Omikron: The Nomad Soul
Publisher: Eidos (2000)
Rating: Teen (animated blood, animated violence, mature sexual themes)
Ever on the cutting edge, David Bowie contributed the fine soundtrack to this futuristic adventure. In Omikron you are a cop in a dystopian city investigating the disappearance of your partner. Everybody you know including your wife is acting suspicious and you don't know who to trust. The remarkable atmosphere of the game owes much to Blade Runner with its overcast weather, glowing advertisements, floating cars, streetwalkers, and steam vents. Ominous police robots resemble ED-209 from Robocop, and it's startling when they snap to attention. The game captivated me as I walked the streets, explored my apartment, collected items, and conversed with characters. I was able to visit a red light district and watch a virtual David Bowie perform one of his songs. Omikron's well-designed menu system lets you manage inventory and transfer items to virtual lockers for safekeeping. It's super convenient to call "sliders" (taxis) and the game even simulates traffic. Omikron is ambitious in scope but technically deficient. The controls feel stiff and it's difficult to walk straight. Frequent disc accesses cause the animation to freeze and stutter. Once I actually became embedded in a door. An action button is used to interact with the environment, but most of the time it just displays "I don't understand" or something to that effect. In the police station it's hard to discern doors from random designs, so you end up pushing against walls hoping a panel will slide open. The one-on-one fights feel like a low-budget Virtual Fighter, and the first-person shooting mode made me feel queasy. After a few hours my progress hit a wall and I reluctantly gave up on the game. The most compelling aspect of Omikron is David Bowie's artistic, otherworldly soundtrack. He wrote some truly beautiful songs for the game which can also be heard on his Hours album. If you're a fan like me, seeing a legend like David Bowie resurrected in digital form is a surreal, bittersweet experience. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (2001)
Several years back a Playstation game called Poy Poy was released to little fanfare, and it turned out to be one of the greatest multiplayer video games ever made. Four characters ran around a single screen, hurling boxes and bombs at each other, and my friends and I played the hell out of it. Ooga Booga tries to do the same thing, but the gameplay is deeper and played on a split screen. The characters are goofy witchdoctors on exotic islands, and there are four types to choose from: the speedy "Twitchy", the obese "Fatty", the ghost-like "Hoodoo", and the curvaceous "Hottie". You can smack each other around, throw "shunken heads", and cast spells like fireballs, lighting, and tornados. Wild animals like boars and birds add to the fun, allowing you to ram the other players or bomb them from the air. The "tribal trial" mode allows one person to open up all of the islands, spells, and game types. Although it's a great intro to the game, it feels like work after a while, since ALL the game elements are locked initially (I hate that!). But Ooga Booga was really designed for multi-player action. Up to four players can compete via split screen, or you can battle online. Some of my friends complained about the limited split screen view, but we still had a blast, sometimes laughing hysterically. It's true that the small screen makes it difficult to locate enemies and aim weapons, but I've heard that the online mode is much better. Other game variations include a "Boar Polo" sports variation, but it's surprisingly bad. Ooga Booga has simple graphics but loads of personality. It's not a classic, but if you enjoy multiplayer mayhem, give it a shot. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (2001)
Do you like first-person shooters, but get tired of long, drawn-out missions? Outtrigger provides the same kind of thrills, but the missions are shorter and more arcade-like. Although some require you to collect items or guard a hostage, most missions simply require you to kill a certain number of terrorists within a minute or two. You view the action from behind your character, which gives you a good sense of your surroundings and lets you easily dodge incoming missiles. The action is fast and chaotic, but the framerate is able to keep up just fine. The controls are awkward, mainly due to the layout of the Dreamcast controller. The digital control is used to move your character, and the analog stick is used to rotate sideways or up and down. Right away you'll notice a problem - since the Dreamcast controller puts both directional controls on the left side of the controller, you often have to switch back and forth between the two. This game would have been far better suited to dual analog sticks. I could never really get used to aiming up and down. Other buttons let you fire, jump, and switch weapons. Weapons include machine guns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers, grenades, guided missiles, and bouncing photon torpedoes. Just be sure not to use the rocket launcher in close quarters. The multi-tiered stages are fairly small, and power-ups are all over the place. The single player mode challenges you to an increasingly difficult series of short missions. I don't know about the network mode, but my friends hated the split-screen mode. It's played from the first person perspective, and it's very hard to tell what's happening. Trigger-happy arcade fans might appreciate Outtrigger, but overall it's just average. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Ubi Soft (2000)
This futuristic racing game has sub-par graphics and sound, and the lackluster gameplay can't make up for it. The tracks dip and wind through barren canyons, but there's not much to see. There are alternate routes and short cuts, but you often find yourself going the wrong way, wondering where you went wrong. The vehicles and tracks are rather plain and dull. The racing action is pretty weak too, and power-ups fail to inject a lot excitement. In an effort to defend the lousy physics, my friend Scott pointed out that we were "racing on another planet like Mars or something." Whatever! The only thing POD has going for it is its Internet racing option. Other than that, this one is completely forgettable. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Pen Pen TriIcelon
Publisher: Infogrames (2000)
Pen Pen TriIceLon kicks off with a lame cartoon depicting goofy animals engaged in wacky arctic hijinx. It might not be so bad if not for that obnoxious circus music!
