Big Bass Arcade: No Limit Review (3DS eShop) – “A Cheap Flop”

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The Nintendo 3DS’s eShop platform seems perfect for delivering more casual, bite-sized games, and there’s certainly been no shortage of these since its inception. For those looking for a quick pick-up and play fishing game, there’s Big Bass Arcade: No Limit by Big John Games. The third in their line of fishing simulators for the Wii and DS, they’ve now taken the leap to the 3DS platform with 3D graphics and expanded gameplay mechanics. But is it worth playing, or should you throw this one back?

The basic premise of the game is – no shocker – selecting different locations (or levels) to fish in, moving your boat to find a good fishing spot, and trying to catch the biggest fish you can. The gameplay itself is probably best described as a grab-bag of mini-game concepts, and you may feel like you’re playing several separate games during even a single round of Big Bass Arcade. First, you need to position your boat in a spot where the fish are biting – but this is done by simply moving your boat left and right along a single axis. An arrow will change color from red to yellow to indicate how the fish are biting – the yellower, the better. Once you pick a spot, you use a power meter like those found in so many golfing games to determine how far you cast your line. Pressing the A button will start the meter, which will bounce between low power and full, and another press will lock it in and cast your line. From here, you need to start reeling in your line to lure nearby fish. An audio cue from the game’s announcer will let you know when a fish is close – and once he hooks on, the most intense portion of the gameplay begins. You need to keep reeling in the fish with enough strength to fight it, but the more the fish struggles, the more your tension meter will fill up. Pull too hard, and your line will break. Give too much slack, and the fish will get away. This hectic element is further exacerbated by an overlapped quick time event element. All the while you’re trying to reel the fish in, the announcer will require you to press one of four directions on the D-pad (or swipe that direction on the screen) to keep fighting your hooked fish. Once the fish gets close enough to your boat, you can press or swipe up to capture him. If you’re successful, the game will record the weight of your fish, and the gameplay starts over.

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This is basically how the game’s Free Fish mode plays out, and while the controls aren’t bad by any means – you can use the 3DS’s buttons or the touch screen to play – the gameplay does get repetitive pretty fast; for all the variety it offers, there’s very little cohesion between the gameplay elements. It can at times feel like someone is standing nearby, throwing you some new game to play every time a new thing happens, and it’s pretty jarring. There’s no sense of accomplishment once you figure the game’s controls out, though – it’s more like a barrier for entry than an element to master, so it comes down to the game’s different play modes to keep you engaged. It’s also no contest that the Wii version in the series has the best controls – the WiiMote’s motion controls make the game much more immersive, but Big John could only do so much with the 3DS platform.

However, Big John Games placed a surprising sense of progression into the game, as you’ll need different types of lures to catch different types of fish, and you’ll unlock additional lures by completing certain challenges in the game, such as catching a certain number of fish or an especially large fish from one breed. It’s actually a nice way to promote replay value, and it’s a good addition to the game. You’ll also need to complete a specific challenge to unlock the game’s tournament mode, so if nothing else, Big John made sure to set some goal for players to reach for.

Big Bass Arcade includes several gameplay modes to keep you busy with, aside from the previously-mentioned Free Fish mode, which allows you to fish for as long as you want with no restrictions. The game includes three challenge modes, requiring you to fish under certain conditions. No Limit has you catching as many fish as you can within the time limit, Bass Only will only credit you for any Bass that you catch, and Catch ‘Em All – coincidentally sharing Pokemon’s motto – similarly has you trying to catch every type of fish present in the stage, and while Red could take his sweet time, you only have 10 minutes to accomplish the feat. Catching 20 lbs. Of Bass in the Bass Only challenge will unlock the game’s Tournament mode, which sees you trying to score higher than your AI opponents by catching bigger and more uncommon fish. Each of these modes puts a spin on the game, but it boils down to the same simple gameplay concepts in each one, so the variety present is minuscule at best.

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It’s also worth noting that the game’s tutorial would be better described as a brief, in-your-face instruction manual. Rather than introducing gameplay elements to you at a slow, comfortable pace, the tutorial throws every single control at you one after another with no chance to test it until you’ve read through the whole thing. Given how simple the game is, it’s not even like the tutorial does much for the player, but the format it’s present with serves to confuse rather than teach. It’s still worth a quick look to acclimate yourself with the controls, but aside from that, it leaves a lot to be desired.

