher) to make money from it.The situation is parallel to marketing - the license holder should be represented in some form, and the producer or game designer should be advocate for them when necessary. Once again, keeping dialogue open throughout development is preferable to showing the finished game to the license holder and then being forced to make changes when they are most expensive. It is always cheaper to fix problems at the design level, and therefore always preferable to resolve issues earlier rather than later.

Saying that the game designer's role should be egoless is in effect saying that the game designer doesn't reflect their personal needs in the design process, they act as an advocate for all participants to the best of their ability. They do this at the design level, whilst the producer does this at the production level. In this way the role of producer and game designer are closely related, but they are not identical.

To be a good game designer is therefore to listen to and comprehend the needs of the many different participants in the development process.

This doesn't mean that there is no creative role for games designers - on the contrary, finding design solutions that satisfy all participants is a highly creative process, and individual game designers can and do express their creativity in how they choose these solutions.

Example of Participants

An example will serve to clarify the concept of participants and advocates.

Let us consider a hypothetical game and the design issue of save games. Assuming a basic demographic split model, we can see the following model with respect to save games:

  • Casual audience: they want to be able to save anywhere, any time, because they are fitting game playing into their life and want to be able to pick it up and put it down.
  • Hardcore audience: they are willing to play for long periods of time, and their interest in save games is that the save mechanism does not destroy the challenge of the game.
  • Programmers: their chief concern is that the save mechanism be technically feasible. The relevant data to be saved depends on the game world abstraction, so it is worth considering how save games will work at a suitably early stage and acquiring the programming team's approval of the intended solution.
  • Developer/Publisher: with respect to save games, which are usually not a major drain on development resources, the developer and publisher act as advocates for the perceived audience for the game. They can do this crudely, by imitating what other companies have done, or they can do it in a sophisticated manner by studying the market.
  • Artists/Marketing/License Holder: with respect to this issue, these participants have no special role, and do not need to be advocated.

The game designer, having looked at the needs of the participants is thus better informed to make a decision on how the save game mechanism should be designed.

Return to the Wise, Blind Elephants

At the start, we told the parable of the five wise blind elephants who, wondering what humans were like, tried to learn by direct experience. The moral of this story is that an individual's perspective dramatically affects their opinions on all things.

You cannot learn objectively about anything - including design - you can only be aware of your limitations and be willing to talk to (and more importantly listen to) the other participants in the design process.

By learning many different methods, the game designer has a varied toolkit; by learning the needs of many different participants, the game designer has a balanced outlook. Somewhere in between the two lies Zen Game Design, and the goal of making better games for everyone.

International Hobo


The 40 Hour Millstone

First published in CTW (Computer Trade Weekly), issue 877 (1st February 2002)

Video games are widely criticised by their players, a common complaint being that a game is too short. Critics (both professional and amateur) judge value for money in relation to the number of hours that it took them to finish a game. There is the perception that a full-price game should last at least forty hours, to give full value for money. But where did such a figure of expectation come from? And is the need for tens of hours of gameplay slowly being eroded, as a new type of player begins to buy games?

Classic arcade games could not be completed. Space Invaders, Pac-Man and their ilk depended on challenge to lure players back, not the promise of some end sequence as a pat on the back. There was no plot or causal continuity to these single-stage games - when a screen was cleared, the game repeated, often with increased speed and difficulty. Phoenix, a multi-stage game, preserved this repetition and acceleration of game play, but the variety it presented through its levels lent an air of finality to the clearing of the 'final' screen. This introduction of variety into games, and the sense of finality that came with it, led to games necessarily acknowledging their defeat once all created material had been experienced by the player. And so video games became mortal, gaining a natural life-span just like the rest of us.

With the addition of varied stages, games also began to present stories. The addition of story material, primarily in the form of cut-scenes, gradually became a saleable aspect of video games. The narrative-based video game is now an accepted form, with franchises such as Capcom's Resident Evil series exploiting continuity of story through sequels. This narrative format imposes another restriction upon game length besides the finite nature of game material - that of story pacing. A story cannot be told satisfactorily unless timing is employed in its telling. Extending a story beyond its natural limits, for the sake of game length of for any other reason, can only weaken narrative.

Game length thus becomes a balance. Developers must currently attempt to eke as much play as they can from the pre-defined materials. At the same time, they must pace their games in a satisfying manner, and also make it clear to the player that an end is achievable. After all, modern game players (both casual and hard-core) expect to be able to finish their games.

This balancing act has proved to be a thorny problem. Longer games are often paced poorly, relying upon recycled materials within their structure (such as repeated combat sections which supply players with nothing but arbitrary in-game 'experience') or requiring the player to traverse their environments from end to end on ridiculous (but progress-blocking) lock/key puzzle errands. Even in non-narrative based games, these techniques can easily frustrate the player. Meanwhile, tighter games are marked down in reviews for being too short, despite being thoroughly enjoyable creations.

One demographic sorely hit by game-extending design fudges is the casual player. A 'casual player' may briefly be described as someone who enjoys video games, but in small doses. An epic-length game may take a casual player months of evenings to complete. This is fine if the player enjoys the process, and there is definitely room for grandly scaled games within the casual market. But more often, the player is alienated by the very factor that is supposed to deliver them their value for money. The majority of players would far prefer a game which they enjoy finishing and then wish for more of, than sprawling games that they are forced to abandon a quarter of the way through. And the advantage of this, in business terms, is that the player is then more likely to buy the sequel, or other games by the same creators.

The best of both worlds is possible. Games requiring control skills (extreme sports / stunt performing games such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, or arcade-like experiences such as Jet Set Radio or Crazy Taxi) can present finite experiences with superior replay value. Similarly, creating bonus games from existing material (as seen in the majority of survival horror games) prolongs the life of the game for hardcore gamers, without denying the casual player a resolution. And, as Super Monkey Ball on GameCube shows, well designed multiplayer 'bonus' games can make much of an existing design, and prolong play indefinitely for players of all skill ranges.

A sense of value for money will always be an important criteria for customer satisfaction in any market, but when it comes to the pleasure delivered by video games, there can be no substitute for a game which stays true to its content. There is always a place for epic-length games, but it is to be hoped that players begin to see the value of such products in their own terms, rather than in terms of length alone. Developers must instigate this change of mindset, by allowing their games enough space to deliver their content in a manner that doesn't waste player time or project budget. As the casual games market grows, it seems likely that well-made games that are rich in content will prevail financially over products which attempt to obey arbitrary laws of 'value for money' in length, without focusing sufficiently upon core gameplay - the real draw of any video game.

Richard Boon
Head of Script Services
International Hobo Ltd

Ban The Boss

First published in Develop, issues 7 & 8 (June & July 2001)

A number of conventions exist within the realm of video game design. Some conventions have arisen by a process of pseudo-evolution, with designers of early games being forced to think of new features for their games, their rivals recognising which features worked well or encouraged players to spend money, and those features being copied. Other conventions arose due to technological necessity - the level structure seen in most games exists due to a combination of design and technological requirements.

Early arcade games such as Space Invaders (Taito) and Pac Man (Namco) proceeded by facing the player with an identical level set-up, but increased the game's challenge with each subsequent level defeated. Games such as Phoenix (T.P.N. Corporation) introduced levels with different features; in Phoenix, Space Invaders style stages were followed by egg waves, and then the flying saucer stage. This last involved not many, but a single, large opponent for the player to blast. The saucer in Phoenix rained fire upon the player while its pilot hid beneath a destructible shield.

This varied level structure quickly became popular, then standard. Nowadays a great deal of variety is required in graphics and play to 'justify' a new level to the player. Once variety of play had become standard, the issue of game pacing arose. There's no point in slavishly designing variety into a game if it all feels the same to the player, despite the differences. The key to keeping a player on their toes is pacing the game experience. At its most basic level, pacing involves creating a feeling of climax at certain points of the game (after which the player will naturally feel relief).

The prime method introduced to vary the game pace was the boss. A game boss is any enemy that:

  • requires defeating for the player to progress
  • is significantly larger and more powerful in both offence and defence than the standard enemies
  • acts as punctuation in game flow, usually being featured at the end of a level, as a climax

Bosses are also usually used as a graphical showcase, to impress the player.
(Later game development introduced the 'sub-boss', smaller bosses used to mark half-level points, or similar pacing milestones).

In a game like Konami's Nemesis, the role of the bosses as pacing aids is fairly explicit, with the bosses for all but the final two levels being identical (and being preceded by a distinct 'challenge' section which also provided game variety). Later games were forced to employ more imagination in boss variety. Modern day bosses are usually thematic; lobster boss, avian boss, fire boss. Their use has branched beyond the standard shooter genre, and they are used as punctuation in practically any game genre. Bosses usually employ predictable attack patterns which, once understood by the player, render the boss more or less vulnerable.

The point of this article is to state that bosses have become overused. Bosses have got out of hand. Their use as pacing aids has been almost forgotten, and bosses are now included in games because convention demands it. It would seem that players require their fix of screen-high poly-filled spikey death. But bosses cause all sorts of problems to game structure.

The biggest flaw in the boss philosophy would seem to be that bosses haven't kept pace with the requirements of the game design. Back in the arcade days, bosses were extremely valuable to a game; players would pay to play because they wanted to see the bosses, but would have to work hard (and pay more) to beat a boss to get to the next level. Nowadays, games for home consoles are designed to give the player an entertaining play experience which ends in the completion of the game, rather than being cash-generation engines. Though bosses may be useful from pacing and 'gosh-wow' points of view, their other uses no longer apply. Battling through a difficult boss level is rarely satisfying; rather than creating a feeling of triumph, a long, torturous boss battle leaves players with a feeling of relief - that they don't have to do it again.

Especially difficult end of game bosses are even more troublesome, often preventing players from seeing the game end. Why? A player who has spent thirty hours on a game surely deserves the closure of ending and credits sequences. Difficult bosses that cannot easily be replayed (because they are featured after a five minute unskippable cut-scene, for instance) become even more frustrating. It's harder to see your sequel selling if the player has bad memories of the prequel's end.

A similar crime is that of placing the save points after bosses. Save points shouldn't be designed such as to create challenge for a game, they should be placed as an aid to the player (though I accept the usefulness of save points as a pacing aid and don't necessarily insist on 'save anywhere' technology for the majority of games). There is nothing more irritating than playing an entertaining level of a game only to be quickly destroyed by a boss, and have to play the entire section again.

A special mention should be made of bosses with long, repetitive attack patterns which are nevertheless easy to avoid. After five minutes of concentration, players are likely to make a slip here or there, and if a boss battle takes fifteen minutes and ends in the careless death of the player, don't expect them to come back to your game.

Are bosses necessary? It's a fact that players expect them, but at one point players expected a high score table. Score mechanisms have evolved to keep pace with narrative-based progressive game styles, and so should pacing techniques. Bosses may still have a valid place in video games, and no technique should be fully ignored. But if video games are to make the most of the potential as story-telling devices, or even to capture a truly mass-market, games have to work with the player, not against. Challenge is a good thing, but pointless challenge less so. Players should only be restricted in interesting ways. Too many bosses simulate the real life experience of knocking through a wall with one's head. This is not fun.

It should be noted that many major game developers are already changing they way they use bosses. Super Mario 64 (NCL, N64) decentralised its boss structure in a manner that worked well, changing the emphasis from 'completing the level' to 'completing the task'. Many newer games decrease the difficulty of their bosses, using them more as plot points than game obstacles. Dino Crisis and Resident Evil 3 (both Capcom) explored the narrative based boss, using the boss to heighten tension, but always supplying enough firepower options for the boss to be defeated when necessary (by introducing ally characters, or allowing the player to solve a bonus puzzle to obtain superior ordnance). The feeling is that bosses need to change at the very least, and may change form so much that they become unrecognisable. I would applaud this move.

Do we need alternative pacing mechanisms? Several already exist. Metroid (NCL, NES) introduced the last minute 'race against time' climax, which also worked well for the original Descent (Interplay, PC, PSX, Sat). Games like Driver (Reflections, PSX, PC) eschew standard bosses in favour of missions of heightened difficulty at chapter's end. The original Resident Evil allowed the player to weaken a boss by solving an optional puzzle, a technique which might be extended to giving the player an option of whether to fight a boss or perform some alternative task instead. Of course, these techniques can fall prey to the same pitfalls as boss design itself. The solution may lie in plot and character based climaxes as opposed to challenge based pacing structures. Narrative based games are becoming very popular amongst players and developers, and the inclusion of a story automatically allows for previously unexplored pacing mechanisms to be used.

An interesting point concerning boss design is that the climax method of pacing works far less well within a non-linear game structure. The industry seems divided upon the usefulness of non-linear storytelling techniques in narrative based games, but it seems inevitable that someone will push forward and create a truly non-linear game at some point in the future. This style of game structure will require a far finer sense of pacing than a classic shooter did in its day, and it is likely that the boss will have no place within this style of game, in his current form. It is even possible that the convention of the boss is one of the factors retarding the willingness of the industry to explore non-linear narrative. If so, it is another fine reason to ban the boss.

There will always be room in the video games world for classic arcade style gameplay, and bosses will always have a place in the hearts of long time gamers. But as narrative gameplay becomes more popular, it seems that pacing must serve game progress, rather than restrict it. The goal of the game designer has moved away from creating 'one more go' titles, to that of creating 'just a little bit longer' style games. Good pacing will keep a player hooked, and will allow for the further development of narrative style games. If the boss has to finally die for good for this to occur, then so be it.

Richard Boon
Design-integrated Scriptwriter
International Hobo Ltd

Golden Rules of Interface Design

First published in Develop, issue 11 (October 2001)

Every game requires an interface, and although a lot of thought often goes into the design of the main game controls, many overlook the rest of the interface. This article briefly discusses five Golden Rules for basic interface design:

Rule 1: Be Consistent

It sounds obvious but all too many games don't check that their controls maintain their functionality across all contexts, and the result can be a major irritation for players.

Most importantly, ensure that all menus and windows are operated using essentially the same controls. Choose how the players accept a menu option, and how they go back up a menu level, and stick to this convention rigidly.

Rule 2: Minimize Action Depth

The depth of a particular action can be defined as the number of sub-actions required to execute that action. For example, opening a menu by pressing start is at depth 1, quitting a game from the main menu is at depth of 2 (open the main game menu plus select quit).

In general, every action should be at the lowest depth achievable and all common actions should be within a depth of 3 or less. Minimising action depth makes the interface easy to learn and fast to navigate, and will minimize player frustration.

Consider Turok 2's radial weapon select, which is always around depth 1 versus Goldeneye's linear sequence of weapons, where depth increases as you acquire more weapons.