Horrible, just horrible! It's like the game wants
you to hate
it! Pen Pen's premise isn't so bad. I like the idea of racing through courses composed of snow and ice, and a four-player split-screen mode is always welcome. The animal selection screen features a penguin, a walrus, a shark, and umm... what the [expletive] is
that thing? And is there a reason why these animals are so [expletive] ugly?
Each race is composed of three distinct events that flow into each other. The belly-surfing action is the most fun, allowing you to slide along open stretches of ice while pressing A to propel yourself. So far so good. Next you need to swim through a narrow channel cluttered with obstacles. Not quite as fun. Finally you'll waddle through a crazy obstacle course, occasionally smacking an opponent along the way by hitting the "attack" button. I really hate it how my animal stops and turns to mug for the camera after he gets smacked. The swimming and waddle events are marred by poor camera angles, unforgiving collision detection, and a general lack of fun. When playing the split-screen, these issues are exacerbated to the point where players can become hopelessly stuck. Pen Pen offers four unique courses sporting themes of sweets, toys, jungle, and horrors. Would a normal "winter wonderland" theme have been too much to ask for? It would have been a hell
of a lot better than these ugly, gaudy courses that wind their way through frozen jungles (ugh!) and junky haunted houses (gahh!). In addition to the bad music, the repetitive "cute" sound effects really got on my nerves. And was Tri-Ice
-Lon really the best name
they could come up with? Really
Infogrames?? Pen Pen should have been a light-hearted romp, but its problematic gameplay and cheesy style prove to be a major turn-off. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
This easy-to-play, offensive-minded 3D fighter didn't get much attention when it came out, but Plasma Sword is a quality game. It reminds me more than a little bit of Battle Arena Toshinden (Playstation), but it's actually the sequel to the unpopular Playstation game Star Gladiator. Set in the future, Plasma Sword provides twenty-two diverse creatures that wouldn't look out of place in a Star Wars cantina. There are several laser-equipped robots, a hairy wookie-like creature, a conehead freak with yo-yo weapons, a catlike creature with Wolverine claws, and assorted aliens of every type. The character models are somewhat chunky by today's standards, but cleanly rendered and smoothly animated. The gorgeous backgrounds depict fantastic cities of the future, magnificent ruins, and desolate planet surfaces. At times I had to pause play just to get a better look at the scenery. Plasma Sword plays similar to other Capcom fighters, with plenty of combos, juggles, and Street-Fighter-style special moves. Some fighters are armed with glowing weapons including swords, rings, and even a chainsaw! When a character's "plasma power gauge" becomes full, he can perform some devastating assaults. I like how you can wipe out a huge chunk of your opponent's life with a single special move or well-timed combo. On defense, there's a useful sidestep move that lets you avoid projectile attacks. Besides the run-of-the-mill gameplay, the only real flaw I could find was the weak endings in the single player mode. The main villain is pretty cool looking, but what kind of name is "Bilstein"? Couldn't they come up with something more intimidating than that? Oh well, Plasma Sword is definitely a keeper if fighting games are your thing. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (1999)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
Games like this exemplify why hardcore gamers love the Dreamcast so much. Power Stone is a breath of fresh air in a tired 3D fighting genre, brimming with innovative ideas and wild arcade action. It's difficult to believe this was an early Dreamcast game, because few fighting games have surpassed it in terms of graphics and gameplay. Power Stone pits two warriors in close-quartered environments like a factory, courtyard, or pirate ship. The attractive battlegrounds are the ideal size so the characters can move around freely but not wander too far apart. The fights are hyper and chaotic, and the torrid pace admittedly takes some getting used to. In addition to hand-to-hand combat, the simple control scheme makes it easy to bombard your opponent with boxes, barrels, and whatever else you find lying around. Weapons range from huge hammers to machine guns to rocket launchers. Collecting three "power stones" temporarily transforms your fighter into a "super being", making your opponent wise to flee until the effect wears off. Power Stone's characters are nicely rendered in Japanese anime style, and they are a likeable bunch. The one obligatory oddball is the bizarre "Mad Clown", who looks like a cross between Beetlejuice and the Mummy. Power Stone is a blast to play, and the one-player mode is as addicting as it is relentless. Any respectable Dreamcast fan should have this gem in their collection. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
A logical extension of the first Power Stone, this impressive sequel features more characters, four-player simultaneous action, and multi-level stages. Like the first game, this is a 3D brawler with arenas that are loaded with weapons and interactive objects. But Power Stone 2 ups the ante with four-player simultaneous mayhem, and it is crazy
. The twelve anime-style fighters are colorful and distinct, and a few are quite comical. But what really sticks out about Power Stone 2 is its incredible, dynamic stages. From high-flying airships to submerging submarines to Indiana-Jones inspired temple ruins, these stages are perfect for gamers with short attention spans. They change on the fly, and fighters often get tossed into multiple rooms or scrolling areas in the course of a single battle. Some areas allow you to man huge turrets and shoot a barrage of missiles at your opponents. But while the stages are quite a spectacle, once their novelty value wears off, you'll start to tire of them. Some would say they actually tend to detract from the fighting action, and the changing camera angles can also be a problem. The two-player matches are hectic enough, so as you can imagine, the four-player mode is lively but VERY confusing. I prefer the excellent one-player Adventure mode that lets you collect items in a series of branching battles. Dreamcast collectors will want Power Stone 2 in their collection, but it's not an easy game to track down. It's definitely one of a kind, but I prefer the simpler brand of melee of its predecessor. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
I'm a big fan of Rival Schools
(Playstation, 1998) but feel less enthused about this sequel. The ridiculous storyline involves a group of high school kids trying to untangle a convoluted mystery by kicking the living [expletive]
out of each other. The 20 characters offer plenty of variety including jocks, geeks, giddy schoolgirls, geeky professors, and a sexy nurse. The athletes tend to incorporate sporting equipment into their attacks. Natsu will spike a volleyball in your face, Momo will pepper you with tennis balls, and Shoma will slug you with a baseball bat. Project Justice offers clean, high-resolution graphics, but instead of enhancing the visuals they seem to water them down. The character models are sharp but plain, and the stages are aesthetically pleasing but lack interesting detail. The courtyard and rooftop stages are beautiful, but the stadium, mountain, and even amusement park stages come off as dull. It seems 3D backdrops can never match the artistry of their 2D cousins. The fighting action has a lot of depth, but doesn't flow as well as Rival Schools. Your "team" is now composed of three characters instead of two. When both players attack at the same exact moment, a cool lightning bolt strikes between them. I also like how your health gauge "melts away" with each hit. The game has a distinctive Japanese flavor, with outrageous special moves that are as bizarre as they are funny. When your "burning vigor" gauge is completely full, you can bum-rush your opponent with all three characters at once, unleashing a series of devastating blows. It's a little disconcerting however with the wild camera angles, quick cuts, and multiple people running around. A few attacks are super lame, like the one that looks more like a synchronized dance
routine! The arcade mode lets you play through the story (snore) or shoot for a spot on the high score screen. Project Justice may lack the freshness of Rival Schools, but it still has that Capcom seal of quality. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Psyvariar 2 (Japan)
Publisher: Success (2004)
You know this is a real import because you can't pronounce its name.
