Game Review: Dreamcast Collection
Genre: Multiple (3d Platformer, Arcade Driving, Fishing, Rhythm)
Developer: Sega of America
Available Platforms: Xbox 360 / PC
ESRB Rating: E-T
The Dreamcast is a system that many people associate with the fall of Sega as a hardware company. What is lost in that recollection is how many great games came out for the Dreamcast, and while at first glance the four included games may not all jump out at you, they encompass a pretty good range of the types of games you would find on the system. Sonic Adventure and Crazy Taxi will be the reason most people will buy this game, but Space Channel 5 Part 2 and Bass Fishing both bring something to the table as well.
The disc loads to a menu screen fairly quickly that lets you select what game you want to play. For the sake of tracking in your achievements list on Xbox 360, each game lists individually with 200 achievement points. The game selection you make in the opening menu will be what you’re stuck with; if you back out, you return to your Dashboard and need to reload the disc to get going again; a minor nuisance. Otherwise, the splash screen jumps you right into the game as if you were playing off the disc.
But enough about menus, let’s talk about the games. I’ll defer to my Sonic Adventure review for XBLA for those looking for details on the game, as there should be no difference between the two. Crazy Taxi is also fairly mainstream by this point, so if you were worried about something getting lost in translation, fear not, it’s all here. I couldn’t help but feel like this game was missing something, though. I remember playing this game for hours on end trying to beat my old scores, yet this time around it just didn’t capture me. It’s all there; the frantic pace, the nagging customers waiting to be picked up and dropped off, the insistent music (in my play, I didn’t catch any Offspring or Bad Religion; I recall that being the driving force behind the original and it’s really missed here), the race against the clock. But if you played the heck out of it and were looking for that hook again, you may be disappointed.
So let’s talk about the two games you may not have played. First, with Bass Fishing it’s… as described. The focus is all in the process of catching the fish, and if you’ve played any Zelda game in the last 10 years, you are probably over qualified for this game. You can select your bait (which will amp the difficulty level based on your selection), and fishing spot. It was here, as I was trying to find a way to NOT throw my line into a dock or the building behind it, that I realized I should stop overthinking and just try to catch fish. The game will bark you through the various directions as you try to catch the big one, and despite the simplistic approach, I actually had a good time for a little while (once I stopped trying to critique the awfulness of the presentation). There’s a few different modes to keep things interesting, but at the end of the day, your enjoyment of this game will directly correlate to your enjoyment of fishing. My recommendation is to do what real fishermen do: drink lots of booze while you fish.
So we’re left with Space Channel 5 Part 2. I’ll come right out and say it; I enjoyed this game, but I was ashamed of myself for doing so. If you live with other people, I would recommend headphones for this game (and preferably a privacy screen on your TV). I can’t prepare you for what you’ll experience, just take my word for it. Nothing about the game is overly amazing, in fact it’s downright awful in a lot of ways, but the total package is just more than a sum of its parts. You’re playing a poor-man’s version of PaRappa the Rapper; a rhythm game in which you follow cues for the four directions, plus A and B. You can remap all of the various commands to one button and just hit that button to the beat should you want to make the game a little simpler (although it’s not incredibly difficult to begin with). There’s enough game here to keep things interesting, and the concept of saving people through your dance moves (and unlocking new items and levels as a result) keeps you from falling asleep at the wheel. Oh, and the game features Space Michael. That’s Michael Jackson (in voice and likeness) folks, and let me say that I didn’t think it was possible for him to be in a game and NOT be the strangest thing in it. I’ll say one more thing about this game; there’s a borderline hardcore scene straight out of the hentai playbook with a tentacle beast midway through the game. I wish I could think it was unintentional porn that a tentacle beast just happens to grab your female lead character and lift her in the air while spreading her limbs, but then I hear her say things like “I’m all tingly,” and I realize that tentacle porn is exactly what they were going for. So, uh, enjoy that scene I guess (relax, it’s still a T rated game, even if the innuendo isn’t lost on this reviewer). The game remains quirky throughout, but you’ll want to see it through, if for no other reason than to see what kind of insane nonsense comes up next.
Your enjoyment of this collection will obviously be directly tied to how much you get out of the parts of this game. Sonic Adventure, for its shortcomings, is still a fun adventure game (as long as you don’t judge it by today’s standards) which has the speed and variety to be worth it. Space Channel 5 Part 2 really surprised me with its quirkiness and replayability (there’s a lot to unlock, and a 100 level challenge mode as well), but some might have trouble looking past the presentation. Crazy Taxi is a fun romp, but lost a little with the exclusion of its original music.
Bass Fishing is probably the weakest overall title in the bunch, though it still retains some replay value through the various modes. But it suffers from what each of the games in this bundle does; a lack of polish. These games are in their original glory, and that makes them all dated looking (Crazy Taxi fares a little better than the rest, but not much). The selection also makes you wonder what could have been with the first collection of Dreamcast titles; I won’t penalize the game for not having better titles, but it doesn’t stop me from wishing it was so. The shortcomings of this title lie in the shortcomings of the games themselves; Sonic is glitchy, Bass Fishing is awful in its presentation and limited in its execution,and Space Channel 5 Part 2 is perhaps too quirky for its own good (or yours). This is a collection of the tallest midgets; impressive, perhaps, in a group, but individually they’re still midgets.
vttym’s take: I’ll keep this short and sweet; if you liked Sonic and Crazy Taxi, but couldn’t care less for the other titles, stick to the XBLA downloads and spend the $10 you’ll save on something else in the arcade. If rhythm games with collectible items is intriguing to you, then this collection becomes a worthwhile purchase. Personally, I’d wait for this to hit the bargain bins; the games are worth a play-through at least, but you’ll kick yourself if you fork $30 over for them.
+ Space Channel 5 Part 2 was unexpectedly (if not a little embarrassingly) fun
+ Sonic Adventure and Crazy Taxi are solid titles
– Bass Fishing is a missed opportunity
– Titles feel dated, and carry over the problems they originally had
– Minimal replay value
Final Score: 5/10