Sidebar: Measuring Action Depth

Any number of systems can be defined for measuring action depth, and your choices of how to do this can affect how you think about the interface design. If we consider selecting to be half an action, and pressing a button or key to be another half action, it is apparent that using a single key to close a window as a shortcut will generally half the depth of exiting the menus when you have finished, for example.

If you add depth for loading times you are more likely to spot the need to include a restart option on the game over screen, so the player doesn't have to reload to play the level again.

Rule 3: Allow Skipping of Non-interactive Sequences

You may want the player to see your expensively rendered cut scene, but they may not care - or they may have seen it a hundred times before, especially if its between a save point and a tough boss. Provide a method to skip cut scenes, but don't use a control the player might hit by accident.

Rule 4: Provide Options - Save Options

Options allow the player to tailor the interface to their own needs. Despite the name, they are not optional to the game design and are a vital part of the interface. Try to allow the player to customise everything that will not affect the core game play.

If the controls can be customised, remember to transfer secondary actions. Black and White, for example, allows you to redefine the control for the move operation (normally on left mouse button) but if you do you lose the double left click function which allows you to jump to a particular location directly.

Also - make sure you save all the options. The player doesn't want to reconfigure every time they start playing the game.

Rule 5: Document It!

Even though most players don't read the manual, they will turn to it if they have a problem, or want to find out if such-and-such a thing is possible. Good documentation will save your players much frustration.

Next month: Golden rules for mainstream interface design.


Golden Rules of Interface Design (Part 2):
Interfaces for a Mainstream Audience

First published in Develop, issue 12 (November-December 2001)

Last month we looked at some basic Golden Rules. This month, we're looking at Golden Rules when designing interfaces for a mainstream audience:

Rule 1: Draw From the Familiar

Don't reinvent the wheel. If there is an interface style already in use that people know about, use that as your starting point. For example, the standard WIMP environment is fine for PC sim games. If you replace it with something else, it had better be easy to learn and offer significant advantages.

The same rule applies to icon design. There are many internationally recognisable symbols you can use to improve the player's immediate comprehension of your interface.

Rule 2: Icons for Speed, Text For Clarity

Icons are great for immediate recognition - provided the player knows what it means. Mainstream players don't generally have the patience of hardcore players so make sure that you provide a text description for all your icons (either as a tooltip, or in a help line somewhere on screen).

The front end for SSX is a good example of using both text and icons to produce a pleasing interface, which is simple to use.

Rule 3: Avoid Overloading Controls

Although it is good to keep the controls down to a minimum, don't be tempted to overload a control. That is, make sure each control has only one meaning. In Jet Set Radio, the interface is beautifully designed except for the overloading of the left trigger, which is used for both camera control and spraying graffiti. This means that you cannot move the camera when you are close to a graffiti tag, which can frustrate many players.

Rule 4: Shortcuts for Advanced Users Only

In PC games, avoid requiring the keyboard for the main interface (with the possible exception of the cursor keys and the space bar). There should generally be some way (no matter how contrived) to achieve an action from the mouse alone. That doesn't mean you shouldn't include keyboard shortcuts as the advanced user will certainly want them, but few mainstream players want to memorize a list of keys before they can play.

On consoles, consider providing an advanced control mechanism that allows the player to achieve certain actions more quickly, such as Goldeneye's ability to trigger mines by hitting the A and B buttons simultaneously. Just make sure that these options are properly documented.

Sidebar: Remembering Shortcuts

A problem with keyboard shortcuts in PC games is that the only sensible key for an action is the letter it begins with - and certain keys go quickly. If you have any action that begins with 'P' you immediately have a problem as this is almost certainly going to be your pause key.

Don't go for some contrived solution such as using the second letters, as this won't help the player at all. Try arranging them in sensible spatial clusters on the keyboard, or renaming the game action so that it can begin with another letter.

Ideally, allow the player to define or redefine their own shortcuts for all the main game actions.

Rule 5: Structure the Learning Curve

Mainstream players can get swamped if you give them all the controls from the start. Introduce the player gradually to everything they can use, ideally within the main game play, but if that's not possible make sure the player is encouraged to play the tutorial before they start play. If your tutorial is as interactive as possible - and the player can skip it or accelerate it - you shouldn't have any problems.


Underwear

Deck: Standard 52 card deck, jokers not included
Players: 2 or more players (more than 4 players will probably require an additional deck of cards)
Difficulty: Average
Time: One hand takes approximately 5-15 minutes; one game takes approximately 30 minutes
Created: 1997
Overview: Players attempt to be the first player to go out, thus scoring points for all the cards they have obtained on the table and also points for each card remaining in the other players' hands.

Getting its name from a mistake in translating the games original name from Japanese, Underwear is a deceptively simple game; quick to learn but difficult to master. Underwear suits a wide variety of different play styles, and can be played to some extent with or without strategy. The game play revolves around playing cards of the same suit but a lower value on the main pile - known as the downpile. They can also steal the downpile with a card of the same value, making an up-pile that they can play cards onto with a higher value but the same suit.

Although the object of the game is to go out (thus scoring points, as only the player who gets out of cards scores in each hand), it is often strategic to delay going out in order to score more points - especially if the other players are stuck picking up cards, as every card in their hands at the end of the game scores for the player going out. Sometimes a player will delay the game in the hope of going out, only to discover they are trapped, ending up giving the game to another player.

Up-piles are the road to high points, and low value cards are vitally important to stealing the downpile to make up-piles, with Aces the lowest possible card. Because the common pile of cards can only go down in value, the downpile tends to get blocked around A-4 of the suit it is on. Low cards give you the best chance of stealing, but once the downpile gets low, some players may prefer to play a royalty and clear the downpile, rather than risk a big downpile being stolen by another player.

One of the most rewarding aspects of Underwear is that every player develops a completely different strategy. Some play conservatively, preferring to pick up cards rather than unblock the downpile for their opponents. Others play a fast-paced liberal game, keeping the momentum going and trying to go out quickly. All strategies can work - if they are played well. It's possible to plan ahead and develop tricks for stealing a downpile, or for blocking the game for other players (especially if you have a good memory for what has already been played), but don't be surprised if your master plan blows up in your face when one of the other players has just the card to spoil your schemes.

Rules of Underwear

1. Deal seven cards to each player
The first dealer is the player who suggested playing Underwear; the deal passes to the left after each hand.
2. Turn over the top card
This card forms the downpile. (If it is a royalty, discard it and the first player can play any card.)
3. Turns
Each turn, a player can do one of the following:

- Play a card (or a run of consecutive cards) onto the downpile.
These cards must be of the same suit, but a lower value (e.g. 4 hearts onto 7 hearts, or 3 and 4 hearts onto 9 hearts).
Royalties are special - they cannot be not played on the downpile.

- Play a card (or a run of consecutive cards) onto any of their own up-piles.
These cards must be of the same suit, but a higher value (e.g. 6, 7 and 8 diamonds onto A diamonds).
Royalties are special - they cannot be not played onto an up-pile.

- Play one or more royalties (not including aces) to remove the current downpile from play.

- Steal the current downpile using a card of the same value (the card in question becomes a new downpile).
The stolen downpile becomes a new up-pile in front of the player.

- Draw a card.

4. The Downpile
The downpile is the one place that all players can play onto.

Cards played onto the downpile must be of the same suit, but a lower value.

A single lower value card can be played, or a run of consecutive cards of the same suit, all lower than the card showing on the downpile.

Players may also steal the downpile to make an up-pile by replacing the downpile with a card with the same value as the card showing on top of the downpile (e.g. if the top card on the downpile is 2 clubs, a player could play a 2 hearts as a new downpile, and take the old downpile as an up-pile in front of them).

5. Up-piles
Any cards face up in front of a player are considered up-piles.

Cards played onto an up-pile must be of the same suit, but a higher value.

A single higher value card can be played, or a run of consecutive cards of the same suit, all higher than the card showing on the up-pile in question.

When a 10 is played on an up-pile, turn the up-pile face down.

Face-down up-piles score double if the player manages to go out.

6. Ending a hand
Each hand ends when a player plays their last card, either onto the downpile, or onto an up-pile.

The only player who scores it the player who goes out.

This player scores:

- 1 point for each card in a face-up up-pile.
- 2 points for each card in a face-down up-pile (one upon which a 10 has been played).
- 1 point for each card left in the hand of each of their opponents.

The player to the left of the last dealer deals the next hand.

First player to 49 points wins (or to another target, agreed before the game begins).

7. Royalties
When you play royalties, you can play as many or as few as you wish; the effect is the same.

You can always play royalties, regardless of their suit, or the suit of the downpile.

Whenever one or more royalties are played, the current downpile is discarded, including any royalties that have just been played.

The next player at the table can play any card they want to start a new downpile. (If they play a royalty, the player after them is faced with the same situation).

Optional Rules

1. Doubling
Any player with more cards in their hand than any other player may declare 'double' at any time.

Each player can only double once in the game, but each player may double (provided they had more cards in their hand than any other player at the time when they doubled).

For each double declared by players, the score of the player who goes out is doubled (e.g. if in a game with four players, two of them doubled at some point, whomever went out first would score four times the basic score).

2. Royalties on Up-piles
A variation of the game allows the player to play royalties onto up-piles of the same suit, with the same effect as playing a 10.
3. Seat Changes
Some players complain that they lose simply because of where they are in the turn sequence (especially if they get stuck next to a player who never players a royalty). If this happens, you may like to try this variant. After each hand, the player who went out exchanges seat with the player with the most cards left in their hand. This rule help avoids any suspicion that there is a 'losing seat'.

Underwear created by Chris Bateman (original name: Shitagi, pronounced 'shi-tang-i', which is Japanese for 'Underwear'; the word was constructed from Kanji with the intent to spell 'downpile', but only later was the error realised and the name of the game 'discovered'); this document is copyright 2000 International Hobo Ltd.


Life

Deck:Standard 52 card deck, plus jokers
Players:2 or more players (more than 4 players will probably require an additional deck of cards)
Difficulty:Easy
Time:One hand takes approximately 5 minutes; one game takes approximately 30 minutes
Created:1983
Overview:Players pick a suit, and then try to score as much as possible by getting cards down on the table. The player's chosen suit scores double, but spades score negatively.

Life is a simple card game in which players try to be the first to score 100 points over a number of different hands. On each turn, they turn over the top card of the deck and lay some or all cards from their hand that match the suit of the card turned over. If they turn over a spade (a bad card), they must lay all their spades. By laying more than 10 points of cards, players get to turn over cards (in which case they are guaranteed to score for those cards) and to steal from other players.

Stealing cards is an important aspect of the game. If you steal from someone, you run the risk of getting a spade - unless you until after they have turned over a spade, in which case you know you are safe. Sometimes you won't want to steal from a player because you don't want them to go out of cards and end the hand.

Although there is very little strategy to Life, it can be a fun diversion, and many players become hooked on the game despite its simplicity. There can be great satisfaction in playing an ace of your own suit, thus scoring for everybody's cards of that suit, and enormous relief when someone turns over the ace of spades, sucking up all the bad cards and putting back in the deck for a while. The option to steal can also create some great grudge matches - especially when you pick on someone who's down by stealing cards from a player after they have had to turn over more than 10 points of spades.

Rules of Life

1. Choose Suits
Prior to each hand, each player chooses a suit for which they will play for in the next hand. They may choose hearts, diamonds or clubs, but not spades. Spades are the 'bad suit' that everyone will be trying to get rid of.
2. Deal seven cards to each player
The first dealer is the player who suggested playing Life; the deal passes to the left after each hand.
3. Turns
The first player is left of the dealer. Play order continues to the left after each player's turn.

Each player starts their turn turn by turning over the top card of the deck.

- If it is a heart, diamond or club, the player may play some or all of their cards of that suit in front of them.

If the face value of the cards of that suit face up in front of the player totals 10 or more (counting all royalties and aces as 10), turn them face down and then the player has an option to steal one card random card from any player they choose.

- If it is a spade, the player must play all their spades in front of them.

If the face value of the spade cards face up in front of the player totals 10 or more (counting all royalties and aces as 10), turn them face down and every player has an option steal one random card from the unfortunate player (starting with the player to their left).

4. Picking up
If a player doesn't play any cards on their turn (either because they chose not to, or because they turned over a spade and had no spades), they pick up a card.
5. Ending a hand
Each hand ends when any player has no cards left in their hand (either because they have played all their cards, or because their last card was stolen from them).

Every player scores one point for the value of each card in front of them (face up or face down), and 10 for royalties or aces.

The suit they chose before the hand began scores double.

Any spades are subtracted from the player's score.

Cards remaining in a players hand (and not on the table) do not score.

The next hand is dealt by the player to the left of the last player to redeal (either at the start of the hand, or because of a joker)

First player to 100 points wins (or to another target, agreed before the game begins).

5. Aces
Whenever an ace becomes turned face up (either on the deck at the start of a player's turn, or played in front of them) all cards of that suit from the hands of all the players are played onto that ace.

If a player turns over an ace, this means all the cards of that suit are discarded onto the face up cards, including any face up cards of that suit.

If a player plays an ace in front of them, this means they get to steal all the cards of that suit from the other players, and since this is guaranteed to be worth 10 or more points (since aces are worth 10), they will get to turn all the cards face down, and steal a random card from another player. All face up cards of the appropriate suit are also played onto the ace.

6. Jokers
Players may play a joker on their turn instead of turning over a card as usual.

Whenever a joker is played, the joker is removed from play and the player in question shuffles the deck, the discards and all the face up cards and then deals a new hand of seven cards to each player.

If there are not enough cards to deal seven to each player, the hand ends.

A joker may also be played by having been turned at the start of a player's turn (in which case, that player redeals, and their turn ends).

7. Face up cards
Face up cards in front of a player count for the players score only if they remain until the end of the game.

Whenever a joker is played, all face up cards are shuffled back into the deck.

Whenever a player tries to steal from a player with face up cards, they must steal one of the face up cards (their choice) instead of stealing from their hand. No player may steal directly from another player's hand while that player has face up cards.

Optional Rules

1. Blind Steal
Some players have a tendency to be very reluctant to let a player steal a card from them that they really want (an ace or a joker, say). It's not unknown for a player to start to steal a card, only to have the player being stolen from jank their hand away and ask the player to pick another. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended that players hold their cards face down when players are stealing from their hand.
2. Chose Spades
In this optional variant, players may choose spades as their suit. In this case, the suit only counts half its face value, so a royalty is worth -5 and not -10. This option tends to appeal to players with a depressive bent.
3. Fortune
Players may use Life as a spurious fortune telling game. The number of points in hearts represent romantic relationships, diamonds represent money, clubs friendship and spades just plain bad luck. International Hobo is not responsible for the accuracy of such fortunes.