The game’s audio-visual details are actually its best and worst qualities. The game’s graphics are surprisingly decent for a downloadable game; fish show a surprising level of detail in their movements and behaviors; your lures behave like you’d expect, even down to tassels and flyaways moving and spinning as they glide through the water. Textures and other details in the graphics are competent, and overall it’s more than you’d expect in an eShop game. The 3D is also done quite well, and gives you a real sense of depth; you’ll feel how far your cast your line, and the water has a real sense of volume when looking around. However, one area that isn’t nearly as good is the game’s audio. The game’s soundtrack consists of only a few simple tracks – a repetitive guitar ditty at the menu screen, a string-plucker while fishing, and an aggressive electric guitar track when catching a fish. All of these songs are just a few seconds in length and play on a loop, and are mind-numbingly repetitive. Then there’s the sound effects; it’s not all bad, as the splashing noises when your lure hits the water are crisp and clear. Once you get a bite, though, the game’s sound effects devolve into childish, cartoony noises that are a complete departure from the rest of the game’s tone. You’ll hear uncharacteristically-deep swooshing noises as your tiny minnow struggles in the water, silly bumper noises as the fish rebels against you, and a high-pitched sound effect straight out of Looney Toons when your line is about to break. Finally, the game’s announcer speaks in an unsettling, creepy, quiet tone, and while I’m sure Big John was going for an announcer that makes you think of a relaxing day on the lake, his tone comes off as less fishing buddy, more Jason. There’s also a lack of variety in his speech – there’s pretty much just one thing he says for each gameplay event. As soon as you hear “he’s getting close…!”, you’ll know a fish is chasing your lure, as soon as you’re over that chill going down your spine. I see what the developer was going for, but a little foresight in their audio department would have done a lot for the game, making it an upshot rather than an anchor.

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Big Bass Arcade: No Limit tries to take the previous games in the series further, but in the end, contrary to its name, it comes off as a very limited experience. Gameplay is a repetitive jumble of mini-game concepts, the different challenge modes do little to expand on the game’s premise, and the sound effects are a major negative on the game’s experience. There are some positives to out-weigh the negatives, but the fact remains that there are better fishing games out there – even No Limit‘s predecessors. Unless you’re desperate for a 3D fishing experience on the go, it’s best to look elsewhere.

Overall Score: 5.5 out of 10 = Wait for a price drop…

A special thank you to Big John Games for providing us a review copy for Big Bass Arcade: No Limit!

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Coaster Creator 3D Review (3DS eShop): “Coaster Creativity On-The-Go”

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During the late 90s, PC gamers were graced with a specific simulation game that won over the hearts of many, Roller Coaster Tycoon. Over the years, we’ve seen that series make a few sequels and expansions, giving the player tons more content to ellaborate on their ultimate roller coaster creation and theme parks. However, the series has dwindled down and aside from the new one released on the 3DS, roller coaster creation games have been a bit rare to come across, especially on consoles. Thankfully, the team over at Big John Games have accepted the challenge of bringing a roller coaster simulator for on-the-go gaming for the 3DS with Coaster Creator 3D. Does it succeed in bringing the genre over to the 3DS? Let’s find out.

Coaster Creator 3D allows for two main modes to choose between: Career and Sandbox. Choosing the Career mode, you will partake in 20 challenges that progress in difficulty. Each challenge will teach you a certain attribute that you could adjust for your coaster, such as the G-Force, corkscrews and loops on a track, steep drops and adjusting the track positions entirely. You’ll adjust all of this through the bottom touch-screen. On there, you’ll see a blueprint of the coaster that’s on the top screen (which shows the 3D environment and full rendering of the coaster being designed) and move around the tracks of the coaster to your liking. You’ll have a ton of tools to utilize to ensure you create the coaster of your liking. When you click on the track you want to adjust, you’ll be able to twist the track, add a track in between to make it a peak point or lower curve, corkscrew, loop, etc. It’s simple and intuitive to use for the most part, but was sometimes hard to distinguish the angle I was viewing the track from. Granted, you can rotate the camera of the blueprint with the D-Pad, but it occasionally looked a bit off. The Career mode will definitely be the staple that gives you an idea of how to create an amazing roller coaster down the line. Also, progressing through the Career will allow you to unlock other features for your creations between the 3 Track Types, 5 Locations, 17 Cart Styles, 10 Decals and 10 Special Fronts. The one gripe with the Career mode is that while it may serve as a tutorial for your custom creations, there’s no “proper” tutorial to what the tools do exactly. However, there is a “help” menu you can access in the pause menu, which gives you a more detailed breakdown of each tool.

