Publisher: Sega (2000)
Samba gets an "A" grade ONLY if you have the expensive maraca controllers. If I had to use the normal controllers, it would probably get an F, because it's almost unplayable with those. However, if you ARE lucky enough to get a pair (or better yet, two pair) of the special maraca controllers, then you're about to experience the ultimate party game. Rarely does a video game come along that is completely original, fun as hell, and will make you look like a complete ass. Samba is basically a dance game where you shake maracas to some popular Latin music. The special hardware can tell if the maracas are held high, medium, or low, so you have to shake them at different heights, and occasionally strike a pose! I played this with some friends, and we could not stop laughing. You really can't play without looking like an idiot. I have to give Sega credit for going all-out in the music department. The songs range from Ricky Martin, to La Bamba, to the Macarena. There are plenty of upbeat tunes, but you'll need to unlock most of them. The graphics feature cartoon characters dancing, but you really won't even notice them because they don't affect the gameplay. There are several play modes including a challenge mode, a party mode, a couple mode, and a battle mode. This game is an experience to be had, but only if you can find the controllers. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
San Francisco Rush 2049
Publisher: Midway (2000)
As a slick-looking sequel to the San Francisco Rush series, 2049 offers gorgeous graphics, simple controls, and split-screen support for up to four players. The futuristic scenery steals the show with majestic skylines, striking modern architecture, and colored lights that bathe the scenery in a brilliant glow. Rush 2049 may just be the best-looking Dreamcast game ever!
The frame-rate is exceptionally smooth, even in the split-screen modes. Add in a pumping techno soundtrack and you have the makings of the ultimate arcade racer... or so it would seem.
I don't know who designed some of these tracks, but that guy really needs to find a new line of work. Rampant 90-degree turns and dead-end streets have no place in a racer like this. You can drive right through
certain obstacles (like trees), but other objects of equal size will wreck your car. The lack of a turbo button is glaring. What kind of respectable futuristic racer doesn't have a turbo button?
The ability to deploy "wings" and glide is worthless because most of the time you end up crashing. It's easy to become disoriented and head in the wrong direction, but the game doesn't tell you you're going the wrong way until you're about a half-mile down the road. But my biggest beef is how after you crash the game will place you back on the track ahead of cars that you were trailing!
That's right - this game rewards you for crashing!
San Francisco Rush 2049 should have been a showcase title for the Dreamcast, but bonehead design flaws will leave you shaking your head and wondering how great this could
have been. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Sega had a lot of nerve to release this ultra-weird but boldly original virtual pet game. Your job is to take care of a hideous, evolving fish with a Japanese man's head. The game even comes with a microphone so you can talk directly to Seaman! His appearance is downright disturbing at first, but Seaman grows on you, despite the fact that he's usually in a lousy mood. Trying to talk to Seaman isn't as fun as you might think. He only understands short phrases, and often answers inappropriately. It does get fun however when he starts asking YOU questions, and the voice recognition is surprisingly good during these parts. Seaman is interesting, but eventually becomes a pain in the ass. It's imperative that you check on Seaman each day to feed him and adjust his environment. The game knows how long you've been away by the system clock, and if you don't check on him in a few days, you'll find him dead! Besides talking to Seaman, you can also place items in the tank, tap on the glass, "flick" Seaman, and even pick him up. The controls are awkward however, and there's not much to do on any given day. But for a few minutes a day, Seaman is actually an interesting experiment. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Sega Bass Fishing
Publisher: Sega (1999)
Bass Fishing puts arcade action back into the sport (like it was ever there to begin with, right?) There's no complicated setup here; just pick your bait, cast, and hook some fish! This is my kind of fishing game! You'll have to pay extra for the Sega fishing controller, but it's well worth it. The special controller is shaped like the handle of a fishing rod and has a reel control as well as the standard buttons. There's even a vibration device built-in so you can feel a bite or the struggle of the fish, and a motion detector to tell if you cast, pull, or swing your pole! This game is fun and addictive. The way you handle the pole determines if you land a fish, and it's really not very difficult. Unlike real fishing, you won't have to wait long to get a bite. Once you cast, you get a nice underwater view of the action, with real-looking fish and underwater debris. Excellent sound effects and unobtrusive background music add to the experience. There are several play modes including arcade, original, and practice. Arcade mode has a time limit, but you can extend this time by doing well. Original is a tournament mode where you compete against forty other CPU fisherman to catch the most fish. The tournament has five rounds of about 20 minutes each, but you can save your spot between rounds. You can win bonuses like extra lures, and the game saves a compete history of all your catches. Bass Fishing is great fun even if you don't like real fishing. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Sega Bass Fishing 2
Publisher: Sega (2001)
