Dreamcast XBLA/PSN Wrap-Up

Crazy Taxi  - 869443

Sega has done well with its Dreamcast revival system for both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade,  by releasing four games from its classic library for download on these services.  True, we didn’t quite get the titles that we particularly wanted (like Shenmue and Jet Grind Radio), but there’s no question the four games offered here (which are also available at retail through Dreamcast Collection on Xbox 360) have quite a bit of diversity.

But still, which ones are right for you?  Well, that’s what we’re here for.  Here now are four mini-reviews that let you know just how each Dreamcast hit turned out.

Sonic Adventure – When Sonic made his debut on the Dreamcast, gamers couldn’t get enough of him and his crew, though there was a lot to adjust to.  The story got illogical at times, some characters were way better than others (like the annoying Big the Cat), Tails was put in a tank for his segments, and sometimes the graphics just stuttered when they should’ve been given a little more clarity.

Still, Sonic’s transition from 2D to 3D, despite the speed bumps, was quite effective, and now you can see that for yourself with Sonic Adventure.  The world hubs take some time to get through, having to travel through sections via train and seek out certain “events” in order for the game to continue.  The action sequences, however, are quite good, and helped set the standard for the likes of today’s Sonic games, including Sonic Heroes and the upcoming Generations.  Still, it’s easy to tell where some components of the game haven’t aged quite well.

Though it’s got its mistakes and lacks in replay value (even with the collectible Chaos), Sonic Adventure is still worth a look to fans that haven’t checked him out yet.  Everyone else who’s already beaten it, though, would be better off waiting for Generations.

RATING: 6.5 (out of 10)

Crazy Taxi – The arcade favorite once again makes a return, and it’s still as fun as it ever was, despite a critical change in the presentation.  You choose from one of four drivers and then set out to pick up and deliver as many customers around the city as humanly possible, jumping over hills, running through objects and creating whatever chaos you can along the way.  The more stunts you execute, the more you earn, and the better placing you get through the online leaderboard.  It’s a living.

The graphics run at a rampant 60 frames per second, and despite the lack of familiar licensed restaurants and locations, it’s a blast to run through.  And the included mini challenges will keep you busy too, especially the bowling one, which asks you to hit as many strikes as possible in a certain time limit.  One thing, though – why didn’t Sega opt to include the original soundtrack?  Goldfinger and The Offspring were perfect for this game!  And they’ve been replaced by a bunch of folks who simply don’t sound the same.  You’re better off blaring your own tunes through your XMB player.

Though the changed soundtrack leaves much to be desired, and there’s no sign of anything from the Dreamcast sequel, Crazy Taxi definitely deserves to be taken for a spin.


RATING: 8 (out of 10)

Sega Bass Fishing – “Enjoy your fishing!”  Originally conceived as an arcade game (with a fishing controller to boot), Sega Bass Fishing has made a safe, sound transition to home console, featuring four areas for you to fish in and the ability to bump up your score by going after the “big ones”.  Sega has done an excellent job maintaining a fun gameplay system, from when you first hook your fish to how strategically you can reel it in without it breaking away.  Even after you catch a few, you’ll find yourself challenged by some of the bigger beasts lurking beneath the water.

The visuals look good, though you can tell they haven’t aged that well over the past few years.  There are occasional glitches, and the fishermen in this game come across more like robots than humans.  Still, the fish look natural, so there’s that.  The gameplay is still exciting, and lets you use different lures to help you catch fish better.  We only wish there was some sort of fishing peripheral that brought the “good ol’” feeling of arcade gameplay back to the surface – but for a $10 game, that might be too much.

Oh, and can someone shut up that announcer?  “LET GO OF THE ROD!”  Quiet, dork.

Despite the lack of high-tech proficiency and expensive equipment, Sega Bass Fishing is worth reeling in.

RATING: 7.5 (out of 10)

Space Channel 5 Part 2 --  Now, why we’re getting part two – and not the original – is beyond us.  After all, the first Space Channel 5 set the standard for music/rhythm goofiness, while the sequel only followed suit with wackier situations and a weird cameo appearance by the late Michael Jackson.  Ahh, well, it’s best to have this than nothing at all, right?  And this adventure is actually quite enjoyable, once you get used to it.

Playing as intergalactic space reporter (and hottie) Ulala, you work your way through a number of situations, shooting aliens with the power of dance (and a helpful laser gun) and freeing human hostages, who then join your dancing brigade.  It grows sillier and sillier with each stage you play, but that’s the point, to keep up this manic energy and see where it takes you.  While the game could’ve used some sort of replay value (it’s easily beaten in an hour or so), its catchy soundtrack and classic dance party visuals are worth checking out.  Plus, Ulala?  Still damn hot after all these years.

If you’re a fan of music/rhythm games and somehow missed out on this back on the PS2 (ironically, it never came out for the Dreamcast in the U.S.), snag it and “chu chu chu” to your heart’s content.

RATING: 7 (out of 10)

 

Also…might we recommend the following Dreamcast favorites?

Rez HD (XBLA)- A classic music/rhythm shooter fueled by imaginative visuals, great music (by Tetsuya Mizuguchi and company), and excellent boss battles.  Worth rediscovering all over again.

Ikaruga (XBLA)- Treasure’s epic shooter returns, with the same flip-sided shoot-em-up gameplay that worked so well years ago, along with refined graphics, a splendid soundtrack and online Xbox Live support.

Soulcalibur (XBLA)- The hit launch game that started it all returns, and though it’s lacking in-depth modes from the original, the fighting action remains perfectly intact.  Definitely worth slicing your way through.

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD (XBLA/PSN)- The classic “gems” puzzle game makes a return, with all its super-deformed cuteness intact – and packing online multiplayer to boot.  Building combos is ridiculously addictive.

Street Fighter III 3rd Strike Online Edition (XBLA/PSN)- The classic 2-D brawler pounds its way back onto the fighting scene, with a number of great options, classic gameplay and a razor sharp presentation.

Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 (XBLA/PSN)- Why pay $60 for a Dreamcast edition when you can get this much-improved port – with online play – for only $15?  And every fighter comes unlocked, too.  Huge bonus.

The Last Blade (XBLA)- SNK’s classic weapons-based fighter has left a pretty good impact on XBLA, thanks to its beautiful hand-drawn animation, great fighting action and online options.  Check it out if you missed it the first time around.

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Robert Workman
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