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Aside from the Career will be the main attraction to Coaster Creator 3D, Sandbox mode. This will allow you to bring out your creative side by creating the craziest, most thrilling ride you can imagine. When you begin, you’ll start by creating a new track, which allows you to pick from particular parameters: Location, Track Type, Lifter Turn and Height. Upon choosing those, you’ll have the chance to draw out a rough layout or outline of your coaster. You’ll have 70 Sketch Points allocated to draw out your design from the start point and end point. You can then place hills between the tracks so that you can elevate your ride. Afterwards, when you’re ready, you’ll advance the creation and enter the park in its 3D environment, alongside the blueprint for editing on the bottom-screen. Naturally, the tools I mentioned in the Career are in full effect here, with no restrictions. As you’re editing your coaster, you can test it out in the editor mode in slow-mo, standard and fast speed, as well as rewinding…allowing for precision editing when trying to find the specific point where you need to edit your coaster. When you choose Quick Ride in the pause menu of the edit, you’ll be able to view your final product from a variety of camera angles. You can view the ride from the front of the cart, showing all the riders, as well as through a first-person perspective to get a personal feel of how the ride plays out. More interestingly, you can view the ride from any seat of the coaster.

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Big John Games also went the extra mile by providing a feature to have your Mii characters participate on your coaster creations (which is unlocked through the Career mode). When you’re done with your roller coaster creation, you can exit out of the edit and build up the park a bit. You’ll be able to choose a variety of props and storefronts to plant around your track, but you can’t place an unlimited amount. You’ll be able to place at most, 20 objects, and you only have $32,000 to spend. You can choose between generalized items (such as Bumper Cars, Bounce Castle, Soda Stand, etc.) and themed items, which all depend on the location you chose to place your coaster in. Lastly, you can finish up the track with some customization. The track and support’s colors can be altered, as well as the cart style and seats’ colors. Once done, your coaster is ready to ride at any time. Additionally, you can play a mini-game called Star Roller, which has you riding your coaster while moving your character’s hand to grab the stars randomized on the ride for a high score. It’s nothing amazing, but a neat addition nonetheless. Now you can share your creations with friends, but not in the way most would expect. There’s no online connection, nor any local connectivity to be found here. However, Big John Games have implemented the ability to export QR codes. These will allow you to share your creations with anyone that scans the image, which will then be stored into their game. While it’s strange that there’s no wireless connectivity to share creations, it’s nice to see there is at least a way to do so.

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Coaster Creator 3D’s visuals are bright, crisp and colorful, with a solid amount of detail put into the environment, coasters and riders (even the Mii characters look really good). While playing without the 3D slider, the game ran at a near 60 fps, but occasionally dipped depending on how much detail was on screen. When playing with the 3D slider up, the game drops to 30 fps, so some of that smoothness is gone. Thankfully, the 3D effect is very well done, never overdoing the depth at all and is fairly easy on the eyes. In terms of audio, the audio effects of the wind zipping by and the cart rolling down the tracks are spot on, nailing the feel of being on an actual roller coaster. While there’s only a handful of music tracks, the mixture of cheery songs during the creation, to the atmospheric menu music all work very well. It’s an enjoyable audio experience that helps with the overall game experience.

Coaster Creator 3D does exactly what it’s supposed to do, provide players with the tools to create their own roller coaster on-the-go. However, Big John Games provides a game that has plenty of depth that will keep roller coaster enthusiasts entertained for quite some time. With it’s simple and intuitive design system, crisp visuals and audio, and overall engaging gameplay, roller coaster fans would do very well to download this on their 3DS for the $9.99 asking price.

Overall Score: 8.0 out of 10 = Buy it!

A special thank you to Big John Games for providing us a review copy for Coaster Creator 3D!

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

Curious to how our review system works? Check out the About section.