Life created by Chris Bateman and Sam Ineson; this document is copyright 2000 International Hobo Ltd.


Guild of Thieves

Deck:Standard 52 card deck, plus one joker.
Prior to each hand, the royalties and joker must be taken out and the remaining cards sorted into ascending order by suit.
Players:2-16 players
Difficulty:Setup: Medium, Game play: Easy
Time:One game takes approximately 30 minutes
Created:1999
Overview:Players attempt to find the Jeweled Box (the joker) and guess the combination.

In Guild of Thieves the players take the role of initiate thieves who are taking their final exams. Their mission: to locate the Jeweled Box (the joker) by breaking into various houses, whilst at the same time trying to deduce the combination to the box. The game plays a little like Cluedo/Clue and is suitable for all ages, although it may require an adult to set up the deck prior to play.

After setting up the combination for the Jeweled Box (which is described below), players guess whether the top card on one of the sixteen piles in play (the Houses) is a Club, Heart, Spade or Diamond (or alternatively a King, Queen, Jack or Ace). Guessing correctly allows them to see the contents of the house, and to take a card.

Players learn about the combination by seeing the different cards in the houses - if they see a Spade, they know the combination is not a Spade. If they see a 7, they know the combination is not a 7. Eventually, they can work out exactly the suit and value of the combination, and once they have got their hands on the Joker they can guess the combination. Get it right, and they win; get it wrong, and one of the traps on the Jeweled Box kills them and the remaining players must then rob that player's house to steal the box!

The Combination

The combination to the Jeweled Box is a set of 12 cards that are removed from the deck prior to play. It consists of one complete suit (which is the suit for the combination) and all four cards of one value (which is the value of the combination). For example, if all 2 through 10 of Hearts and all the 5's are in the combination cards, the combination to the Jeweled Box is '5 of Hearts'.

To set up the combination, perform the following actions:

1. Separate Cards
Remove all the Royalties and Aces and set them to one side. Remove the Joker and set that to one side also.
2. Sort Suits
Arrange the 2-10 of each suit into four piles, one for each suit, arranged in order (it doesn't matter if the order is 2-10 or 10-2, provided all piles are sorted in the same way.
3. Mix Suits
Turn the suit piles face down. Each player in turn faces away from the table while the other players swap the positions of the piles. At the end, no player will know which pile represents which suit.
4. Remove One Complete Suit
Select one pile and place it to one side. These are the first nine cards in the combination, representing the suit of the Combination.

5. Put the Remaining Piles Together
Place each of the remaining piles on top of each other, to create a deck of 27 cards. No-one must look at this deck, as they will see which suit has been removed.
6. Cut
Each player cuts the deck once, placing the cut on the bottom of the deck. This keeps the cards in sequence, but changes where the deck starts. (For example, after the first cut, the 4 of Clubs may be the first card; the rest of the deck goes 5-10 of Clubs, then the 2-10 of another suit, 2-10 of the third suit and finally 2-3 of Clubs).
7. Remove 9th, 18th and 27th card.
Counting through the 27 card deck, remove the ninth, eighteenth and last card. These are added unseen to the combination. (These three cards will all have the same value - which becomes the value of the combination).
8. Mark Combination
Place a coin or other marker on the combination cards, so that everyone knows which cards are the combination.

As already mentioned, the twelve cards in the combination represent the suit and the value of the combination. It is vital that no-one sees any cards in the combination until they are guessing it.

Set-up

After preparing the combination, the Houses to be burgled must be set up.

1. Add Joker to Remaining 24 Cards.
Take the 24 non-royalty cards and add the joker always remembering not to look at these cards.
2. Shuffle and Deal

Shuffle this 25 card deck and deal them out into seventeen piles as follows:

1
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
1 (The Guild House)
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
1

The eight piles of one card are the Slums; the eight piles of two cards are the Rich houses. The one card off to the side is the Guild House, which is treated differently.

3. Place a Royalty on Each House
Shuffle the sixteen royalties, and place one on each house (excluding the Guild House). These cards are the Locks on each house.
4. Each player takes one House
Each player chooses any one of the sixteen houses to be their own house and places it in front of them. Players leave the royalty on the table in front of them and takes the remaining cards (1 or 2, depending on whether a Slum or Rich house was chosen) into their hand.

At this point, the game is ready to begin. Each player already knows a little information about the combination from the cards in their hand. If they have the 4 of Spades and the 7 of Clubs, they know the combination is not a Spade or a Club, and they know it is not a 4 or a 7.

Turns

The player to the left of the person who set up the combination starts. Players may always look at the cards in their own House (which are in their hand). The turn sequence is as follows:

1. Pick a House to Rob
Players may attempt to rob any of the Houses in the town, or any of the players' Houses.
2. Guess Lock
Once the target is chosen, the player then guesses the suit or value of the Lock card for that House. They may either guess Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds or Spades, or they may guess King, Queen, Jack or Ace.
3. Check Lock
Having declared their guess out loud, the player then looks at the lock (if it is a neutral House) or asks the player if they have guessed correctly (if it is another player's House).
4. If Correct: Look & Steal
If the guess is correct, the card is turned face up for all to see. The player can then look at all the cards in the House (all the cards in the player's hand, if it is a player's House). They know then that the combination is not the same suit or value as any of the cards in that House. After looking at the cards, the player may choose one card to steal and add to their hand.

If the card they take is the last card in the House, they may also steal the Lock (the royalty card that was on top) as well. The House is then out of play for the rest of the game (as it has no cards left to represent it).

5. If Wrong: Fail
If they guess wrong, nothing happens. Other players should note what was guessed, as they then have an easier job guessing what the locking card is. If it gets back to the original player's turn and no-one has guessed the lock, they can guess what the card is - and they saw it on their last turn so it shouldn't prove difficult.
6. Pay Dues
If the player has at least two cards (not including their Lock card, which is on the table in front of them), they may pay dues to the Guild House. To do this, they take any two cards, place them on the bottom of the Guild House and draw one card from the Guild House to add to their hand.

7. Change Own Lock
If the player has a royalty in their hand, they may at the end of their turn choose to swap their current Lock card (the royalty on the table in front of them) for any of the royalties in their hand.

Play then proceeds to the next player.

Locking Houses

When a neutral House has been successfully robbed, the royalty card is left face up - so any other player can rob the house with impunity (since they can see the value and suit of the Lock).

However, when a player has a royalty in their hand, they may "lock the door behind them" by taking the old Lock card for that House into their hand and placing a different royalty face down on top of the card that is left behind.

Guessing the Combination

As soon as a player has the Joker, they may guess the combination to the Jeweled Box. Of course, if they do not know the combination, they may wait until a future turn, but they may only guess the combination on their turn.

After declaring their guess for the combination out loud, the player may check the combination to see if they are right.

If they guess correctly, they win the game, graduate from the Guild of Thieves, and earn the right to be smug briefly.

If they guess incorrectly, they are killed by a trap, and are out of the game. They place their entire hand, including the Joker, under their Lock card and return the house to the central play area.

If the game ends and no-one has the Joker, then the game is a draw (this can happen if the Joker is placed into the Guild House and no-one has enough cards to get it out again).

Strategy

The game is essentially simple, but there a few key strategic points.

Firstly, in a game with a lot of players it is not always a good idea to choose a Rich House, as these will generally be the places the other players will want to rob first. However, this only applies in a game with more than eight players.

Secondly, it is not always your best choice to rob the Rich Houses. True, you get to see two cards, but if you don't have a spare royalty in your hand you can't lock the door, so you give two free cards to the next player. If you rob a Poor House successfully, you get to take two cards and you leave nothing for the opposition.

Lastly, deciding when to guess the combination is of critical importance. If you've got it down to two choices for what it might be, that's still only a 50-50 chance of guessing correctly. Generally, you will not want to guess the moment you get the Jeweled Box, but if you keep it in your hand, it is only a matter of time before somebody else steals it. If no-one is using the Guild House much, you can hide the Jeweled Box in the Guild House and then recover it later - but if anyone guesses what you are doing it will be a made scramble to pay dues and get the joker.

Optional Rules

1. Double Deck
To play with more cards, all you need to do is change how the combination is determined. Arrange each suit pile 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (or vice versa) and proceed as normal to set up the combination. This time you must remove cards number 9, 18, 27, 36, 45 and 54. You will have enough cards now for sixteen rich houses and sixteen poor houses, which makes for a longer more involving game.
2. I Know Where You Live
In this optional variant, the Joker is not added to the value cards before the Houses are laid out. Instead, the Joker is the first card in the Guild House. Since everyone knows this, anyone may get the Jeweled Box at any time by paying their dues - but once they do, everyone will know who has the Jeweled Box, and that player becomes a target. The result is a more cutthroat, competitive game.
3. Pen & Paper
Younger players may have difficult remembering which cards they have seen. Optionally, players can be allowed to write on a piece of paper which cards they have seen, thus making it easier to keep track of what cards they have seen.

ihobo Critical FAQ on 'Sega Bass Fishing' (Dreamcast)

Do not read beyond this point unless you are already an experienced Sega Bass Fishing player, or you have essentially no self-control. The information up to and including Question 56 of this CFAQ may be considered Spoilers.

Back to Non-Spoilers

41. What's the biggest bass you can catch?
42. Where are the best hotspots on Lake Paradise?
43. What's a tetrapod?
44. Do the sluices being raised in the Inlet affect fishing?
45. Where are the best hotspots on Lake Crystaldew?
46. How do I catch fish at noon in the Original mode?
47. Which are the best basic lures?
48. What are the best ways to use the basic lures?
49. Which are the best special lures?
50. What are the best ways to use the special lures?
51. What's a good weight of fish to catch in a day at Lake Paradise?
52. What's a good weight of fish to catch in a day at Lake Crystaldew?
53. How do I complete Arcade Mode on one credit?
54. What do I have to do to win each tournament?
55. Is there an easy way to win all the tournaments?
56. Are there any secrets in Sega Bass Fishing?

End of Spoilers


41. What's the biggest bass you can catch?

Generally speaking, the largest bass you can catch is around 21-22 lbs.

Although we can't prove it, rumours of a 23 lb. bass being caught by the ihobo team have circulated, but the tricky save problems mean we can't prove or deny this at this time.

The largest verified bass we've seen has been exactly 22 lbs.


Back to top

42. Where are the best hotspots on Lake Paradise?

The following are the best hotspots the ihobo team has found on Lake Paradise (in Arcade and Original mode), along with the best conditions and lures to use:

  • Cape

    The are several hotspots at the cape, chiefly:

    1. Either side of the pylon-structure to the left of the area.
      Lures: grub, deep crank
    2. Just right of the above are some trees in the water, which are also good for fish.
      Lures: grub, deep crank, popper
    3. The shallow, shaded areas under the tree to the left, and under the tree to the right of the area, are good when the weather is bright.
      Lures: suspend minnow, popper, deep crank
    4. The shaded area directly in front of where you start can be really good, and it's often worth a cast. If it comes back dry, go elsewhere.
      Lures: suspend minnow, deep crank, popper

    Bass Composition: Good-sized fish, with a few Huge fish
    Time of Day: Morning or evening are best, although noon fishing can yield results.
    Weather: Good in most conditions, especially cloudy or raining

  • Lodge

    There are a few hotspots at the Lodge, chiefly:

    1. Just fractionally right of where you start is a great spot. In the dead centre of the wooden pontoon area, just to the right of the central support pillar, there is a large pile of logs on the bottom. Pull a deep crank through here to attract the attention of every fish nearby, or use a suspend minnow to target a specific fish.
      Lures: deep crank, suspend minnow
    2. Along the side of either pontoon in the centre (to the right and left of where you start). Big fish like to shelter under the pontoons.
      Lures: deep crank, popper
    3. The third wooden lodge support from the left can be fruitful (at the point where the nearest wall ends), but if there isn't a big fish when you cast the first time, look elsewhere. Reeling in will bring you over some concrete blocks on the bottom of the lake, which are good when a hard lure is pulled across it, but a suspend minnow can also be effective.
      Lures: deep crank, suspend minnow

    Bass Composition: Mostly small and medium fish, with pockets of Huge fish
    Time of Day: Unlike other locations, noon can be reasonably effective at the lodge, especially if the weather is inclement - but prepare for a love-hate relationship with the Lodge at noon. Morning and evening are the best times, as ever.
    Weather: Good when cloudy or raining, but acceptable in fine weather.

  • Palace

    In the Arcade mode, the fish here are the largest found in the game. However, this is not the case in Original mode: there can be good-sized fish, but they are usually few and far between. Beware the time it takes to move from one side of the Palace to the other - you must know where you are going and go straight there.

    1. Go to the right, until you see part of a collapsed wall sticking up out of the water, creating a slightly shaded underwater hollow (there is a treasure chest in the water here). Cast as close to the middle of the interior of this corner wall as you can. Dragging lures can be pulled across the treasure chest where fish will snap them up.
      Lures: suspend minnow, straight worm
    2. If this area comes up short, go further to the right until you reach the bridge. Cast anywhere under the first arch of the bridge, and you will find a trench of deep water that is sometimes home to big or huge bass. You will need lures that go deep to catch them, though, although a surface lure has a chance of attracting attention.
      Lures: deep crank, vibration
    3. Just to the left of the area described in (a) above can also yield results, although it can be tricky to land fish here, not least of all because a bug in the bass AI sometimes causes them to get stuck in the wall, in which case they cannot easily be caught.
      Lures: suspend minnow, deep crank

    Bass Composition (Arcade): Many fish, all huge
    Bass Composition (Original): Often empty, but occasionally single or small groups of huge fish.
    Time of Day: Morning or evening only
    Weather: Cloudy or raining is essential

  • Inlet

    There is usually only one huge fish in the inlet in Arcade mode, but in Original there may be several, especially if it is not too bright:

    1. Any of the rows of tetrapods (concrete blocks with four prongs - they look a little like jacks) either side of the sluices are great places to find big fish, lurking amidst the tetrapods themselves. They are marked on the surface by buoys.
      Lures: vibration, deep crank, anything that sinks
    2. If all else fails, to the far left (by the pipe outlet) or the far right (by the boat) occasionally has a big bass.
      Lures: suspend minnow, deep crank

    Bass Composition: Predominantly medium sized fish, with some huge fish
    Time of Day: Morning and evening are the best times by far.
    Weather: Okay when cloudy or raining, but reasonably poor when it's fine

ihobo comments: the Lake Paradise locations are well balanced, and every location has a role, even if some are better than others. This level of balance was essential for the arcade, but fits well into an Original session.