Psyvariar 2 is a sharp, rapid-fire vertical shooter with a cool twist that sets it apart from the rest of the field. You begin by selecting a female or male character, and while they both look like robots in the game, the chick seems to have more potent firepower. The attractive 3D scenery is very futuristic as you soar between skyscrapers, wind through tunnels, and navigate space stations. The controls are limited to two buttons: shoot and bomb. You shoot in a rapid-fire manner, and your targets tend to be high-tech aircraft, including some that slither around like sharks. One of the better bosses is a robotic spider with three glowing eyes. His movements mimic a real spider so well that it's kind of freaky. Bosses tend to unleash hundreds of projectiles in criss-cross patterns. A natural response would be to yell "you gotta be kidding me!" but try to remain calm and look for a seam. Typically if you can find a "safe spot" early, you can remain there untouched for most of the barrage. Surviving the torrent is particularly satisfying because you earn "buzz points" for near misses with projectiles, which in turn intensifies your firepower. It's a novel idea that really dares you to "thread the needle" and linger near errant missiles. The concept works great, thanks in part to some extremely forgiving collision detection. The explosions are some of the best I've seen, and I love how their bright flames dissipate into black smoke (although the boss deaths are a bit too over-the-top). Ported directly from the arcade, you play Psyvariar 2 on a heavily cropped vertical screen, and some of the text and icons are extremely tiny. This is a one-player only game, and while the continues can be turned on or off, you can't set them to a specific number. The soundtrack really kicks ass, layering a melodic piano and soothing vocals over pulsating techno beats. Psyvariar 2 is yet another exceptional Dreamcast shooter than never made it to the states, and it breaks my heart. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Id (2000)
Rating: Mature (Animated violence, blood and gore)
I'm not a PC gamer and don't do that "online thing", so it's surprising how much I enjoyed Quake III Arena. Arena was designed for Quake experts who don't give a crap about the single player scenarios, but instead want to demonstrate their skills against the best players in the world. My first impression of Quake III Arena was not good. I tried to play the single-player mode with the Dreamcast controller, and got completely obliterated over and over by relentless cpu opponents. Finally, I remembered the wise words of my friend Scott Z, who once proclaimed that first person shooters HAD to be played with a keyboard and mouse (with Halo being the one possible exception). So I hooked up my little-used Dreamcast keyboard and mouse, and sure enough, it made all the difference in the world. The mouse provides incredibly
sensitive and precise control, and with a little practice, I started doing better. The one-on-one matches aren't so hot, but the multiplayer mode (even with 3 CPU opponents) is a blast! There's no shortage of firepower, and your opponents get blasted into nice bloody chunks. I love how you get constant updates about who's recently bit the dust and how you're currently doing. The warriors include a wide variety of humans, undead creeps, and alien freaks. There's even a skeleton and walking eyeball thrown in for good measure. The arenas range from medieval to futuristic, and the level of detail is quite impressive. They tend to be just spacious enough, and every wall and doorway is ornately decorated. The game looks terrific, although my friends steadfastly maintain that the PC version looks far better (whatever!). The only stages I didn't care for were the platform-laden outer space ones. The music consists of some grinding, high-octane guitar stuff - not great by any means, but appropriate enough. If you like first-person shooters and
you have a Dreamcast keyboard and mouse, you can't go wrong with this. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Rayman 2: The Great Escape
Publisher: Ubisoft (2000)
The Dreamcast system never ceases to amaze. Just when I thought I had played all of its best games, I discover this hidden treasure. Rayman 2: The Great Escape is a near-perfect 3D platformer - one of the most engaging I've played in years. The first Rayman enjoyed modest success on systems like the Playstation and Jaguar, and this sequel seamlessly transitions the colorful franchise into the third dimension. Rayman is a comical character whose hands and feet float around his body. An arsenal of moves let him glide, shoot balls of energy, climb walls, swing, and move hand-over-hand across ceilings. The controls are responsive and extremely forgiving. The glide lets you navigate platforms precisely, and Rayman will automatically grab