Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dreamcast's 11th Birthday



It snuck up on me.

Dreamcast's 11th birthday.

Had it not been for checking Blogspot and seeing The Dreamcast Junkyard mentioning it I would have forgotten. So this means I need to write a blog. Well, unfortunately I can't think of anything in such a short amount of time with most of the day being passed by already.
I can always mention MY SMALL GAME COLLECTION. Yes. I think that'll do. Maybe a mini-review for each. So before this intro drags on too long, let me get started.

I unfortunately can't say I'm a big fan of Crazy Taxi. Its blasphemy, I know, but I find the driving and physics in this game impossible to deal with. The tires constantly spinning out as the precious seconds tick down, the insane amount of traffic even on easy difficulty, the passengers commenting about every turn you make, and the most repetitive soundtrack ever conceived (Offspring: "Yah! Yah! Yah! Yah! Yaaaaaaah!"), make it a teeth-grinder for me.
Regardless of all that I've said, Crazy Taxi has an undeniable charm to it. Its an arcade game through and through and its been converted nicely to the Dreamcast. The graphics are clean, the controls are sharp, and it's just fun. As for the soundtrack, it can always be muted, I suppose.

Hit or miss. Its the best way to describe Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX. The controls are sloppy, the graphics seem incomplete, the music is repetitive, and the levels are just lackluster. After completing the challenges of the first levels you have to compete, and place first in, three competitions. Second place wins you nothing but a pat on the back. The only unlockable character here is the SlimJim guy. Yes, you read that right. He's nothing special either. And its almost impossible to bail, just pressing the Y button while coming down from a vert lands you in a stalling position. Broken? Yes.
But despite the bad nature up front, its more like the Pro Skater series than Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX was. Its just as chaotic, the soundtrack, though small, is varied and soulful, and the tricks are insane. You can pull off moves that aren't even physically possibly in real life. Its a true arcade game and I'm proud to have it in my collection.

A game that's as unique as anything you can imagine, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is the tale of Raziel, a vampire who has evolved beyond his master. Considering this a travesty, Kain kills Raziel. Many years later, Raziel is brought back to life by the gods with a task they want him to complete: kill Kain.
Thus begins your adventure.
This third person platformer is an amazing adventure through two worlds: the land of the living and of the dead, each with their on dangers, and at the end of each level lies a vampiric boss that has also been transformed.
The graphics seem pretty advanced for their time, the smoothness of objects lends to the game pretty well. The areas, though fogged in the distance, are varied and never just walking through a gray cave.
The voiceacting is superb and the actors put emotion into their words. No cookie-cutter blandness here.
If you can ever find a copy of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (not to be confused with Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain) it's a definite buy. They just don't make'em like this anymore.

With little to say about this game, Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear on the Dreamcast is... meh. The graphics are nothing to be impressed by, the voiceacting is there, the environments are impressive for back then, and the gameplay is hard. This is no run-and-gun one-man-army shooter. It's tactical in the sense that when the enemies see you they do not hesitate to aim for the head. One main problem lies in the controls, they take a while to get used to. Since there is no strafing, there is no easy way to dodge bullets.
This is one of my least-played in my Dreamcast collection.

If you don't know this game by now you should be ashamed of yourself.
Take all the real-world physics that you know and toss them out the window. A true arcade racer, the only enemy you have is the time limit. Race as fast as you can to get to the next checkpoint, rack up those extra seconds, and splatter some mud on the windshield of the car you're about to pass.
With a true sense of speed, mud splatters when you drive through it, water splashes, dust rises, sparks fly, and your car never gets damaged. Just like in Dave Mirra: there is no reward for second place.
This is one of the definitive Dreamcast games. Any collection wouldn't be complete without it.

ANOTHER arcade classic brought home by the Dreamcast, it's a perfect recreation of the original, with a large exception: since there is no gun attachment, you stay zoomed in all the time. You zoom out by holding down the left trigger. Firing is done with either the A button or the right trigger. Movement is done by the analog stick. It might not be as fast as aiming the gun in the arcade, but the movement speed of the crosshair can be changed in the menus.
Aside from a training mode, its the same as you would find in the arcade. The branching story paths are there, the same bosses, the same patterns. It might not seem appealing, but its better than having the actual arcade cabinet take up space in your room. Another definitive title of the Dreamcast.

Do I have to say anything about this? Well I think I should.
*FANBOYS!* I was a HUGE fan of Sonic when he first premiered, you have to consider that, before you read this, it is an opinion. It is biased. It is what I think. You can love this new Sonic all you want. I don't.