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43. What's a tetrapod?

Tetrapods are concrete blocks made of four prongs that meet in the centre. They are an essential sea defence, helping to prevent coastal erosion. They can be found in the game at the Inlet, either side of the huge sluices.


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44. Do the sluices being raised in the Inlet affect fishing?

Not especially.


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45. Where are the best hotspots on Lake Crystaldew?

The following are the best hotspots the ihobo team has found on Lake Crystaldew (in Original mode), along with the best conditions and lures to use:

  • Falls

    Once you can fish at the Falls, you will only need to go to other areas at noon or if it is fine. There is only one hotspot:

    1. To the far right (near where the deer is). In the hollow to the right there is a tree sticking up in roughly the centre. Cast here. It will be a long cast, taking a lot of time to land a fish, but under the right conditions this is categorically the best hotspot in the entire game. You will see more huge fish than you've ever seen at this point, and if you don't see dozens, immediately leave - it takes so long to reel in at the Falls that if there aren't droves of monster bass you should definitely go elsewhere. You have enough time to catch about 4 fish per session, giving you one hour game time to catch each.
      Lures: buzz bait, popper, deep crank, vibration

    Bass Composition: Hordes of monster fish, or none at all
    Time of Day: Morning and evening are the only times worth coming, unless it's cloudy, in which case you have a chance at noon.
    Weather: Only worth coming when it's cloudy or raining - if it's fine there'll be nothing for you here.

  • Reeds

    Most anglers fall in love with the reeds in the morning or evening:

    1. To the right of where you start is a bridge between the two reed beds. In the shallows in front of this bridge is grand central for average sized bass - drop the popper in and watch them fight it out! It's a short cast, and you can land fish in no time at all - easily 30 lbs. of fish in a good session. If you don't have the popper, the pencil bait or deep crank will do fine.
      Lures: popper, buzz bait
    2. The place where you start (to the left of the bridge, where there are sticks coming out of the water) is a good place to fish if pickings are poor.
      Lures: grub, popper, suspend minnow (if there's a big one amongst small fish)
    3. There are small clumps of reeds in the open water either side of where you start - the one listed in (b) and another one on the other side of the bridge to the right. If you are desperate, you can pull a rubber jig through these reeds for results.
      Lures: rubber jig

    Bass Composition: Hordes and hordes of small and medium fish, with the occasional huge fish
    Time of Day: Fish are here all day, but they are here in hordes in the morning and evening
    Weather: The weather is less important than the time of day, although fine is still worse than cloudy or raining.

  • Cave or Bridge

    Abandon hope all ye who enter here...

    If you are forced to fish at the Cave or the Bridge, you should be resigned to slim pickings, and a long, long reeling time. There are no hotspots, but there are a couple of tepid spots (to the left and right of the bridge support to the far left on the Bridge; left of the deep trench in front of the cave entrance in the Cave area, for example). Scout with the rubber jig in either location, because everything else takes far too long to sink to the bottom. Vibration and deep crank are good choices for the Cave, the Bridge is almost a total waste of your valuable fishing time.

    If you know of any great hotspots at the Cave or the Bridge, please email us at research@ihobo.com.

    Bass Composition: Fish are hard to find, and rarely huge
    Time of Day: Makes little difference, although there may be more fish at the bridge if it is fine
    Weather: Makes little difference, although there may be more fish at the bridge in fine weather

ihobo comments: it is a shame that the balance on Lake Crystaldew is so heavily biased towards the Reeds and especially the Falls (once you have mastered the hotspot at the Falls, you will rapidly lose interest in fishing anywhere else).

It is difficult to know if the breakdown in game balance could have been repaired at the design level without seeing the original design documents, but ideally the Bridge and the Cave should have been places where large fish could be pulled out of the deep water with some confidence. As it stands, even if you do land a fish at these locations, they are rarely large enough to justify the time it took to land them.


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46. How do I catch fish at noon in the Original mode?

Noon is always a tough time to fish, but you can sometimes improve your chances with the alternative colours. In particular, the shrimp colouration for the deep crank is dramatically more effective at noon. The spinner bait's yellow colours may also prove effective, if the spinner bait is a lure you can already use with some success.


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47. Which are the best basic lures?

Generally speaking, the deep crank is by far the best of the basic lures, with the vibration and the floating minnow (at least until the suspend minnow has been acquired) coming in a close second.

Although not fantastic all-round lures, the spinner bait and the pencil bait have their uses.

You should still experiment with all the lures yourself, as you may find some are better suited to your style than others. If you disagree with our assessments in the next section, we would love to hear from you at research@ihobo.com.


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48. What are the best ways to use the basic lures?


  • Shallow Crank
    (basic colours: green, alternative colours: purple-yellow)

    The shallow crank is an okay lure, but restricted to shallow waters. Generally speaking, the deep crank will do everything the shallow crank will, only better, and unless you have developed a personal preference for this lure, we would not advice using it at all.

    Difficulty: Easy
    Usefulness: Poor
    Buoyancy: This floats unless you reel, so you have to reel quite a lot to keep it below the surface. Bass don't like this lure when it's on the surface.
    Alternative colours: the purple-yellow okay, and may get better results than the green shallow crank. However, the big fish do not like the purple-yellow colours, and selecting this colour scheme will therefore not catch you anything worth catching.
    Superior version: the deep crank is generally a superior version of the shallow crank, and it is available in your starting tackle.

  • Spinner Bait
    (basic colours: white & green, alternative colours: all yellow)

    Although many anglers find the spinner bait ineffective for catching anything but tiddlers, some seem to click well with its style, and it can be effective. Reeling and stopping is generally better than reeling constantly, especially if you can hit obstacles. Reel slowly, so it doesn't come in too fast, but don't let it drag along the bottom.

    Difficulty: Easy
    Usefulness: Average
    Buoyancy: this lure sinks naturally, which makes it quite good for medium depth fishing.
    Alternative colours: the yellow colouration seems more effective at noon than the default colours.
    Superior version: although the buzz bait looks very similar to the spinner bait, the best action for the buzz bait is markedly different. However, once you have earned a buzz bait, you probably can abandon the spinner bait entirely, unless it is a personal favourite.

  • Pencil Bait
    (basic colours: green & yellow, alternative colours: red-yellow-green)

    The pencil bait can be a useful lure, but it is vastly overshadowed by its superior version, the popper. The pencil bait's biggest advantage is that it is a surface bait, which means used properly you can attract fish without having to seek them out underwater. The best action is to reel gently - just enough to keep the tension - and to twitch in all directions, but primarily left and right. With practice, you can get bass to follow this bait, which allows you to have less line out when you get the hit. This is advantageous near the end of an allotted time period, or any time that there are vast numbers of bass congregating in the same area.

    Difficulty: Average
    Usefulness: Average
    Buoyancy: this lure floats and nothing you do will get it away from the surface.
    Alternative colours: the alternative colours don't seem to significantly affect the performance of this bait.
    Superior version: as soon as you have the popper, you can abandon using the pencil bait all together.

  • Vibration
    (basic colours: red, alternative colours: purple)

    This is an excellent lure, but it can be difficult to learn to use it properly. As you reel, the lure vibrates making a noise that can draw in fish from some distance away. However, the big fish are lazy and unlikely to travel to far, so you have to be in the right ballpark to catch huge bass with the vibration lure. The trick to using it is that its depth in the water is determined by how fast you reel. You need to match the depth of the lure with the depth of the bass you wish to land for the best results. This lure is especially good amongst the tetrapods in the Inlet.

    Difficulty: Tricky
    Usefulness: Good
    Buoyancy: this lure sinks naturally, and is a good choice for medium depth fishing.
    Alternative colours: the alternative colours seem worse than the regular colours - especially in the evening.
    Superior version: none.

  • Floating Minnow
    (basic colours: brown, alternative colours: neon purple-green)

    Although hard to master, the minnow lures are effective, and offer the best ability among all the lures for singling out a specific bass to land. You do not have to reel the floating minnow constantly, but you do have to reel enough to keep it underwater. Inserting brief periods of slack (so it rises gently) can be highly effective, especially with a gentle twitching. Fish generally do not want the fish to look like it has epilepsy, but respond well to a gentle twitching with the occasional spasm.

    Difficulty: Hard
    Usefulness: Good
    Buoyancy: this lure floats naturally, but must be kept off the surface. Reel heavily at the start of the cast to get it underwater, or pull the rod up (analogue stick down) to pull it deeper, but in this latter case you will have to reel in to take up the slack.
    Alternative colours: the neon colours are good in the morning and evening and all but useless at noon.
    Superior version: the suspend minnow is vastly superior to the floating minnow, and should be used in place of it once it is acquired.

  • Deep Crank
    (basic colours: brown & white, alternative colours: shrimp - pink head, white body)

    Everyone should learn to use the deep crank - this lure is easy to use and can land all sizes of fish, in all depths of water. Most anglers rapidly single out the deep crank as a favourite. However, be careful not to become over reliant on the deep crank, as other lures offer superior performance in many situations. The key to using it is to reel rapidly at the start in order to get the depth, and then cease reeling, leaving the lure to float up a little. This is effective in the middle water, or on the bottom where the spoon part of the lure rakes up sand, often attracting fish. If you are near a fish you want to catch, you can cease reeling and twitch the rod a little, to have it move on the spot, attracting attention. Don't do this too often without reeling in, however, or you will lose the tension. Bass go wild for this lure when it skates across piles of sticks or other similar debris at the bottom of the lake. If you're not sure of the rhythm, reel for one beat, then rest for just over one beat, then adjust this pattern until you can maintain the depth of the deep crank easily. Persevere. It will be worth it.

    Difficulty: Easy
    Usefulness: Excellent
    Buoyancy: this lure floats naturally, and must be reeled to keep it underwater. You want to be deep with this lure, as it is almost useless at the surface.
    Alternative colours: the alternative colours for the deep crank make it resemble a shrimp - this colour scheme is superb for noon fishing, and should almost always be used at noon. If it is still dark at the start of the noon session, the regular colours may be more effective, but by 1200 noon the shrimp colours are usually more effective.
    Superior version: the sonic lure is a superior version of the deep crank, and should be used in place of the other cranks as soon as it is acquired.


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49. Which are the best special lures?

Buzz bait, grub, suspend minnow, popper and sonic lure are all excellent lures in the right circumstances.

The rubber jig, because it sinks faster than any other lure, is a great 'probe', and has its uses, even if it isn't a great lure in terms of catching fish.

You should still experiment with all the special lures yourself, as you may find some are better suited to your style than others, or that we have not uncovered a great trick for a particular lure. If you have anything to add, we would love to hear from you.


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50. What are the best ways to use the special lures?


  • Paddle Tail
    (basic colours: grey, alternative colours: light green, purple, dark green)

    This lure works best if you can slap it against a hard surface, such as rock. It is mostly ineffective in attracting the attention of fish on softer surfaces, and to make matters worth its a drag lure, so fish have difficulty biting it. You can twitch the rod when a fish is near to pull it off the bottom, or just hope that something grabs it when it goes over an obstacle.

    Difficulty: Hard
    Usefulness: Poor
    Buoyancy: this lure sinks at a moderate speed.
    Alternative colours: no better performance has been achieved with the alternative colours.

  • Buzz Bait
    (basic colours: white & yellow, alternative colours: grey/black)

    You can be forgiven for thinking that the buzz bait is not a useful bait. In order to produce the expected splashing, you must lure very fast, and only small fish can be bothered to keep up with it. In addition, it requires a relatively long cast to have enough room to manoeuvre, and it is only truly effective in shallow water. However, you may discover that buzz bait is a bit of a sleeper; once you've mastered one simple trick it transforms itself into one of the best baits in the game, and a bait that catches huge fish with amazing reliability.

    The key to the buzz bait is to create the desired 'buzzing' splashes by reeling rapidly, but then pausing and letting the lure sink, repeating these two steps as necessary. (This action is almost the direct opposite to deep crank action, which floats when you don't reel, causing the buzz bait to earn the nickname of "anti-crank"). The splashing attracts the attention of fish, and the resting period gives them a chance to bite.

    Best of all, fish of all sizes will happily follow the buzz bait, allowing you to get closer to the boat before getting a bite. The buzz bait can also be used under water, by letting it sink, and twitching gently as it descends. Persevere with the buzz bait - it's worth it, especially at the Falls.

    Difficulty: Hard
    Usefulness: Excellent
    Buoyancy: this lure sinks gently, but can be kept on the surface by reeling.
    Alternative colours: the black buzz bait has shown to be effective in the Reeds.

  • Grub
    (basic colours: black & gold, alternative colours: light green, light grey, dark green)

    The grub is a wonderful, if specialised lure. The time to use the grub is near vertical surfaces - trees, pylons, reeds - anything that a grub could realistically fall out of. At the Cape, the grub is one of the best lures to use, and this lure only avoids the ihobo 'Excellent' rating for Usefulness on account of its somewhat specialist nature. It is good at the Bridge, Lodge and the Reeds, as well as the aforementioned Cape.

    Difficulty: Average
    Usefulness: Good
    Buoyancy: this lure sinks steadily, but is most useful if it is not on the bottom. You can reel periodically as it drops to keep it from falling to the bottom of the lake.
    Alternative colours: all of the colour schemes can be good, but it is often hard to tell when to use them. The light grey colours have been especially good at the Cape in the evening, or when it's cloudy

  • Suspend Minnow
    (basic colours: light grey, alternative colours: blue)

    This is essentially a super-minnow, and once you have the suspend minnow, your floating minnow should be banished to the tackle box. Its usage follows exactly the same guidelines as the floating minnow, except for one thing: when you don't reel, the floating minnow just sits where it is. This allows you to position the lure near the fish you want and take your time about courting it. Best of all, if a fish you don't want takes an interest, you can just let it sit until they run away, and the floating minnow will just hold its position. There doesn't seem to be an upper limit to the size of fish you can catch with a floating minnow, making it one of the best lures to master, especially if you favour precision fishing.

    Difficulty: Hard
    Usefulness: Excellent
    Buoyancy: this has neutral buoyancy, and holds its position in the water even when you don't reel.
    Alternative colours: okay in the morning, but utterly useless at noon, and not much use in the evening.

  • Rubber Jig
    (basic colours: black & red, alternative colours: white, black)

    This lure is far too specialised to be used effectively - fish only go for it in earnest when you drag it through a patch of reeds, and there are too few of these (even in the Reeds area) to make its usage worthwhile. However, it will catch fish of all sizes, and is worth learning to use for one simple reason. The rubber jig sinks faster than any other lure in the game, making it the perfect 'scout lure' to drop into a deep hole and explore. In Original mode (where you have more time) this is worth doing even if you can't catch a damn thing with the jig, but if you can learn to land fish with it, you may find launching a 'jig probe' is the first thing you do at the Cave or Bridge.

