If I catch one more sea bass in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I’m going to scream.
Fishing is probably my favourite thing to do in Animal Crossing games. Whether it’s following my island’s wandering rivers in search of elusive golden trout or spending time at the pier wrestling with blue marlin and tuna, I often find myself getting lost in the rhythm of Animal Crossing’s watery shadows. But a little piece of me dies every time I reel in a sea bass, one of the most common fish in New Horizons.
Animal Crossing players are given a rough idea of what fish they’re about to catch by the size of the shadow it makes under the water. For instance, a small shadow in the ocean means you’re probably going to grab a sea butterfly, while a larger shadow indicates the possibility of something rarer and more valuable. Many of the higher-priced fish can only be found by fishing these large shadows. The problem is that sea bass, which are worth very little, have a big shadow too.
Sea bass have long been the personification of disappointment in Animal Crossing games. Right when you think you might have landed a coelacanth, a living dinosaur that serves as the holy grail of Animal Crossing fishing, your lure instead emerges from the water carrying a sea bass. The game celebrates this with a jaunty tune and a silly pun like every other catch, but all players see is the nth copy of a fish whose only purpose is to take up valuable real estate in their limited inventory.
This situation is only exacerbated in New Horizons due to its new tool durability mechanics. Fish too much and your rod breaks, prompting a short trip back to your home to craft another. It’s not a huge inconvenience, but it does break up any sort of rhythm you’ve managed to develop. Sea bass, then, take on a whole new role as tool destroyers. Every one of these sickly green jerks you catch is one more crack or ding on your fishing rod, one which might have been worth incurring with a different, better fish.
It’s gotten to the point where I can tell which fish I’ve caught before it’s even out of the water thanks to the Switch’s Joy-Cons and their HD Rumble feature. New Horizons utilises HD Rumble to provide unique vibrations while catching fish: the bigger the fish, the more the controllers shake. Only one other fish, the olive flounder, feels the same as the sea bass as it’s being reeled in. And while the olive flounder is pretty common too, there are less of them than there are sea bass, making the sea bass that much more annoying.
Several frustrating constants of the Animal Crossing series have carried over into New Horizons. Tom Nook still asks for exorbitant mortgage payments, wasps will still occasionally attack players for shaking trees, and sea bass still take a piece of my soul every time their beady eyes stare at me from the end of my fishing rod. My only hope is that I’ll eventually fish these little bastards to extinction.