Sega Bass Fishing came out sometime in the last couple weeks. I had no idea it was coming out, but I saw it on store shelves and bought it on the spot. It's basically an arcade fishing game, and if that doesn't sound fun, don't worry - I didn't think it was, either.
But in 1999, I saw it at E3 on the Dreamcast, and on the drive up from LA, instead of going straight home, I swung by an import shop (Network Video, in Milpetas) and picked it up with the fishing controller, naturally, for my imported Dreamcast. I played the crap out of that game. My friend would come over, and we'd take turns sitting in the "boat" - the loveseat that sat sideways in front of the TV.
"Small one!" the announcer would shout, in Engrish. Years later, my friend (who is at best a casual gamer), still remembers the "Enjoy your fishing!" shout-out at the beginning of the game.
So, when I picked up the game on the Wii, it was pretty obvious we'd have to get together and get some fishing on. We ended up playing for hours while my wife and his girlfriend watched, sometimes participated, laughed and laughed.
Is Sega Bass Fishing a great game? Yeah - it's great. Maybe not in the same way that something like Ico is great, but it's sort of like Rock Band - it's accessible for the non-gamer, it's charming, and a really good time. More, it's part of some really great memories - having fun with friends.
The other experience I've had that is sort of like this was playing Virtua Striker on the Dreamcast while in Japan. I was at my aunt & uncle's house with my parents. My Japanese isn't particularly good, and even when it's alright, it takes about two weeks before I get comfortable really speaking. So, my young cousin and I were hanging out in awkward silence, without really being able to talk to one another.
After a while, he got bored, and threw in Virtua Striker. Now, if you've never played it, it should be made clear that Virtua Striker is a terrible, terrible game. It's not only bad as a soccer game, but it's bad as *any* game. The controls are so unresponsive that it's often difficult to tell whether you have anything at all to do with what's happening on screen.
But I picked up the controller and played with him. At first it was strange, and awkward, but within a few minutes, we were both sucked in to the game and the friendly competition. It gave us something to talk about that was simple, clear, and accessible. We got to talking about other things - slowly and in a combination of terrible Japanese and terrible English - but we had a common experience that we could share, and it opened up a lot of other communication that we didn't really have any other avenue to explore.
Eight years later, I have really fond memories not only of that time, but of that game. Whenever I think of unresponsive controls, I have a sort of warm, happy feeling that reminds me of my cousin.
Sega Bass Fishing: A/90
Virtua Striker: D/20