    Difficulty: Hard
    Usefulness: Average at catching fish, but excellent as a probe
    Buoyancy: the jig sinks like a stone - you will struggle to keep it off the bottom, making it hard for fish to bite it. Use obstacles or tugs of the line to keep it free floating, if you can.
    Alternative colours: the alternative colour schemes do not seem to make the jig any more useful.

  • Popper
    (basic colours: grey, alternative colours: fluorescent blues)

    Hail to the popper, the king of speed fishing. When you don't care what you catch, but you'd like to catch a lot of fish quickly, the popper is the lure for you. Reel just enough to keep the tension and push the stick randomly left and right to make a plop sound that attracts fish from all directions. You can also make it pop without reeling, but the tension will drop if you do it for too long, leaving it static in the water. With a little practice, anyone can use the popper, and the fish just jump on it, especially at the Reeds in the morning or evening. Fast and effective, the popper replaces the weedy pencil bait which you can happily toss overboard once you have the popper. Its main disadvantage is that it lands everything indiscriminately, which means if there are a lot of small fish and only a few big ones, you will mostly land small fry. It is also not very effective at noon, since the fish are usually reluctant to come to the surface.

    Difficulty: Average
    Usefulness: Excellent
    Buoyancy: the popper floats at the surface.
    Alternative colours: the alternative colour seems fine, and may actually be an improvement in the rain.

  • Straight Worm
    (basic colours: light green, alternative colours: light grey, dark green, dark grey)

    Used as a drag, the straight worm suffers from the same problem all drag lures have: bass struggle to pick it up off the bottom. However, you can use it in a similar way to the grub with some success. Generally, however, the straight worm is not a tremendously useful lure. It scores over the paddle tail by virtue of being easier to use, as it will work in all circumstances. If you can cast it across an obstacle, fish will leap on the straight worm, making it a fair lure, if not a great one. This lure can catch fish of all sizes, but it can often be a struggle.

    Difficulty: Tricky
    Usefulness: Average
    Buoyancy: sinks slowly
    Alternative colours: the alternative colours do not seem to greatly affect performance.

  • Sonic Lure
    (basic colours: blue hedgehog with red boots)

    This is identical to the deep crank - except the fish love it even more! The action and behaviour is exactly the same, except it looks cuter in the water. This lure is awarded for winning every stage of the Professional tournament in Original mode.

    Difficulty: Easy
    Usefulness: Excellent - even better than the deep crank
    Buoyancy: floats when not being reeled in
    Alternative colours: none.

ihobo comments: it is unfortunate that the fish struggle to pick lures from the lake bottom, and appears to be a slight bug in the game. However, International Hobo does not believe this problem could have been identified at the design level.


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51. What's a good weight of fish to catch in a day at Lake Paradise?

More than 75-80 lbs. is a good target. Anything over 100 lbs. in one day is a good effort.


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52. What's a good weight of fish to catch in a day at Lake Crystaldew?

Once the Falls area is available, if you catch less than 100 lbs. in one day you need more practice at the Falls. Totals in excess of 200 lbs. in one day are not unheard of, and no one else in the tournament will have a chance of catching you once you've mastered the Falls.


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53. How do I complete Arcade Mode on one credit?

Use your first minute to catch as many fish as you can, in order to get at least one special lure. Use your second minute to find a big fish (by watching the shadows), and hopefully to land it.

For the second and third stage, just go straight for a big fish - you don't have time to waste. It is therefore worth starting on whichever level you find it hardest to catch big fish at. A popular choice is to start at the Cape (which has plenty of good-sized fish, but fewer huge fish) and hence finish at the Lodge (which usually has a huge fish in the centre area).

At the Palace, fish with a deep crank, suspend minnow or buzz bait at the usual hotspots (see above) in order to catch a monster fish and win the game.


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54. What do I have to do to win each tournament?

In the Amateur tournament you will need to catch about 70-80 lbs. of fish to win each stage. There are five stages in all, starting on Lake Paradise, and then alternating with Lake Crystaldew from then on. Any weight between 60 and 70 lbs. is likely to score you points, and anything above 90 lbs. is a guaranteed win. Your opposition will catch about 15 fish a day, and the fish will weigh between 4 and 5 lbs. You only need to be in the top ten to get the next tournament passport, which will require roughly 12 points; over 100 points are required to come first.

In the Challenge tournament you will need to catch about 70-80 lbs. of fish to win each stage. There are two stages in all, starting with Lake Crystaldew. Fish under 3 lbs. are ignored. The opposition will catch about 15 fish a day, and the fish will weight between 5-6 lbs. , so you will usually need 75-80 lbs. to win each stage here, exactly as it was in the Amateur tournament. You need to be in the top five players to get the next tournament passport, which will require roughly 25 points; over 50 points are generally required to come first.

ihobo comments: the weights of fish caught by the other contestants do not match the availability of fish in each of the lakes and strongly suggest a simplistic linear function was used to generate the numbers.

International Hobo has designers who can create non-linear functions for any occasion, and in this case we would have recommended a cap-tailed bell curve function, with a scalar variable to incorporate the angler's level of skill.

An example of a good function for the purpose is

Sx[(A x rnd)+(A x rnd)] + S^2 x [(M x rnd)+(M x rnd)]

where S is the skill of the angler (from 0.01 to 1.0), A is the average weight of fish in the lake and M is (maximum weight for a fish in the lake - average weight for fish in the lake)/2.

For example, with A = 3 and M = 10 (which would be approximately right for Lake Crystaldew):

An angler of skill 0.2 (extremely poor) will typically catch a fish of about 1 lbs., with a maximum size of 2 lbs.

With skill of 0.5 (average), an angler will typically catch fish of about 4 lbs., but can catch a fish up to 8 lbs.

With a skill of 0.75 (good), an angler will typically catch fish of about 8 lbs., but can catch a fish up to 16 lbs.

At skill 0.9 (excellent), an angler will land fish around 11 lbs., and can land up to 22 lbs. (which is roughly what the limit is in the game).

An angler of skill of 1.0 (outstanding) would be pulling in around 13 lbs. and could land monster bass up to 26 lbs.!

In all cases, there is no lower limit on the size of fish caught, although the more skilled anglers are unlikely to land small fish. This would allow a great range of variation.

The above function is only an example, however, since it does not take into account weather conditions or time of day on the fish caught. If the ihobo team had worked on this project, we would have tuned a function ideal to the purpose.

It is frustrating in the game as implemented that the computer anglers catch as many fish (and of the same size) apparently regardless of the weather conditions or time of day. This is particularly irritating at noon when you come back empty and they have caught the same weight of fish that they did in the morning.

In the Professional tournament you need to catch 5 bass of at least 3 lbs. in five stages. The best of the computer anglers will only catch fish up to about 7 or 8 pounds, so if you catch at least 40 lbs. worth in 5 fish, you will be guaranteed to win. Only the top three players advance, but by now the Falls should be available, making victory comparatively trivial.

In the Masters tournament you need to catch 7 bass of at least 4 lbs. in two stages. The best of the computer anglers will still only catch fish up to about 7 or 8 pounds. If you catch at least 56 pounds worth in 7 fish, you will be guaranteed to win.

There are no tournaments beyond Masters.

ihobo comments: the Professional and Masters tournaments are pathetically easy compared to the first two tournaments, especially with the Falls available. You can catch all the fish you need to win in the morning, and then have nothing to do for the rest of the day but sit in the boat and look for shapes in the clouds.

The problem stems partly from the poor computer angler functions, addressed above, and partly from the unbalancing effect of the Falls area on play. It should have been possible to spot this problem at the design stage.


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55. Is there an easy way to win all the tournaments?

Yes, although it's not very sporting and you will have to be at a reasonable skill level before you can achieve it. There are no super cheats that will allow you to skip having to learn to play the game, thankfully.

Firstly, don't accept failure. If you don't score points on a stage, reload and try the stage again. Always save when you win a stage.

Fish for a lot of medium sized fish first, in order to get as many special lures as possible. You want to focus on medium sized fish until you at least have either the popper or the buzz bait, and preferably both. The Cape is a great starting point.

When you are fishing on Lake Crystaldew, always fish at the Falls if at all possible. Before the Falls are available, use the Reeds in the morning and evening and then go and make a cup of coffee at noon.

When fishing on Lake Paradise, concentrate on the Cape in the morning and evening, and the Lodge at noon. After it is unlocked, venture into the Palace in cloudy weather if you are feeling lucky, but don't stick around if there's nothing to be found.

Once you have a significant point advantage, you can afford to relax on a stage or two, unless you are so driven that you feel the need to come first in each round, in which case expect to have to reload quite frequently on Lake Paradise. You will probably want to win all the stages of the Professional tournament so that you will have the Sonic Lure in the final tournament.

The Professional and Masters tournament are generally much easier than the earlier tournaments, provided you have the Falls to fish on. Even without the golden fishing ground, a good angler will be able to vastly outperform the computer anglers when only the biggest fish are counted, and if you are good enough to win either the Amateur or Challenge tournaments, you can almost certainly win the last two tournaments.


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56. Are there any secrets in Sega Bass Fishing?

There are a few secret features in the game:

Female Angler in Arcade
Press A and B together when selecting an area to fish in Arcade mode to play as the female angler.
Sonic Lure
This "super deep crank" is awarded for winning all the stages in the Professional Tournament in Original mode.
The Palace
To be able to fish at the Palace in both the Original and Practice modes, you need to win any tournament stage (Original mode) that takes place on Lake Paradise.
The Falls
To be able to fish at the Falls in both the Original and Practice modes, you need to win any tournament stage (Original mode) that takes place on Lake Crystaldew.

ihobo comments: it would have been nice if the ability to fish at midnight (as in the Palace stage at the end of arcade) was available in Practice mode as an unlockable feature. International Hobo usually recommends reuse of game material in as many ways as possible, including as secret features.

As far as the ihobo team can divine there are no cheats that make the game easier, although the tips in this Spoiler area will help you perform at your best.

Back to Non-Spoilers


ihobo Critical FAQ on 'Sega Bass Fishing' (Dreamcast)

 1. What's a CFAQ?
 2. What is ihobo's relation to Sega Bass Fishing?
 3. What is Sega Bass Fishing?
 4. Should I buy Sega Bass Fishing?
 5. What are Sega Bass Fishing's best points?
 6. What are Sega Bass Fishing's worst points?
 7. Which versions of Sega Bass Fishing does this CFAQ cover?
 8. What are the controls?
 9. How does the game time work?
10. Is the fishing controller worth buying?
11. Is the game worth playing without the fishing controller?
12. Will there be other games that use the fishing controller?
13. Is it true I can use the fishing controller to play non-fishing games?
14. What different play modes are there in the game?
15. Do the Options affect Original Mode?
16. How does Arcade Mode work?
17. How does Original Mode work?
18. How does Practice Mode work?
19. What information is in the diary?
20. Are there any differences between the male and female anglers?
21. How do I cast?
22. How do I use the lures?
23. How do I snap (hook) a fish?
24. Can I get rid of a fish I have hooked/snapped?
25. How do I land a fish?
26. What are the different classes of fish you can catch?
27. How can I tell the weight of a fish without having to land it?
28. How big does a fish need to be to snap the line?
29. Can I snag my line?
30. Can I catch anything apart from bass?
31. How close to the boat can I catch a fish?
32. How can I tell where to cast?
33. Does the weather matter?
34. Does the water temperature matter?
35. Does the time of day matter?
36. Does the colour of the lure matter?
37. Why are the fish not always there at my favourite hotspot?
38. How do I get a special lure?
39. What are the trophies in original mode?
40. Can I skip the credits?

Spoilers Start

Do not read from Questions 41 to 56 unless you are already an experienced Sega Bass Fishing player, or you have essentially no self-control. The information from Question 41 up to and including Question 56 of this CFAQ may be considered Spoilers, and are contained on a separate page.

41. What's the biggest bass you can catch?
42. Where are the best hotspots on Lake Paradise?
43. What's a tetrapod?
44. Do the sluices being raised in the Inlet affect fishing?
45. Where are the best hotspots on Lake Crystaldew?
46. How do I catch fish at noon in the Original mode?
47. Which are the best basic lures?
48. What are the best ways to use the basic lures?
49. Which are the best special lures?
50. What are the best ways to use the special lures?
51. What's a good weight of fish to catch in a day at Lake Paradise?
52. What's a good weight of fish to catch in a day at Lake Crystaldew?
53. How do I complete Arcade Mode on one credit?
54. What do I have to do to win each tournament?
55. Is there an easy way to win all the tournaments?
56. Are there any secrets in Sega Bass Fishing?

End of Spoilers

57. Where can I learn more about Sega Bass Fishing?
58. What about Sega Marine Fishing?


1. What's a CFAQ?

Check the Critical FAQ on ihobo CFAQs to find out more.

Because of the lack of existing documentation for this game, this CFAQ has been made as complete as possible, and as such may contain spoilers that may reduce your enjoyment of the game.

Spoilers are given in the second half of the article, on a different page.

At the end of this page can be found links to other sources of information on Sega Bass Fishing, as well as a brief section on Sega Marine Fishing.


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2. What is ihobo's relation to Sega Bass Fishing?

International Hobo was in no way involved in the design or implementation of Sega Bass Fishing. Our only connection to the game is that we have played it extensively, and used it with focus groups to explore what facets of game design turn people off a game, or hook them into it.

ihobo comment: The boxed comments in this CFAQ are provided as examples of the sort of feedback ihobo provide with a Design Overhaul. For legal reasons, we cannot discuss actual Design Overhauls or Emergency Design Overhauls that we have performed.

Although ihobo does not usually work on sport simulations, an unusual subject (such as fishing) can often entice us into biting. Also, since this was an arcade conversion, International Hobo would be more likely to get involved, since most of the research would already in place at the time of our involvement.

This Critical FAQ assumes for its comments that ihobo was brought in at the beginning of the console conversion, so that the arcade game would be available for play, and there would be the whole of the allotted conversion period to develop in.

If we were brought in later, when the majority of the menu structures were in place and the game had already taken a direction, many of the suggestions contained in this CFAQ would not apply, on account of lack of implementation time.


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3. What is Sega Bass Fishing?

Sega Bass Fishing is a freshwater fishing arcade-simulator for the Sega Dreamcast. As an arcade-simulation, the game plays fast and furiously, but it still captures many of the features of real bass fishing in a quasi-realistic fashion.