As a huge fan of Sega's original Bass Fishing masterpiece, I found the sequel to be very disappointing. Bass Fishing 2 tries to be more "realistic" (read: harder) than the first game, but it's mainly just more frustrating. Instead of sitting on the shore, you're now in a boat with a fish finder, and you can steer it around the lake. That sounds awfully exciting, until you realize that you're restricted to a tiny
area along the shoreline! What's the point? The scenery is remarkably boring
, with a lot of docks, bridges, houses, and trailers. The gameplay mechanics haven't changed much. There are different types of casts (big deal) and there's an additional timing meter required to "bring the fish in". The underwater view is great, with realistic murky water and all sorts of debris lying down there. Unfortunately, the fish don't bite nearly as easily as they did in the last game. They do
however tend to congregate around the hook and look like
they're just about
to bite, but rarely do! They'll follow the hook all the way in, and then turn away when they get within five feet of the boat. C'mon! This is almost as pointless and frustrating as real
fishing! Still, the fights are pretty intense, and an undeniable sense of accomplishment is achieved from actually catching a fish. Purists may appreciate the challenge, but novices will grow impatient. The game does have a few nice new features including a "free fishing" mode and the ability to set the month, time of day, and weather conditions. NOTE: I was rather disturbed by the excessive amount of noise
this game made in my Dreamcast. The disk mechanism thrashed throughout the WHOLE GAME! Very annoying! Bottom line: There are better fishing games for the Dreamcast. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (2000)
I have one word for this game: OVERRATED. I don't know what Sega's problem is when it comes to racing games, but Sega GT is a major disappointment. This is obviously meant to be the Dreamcast's answer to Gran Turismo (Playstation), as you earn licenses, win money in races, buy cars, and soup them up. There are 130 real GT sports cars in the game, and you can even create your own. There are 3 racing modes, 22 tracks, and even a VMU game. But for all the bells and whistles, it all comes down to gameplay, and there are some serious issues with the control. First of all, the overhead view makes it very difficult to judge your turns, partially because the camera doesn't move with you properly. The first-person view is better, but it severely cuts down your visibility, especially on night tracks. It's easy to over-steer in this game, and making tight turns is frustratingly difficult. The graphics are smooth and clean, but the tracks and cars look very plain and boring and there's little sensation of speed. At times it looks like the game is running in slow motion. And you can forget about the two-player mode, because the fog is so bad it's maddening. Trying to find two different cars that match up evenly is also tough. I had high hopes for Sega GT, but I was completely underwelmed. Only die-hard racers that are willing to spend a LOT of time mastering the funky controls will derive any satisfaction from this. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Sega Rally Championship 2
Publisher: Sega (1999)
The first Sega Rally was a landmark title on the Sega Saturn, but this Dreamcast sequel has some serious
issues. Like any rally racer, the idea is to employ heavy drifting techniques to maintain your speed through rain, mud, and snow. If you find yourself sliding all over the place, don't worry - it's all part of the game. Hell, even the paved
roads are slippery in this game! Sega Rally 2 (SR2) is structured much like the original game, but there are additional modes and the ability to modify your car's performance. The frame-rate is smooth enough, but the scenery looks dark and muddled. The tracks in the original Sega Rally may have been pixilated, but at least they were bright and inviting. Visibility is an ever-present problem in Rally 2, especially on the "Isle" tracks where everything's shrouded in fog and mountains "grow" as you approach. In the rain-soaked "Riviera" stage, you can't even see the road directly ahead
on some turns! Predictably, the problem is twice as bad
in the split-screen mode. The only tracks I truly enjoyed were the snow stages, with their picturesque evergreens and gently falling snowflakes. The controls are another liability. I'm usually competent at off-road games (damn good in fact), yet I found myself hitting every guardrail and riding every shoulder. Even the soundtrack is a mixed bag, with the cool, jazzy jams offset by cheesy electronic tunes. The heart of Sega Rally 2 is its "10-Year Championship mode", which I'm hoping to complete by 2018. Last but not least, why oh why does this game consume a whopping 87 memory blocks
?! Hell, I have to dedicate an entire VMU
to this lousy game! Considering the greatness of the original Sega Rally, this can only be considered a massive disappointment. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Sega Smash Pack Volume 1
Publisher: Sega (2001)
It always amazes me how game companies continually manage to screw up these "greatest hits" packages. This collection contains 12 excellent old games, most of them from the Genesis era (early 90s). There's something here for everyone, including arcade games (Sonic, Vectorman), fighting games (Revenge of Shinobi, Streets of Rage 2, Golden Axe, Wrestle War), RPGs (Shining Force, Phantasy Star II), puzzles (Columns, Sega Swirl), and even a light gun game (Virtua Cop 2). The wrestling game was formerly only available in the arcade, and Virtua Cop 2 was only on the Saturn. Sega Swirl is a freebee that most DC owners probably already have. If you've never owned these Genesis games before, or don't care to recollect them, this is a nifty little package. The games are fun but not 100% faithful to the originals. The graphics are much crisper than the originals, and the text is easier to read. The controls are fine, but the slowdown that plagued the original games persists. The worst part is the audio, which is borderline awful! Why an emulator couldn't reproduce the primitive Genesis sound is beyond me, but the music sounds tinny and way off-key. It's especially noticeable in Sonic and Streets of Rage 2, which originally had some excellent, catchy tunes. And it breaks my heart that Columns, which had such beautiful, relaxing music, sounds absolutely putrid. The audio really has a detrimental effect on the gameplay, and that's a shame because these titles deserve first-class treatment. Beyond the Genesis games, the wrestling game has nice graphics (for its time) but terrible animation. It's fun to play a few times, but that's about it. Virtua Cop 2 supports the Dreamcast light guns, so at least you have an excuse to dust those off. Overall, Sega Smashpack Volume 1 is sufficient for casual players, but longtime Genesis fans should stick with the originals. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (2000)