ledges to avoid "near misses". Fast-paced sections let you careen down waterslides or water ski through a marsh. Great Escape's graphics are undeniably gorgeous, and time has not diminished their beauty one iota. The lush, fairy-tale worlds are so colorful and detailed that you'll easily overlook the flat, angular surfaces. The waterfalls look amazing. In addition to magical forests, you'll traverse some terrific "pirate" stages with robotic swashbucklers. Many of the comical characters you encounter are genuinely funny as they mumble gibberish over subtitles. The game's frame-rate remains silky smooth at all times, although you'll occasionally struggle for the best camera angle. Great Escape's audio is also outstanding, with understated but appealing guitar and drum rhythms. Rayman 2 offers addictive, wholesome fun that will appeal to any age or gender. There's even an unlockable multi-player mini-game. If you own a Dreamcast, this belongs in your collection. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Acclaim (2000)
Re-Volt is a thrilling racer at first, but repeated plays reveal its many flaws. It has a great premise - letting every guy live out their childhood fantasy of racing a remote controlled car through a museum, supermarket, and other places usually off-limits to remote-controlled toys. The touchy steering even reminded me of the remote control car I had as a kid. You get a nice selection of vehicles to choose from, from a stock car to a monster truck. The environments (which also include a neighborhood street and ghost town) look impressive and are loaded with cool little details. For example, the neighborhood has sprinklers and bouncing balls. At its best, Re-Volt is pure arcade fun. Your view is somewhat distant, but it provides a decent vantage point of the road ahead, which can get pretty narrow. Don't bother attempting to change your view, because the other angles are unplayable. The highlight of the game has to be the multi-player mode, which allows up to four players to race or play a well-designed "tag" game. These cars really move! The frame rate is smooth most of the time, although I did notice some choppiness on occasion. Although Revolt has mad potential for fun, there are some serious annoyances that weigh it down. First of all, the single player mode is entirely too hard. One minor fender-bender can turn you the wrong way, and by the time you get straight you're out of the race. Also, on more than one occasion my car actually got "stuck" somewhere, and I was helpless for the remainder of the race. I know this happens to real-life remote controlled cars, but that's one bit of realism I could have done without. Sometimes it can be tough to tell where you're supposed to turn, especially on tracks that double back on themselves. The whimsical Japanese music got on my nerves, although my friend Scott thought it was great. Finally, in the multiplayer mode, you always have to exit to the main menu between races, which is a major hassle. I think Re-Volt could have used some fine-tuning. But if you're looking for some simple multi-player racing action, Re-Volt will do the trick. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
Publisher: Midway (1999)
Rating: Teen (Animated Violence)
This was one of the "launch" titles I purchased along with my Dreamcast way back on 9-9-99 (ahhh memories). Ready 2 Rumble is an impressive title that I would often use to show off the capabilities of my snazzy new console. The boxers are goofy caricatures but their smooth skin and fluid movement was astonishing
for its time. Heck, these fighters still
look pretty sharp! Ready 2 Rumble employs amazing "bounce physics" whenever a large belly (or boobs) are on display. Sadly, the droopy, angular boobs in this game aren't very appealing. The venues feature impressive digitized crowds, and the size of the audience varies dramatically. In terms of gameplay, Ready 2 Rumble's wacky brand of boxing is instantly gratifying, thanks to simple controls and non-stop action. When playing a friend, it's hard not to laugh out loud as you relentlessly pound the crap out of each other. The 18 colorful characters have comical names like Afro Thunder, B. Knokimov, and Big Willy Johnson. In my experience, the smaller, quicker boxers seem to have the advantage over the slow, lumbering hulks. The best matches unfold as cat-and-mouse affairs, with each player attempting to time a devastating combination. Truth be told, button mashing is also effective at times. I like how the fighters become puffy and bruised as the matches progress. Ready 2 Rumble is a swell party game, but don't overlook its one-player championship mode. It's very satisfying to work your way up the ranks, and the "training" mini-games are short and sweet. Each contest is introduced by Michael Buffer and his trademark line, "Are you ready to rumblllllle?!!!"