Originally an arcade game, Sega Bass Fishing has been converted to the Dreamcast faithfully. Additional features have been added to flesh out the compelling, but short, arcade mode.

ihobo comments: arcade conversions make up a significant proportion of the games released for consoles (along with PC conversions, cross-console conversions and original games), and whilst most offer faithful representations of the arcade version, many are lacking in features that take advantage of the new format. At ihobo, we believe the console version of an arcade game should add enough features that gamers are getting at least two games in one.

Sega Bass Fishing achieves this by adding a new lake - Lake Crystaldew - to the game. However, this lake is only used in the tournament-based Original Mode, and not in Arcade Mode. International Hobo would have recommended being able to play Arcade mode with both of the lakes - this would add very little to the workload, but create a whole new challenge for the player.


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4. Should I buy Sega Bass Fishing?

Almost certainly yes, but to be certain ihobo recommends playing the demo version of the game to see if you like it.

Play until you can complete the Lodge Area (the end of the demo) to give yourself a chance to get used to the game - at the end, you'll probably be hooked (if you'll excuse the pun) and will probably want to buy it the next opportunity you get. If the demo doesn't appeal, you almost certainly won't like the game.

The demo was distributed in the US on the demo disk that came with the Dreamcast, and is readily available.

In the UK, the demo was on the cover of certain magazines, and is consequently harder to come by. Renting from Blockbuster or another games rental shop is recommended before buying.

You may look at Sega Bass Fishing being played and decide it doesn't look very involving, but there is no substitute for playing it. Until you've landed a decent sized bass (4 lbs. or more), you won't have a feel for the game.

In focus groups, response to Sega Bass Fishing was phenomenally positive, and almost all players became addicted to the game in no time at all. For this reason, ihobo recommends buying the game even if you can't find the demo.

If you are wondering about whether or not to buy the fishing controller as well, see the appropriate questions later in this CFAQ. (Q10, Q11, Q12, Q13)


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5. What are Sega Bass Fishing's best points?

This game is tremendously addictive and enormous fun. The game environment is so involving, that it's hard not to get sucked into the game.

With most of the lures, after you cast you are treated to an underwater shot, and the camera follows the lure as you reel it back to the boat. Part of the key to the game's appeal is the beautiful underwater scenes, and the behaviour of the bass. They react intelligently to your actions to the point that experienced anglers can play duels of wits with monster bass, which can be highly satisfying.

The more you fish, the better you understand the way the lures and the environments work, and the bigger fish you catch. The learning curve is not too steep, and your satisfaction in playing will grow the more you play. When you finally catch a twenty pound bass, it will briefly feel as if your life is complete.


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6. What are Sega Bass Fishing's worst points?

Although a superb game, there are several major flaws, most of which could have been eliminated at the design level.

The load and save mechanism is the biggest flaw in the game. The best Dreamcast games have featured elegant load and save systems that carry the minimum risk of losing valuable data. Sega Bass Fishing has an inconsistently used save mechanism, that can easily result in lost data.

In particular, because you must manually load and save files, players who forget to load can be left facing a dilemma if they catch a huge fish in Arcade mode having forgotten to load. Do they save their victory and wipe out their old data, or cast aside their achievement and restore the old data? Neither is especially appealing.

ihobo comments: the main problem with the file management is the lack of autosave. ihobo would have recommended that the player selects a VMU to use for loading and saving at the start of the game, and that the game file in that VMU be loaded at the start of the game.

We could suggest that the game data be saved automatically after each game of Arcade (but before the closing credits) and every time the location is changed in Practice Mode (or when Practice Mode is exited).

For original mode, we would suggest supporting at least 4 characters (preferably 8), each identified by a name, as in the current Original Mode. When starting original mode, these files would be available to load, as well as options to delete files or start a new Original game.

The Original Mode data for that character would be saved automatically at the end of a tournament stage, provided the stage was completed (i.e. not if the game was quit).

This would not significantly add to the already large (50 block) save file, since only one set of data is ever kept for the diary in Original Mode, regardless of which player caught the fish. In order to limit the amount of data that needs to be saved for each Original game, the recommendation would be to record the minimum data set for each game. The only data required are the IDs of the anglers who scored points in the previous stages of the current tournament (this is a maximum of 4 x 7 = 28 bytes per character save file).

By instigating this file management system, there would be significantly less risk of the player losing important data, and it would require little more work than the currently implemented menu system.

The second problem with the game is the manual. The quality of game manuals is often poor, usually as a result of insufficient resources, and sometimes because it is intended for a published guide to substitute as a manual. At ihobo, we believe a manual should provide all the basic information required for a game, and a published guide should provide information about how to acquire secrets, and walkthroughs, maps and other reference materials to help gamers complete the game. They should complement each other.

Gamers should never be forced to buy a published guide to make up for the inadequacies of the manual.

ihobo comments: manuals are one of ihobo's specialities, and we offer manual services on any game for which we have worked on the design, or for which we have given a Design Overhaul. International Hobo prides itself on its manuals, which have won critical acclaim - something most manual copy writers cannot claim. All ihobo manuals are produced by someone with game design experience, someone with excellent language skills and a proof-reader.

Where available, ihobo will also provide manual copy in Spanish, French, German and Italian. (Translation services subject to availability).

Finally, the loading times for Sega Bass Fishing can be infuriatingly slow between stages. This is probably a result of the size of the graphics that need to be loaded for each location. Modern games use streaming techniques to load in graphics as you play, but since the complete set of models and texture maps must be loaded for each location from scratch, it would have been difficult to achieve this in the game.

ihobo comments: although the possibilities for streaming were limited, there was one option that may not have been considered. Since in Original Mode the first location on each lake is known in advance, the graphics for the first location can begin streaming the moment the Original Mode menu is displayed. However, as you will see later in this CFAQ, ihobo would have advised against making the player start in a specific location, thus invalidating the above recommendation.

Also, there may be specific reasons why streaming was not used in this game which are not apparent from reverse engineering.


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7. Which versions of Sega Bass Fishing does this CFAQ cover?

This CFAQ was developed using the US version of Sega Bass Fishing. We believe the information contained applies equally to the European versions of Sega Bass Fishing, with one exception in that the weights of fish caught is measured in grams not pounds and ounces.

Most of the information is also applicable to the original Japanese version, although there may be some significant differences.

Anyone with extensive experience of the Japanese version is encouraged to email us with their experiences.


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8. What are the controls?

Initially, you will start on the lure selection screen. Scroll through the lures and use A to select the lure, and Y to cancel. You can select a different lure by pressing Y any time before you cast.

When casting, the analogue stick controls the position of the casting cursor. The cast will always be to the edge of the lake area, so when you cast it will be short or long depending on the position of the cursor.

In Original Mode, you can press X before casting to select a new location (it does not take time to travel between the locations, although 3 or more seconds will be lost bringing up the menu option and selecting a new location).

Casting is achieved by pressing A (or by casting with a fishing controller).

When the lure is in the water, it can be reeled in by using the triggers (or by reeling with a fishing controller).

The lure's movement is controlled with the analogue stick, and by controlling the speed of reeling.

When a fish bites, pull down on the analogue stick to hook the fish (or you may make a snap with a fishing controller).

To land the fish, reel it in and use the analogue stick, ensuring that the line tension is not allowed to rise too high (in which case the line will break).

The subtleties of the control mechanism are described in detail throughout the CFAQ.


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9. How does the game time work?

In Arcade, you get 2 minutes for the first area, then 1 minute for each area after that. If you continue, you start again at 2 minutes.

In Original, you get 4 hours in three sessions per stage: a morning session (0600-1000), a noon session (1000-1400) and an evening session (1400-1800). Each minute of time on the clock represents a second of play time.

The play clock does not stop while you select a lure, or while you select a new location to move to (although no time is added to the clock for actually moving between areas).

ihobo comments: although the ihobo team agrees that time should stop when moving between areas, there are two areas in the game time that we believe could have been improved. Firstly, forcing the player to start at the Lodge or the Bridge is a disappointment: it would have been preferable to select the location prior to starting (as happens in the Arcade mode), as the implemented system costs at least 3 seconds to select a lure you won't use, and then select a new location.

The ihobo team would probably have recommended that in Original mode, the speed of the play clock be slower when selecting a lure or a new location (or that the play clock be paused when selecting a new lure or location). This would have allowed the player more time to think in Original mode, capturing more of the mood of a fishing tournament, and allowing the player more freedom to experiment with different lures. As it stands, players really need to know what lure they are going to select and go to it straight away, or too much valuable time is lost.


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10. Is the fishing controller worth buying?

If you like the game, the fishing controller is absolutely worth buying. Not only will your ability to fish be enhanced, but also your appreciation and enjoyment of the game will be greatly increased.

The fishing controller is designed to be similar in shape to the lower end of a fishing rod. Grasping the 'rod' in one hand, you can crank the reel at the right to wind in (the mechanism only winds in one direction). You have vastly greater control with this device than you do with the analogue triggers of a Dreamcast controller, and it becomes much easier to land fish of all sizes.

A built in vibration accessory provides valuable tactile feedback (although a vibration accessory in a controller is equally good), and skilled anglers can use this to judge their line tension without paying attention to the on-screen tension bar.

The other additional features with a fishing controller are cosmetic. You can cast with a casting movement (the action is all in the wrist - it does not require you to make elaborate movements, although you can if you wish), and snap the hook with the reverse motion. You can still perform both functions using the usual buttons or movements, if you wish, and generally speaking it is advisable to do so unless you are 100% on your casting and snapping motions.

Since the rod's left-right movement detection is difficult to control at best, you should use the built in analogue controller to do all rod movements, and hence to control the lure.

We believe once you've tried the fishing controller, you will never go back to regular controllers (at least for Sega Bass Fishing).

Parents should also note that playing with the fishing controller is a much better work out than playing most computer games.


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11. Is the game worth playing without the fishing controller?

If you like the game, you can still play it perfectly well with a regular controller. The trigger buttons are used to reel in at different speeds, which is an acceptable level of control, if not as sensitive as the fishing controller.

If you are going to play without the fishing controller, you must purchase a vibration accessory. The game feels flat without it.

However, if you really get into the game, the extra investment is worthwhile, and since the game has been out for some time now many shops are now packaging Sega Bass Fishing with a fishing controller. If you've already played and know you like it, it is probably worth buying the fishing controller, since it will enhance game play considerably, and these specially packaged sets are worth looking out for.

In summary, if you're going to buy the game, count on wanting to buy the fishing controller at some point.


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12. Will there be other games that use the fishing controller?

Yes, although at this time the only one we know of is Sega Marine Fishing. However, we believe that if you enjoy the game enough, the fishing controller would be worth buying even if there were no other games, so the news of another compatible game is welcome.


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13. Is it true I can use the fishing controller to play non-fishing games?

Yes! Some non-fishing games do support the fishing controller. In particular, Crazy Taxi can be hilarious when played with a fishing controller. Cast the line with the flicking movement to get a Crazy Boost, and reel the line for speed. This is particular amusing when the special taxi (the pedal bike) is being used as the player's frantic reeling matches the pedalling of their taxi driver.

Soul Calibur is also compatible with the fishing controller, and it can be waved around much like a sword; horizontal and vertical motions convert to the corresponding attacks. Although it is difficult to accurately control the characters, a frantic prolonged shaking of the rod can set off insanely convoluted combos. We were able to complete the basic game just by using the rod like a maraca (although our wrists hurt when we had finished).


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14. What different play modes are there in the game?

There are three play modes: Arcade (which is a faithful recreation of the arcade game), Original (which is a single-player tournament mode) and Practice (which has no objectives).

ihobo comments: ihobo would have recommended the following game modes:

Arcade Standard (on Lake Paradise)As included
Arcade Original (on Lake Crystaldew)Uses Arcade code but Original locations
Original (single player)Similar to included
Original (multi-player)Similar to included, but multi-player
PracticeAs included
ChallengeNew mode

Changes to Arcade and Original Mode are discussed in later sections; the Challenge Mode would be a series of fishing challenges to be completed. (Since we would recommend calling this 'Challenge Mode', we could recommend renaming the Challenge Tournament in Original Mode).

Our proposed Challenge Mode is suggested because as it stands it is possible for the player to complete all the game modes using only one or two lures and one or two fishing locations. Often this is not because this is the only way to play the game, but because once a player finds a location or a lure that works for them they are reluctant to experiment.

The Challenge Mode would be an invitation to experiment - indeed, it would force the player to learn to fish in each location, and with each lure. Each of the challenges would be made of the following components:

  1. Goal: either a target number of fish, a target weight of fish, a target weight of fish above a certain cut off or a target weight for a target number of fish (e.g. four fish with a total of 20 lbs. or one fish with a total of 15 lbs.).
  2. Tackle: for each challenge, only a certain selection of lures would be offered - and sometimes only in their alternative colours. Initially, the basic lures would be introduced, and then later the special lures.
  3. Time: each challenge would be given an appropriate time limit, between 2 minutes and 45 seconds.

Challenges would be specified by ihobo for each location, under each weather condition, for each time of day. For each setting (location, weather and time of day) there would be four challenges for a total of 192 different challenges! (Almost certainly, the software house would ask us to scale down this goal, for fear of the time taken in QA to test the Challenge Mode). When fishing under any combination of conditions, any of the four challenges could be fished for, and a record kept of which of the challenges had been completed.

Challenge mode would open up, using the following structure:

  • Start with: Lake Paradise except Palace, Lake Crystaldew except the Falls; only weather condition is Fine, only time of day is Morning (easy targets)
  • Add Cloudy when Fine completed (harder targets, since the fishing is easier in cloudy)
  • Add Raining when Cloudy completed (hardest challenges)
  • Add Noon when Morning is completed (easy targets, since fishing at Noon is naturally difficult)
  • Add Evening when Noon is completed (difficult targets, since fishing is often easier in the evening)
  • Add Palace in the appropriate weather/time of day when all basic Lake Paradise locations cleared in that weather condition/time of day (medium difficulty targets, since fishing at the Palace is usually patchy except in Arcade Mode)
  • Add Falls in the appropriate weather/time of day when all basic Lake Paradise locations cleared in that weather condition/time of day (extremely difficult targets)
  • When all challenges are completed, the player gains an additional ability (such as Night Fishing, using the routines specified for the Palace in Arcade Mode, or the Sonic Lure).

The menu system for selection could be identical to Practice, except gold stars would be displayed to show how many of the challenges had been completed under each condition. However, we would recommend a system in which the nine possible conditions for each location could be selected in parallel, and the number of completed challenges for that location clearly seen. (Essentially, all conditions would be displayed in a 3x3 table; time of day along the top, weather along the side).

