There are three fishing rod controllers available for the Dreamcast, but there are two which represent around 90% of all the rods in circulation (probably - I just made that fact up). These are the Fission from Interact, and the official Sega rod...from Sega and Ascii. I own both of these, so let's take a look at how they differ in quality and features. The third option is called the Rumble Rod and comes from Mad Catz, but I've never seen one in the wild.
The Dreamcast Fishing Controller
The only officially branded fishing controller ever released for any console, the Dreamcast Fishing Controller (also known as つりコントロｒ－ラ if Japanese is your mother tongue) was manufactured by Ascii and has the code HKT-8700. It contains motion sensors, feedback/rumble functionality and is the go-to peripheral when it comes to Dreamcast fishing games. The fact that it is officially branded means that the build quality is second to none and the thing just works. It just works. There aren't many bells and whistles, but then what would you expect from a fishing rod controller?
and this boxset is now quite sought after due to the low retail numbers. If you see it for a decent price you'd be advised to snap it up. And then sent it to me. Thanks.
The Interact Fission Rod
The Fission comes from Interact and holds the title for best literary pun ever applied to a gaming peripheral. See, it plays on the words 'fishing' and 'fission,' a type of radioactive decay during which an atom splits into multiple parts. Quite what this has to do with Dreamcast games I don't know...but it sounds cool and is a play on words not seen since in the gaming sphere. The Fission rod (read that back a few times and an existential penny will drop eventually...possibly onto a box containing a cat that may or may not be dead) is a prime example of a third party peripheral done right.
The Mad Catz Rumble Rod
The only other Dreamcast compatible fishing rod controller I can find any information on is a Mad Catz offering called the 'Rumble Rod.' It is a pretty decent name, but it doesn't really scream 'unique selling point' because both of the other fishing controllers also have rumble functionality as standard. That said, it does offer one unique feature over bother Sega and Interact rods: an extendable 'rod' section that makes it look more like an actual fishing rod. Sort of.
Contrary to popular belief, I don't know everything about the Dreamcast. I'm a human being with a job and a life and categorically not a robot. To that end, if I've missed a Dreamcast fishing controller please let me know in the comments/on the Facebook group. On to the games...
You may have guessed from my choice of language thus far that I'm not much of a fisherman. To be honest, the closest I ever get to the sport is when I go for a run around my local nature reserve and I scoff at (and occasionally throw bricks at) the bearded old men sat in their little tents around the lake, their rods resting on miniature stands and boxes of squirming maggots sitting by their wellington-clad feet. I have about as much knowledge of fishing as I do quantum physics...but I own (almost) all of the fishing games on the Dreamcast so that makes me loosely qualified to spout crap about how enjoyable these titles are when swinging your arms around and making yourself look like a tit. There are a total of six fishing titles on the Dreamcast, and only one of them came to UK shores officially...which is a bit rubbish when you think about it. Even the light gun got more compatible software over here in the UK than the fishing controller, but we shan't dwell on such trivialities. Here's the full run down of Dreamcast fishing games, listed in chronological order...
Sega Bass Fishing
Year: 1999 Developer: SIMS Publisher: Sega Region: PAL/NTSC-U/NTSC-J
The one that kicked it all off for Dreamcast-owning fishing nuts. Sega Bass fishing - or Get Bass if you want to get technical - was released in 1999 and was the first game to use the fishing rod controller. Indeed, without this game there probably wouldn't even be a fishing rod controller...but I digress. An arcade port to the Dreamcast, Sega Bass Fishing sees you assume the role of an angler and you have to catch a set weight of fish before the timer runs out.
Sega Marine Fishing
Year: 1999 Developer: WOW Entertainment Publisher: Sega Region: NTSC-U/NTSC-J
A follow up to Sega Bass Fishing, Marine Fishing leaves the crystal clear waters of Lake Paradise behind and heads out onto the open water of the ocean, allowing you to try to catch something that isn't a Bass. Tuna, Barracuda, and even Stingray (not the submarine) are now available to be stabbed through the face with a razor sharp hook! There are 15 different types of fish in total, along with three new locations that have a tropical feel about them, and there's a guy on a boat who has a distinct air of Dogs Bower about him...and if you've never played Blue Stinger that won't mean much to you, but I reckon there's a conspiracy at work here.
Lake Masters Pro Dreamcast Plus!
Year: 2000 Developer: Nexus Interact Publisher: DaZZ Region: NTSC-J
This is an odd one. On first glance, the lazy as hell visuals make Lake Masters Pro Dreamcast Plus! appear to be nothing more than a slapdash browser game, but if you look beyond the initial impressions a fairly interesting and entertaining experience can be had. So, first things first - the graphics. Each environment you find yourself in is little more than a really wide photograph that can be scrolled left and right. The thing is, the developers have added an odd ripple effect to the water that looks plain weird.
Bass Rush Dream: EcoGear PowerWorm Championship
Year: 2000 Developer: Visco Publisher: Visco Region: NTSC-J
Bass Rush Dream is a similar game to Bass Fishing, but leans more toward simulation than the Sega games do. If you're wondering about the slightly comical subtitle, a PowerWorm is a type of lure that was manufactured by Japanese fishing gear company EcoGear. However, a quick look around their website tells me that this particular lure is no longer in production. Just in case you wondered.
Fish Eyes: Wild
Year: 2001 Developer: Victor Publisher: Natsume Region: NTSC-U/NTSC-J
Another game with pre-rendered backgrounds, Fish Eyes: Wild (also known as Reel Fishing: Wild in the US) goes a little bit further than Lake Masters in that it features a fully 3D rendered underwater section. The above water bits are photographs with the odd bit of animated detail thrown in, but once you cast your line into the water, the view switches to a subarea camera and all the polygonal fish are revealed. Fish Eyes: Wild is definitely more of a simulation of fishing than an arcade experience and the game's presentation reflects this.
Sega Bass Fishing 2
Year: 2001 Developer: WOW Entertainment Publisher: Sega Region: NTSC-U/NTSC-J
It's quite appropriate really, that the final fishing game to be released for the Dreamcast is a direct sequel to the one that kicked the whole genre off in the first place. Sega Bass Fishing 2 (aka Get Bass 2) was released in 2001 and was again developed by WOW Entertainment after the success of Marine Fishing, and while it is still very much in the same mould as the other two Sega-published fishing games, it almost straddles the line between true arcade game and proper simulation. For a start, the main game mode has been expanded quite a bit, with a selection of different championships to take part in and it all just feels a little bit more serious than the previous entries in the series.
As a non-fishing person, I found this game to be very addictive and highly enjoyable (although I didn't catch may fish...as my screenshots will attest), and one I would highly recommend to even the most casual of Dreamcast gamers. As a footnote, Sega Bass Fishing 2 was actually ported to the PlayStation 2 as Sega Bass Fishing Duel...but at the time there was no fishing rod peripheral available for Sony's console!
There is another fishing game on the Dreamcast (of sorts), and that game is Sonic Adventure. The Big the Cat sections do allow you to do a little spot of angling, but sadly the fishing controller is not compatible - probably because it hadn't been released at the time of Sonic Adventure's launch. Other non-fishing games that are rod-compatible (to a degree) are Soul Calibur and Virtua Tennis...but they're not really using true motion detection, just the gyroscope readings from inside the rod so waving it around at random will activate certain moves in Soul Calibur and mimic button presses in Virtua Tennis. Still, both are quite fun so give them a go. Just make sure you keep a tight grip on the rod to prevent yourself from throwing it through the TV screen/nearest window or spearing a cat.
Now I'm going to make like a fish and get outta this plaice. I'm here all week, folks!