Thank goodness you can hit a button to skip that! The game's cheesy rap theme song is equally annoying. Even so, Ready 2 Rumble's wacky theme and accessible gameplay is hard to dislike. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
Publisher: Midway (2000)
I enjoyed the first Ready 2 Rumble, but Round 2 feels more like a cash-grab than a true sequel. If the boxer selection looks familiar, they should, because they're the same fighters!
Sure, you can unlock playable celebrities like Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jackson, but the unlocking process is painstaking
. To play as Bill Clinton you'll need to beat the arcade mode no less than nine times! [Expletive] that!
The graphics are largely unchanged from the original game, although I will attest that the boobs look a hell
of a lot better! In the ring, Ready 2 Rumble Round 2 plays the same but is much harder. Who in the heck asked Midway to make the AI "smarter, harder, and faster" anyway? Whoever it was, that guy really needs to have his ass
kicked! The increased difficulty makes the championship (career) mode frustrating as hell - even in the early stages! When your opponent is about to collapse, you can now sneak in a few extra licks, but this just drags out an already-to-long knockout sequence. Another unwanted new feature is the championship mode's confusing new calendar-based system. Ready 2 Rumble Round 2 fixes a lot of things that weren't broken and goes overboard with the gimmicks. I'll stick with the original, and I'd recommend you do the same. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Record of the Lodoss War
Publisher: Crave (2000)
In essence, Record of the Lodoss War is the Dreamcast version of Diablo, the ultra-popular RPG/action game for the PC. While not a huge RPG fan, I have played Diablo before. The first thing that struck me about Record of the Lodoss War was its incredible graphics. I've seen plenty of Dreamcast games, but none with this much attention to detail. The dark, meticulously rendered dungeons and ominous background music set the stage perfectly for an epic adventure. The adventure begins with a helpful training level to get the basics down. Once you embark on your journey you'll encounter a large variety of creatures of all shapes and sizes. The first time I saw that huge ogre I was amazed! You'll also meet a series of characters as the compelling storyline unfolds. The game is fairly easy to play, and doesn't get too complicated until you meet the blacksmith. At that point a set of new options become available, allowing you to duplicate, transform, and refine items. In order to fully utilize magic, you must inscribe your equipment with ancient inscriptions. I found this stuff to be a bit overwhelming, but RPG types will eat it up. Just be sure to avoid those "iron boots of annoyance +5" (some of you know what I'm talking about). It would be nice if you could save your place at any time, but the game only has predefined save points. The camera doesn't always give you the best angle, but you can adjust it to your heart's content. Record of Lodoss is an extremely well-crafted game, and I would highly recommend it to adventure fans. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Argonaut Games (2000)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
Since the dawn of recorded history, man's basic instincts have changed little: Seek shelter, gather food, and blow up robots. That said, there's a lot to like about this mission-based, futuristic shooter. Red Dog puts you in a moon-buggy style vehicle with large, rubber all-terrain tires. As you bounce over planet surfaces and zoom through subterranean tunnels, you'll blast cannons, tanks, robot soldiers, and mechanical spiders while forging your way towards the obligatory end-of-stage boss. Red Dog gives a poor first impression, as I struggled just to enter my initials required to start a new game. But once the action was underway, it didn't take me long to appreciate this cool shooter. Your vehicle is sharply detailed and the frame rate is very smooth. There's a lot of bouncing over the uneven terrain, and I have to admit, it made me sick to my stomach at times (avoid the first-person perspective at all costs). Blowing things up is clearly the most satisfying aspect of Red Dog. A touchy aiming cursor is compensated by the ability to fire rapidly and unleash lock-on missiles. The weapon power-up system is confusing at first but ultimately very satisfying. Once your cannon is fully charged, you can literally spray shots across the screen. Add in a secondary weapon (which floats alongside your vehicle) and you'll be loving life. You view the action from behind your vehicle, but can switch to a first-person view when your sight becomes obstructed (which does happen from time to time). In addition to the awesome firepower, you're equipped with a turbo-boost and a great-looking shield that can deflect incoming fire. Red Dog's levels feature branching paths, which are really cool until you get lost in them. The background music is a high quality electronic soundtrack that fits the science fiction theme perfectly. Red Dog is a good time until it tries to be more than a shooter. For example, in the Arctic stage you must navigate ice floes to cross a river. It plays like a first-person Frogger, and it's terribly aggravating. Red Dog is a very