Although the Challenge Mode would require a certain additional effort, the programming overheads are low, and the art overheads minimal. The only real drawback is additional time in QA, which could be as much as an additional month for nearly 200 challenges. However, a smaller set (say fifty challenges) would probably only add a week of QA, and ihobo would strongly recommend the inclusion of a Challenge Mode in order to give the game greater long-term appeal.



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15. Do the Options affect Original Mode?

Sound Options affect all Modes; Set Up options only affect Arcade Mode. The different Set Up options are as follows:

  • Difficulty: the default is Normal, you may also have Very Easy, Easy, Hard and Very Hard. Making the Difficulty harder will not greatly affect game play. The easier settings may make a difference if you are a novice.
  • First Norm: determines the first target weight you must catch. Default is 11 lbs., the range is from 9 to 13 lbs., in single pound increments.
  • Time: you may choose to start with between 1 and 3 minutes, in 30 second increments.
  • Rod Control: in the default set up, you pull down to make the rod go up, as if you were playing a flight simulator. You may use this option to switch from Normal to Reverse, in which case the rod will respond in the most literal fashion. Only change this option if you find the default setting difficult to get used to.
  • Vibration: do not ever turn off the vibration. Don't even go to this option. You have been warned.

In general, you will not want to tamper with the Options Mode. However, if you play the Arcade Mode a lot, you may want to experiment with the options.


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16. How does Arcade Mode work?

The following features are unique to Arcade Mode:

  1. You get to select a starting area before you start the game; the other areas are completed in sequence (the sequence is Lodge, Cape, Outlet, so if you start in the Cape, the Lodge is your last location).
  2. All fishing takes place on Lake Paradise.
  3. You receive 2 minutes to complete the first area, and 1 minute to complete the following areas.
  4. If you run out of time you can continue. This has no effects other than to resume the game with 2 minutes on the clock.
  5. When you hook a fish you score a bonus ("Hit Bonus!" the commentator raucously declares) of 2-8 seconds, which is added to the clock. The size of the Hit Bonus depends on the size of the fish hooked.
  6. When you land a fish you score a bonus ("Time Bonus!") of 4-8 seconds, which is added to the clock. In principal, there should be a 10 second time bonus for the largest fish, but this will almost always clear the level for you, and hence you will not score the time bonus.
  7. You complete the stage when you land a certain weight of fish. For the standard difficulty settings you must catch 11 lbs., then 13 lbs., then 15 lbs.
  8. In Arcade Mode, you can see shadows of the fish in the water as you move around. These shadows are not permanently displayed, but flash up briefly as you (or the fish) move from side to side. These shadows do correspond to the location and size of fish present, and can be used as a guide as to where you should fish.
  9. After you've completed the first three stages, you fish at the Palace at night. You only have to catch one fish, and they are all Huge. You have 1 minute to complete the task, and you may continue.
  10. You will receive special lures at certain intervals after you land bass. These special lures are not available for use in Practice Mode, and are only for the current Arcade game.

You need to catch a fish of 17 lb. 15 oz or more to take the top spot in the high score table.

ihobo comments: since this was an Arcade port, ihobo would not have altered the Arcade Mode. However, we would have recommended the same game "rules" were applied to the other lake - Lake Crystaldew - to create an additional Arcade Mode.


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17. How does Original Mode work?

The following features are unique to Original Mode:

  1. You get to select either a male or female angler, and enter a name (initial and surname), which appears on your Tournament Passport.
  2. Fishing takes place alternately on Lake Paradise and Lake Crystaldew.
  3. Each of the four tournaments has different rules and consists of a number of different stages (between two and five). Each stage consists of a morning session (0600-1000), a noon session (1000-1400) and an evening session (1400-1800).
  4. You receive four "hours" (4 minutes) to complete each session, hence 12 minutes total to complete the stage.
  5. You may change location during the tournament by pressing X whilst the casting cursor is displayed (when you don't have a lure in the water, and you are not selecting a lure). The bonus locations (Palace and Falls) are not available when you begin playing the tournament.
  6. You may change the colour of the lures to alternative colours, by pushing up and down on the stick during lure selection. The appearance affects the performance of the lure.
  7. You may save your progress in the tournaments.
  8. You will receive special lures at certain intervals after you land bass. These special lures then become available for use in Practice Mode, as well as for the rest of the Original Mode game they were earned in.
  9. At the end of the stage, points are awarded for the top 7 contestants. The person with the highest weight in bass (according to the tournament rules) scores 30 points. Second is 25 points, then 20 points, 15 points, 10 points, 5 points and 1 point.
  10. You are awarded trophies for completing tournaments and certain goals. These are displayed in Data on the Personal Data menu.

ihobo comments: the biggest change ihobo would have proposed to Original Mode would be to allow multiple players to compete in tournaments, playing in sequence. We would probably recommend that the players can select the length of the tournament in days, the tournament rules (selected from those tournament styles the competing players have unlocked) and teams, to allow multiple anglers to fish in rotation towards one team score.

The multi-player mode would probably be cut during production, as software houses usually axe multi-player options, preferring to focus on the single player game.

Another change would be to the menu system. In the game as implemented, failure to complete a tournament returns the player to the top-level menu. We would have suggested that players are free to compete in any tournament for which they have earned a Passport. Failure to complete a tournament would return the player to the initial Original Mode menu, where they could select to play the tournament they just played over again, or play any other tournament for which they have earned a Passport.


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18. How does Practice Mode work?

In Practice Mode, you can fish at any location you have unlocked in Original Mode (any of the basic locations, plus the Palace and Falls when unlocked). You may choose the time of day, and the weather.

Although voice file 036 says "Select Water Temperature", the feature to select water temperature was not provided in the final game. This is relatively unimportant, since changing the other conditions alters the water temperature, and this level of fine-tuning was not necessary in the final game.

You can press Start to select options to choose a new area, or exit the Practice Mode.

Initially, you can fish in the three basic locations on Lake Paradise, and the three basic locations on Lake Crystaldew.

Finishing the first two tournaments in Original mode (Amateur and Challenge) unlocks the Palace in Practice mode.

Finishing the last two tournaments in Original mode (Professional and Masters) unlocks the Falls in Practice mode.


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19. What information is in the diary?

The 400 biggest fish you have caught in Practice, and the 400 biggest fish you have caught in Original are listed in the diary.

You may change the order they are listed in order, for example, to look at them from biggest to smallest.

ihobo comments: it is unfortunate that the Arcade data is not given in the diary, and this would have been recommended (at the cost of fewer fish from the other modes being saved).

It would also have been recommended that the default display option for the diary would be in weight order, from biggest to smallest, as this is the most useful setting provided.


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20. Are there any differences between the male and female anglers?

No.

The male angler is the default for Arcade, but the woman may be selected by using A + B to select an area from the map.


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21. How do I cast?

First, select an area to cast. In Arcade, you may do this by examining the shadows of fish in the water. Sweep left to right to see where the fish are, and cast where you see the most fish, or the biggest fish. It is worth spending up to 15 seconds selecting the perfect place to cast, as when you only have a minute to fish, it is helpful to fulfil the weight target in one huge fish.

In Original and Practice, you will have to rely on your experience, or the information contained in this CFAQ. You will need to learn the hotspots that the big fish congregate around under the right conditions. The Spoiler section of this CFAQ describes the best ihobo-approved hotspots, but you may develop your own with a little creative experimentation.

Press A to cast, or make a forward flicking motion with your wrist with the fishing controller. Some players like to press A on the fishing controller at the same time as making a "vanity cast", just to stay in the spirit of the game.

You will always cast to wherever the casting cursor is, which means if you place it a long way from the boat, it will be a long cast. The only way to get a short cast is to aim for somewhere closer to the boat. Think carefully about the distance you are casting, because you will have to get the lure, and eventually the fish, all the way back. When trying to land a large fish, long casts are not recommended for novice players, as they will have greater difficulty reeling a fish in safely.

Short casts are ideal at the end of a session, but you may also use a long cast with a lure that works quickly (such as the popper) and still land a fish in about 30 seconds of time.

ihobo comments: we would probably have recommended an ability to 'cut' the cast by pressing the A button a second time to pull the cast. This would have been optional for the player, but would allow shorter casts to be selected when time is short, or when a fish has been sighted closer to the boat.

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22. How do I use the lures?

The game has three different sets of advice as to how to use the lures.

In Arcade mode, the basic instructions for each lure are displayed as you select it.

In Original mode, instructions for each lure can be found in the Tackle Box, under the Personal Data menu option.

In Attract mode (when the game has been left to its own devices at the title screen), detailed instructions for each of the basic lures are given, including an animation of how the lure should look in the water. Beginning players should look at this section, as it gives a better idea of how to fish than any number of words could achieve.

To make it easier to learn to use the lures, ihobo has classified the different lures according to the way they are controlled:

  • Reel: Spinner Bait and Vibration are reeling lures. You may reel them constantly, or reel constantly and then relax the reeling. Spinner Bait is a good beginner lure.
  • Crank: Shallow Crank and Deep Crank benefit from short bursts of fast reeling, followed by a brief pause to allow them to float. These are great beginner lures, and highly recommended.
  • Minnow: Floating Minnow and Suspend Minnow can be tricky to use. You can use any combination of gentle reeling, bursts of fast reeling, and twitching the rod with the analogue stick. See what the fish respond to best, and replicate that behaviour until they bite.
  • Surface: Pencil Bait and Popper are surface lures that do not sink at all. Reel just enough to keep the tension, and twitch the rod with the analogue stick to make it splash or plop.
  • Drag: Paddle Tail, Rubber Jig and Straight Worm have been designed to be dragged along the bottom. Reel along and hope to hit obstacles, since the bass have difficulty grabbing these lures if they are on the bottom. A twitch of the rod can bring them off the bottom, allowing them to be caught more easily.
  • Sink: Grub and Straight Worm are effective if twitched as they fall in the water, reeling only to get close to some fish. Try to make them look like a maggot or worm that has fallen into the water and you will get good results.
  • Buzz: Buzz Bait is intended to be reeled rapidly enough that it skips along the surface, making a tinkling, splashing sound, similar to the surface lures. Unlike the surface lures, the buzz bait will sink if not reeled.

These classifications will tell you how to learn to use the lure. They will not tell you how to master each of the lures. For this information, you will have to turn to the Spoiler section of this CFAQ.

Different players generally find different lures easier to work with. Experiment with all the lures and see which ones work best for you. Once you have your own impressions of the lures, you will be better equipped to interpret the lure information given in the Spoiler section.


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23. How do I snap (hook) a fish?

Pull down on the stick.

You may also perform an "anti-cast" (upward flick) with a fishing controller, but we recommend that you use the analogue stick, for greater reliability.

Make sure the line is taught - reel furiously whilst snapping until the fish is hooked.


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24. Can I get rid of a fish I have hooked/snapped?

Before they bite, you can stop moving and reeling in any way and you will often lose the fish. This is handy if you have caught a small fry and there's a giant lurking nearby. Be warned that the struggle of the fish you almost hooked will move your lure away from where it was, and may also scare off any bass that were nearby.

After they have hooked, you can lose a fish you don't want by not reeling, but the fish will usually have travelled quite a distance by the time it lets go (which can take quite a while), and you'll be left just reeling in. For this reason, you should always try and reel in, but if you don't care about the fish you have on the line, ignore the line tension and reel furiously. (For the smaller fish, you will usually end up landing them anyway).


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25. How do I land a fish?

In essence, all you have to do is reel it in without the line tension spiking so high that the line breaks. However, it is never that simple.

If you let the line tension fall as low as the green, the line will be hanging loose and the fish may slip off its hook.

Yellow is safe, but for most of the time the line tension should be in the red, although not too high.

Having the line tension at exactly the top of the scale briefly will not break the line, so you have plenty of room to play with - but don't get cocky. There is a certain range above the top of the screen that you do not see, and breaking point almost generally lies in this area. Vary your reeling speed so that you are reeling fast enough to keep it in the red, generally.

You will have to move the stick, but you don't have to listen to the commentator's suggestions as to which way to move the stick. Watch the bass you are trying to steer, and move the controller in an attempt to flick it round.

ihobo comments: although audio assistants such as the one used in Sega Bass Fishing are useful when learning to play, they become increasingly irritating with repeated use. We might have recommended an option to disable the angling assistant on the option menu, as well as a separate option to disable all speech (but not the sound effects).

A good way to learn how to control a bass is to use a circling motion to flick the bass around. When you are using this technique, you should vary the direction of circling when the tension is in the red and the bass is pulling away from you. Circling in one direction will lower the tension - keep reeling and turning until the tension changes again as the fish changes direction.

When you are more experienced, you can combine the circling motion with sharper 'tugs' to pull the fish around. You may either do this by watching the bass itself, or by watching the tension, or even by following the tactile feedback provided by vibration - follow whichever cues you find most helpful.

When you are starting to learn to reel (and especially when you don't have a fishing controller), you should aim to play it safe and keep the tension in yellow. Then, gradually increase the tension level you are aiming to reel at. Very gradually ease up the tension you aim for until either you are getting consistent line breaks or you chicken out. Chances are you will chicken out at a convenient level.

The better you get at reeling in, the faster you will reel fish in, and in particular, the faster you will reel in big fish. What may take a minute when you start playing may take 20 seconds once you have mastered the subtleties of the control mechanism and bought a fishing controller.


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26. What are the different classes of fish you can catch?

There are four sizes in Arcade, and in most of the Original tournaments:

  • Small One: up to 1 lb. 13 oz
    Fish snaps into the on-screen angler's hand at high speed.
    Angler: "No!" Commentator: "Small one."
  • Average: from 1 lb. 14 oz to 4 lb. 6 oz
    Fish is shown being held off the side of the boat.
    Commentator: "Okay an average size. Good job"
  • Big One: from 4 lb. 7 oz to 5 lb. 14 oz
    Fish is pulled into the centre of the boat and held vertically.
    Commentator: "Oh, a big one!"
  • Huge: 7 lb. 12 oz or heavier
    Fish is hauled onto the boat and held horizontally.
    Commentator: "This one's huge!"

In the Challenge, Professional and Masters tournaments, there are only two named sizes:
  • Release Size: less than the minimum size for the tournament (Challenge, Professional and Masters), or smaller than the fish you've already caught when you have already caught at least 5 fish (Professional) or 7 fish (Masters).
    Commentator: "Release size."
  • Keeper Size: one of the biggest 5 (Professional) or 7 (Masters) fish you've caught, or any fish above the minimum size for the tournament (Challenge).
    Commentator: "Keeper size."