This little puzzle game is a freebee that Sega gave out through browser upgrades and magazine CDs, and it's not half bad. The object is to clear a screen of swirls by arranging them into groups of colors. Simple at first, subtle strategy unfolds as you play. After clearing the board, you are rated by score, time, combos, and other factors. If you get the feeling of deja-vu playing this game, it's probably because Swirl is similar to so many other Tetris-like games. There's a very addicting one player mode and even a four-player split screen mode. The graphics are nothing special, but they don't need to be. My main gripe is with the statistics displayed on the side of playing board. The information isn't very useful, and you have to wait until your game is over to see the good stuff. Overall, Swirl is a pleasant way to pass the time, and the price is right. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Rating: Teen (13+)
This 4-disk epic adventure game manages to create a realistic virtual world better than any game that preceded. Your character, a Japanese teenager in search of his father's killers, can walk around town, enter buildings, and interact with people. The graphics are outstanding, and the attention to detail is astounding. There are literally hundreds of people you can interact with, and each has their own personality, voice, and facial expressions. Not only can you explore houses, buildings, and shops, but the level of interaction is unprecedented, allowing you to open doors, closets, drawers, and refrigerators. You can turn lights on and off, purchase items from a store, play juke boxes, and use vending machines. Shenmue is a slow, deliberate adventure requiring you to do a lot of searching and clue gathering, but there are also fighting sequences that feature Virtua-Fighter style gang battles. You'll find several fun "mini-games" in the local arcade, including arcade-perfect versions of Hang-On and Space Harrier! The sound effects are excellent, and the Japanese background music adds atmosphere. The voice acting is well done, although some of the dialogue translation is unintentionally hilarious, like "I'm looking for a place where sailors go". There are a few minor flaws. First, the control is awkward at time, and it can be hard to position your character in front of certain objects. Also, you can only save you place in your bedroom, which means you'll have to hike back to the house all the time. Finally, although the streets are teeming with people, they often appear and disappear out of thin air, hurting the realism. But overall Shenmue is a quality game that really pushes the envelope. It's a bit slow and methodical, but if you don't mind the detective work, you'll find it quite satisfying. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Konami (1999)
Silent Scope is a gun game with no light gun support, probably because no light gun could facilitate the pinpoint precision required in this sniping game. Using the analog control, you take aim from long range, and then zoom in on your target. The analog stick on the Dreamcast controller is just the right sensitivity for this game. In the main story mode, you must rescue the President and his family from terrorists, and there are several cool locations including a football stadium. If you think the early stages are easy, wait until you find yourself shooting from a parachute, helicopter, or moving car. The graphics are wonderfully detailed, and the camera provides many vertigo-inducing angles. Terrorists not only act realistically when they get shot, they even take cover when shots miss. And if a car full of thugs is chasing you, shooting the driver is a great way to take them all out. Silent Scope has a few intense moments, like when a terrorist hijacks an 18-wheeler and tries to run you over. If you miss, you're road kill! And check this out - you get rewarded for checking out good-looking babes! The background music is excellent, making you feel as if you're in an action movie. Silent Scope is a fun arcade title, but it's not very long, and although it has some branching paths, it can get repetitive. There are some extra modes, but these are just for training. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1999)
In Slave Zero you are a giant robot on the rampage, and the explosions and mayhem you can cause are pretty cool. You roam a Blade-Runner type of world, trying to infiltrate different areas of the city while fighting other giant robots. Although the city seems huge, you're always limited to a certain path. The scenery is dark, but its scale is not convincing. In order to make your robot look huge, there are tiny cars on the freeways, but these look more like toys. It's easy to forget that you're supposed to be 60 feet tall. The gameplay is shallow but amusing if you like to destroy things. Innovative controls make it easy to strafe and aim precisely, and excellent sound effects include a female radio voice that provides status updates and instructions. Slave Zero is no classic, but it's a not a bad deal if you can pick it up cheap. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, Gaming Age Online, Shinforce, Sega.com, Racket Boy, Wikipedia, GameSpot