challenging game with no
difficulty options, and just surviving the first stage can require several attempts. A multi-player split-screen mode is included, best described by my friend Scott as "just like Twisted Metal, only without the fun". Red Dog is not a grade "A" Dreamcast title by any stretch, but if you're in the mood to inflict some damage, it serves its purpose. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Redux: Dark Matters
Publisher: Hucast (2013)
I was never a fan of the original DUX (Hucast, 2009), so this remix was kind of a hard sell. Redux is a horizontal side-scroller with large, rounded objects rendered in soft pastel colors. There's not much detail and the chunky objects resemble toys. Hate to use the "F" word in a review, but it looks like a Flash
game. The electronic music is melodic but the gameplay is marginal. One button initiates rapid fire while another lets you re-orient your secondary weapon. In open space you may want to direct your rockets forward, but in tight caverns you might want them to shoot up and down to clear out armaments. You can also charge your main weapon, which can come in handy during boss encounters. There are a lot of really non-threatening enemies in this game (like giant cubes) and the bosses are awfully derivative. You have a shield in front of you most of the time, but it's hard to tell if it's soaking up missiles or you're taking damage. But what annoys me most is how destroyed enemies release giant Sugar Corn Puffs (often larger than themselves) that get sucked into your ship. Not only does this look incredibly dumb, but it makes me hungry. High scores are recorded with your initials, which is always a nice feature. Stage two features psychedelic flowers, waterfalls, and tranquil music. Does the soft presentation take the edge off the gameplay? Yes it does. Some people may appreciate the unique, laid-back vibe of Redux, but it's not my style. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Reel Fishing / Wild
Publisher: Natsume (2001)
This one is a pleasant surprise, considering it came from the bargain bin! Reel Fishing is actually one of the best fishing games I've ever played. Unlike the boring locations of most fishing games, Reel Fishing has no less than 14 incredibly scenic fishing areas. In fact, the scenery is real video footage
with shimmering water and amazing mountain backdrops. No, you can't move or adjust the camera, but it's a small price to pay for the view. Reel Fishing begins slow, but gradually draws you in. Initially, only a small stream is available and your tackle supplies are minimal, but as you start catching fish you earn new gear and new areas open up. It's a real treat to see what you've "won" after catching each fish. The controls are identical to Sega Bass Fishing. You cast the line, hook the fish, fight with him until he tires, and reel him in. The fish are easy to hook, but challenging to bring in. The fights are great, and the Sega fishing controller works like a charm. Here's some advice: When the controller vibrates violently, do NOT reel! One thing that sets Reel Fishing apart is the complete absence of information or meters on the screen. All you see is water and fish, which is probably the way it should be. The underwater view isn't very detailed, but the bubble sound effects are very cool. You can save your place at any time, and the game records an impressive array of statistics. I did find it odd that it only records the length
of each fish, and not the weight! If you own the Sega fishing controller, don't be afraid to pick this game up. Just be sure to turn the vibration on and the easy-listening background music off. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Resident Evil: Code Veronica
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
This two-disk game puts you right smack in the middle of a horror film, and the tension will keep you on the edge of your seat. Anyone who's played a Resident Evil game knows exactly what I'm talking about. This episode takes place in a prison in a remote island, where you control the beautiful Claire Redfield, who's searching for her brother Chris. As the game progresses, Claire has several run-ins with a Leonardo Dicaprio look-alike named Steve. Code Veronica delivers classic Resident Evil action with dramatically improved graphics over the Playstation versions - and these graphic improvements really do make a difference. Extremely realistic cinematic videos blend in smoothly with the gameplay, and these unsettling sequences look so real that at times I thought I was watching actual video footage. Nice graphical touches include scurrying cockroaches and moths buzzing around lampposts. After you get over the incredible graphics, you soon settle into an experience that is classic Resident Evil. That's mostly a good thing, but there are a few annoyances. As usual, you can only drop or exchange items in chests, which is a real hassle. The control could be better, although there is a turn-around move and a useful auto-aiming mechanism. Although the aiming system works great with eye-level creatures like zombies, aiming at high or low creatures (dogs or bats) can be frustratingly difficult, and sometimes it's better to just run. The camera angles are fixed, so you can't look around freely. The sound and music are easily the best in the series. Zombie groans will send chills down your spine, and the ominous music really adds to the creepy atmosphere. I liked how your health is displayed on the VMU, so there are no meters cluttering up the screen. The rumble pack is also used to good effect. Horror fans, it doesn't get much better than this. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (2001)
