Rapala Pro Bass Fishing Review (X360)

Buy Rapala Pro Bass Fishing at Amazon.com

We weren't fans of the last Rapala game, Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009, but we were hopeful that the new Rapala Pro Bass Fishing would somehow be good. Activision's hunting games have greatly improved the last couple of years, after all, so we hoped that trend would carry over to fishing as well. The good news is that it is much better than Fishing Frenzy 2009.

The bad news is that it still isn't very good, and not even a specialized fishing pole motion controller can save it. Find out all of the details right here.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: FUN Labs
  • ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Fishing
  • Pros: Nice visuals; Free Fishing and challenges; customization options
  • Cons: Isn't realistic at all; special controller isn't so hot

Rapala Pro Bass Fishing starts out with you creating a character, either a man or a woman, dressing them up, and then heading out to the lake. Free Fishing mode lets you select any of the seven lakes in the game and get right to fishing. There are also challenges available in Free Fishing that task you with catching specific numbers of fish, casting correctly, using specific lures, or doing specific things like intentionally cutting your line when you have a huge fish hooked. Tournament Mode gives you specific species to catch in various tournaments, and you open up new tournaments by performing well.

There is also a two player mode available as well where you both fish from the same boat, and when you cast you each have a little window under the water on your side of the screen following your lure. It works pretty well.

A major feature, of course, is the wireless fishing controller. This isn't the first Xbox 360 fishing game to have a special motion sensitive fishing controller, but it is the only wireless one, so it earns some points there.

It loses points, however, because it kind of sucks. There isn't any force feedback. There isn't any vibration. It just feels lifeless and doesn't add anything to the experience the way the Bass Pro Shops: The Strike (not compatible with this game, unfortunately) controller does. Bad times.


It also doesn't help that the core gameplay, whether using a normal controller or fishing pole, just doesn't feel right. Similar to the problem I had with Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009, Rapala Pro Bass Fishing takes everything I know about real fishing and throws it out the window. It isn't as insultingly easy as RFF09, thankfully, but it isn't anything resembling real fishing, either.

First, it seems odd that a game with pro bass fishing in the title would lock away spinnerbaits and buzzbaits (go-to bass fishing lures) until you unlock them. Crazy. It is also odd that the game tells you to use hard crank baits and big lures to catch tiny little crappie you'd normally catch with a 1" long rubber jig with a lead sinker and a bobber in the real world. There are all sorts of scenarios like this where the tools you are supposed to catch fish with don't really match up with the species or conditions.

Second, each lure has a specific retrieval motion that you are supposed to do in order to attract fish, either by flicking the fishing rod controller or moving the left analog stick on the controller. If you make too many mistakes in the motions, the fish are scared off. The problem is that for a lot of the lures, the motions feel really unnecessary and unrealistic. Lets just say that I've never had to work this hard and use such finicky movements to catch fish in real life, and that is a problem.

My third issue comes when you actually hook a fish. You are supposed to keep the fish in the center of the screen, either by twisting the fishing rod or moving the left analog stick on a normal controller. If you don't, your hook breaks and the fish gets away. Even tiny fish will break off if you don't play by the game's rules. Again, it is such an unnatural and "videogame-y" feature that it completely takes you out of the experience.

And finally, the fishing rod controller just plain isn't very good. It isn't all that responsive when you're trying to do the little flicks and retrieval motions, and twisting the pole back and forth when reeling in a fish is just sort of uncomfortable. It also isn't ideal for driving your boat around the lakes. It is more fun to use a normal Xbox 360 controller because it 1) works better and 2) makes it easier to accept all the unrealistic gameplay quirks.

Wanna try hunting instead?  Try Cabela's North American Adventures and Cabela's Big Game Hunter.


One thing Rapala Pro Bass Fishing does have going for it is that it is a surprisingly nice looking game, at least on top of the water. The water looks pretty great, and the shorelines and environments are fairly detailed. Under the water, however, the game merely looks okay. The fish models are good enough you can tell species apart, but other games (including, interestingly enough, the aforementioned terrible Fishing Frenzy 2009) have looked better and featured much better underwater detail and lighting.


The sound is also merely okay. Kind of generic boat effects with normal splashy sound effects. No complaints. We do have a problem with the announcers during the tournaments, however. They only have a few lines yet they talk pretty much constantly, so they repeat them over and over and over and over, which is really irritating.

Bottom Line

All in all, Rapala Pro Bass Fishing isn't a very good fishing game. The gameplay just doesn't ever feel right. The lure selection, strange retrieval motions, and goofy back and forth you have to do when you reel in a fish just take me out of the game. I will say, though, that the quirks of the game are a lot easier to accept when you use a normal controller instead of the special fishing pole, so if you have any interest in it at all you can save some money and just buy the game by itself for $40 instead of the bundle for $70. Ultimately, though, I'd say skip it.

Buy Rapala Pro Bass Fishing at Amazon.com

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