Review: Bass Pro Shops: The Strike – Championship Edition (Switch)

Catch and release.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 01/14/2019 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
A lot of customization options for your rod, lure, and bait; authentic locations; it can be peaceful cruising across the water and waiting for a bite
Poison Mushroom for...
Hardly any update to the original 2009 visuals and gameplay; confusing controls that are poorly communicated; mundane racing mode; captions disappear too fast; small variety of fish

It’s not often that I play a video game where I walk away utterly bewildered as to how it could be such a mess, yet Bass Pro Shops: The Strike – Championship Edition was one of those instances. Now, before I launch into my review, let me be clear that I’m well aware that every development team would love to churn out a Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Galaxy every time they work on a game. If an anonymous poll was sent out to all of the development houses in the world, the overwhelming majority of those polled would state that they would prefer to make a good piece of software versus a bad one. Sometimes events and circumstances arise beyond a team’s control.

That said, The Strike isn’t coming out half-baked for the first time— this is the second time (The Strike originally launched on Wii in 2009) that the title has landed with a thud. The sort of thud that a smelly dead fish hitting a cutting board makes. Right off the bat, scrolling through the menu screens made it clear that something was amiss in The Strike. The control stick intermittently went from being usable to not usable, with seemingly random sections of the menu oscillating between it and the D-Pad to make selections. There was no rhyme or reason to it. Unbeknownst to me, it was the beginning of a theme.

Character creation came up next and I was rolling with laughter as I picked between the woefully limited options. I’m sorry, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an uglier array of faces to choose between in a game that I didn’t intentionally create specifically to be ugly in the first place. There’s no true customization on offer here, just a bunch of weird looking people, a handful of skin tones, clothes, and some hair “styles” that, altogether, induced nightmares. With the seeming lack of effort put into boosting the visuals for this generation of hardware (more on that later), it probably would’ve been better to just let people stuff their Miis into the game and be done with it, but I digress.

Another obvious mistake that somehow slipped past the quality control department is that the captions flicker out of existence seconds after they’ve popped onto the screen. Which must really suck for people who can’t hear and are dependent on captions to understand what’s happening in the game. Lest anyone get into too much of an uproar, know that The Strike is an equal opportunity offender and doesn’t limit its negligence to the hearing impaired— everyone gets a kick in the ribs at one point or another.

I attempted to launch into The Strike‘s career mode and was immediately perplexed by its strange progression system. In order to enter tournaments, players must first putter around each of the ten selectable lakes and rack up a higher “reputation” rank. Catch fish and the number goes up… and then it’s time to enter a tourney. Except that it takes unreasonably long to do this. Each. And. Every. Time. In fact, The Strike has the audacity to arbitrarily raise the number of points needed to enter a tourney with each new lake. Which wouldn’t be so bad if the fishing itself was fun, but it’s heartbreakingly mediocre.

There are two ways to play The Strike: with traditional button and analogue stick controls, or motions controls. Neither setup is effective, but I’m going to focus on the motion controls because The Strike is bundled with a nifty green, plastic fishing rod. One would have to assume that such a gesture suggests that the motion controls are the real showpiece of The Strike, after all. Well… maybe not. I slipped my Joy-Cons into the fishing rod after having initially started off with traditional controls, but I was again hit with a red flag. For some reason, the controls for moving my boat around had switched: what was once gas was now reverse, and vice versa. Why, I don’t know— nothing about the transition to motion controls dictated the necessity for this change.

Casting isn’t too far removed from hitting the ball in Mario Golf games. A meter appears on the screen once the player has picked a spot to fish. There’s a front, middle, and back end to the meter that requires timed prompts in order to cast the player’s line to the desired location. A press of the shoulder button starts the meter. Then… uh, well… that’s where things started to get trippy. The narrator explained once how to cast and then disappeared. I couldn’t figure out how to make him repeat this incredibly pertinent piece of dialogue and so proceeded to flail around and tap buttons trying to get my bait and hook into the water. Several combinations of presses and flings later and I’d kind of gotten the hang of it. Not really, but close enough to fish.

Of course, with the bait now dangling in front of my aquatic prey, a whole new range of problems presented themselves to me. Once a fish was on the line it became time to start reeling it in, but for the life of me it wasn’t obvious what combo of buttons and movements were working. I twisted in several different directions with my trusty plastic fishing rod, frantically spinning the reel around as fast as I could. Eventually, my movements yielded catches. Movements that made The Strike feel more like an intense fitness game than a fishing simulation. Perhaps this is the real reason to buy The Strike. Except whatever benefits to your health the physical movements provide will be wiped out with the disproportionately high amount of stress and anguish it bestows.

As I mentioned above, The Strike – Championship Edition is just The Strike from 2009 in a new box on a new console. To be fair, this version of The Strike does look better than it ever did on Xbox 360 and miles beyond how it looked on Wii. Yet, even though some of the water reflections are nice and there’s an undeniable sense of peace that comes from zooming across the water, The Strike isn’t up to snuff for a modern release. It’s glaringly obvious that this is a ten year old game in all the worst ways. Jagged geometry, pop-in galore, and other graphical limitations rear up throughout the experience. The underwater camera is especially egregious— if nothing else, one would think that the dev team could have at least fixed that.

There’s a racing mode to break up some of the monotony of fishing, but there’s not much to it. Steer your boat between buoys Wave Race-style and get to the goal. That’s it. There are oddly aggressive logs in the water that impede movement (note: logs generally don’t show any kind of emotion and aren’t capable of self-propulsion), but that’s about it in terms of challenge. The rest of the player’s time is spent perusing the in-game Bass Pro Shop where actual merchandise that can be found in a real-life Bass Pro Shop store can be purchased. There are 111 lures to choose from, alone. It’s impressive in that regard, but when the attention to detail only extends to product placement, it feels like a commercial would’ve been a better use of Bass Pro Shops’ money.

I’m not sure what else to say here. There are online leaderboards. I was mystified when I scrolled through the list of thousands of people who are playing. I stopped at the 3,240th entry in order to maintain my faith in humanity. Bass Pro Shops is promising that tournaments will begin in January 2019 and that actual, physical prizes will be offered. I’m too busy trying to figure out where things went so wrong to care. At one point, I stumbled across a “hidden” location on a lake, but nothing in the game had ever indicated that they existed nor what purpose there was to finding them. The fit for the Joy-Cons in the fishing rod is problematic, as the trigger buttons are still used but barely poke out of the back of the slots they rest within, making them hard to engage.

Just… I need to be alone. I don’t recommend this to anyone but the most dedicated of anglers. Of which there are quite a few out there who are fans of this series; how you feel about The Strike will likely boil down to your preexisting opinion about previous entries. There is a limited variety of fish to catch, which seems heinous for a game where all the player does is hunt them. There are authentic US lakes to explore. How up to date the “lore” is about these lakes is questionable considering not much about The Strike was optimized for 2019. *Sigh* Look, do yourself a favor and go fishing in Ocarina of Time if you want to get in some digital angling. I’ll be over here trying to forget this whole debacle ever even happened. Did you know there was an $80 version of this game back in the day?! Sorry, sorry.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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