The on-screen angler still makes whatever exclamation they usually make, but you do not get your satisfying Commentator comment in the later tournaments.

ihobo comments: two sound files appear to be unused: 096 ("Medium") and 097 ("Super Big"), suggesting that there were originally going to be six categories. International Hobo would definitely have suggested more categories, since once a player has become an expert, "Average" is insulting and the smaller "Huge" fishes feel positively small.

Using the sound files already extent, our recommended categories would have been:

  • Small One: up to 1 lb. 15 oz
  • Medium: from 2 lbs. to 4 lb. 15 oz
  • Average: from 5 lbs. to 7 lb. 15 oz
  • Big One: from 8 lbs. to 11 lb. 15 oz
  • Super Big: from 12 lbs. to 17 lbs. 15 oz
  • Huge: 18 lbs. or heavier

If we were brought in before the sound files were recorded, we would have recommended that the top three sizes were called Big One, Huge and Monster ("It's a monster fish!").

Obviously introducing these changes would mean the Arcade Mode was no longer a perfect copy of the arcade game. However, this would be offset by a much more satisfying sense of development as you learn to play - as it stands, most players tend to catch a Huge bass within a day of a starting play, provided they receive adequate basic instruction.

None-the-less, we would suggest the changes be made because the benefits exceed the loss, and ihobo believes that an arcade conversion need not be an exact port if there is room for improvement.

International Hobo generally considers most games to have insufficient dialogue to prevent the feeling of excessive repetitiveness, and our recommendation would almost certainly have been for additional dialogue (scripted and, if necessary, recorded by ihobo). However, one of the accidental charms of Sega Bass Fishing are its catch phrases, and it is apparent from the finished product that additional dialogue would not have been essential.

In fact, our experiences with focus groups suggest that certain games (especially sports games) do not require much more than functional dialogue, provided the most heavily repeated phrases have the capacity to become catch phrases. Research into this area is continuing, and anyone with any observations on acceptable lower limits for speech in games is welcome to email comments to us.


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27. How can I tell the weight of a fish without having to land it?

The more you play, the better you will become at judging the size of the fish, since there is no way to tell the weight of a fish before it bites.

However, once you have got a hit (once the fish is definitely hooked) there are clues to the size of the fish on your line.

In Arcade mode, you score a Hit Bonus of between 2 and 8 seconds. The size of the fish relates to it Bonus as follows:

2 s Hit Bonus4 s Time Bonusup to about 3 lbs.
4 s Hit Bonus6 s Time Bonusfrom 3 lbs. to around 6 lbs.
6 s Hit Bonus8 s Time Bonusfrom 6 lbs. to around 14 lbs.
8 s Hit Bonus10 s Time Bonus?14 lbs. and bigger

The Time Bonuses listed are the times awarded when the fish are successfully landed. It is difficult to verify the 10 second time bonus for the heaviest fish, because catching these almost always clears the current level, making the Time Bonus irrelevant.

Also, if the fish is particularly large, you will hear the commentator say "It's gonna be a big one!" which is your guarantee that the fish you are hopefully about to land will be Huge.


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28. How big does a fish need to be to snap the line?

Generally speaking, a Small One will not break the line under any circumstances. Fish of Average size are unlikely to break the line, unless you really set out to purposefully break the line - even then it's unlikely. As a general rule, the smaller fish can be reeled in at maximum speed without worry. However, the larger fish can always break the line, and you must learn to be "careful with the tension" when reeling one in.

Position of the rod is as important as how fast your are reeling. With the smaller fish, if you keep the rod straight, you can reel at any speed. For the larger fish, you must try and keep them moving towards from you, as the tension will spike as they pull away, dramatically increasing the risk of a line break.


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29. Can I snag my line?

No. Wherever you cast, your line will remain miraculously unsnagged - even if the line goes straight through a tree.

ihobo comments: although unrealistic, snagging the line would add a level of frustration to the game and detract from the battle between angler and fish. Although it sometimes looks strange when the line passes through a solid object, the benefits in a more direct style of game play are tangible.

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30. Can I catch anything apart from bass?

No. Any tip that claims you should catch a turtle or a frog is trying to make you spend hours attempting what is in essence impossible.


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31. How close to the boat can I catch a fish?

At 15 feet, you have entered the danger area. The fish generally don't like to come close to the boat, and it's not in your best interests to lure the big fish anywhere near your boat, or they will hide underneath and you will struggle to get them. Unless you are clearly about to get a bite, you can usually give up at 15 feet (reel in and cast again). Often, it's apparent that it's a lost cause earlier than this, and you should immediately reel in and cast again.

Any closer than 8 feet and you can be reasonably certain that the fish won't bite at all, and once you're under 10 feet you should probably just reel in unless time is running short.

The closest recorded bite was a mere 6 feet from the boat with a suspend minnow being flicked about on the surface, but once the hit was recorded, the line length was increased to 9 feet. The fish in question was a pathetic 1 lb. 15 oz.


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32. How can I tell where to cast?

In Arcade mode, the shadows of fish in the water give clues as to the best places to cast. These shadows are not always visible, and the easiest way to make use of them is to make a sweeping motion from side to side around the area where you saw the shadows of fish.

Generally speaking, you should cast either where you see a lot of fish shadows, or where you see a particularly large shadow. In Arcade, time gets very short very quickly, and you often have only enough time to land one truly big fish. Practicing how to spot the big fish is the key to mastering the Arcade game.

In Original, there are no clues. You must learn for yourself where the best "hotspots" to fish are in each area, and under each weather condition. The Diary keeps a record of the biggest 400 fish you've caught, and thus over time allows you to spot where you are catching the biggest fish (and which lures have been successful - although be warned that since you will tend to prefer some lures over others, the Diary can mislead you as to the best lures to use).

If you're just too impatient to discover good hotspots on your own, the Spoiler section of this CFAQ will give you some great pointers as to where the best places to fish can be found.


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33. Does the weather matter?

Absolutely. The weather affects where the fish can be found, and may also alter the effectiveness of some of the lures.

Fine weather is universally poor weather to fish in. Bass hate bright light, and hence tend to be found in the shade, which in Fine weather is harder to locate. Some locations are still half-decent at noon, and learning which can be a great help in Original mode.

Cloudy and raining are both good times to fish - the whole fishing area will be darker, and hence the bass feel more free to congregate. Although there are subtle differences between the two weather conditions (fish tend to be closer to the surface when it is raining), either weather condition is your guarantee that there are plenty of good fish to be caught.


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34. Does the water temperature matter?

Although the water temperature does affect the depth that the fish prefer to swim at, you will generally not have to worry about temperature when you are fishing, as the prevailing weather condition is vastly more important.

The temperature gauge only displays the surface temperature anyway, and water temperature usually varies with depth. There is no way of telling if this is implemented in Sega Bass Fishing, and hence we would advise not greatly worrying about water temperature, at least when you are starting to fish. When you become more proficient, you will develop your own indicators as to the best conditions for fishing.

ihobo comments: if water temperature does change with depth, a temperature and depth gauge would be a welcome addition to the game (showing the temperature at your current depth).

Although the sound file "Select Water Temperature" (036) exists, it was not used in the game. Since as already noted the prevailing weather conditions have a greater influence on the fish than the temperature, its omission was probably a wise move.


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35. Does the time of day matter?

Time of day is perhaps the single most important factor in choosing where to fish.

As a general rule, noon is a lousy time to fish. The sun is high in the sky, driving the bass into the shadows or the depths, which means not only are the fish harder to find, it takes significantly longer to land them.

Morning and Evening are roughly equivalent to each other, and are both wonderful times to be fishing. Some hotspots swarm with fish at dawn or dusk, and a good Morning or Evening session will often land you more than 50 lbs. of fish.


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36. Does the colour of the lure matter?

In Original mode, the colour of the lure can be changed by pushing up and down during lure selection. These alternative colour schemes have a marked effect on the responses of the fish, and if they aren't biting a lure you know they normally would take, it is worth experimenting with the alternative colours.

More information on the other lure colours can be found in the Spoilers section of this CFAQ.


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37. Why are the fish not always there at my favourite hotspot?

The fish have quite sophisticated AI, and behave in a manner quite similar to real bass. Just because one hotspot was good one time does not mean that it will be great when you come back to it later. It is easy to be convinced you have found a fantastic hotspot, only to realise later that it was a one-of-a-kind fluke.

You will need to learn several hotspots in many different locations to be successful in Original mode, and if the fish aren't where you expected them to be, don't bother casting again to check. If there was nothing there the first time, they won't have all have magically appeared if you cast again. Give it up and go elsewhere.

Also be warned that the struggle of landing a fish sometimes causes the fish to move elsewhere, which can move bass away from wherever they started.

Remember, however, that it takes time to position your angler (even if no time is spent actually switching areas) so you can't afford to change area too frequently if you want to have any time left to fish.


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38. How do I get a special lure?

In Arcade mode, you will get a special lure after every fourth fish you catch (the first at 4 fish, the second at 8 and so forth). Lures gained in Arcade are lost at the end of the game, but are available throughout all the future stages of the current game. As a result, when you start playing (and have 2 minutes of playtime on the clock) it is worth catching two or three fish of any size quickly in order to give you a special lure at the end of the first area.

The lures are awarded in a random order.

ihobo comments: the manual gives no clue as to how the special lures are acquired, making the game seem slightly random in its choices (whether your fourth fish is a monster or a tiddler, you still get the special lure). We would definitely have recommended explaining this aspect of the game in the manual - even the Prima guide does not contain this fact!

The same is true in Original mode - that you get a new lure every four fish - but lures gained in Original Mode are available for use in Practice Mode. Because of the length of the Original game, you will very rapidly have a full tackle box, except for the secret lure (see the Spoiler section for details).

The fish you have caught in earlier stages do count even though the fish counter is reset on a new stage (so if you catch 3 fish in one stage, the next time you start fishing you will only need to catch one fish to get your next special lure).

ihobo comments: because of the huge length of the Original tournament, gaining a lure every four fish works very poorly in this mode, as the tackle box fills up too quickly - usually by the end of the first tournament. We would have recommended awarding a special lure for catching a fish above a certain size so that lure acquisition could be more spread out. A sliding scale would probably be most effective, for example:

5 lbs. (Big One)Unlocks either Paddle tail, Straight worm or Rubber jig
10 lbs. (Huge)Unlocks either Buzz bait or Grub
15 lbs. (Huge)Unlocks either Popper or Suspend Minnow
20 lbs. (Huge)Unlocks Sonic Lure

The first special lure in each category would be awarded for the first fish of that size caught, the second for the fifth and the next for the ninth (every four fish, after the first).

If all the lures for a given size have been won, a lure from the next smallest size category would be awarded.


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39. What are the trophies in original mode?

Trophies are shown in the Data option under Personal Data in the menu that is available between tournament stages in Original Mode. This screen also gives you your statistics, including win percentages, total fish caught, record sizes and the number of fish caught in different weight brackets (that do not correspond to the normal bass sizes in the game).

There are four big trophies, one for winning each tournament. Pressing A will show a 3D representation of any trophies you have won.

There are also three small trophies. These are:

  • Ranker Killer: this seems to be given for winning two stages in a row.
  • Perfect Angler: this seems to be awarded for winning all stages in a tournament.
  • Top Water King: usually awarded after the Challenge or Professional tournament, it is not clear what you need to do to earn this trophy, but you do not need to win all the stages of a tournament to win this award.

Pressing A will show a 3D representation of the small trophies, allowing you to read the inscription, which shows the name of the trophy and the legend 'Super Bass Fishing'.

ihobo comments: although the trophies are a nice record of achievements, given that none of the documentation (manual or in-game help) explain what the trophies are awarded for, they are more mysterious than satisfying.

International Hobo would have recommended describing how each trophy was won in the manual, and also recommended an audio message to alert the player when they have won a new trophy, much as happens when you win a special lure.


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40. Can I skip the credits?

Yes. A soft reset (A, B, X, Y and Start pressed simultaneously) will return you to the game's title screen, and you will not lose the arcade data from the game you just completed. However, you will miss out on seeing the high score table, which is displayed at the end of the credits.

ihobo comments: being able to skip credits and cut scenes is an essential feature of modern games - it is frustrating to be forced to watch sequences you have seen time and time again.

It is unfortunate that there is no easy way to select the Arcade high score table, however; just as if you were in the arcade, you must either finish the game or wait for the attract sequence to cycle around to the high score table.

International Hobo would have recommended providing an option to view the Arcade high score table on the main menu.


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Questions 41 - 56 inclusive are Spoilers.

Do not read the spoilers unless you are already an experienced Sega Bass Fishing player, or you have essentially no self-control.


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57. Where can I learn more about Sega Bass Fishing?

There appear to be no decent FAQs on this game, and we believe this CFAQ is the most comprehensive guide available for this game.

The Prima Guide is not recommended unless you can get it very cheaply, as it is very short on information, and seems to have been compiled from perhaps 10-20 hours of play time by one person. The author clearly knows a lot about real bass fishing, however, and you may find it entertaining for that reason alone. It is available cheaply in bargain bins and remainder shops in both the US and the UK.

Some cheats are at:

http://sages.ign.com/codes/9/10957.html

but be warned that the only cheats that have been demonstrated to work by the ihobo team are those that are listed at the end of the Spoiler section of this CFAQ.


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58. What about Sega Marine Fishing?

Sega Marine Fishing was released in October 2000 in the US. No European version exists.

This game features saltwater fishing in coral reefs, shallows and deep water, and to allow anglers to catch anything up to and including a shark. The same game engine is used, although the reel response has been tweaked slightly.

Fifteen different species of fish can be caught, including tuna, blue marlin, tarpon, sailfish and mako sharks, and sixteen different lures are available to catch them with.

The main locations are: Coral Reef, Offing (deep water), and Shallows (sandy shore). There is also a fishing port location, unlocked from within the game.

Additional features include various mini-games and an aquarium which fills with fish and features as you play the original game mode.

It is only available on the Sega Dreamcast.

ihobo comments: Although Sega Marine Fishing is reasonably good fun, the lack of any tournament mode (the core of the Bass Fishing experience) ultimately lets it down. Also, having to compensate for the different types of species by giving different point values lends an uneven quality to the game.

The mini-games are reasonably good fun, and one in particular where you are challenged to catch a fish of a particular species is excellent - but only once you have mastered the game, as it is a devilishly difficult challenge until you know how to catch all the different types of fish.

There is also Sega Bass Fishing 2, but here they seem to have thrown away the accessible fun of the original and gone for a sim-type game. Not recommended.

Fans of Sega Bass Fishing should check out Sega Marine Fishing, but the ultimate fishing game remains the original Sega Bass Fishing.