Sonic's transition to full 3D could have gone better. With controls that are too sensitive and wonky, levels that are lacking (and some that just seem like they were halfway completed), camera controls that are maddening, voiceacting that is phoned in, characters that shouldn't exist (I'm looking dead at you Rose and Big), and the useless Chao mini-game, Sonic Adventure is where the image of the blue blur with attitude was dragged through the new millennium mud.
Is it a bad game? Somehow no. But you can't ignore the stack of minor inconveniences that drag it down.

While getting the above image from Gamespot, one number jumps out at me directly: 10.
A perfect 10. A lot can be said for this game and yet I'm at a loss of words. Not only is it a perfect recreation of the arcade fighter, but it packs in a ton of extras such as an adventure mode, survival mode, galleries, and unlockable weapons and characters.
The graphics are crisp, bright, vibrant, and smooth. They run at a steady pace and are mind-blowing compared to the 3D fighters of the time.
This is the true definition of an arcade game. The tale of souls and swords eternally retold does not begin however. Soul Blade made its debut on the PS1 in 1995, and even then it was a technical marvel. Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast is just another reason why Namco is my favorite game company today.

I'm not quite sure what crowd this game is aimed towards. Any rednecks (I'm from Georgia, I can say it) that might have bought this game would have been very disappointed, as would have anyone else.
Controls that are sloppy, gameplay that isn't fun, race courses that are a pain to navigate through, and voiceacting with people that sounded like they were hired with the promise of payment of a new banjo or mud tires... its just not a good game at all.
Just by the cover you would think that this is an arena-racing game or open environment, Dakar-style rush to the end of the track. That's a great deception isn't it? Although its not quite Cover Art Fail material, I for one was disappointed when I first played it.

The Hawkman makes a jump to the Dreamcast. An arcade-style game on a console made for arcade games. What more could you ask for?
Although this game is a simple copy-and-paste job, its still the Pro Skater we all know and love. I can't say much about it. What I can say is that the original screenshots I had seen of it a long time ago made the game looking amazing, almost like a new entry. Instead we get the same game as all the other platforms.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 on the Sega Dreamcast is my favorite game of all time. Top favorite. Number 1. I have written in length about this game in other blogs. I can't keep re-writing the same things.
Take the Playstation 1 version, add in a few graphical effects such as: t-shirts blowing in the wind, greater anti-aliasing, better graphics and cleaner sound, a better fogging distance, and you get Pro Skater 2 on the Dreamcast. Its just the best version presented.

Forget all the skills you know about the current UFC games. Can you press a button? Then you can win Ultimate Fighting Championship. The roster of MMA stars is vast, and with the ability to create your own fighter it can be bigger. The main problems lie in that each match can last as little as 30 seconds, and that if your opponent gets in the dominant position, ground and pound, strangle hold, etc. then you're done for. There is no getting out of it, no fighting back. Instant submission. Game over.

Every time I think Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense, that theme song comes into my head. A strict copy-and-paste job of the PS1 version, there's nothing new to this game. I'm not even sure this game has the ability to unlock the levels from the first game, it can be done by swapping out the disc with the original V8 on the PS1 version, but with the Dreamcast, opening the disc lid takes you to the console menu.
Graphics are clean, audio is clear, controls are the same. Its on par with the PS1 version.

Its baseball, just not very good baseball. With convoluted controls, graphics that "just get the job done," and menu music that gives you a nervous twitch if you listen to it for too long, its the same as every other baseball game in existence. Maybe that explains why I got it for $1.

And that's about it. That's all the Dreamcast games in my collection. It's a short stack but they warrant their own CD holder. I would buy more, and I do plan on buying more, but with increasing rarity and price points that are a bit too high for old games, its hard for me to do. Soul Calibur alone cost me $15 and I bought that immediately. It came with no manual but it did have the back cover.
I'm the type of collector that prefers to have get everything with the game. I know I need to get over that otherwise Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation will be lost to me. There are two copies at the Play N Trade store that I bought my Dreamcast games from as well as others. If I don't buy them, someone else will.
Back in middle school, my friend and I used to bash the Dreamcast every day. It wasn't until I was able to buy one a few years ago that I realized just how wrong I was. The Dreamcast is an amazing console and it ended too shortly. There are still quite a few homebrew companies out there that are still making games for it.
I still need to download Half-Life for the Dreamcast. Getting the cdi image is the pain for me.
So how was that for a short notice blog? Took me two hours to write but that's fine by me. Its my contribution to the Dreamcast community and a small insight to my collection. Now if you'll excuse me, Silent Scope isn't going into demo mode with me just sitting here.

Keep Playing.

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