When gamers discuss the topic of shooters and graphics, Rez is a name that often gets tossed around. Despite its age, this game is one of the more striking titles you'll ever see. Its hypnotic visuals, pulsating soundtrack, and relaxing gameplay meld together to create a sublime experience. So why in the [expletive]
was Rez never released in the USA? It's already in English
for Pete's sake! Oh well, this is one import that's definitely worth firing up the Game Shark for. Rez places you in the role of a wireframe woman flying through a virtual computer world while destroying viruses and firewalls. You view the action from behind her as enemies of various geometric shapes approach in formations, often unleashing slow-moving missiles. Holding in the A button and moving the large cursor box lets you lock onto up to eight targets at a time before releasing a swarm of guided missiles. There are also power ups you can snag, including health and smart bombs. The lock-on concept isn't totally new (it was used in Panzer Dragoon for the Saturn) but Rez has a style that's boldly original. Instead of explosion effects, Rez punctuates its destruction with understated electronic tones that seem synchronized with the musical score. The sense of speed is remarkable as you're whisked from one wireframe environment to the next, thanks partly to some fantastic blurring effects. The psychedelic graphics, mesmerizing audio, and addictive gameplay all work in perfect harmony. On the downside, Rez has only five levels and is very boss-centric. In fact, you'll spend more time with the boss than the ten levels leading up to it! And the bosses tend to be very abstract in nature, with one looking like a huge disco ball. After unlocking four levels (no minor feat), there is score attack mode that lets you master each stage individually. Rez has given me new appreciation for the Dreamcast console. I play this game on a 42-inch plasma with a VGA adapter, and it's a thing of beauty. Note: A very similar game called Child of Eden was recently released for the Xbox 360. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: UEP (1999)
Here's a decent snowboarding game for your Dreamcast. It's no SSX, but it will do. The tracks are beautiful winter wonderlands, with alternate routes and many surprises. Unfortunately, although the action is smooth, I never felt like I was going particularly fast, and I often found myself pushing up on the control pad in an attempt to speed up. Obstacles often appear in your way, but you can smash through them if you're going fast enough. In fact, I even smashed a huge boulder with my face! Kids, don't try this at home. Guiding your boarder is pretty easy, but performing tricks takes a lot of practice. There's an innovative two-player split-screen mode where one player's half of the screen begins to shrink as the other pulls off stunts. Rippin' Riders isn't a great game, but if you're looking for a snowboarding title, you could do worse. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Titus (2000)
This racing title is so incredibly bland, it makes me ill!
I've never seen a more uninspired set of vehicles, tracks, and characters. I hate them!!
You'd expect a stage called Pleasantville to be dull, but the Hoover Dam?! Area 51?!
You really have to make an effort to [expletive] those up! The only track that's remotely interesting is the ski resort thanks to its wintry conditions and crunching snow. The steering controls are responsive enough but the physics is non-existent!
The boxy cars have zero mass so it feels like you're steering around a plastic toy. And the track layouts are infuriating!
If you think 90-degree turns have no place in a racing game (true), you'll want to brace yourself for 180-degree
turns in this piece of [expletive]! Alternate routes open up during certain laps, but most are longer and harder to navigate
than the main
route! What is the point?! The wooden barricades look like invitations to plow right through, but doing that is like hitting a brick wall!
Since there's no reverse button to help you back up, you're forced to fiddle with the gears which will leave you wallowing in last place. The characters could not be more obnoxious, spouting idiotic lines like "I'll get you next time!"
Oh, there won't be
a next time - trust me on that! The sparse elevator-style background music is revolting. Roadsters has a split-screen mode that supports up to four players, but it feels like four times the misery. Roadsters is an utter atrocity and I just want it to die in a fire. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Rush Rush Rally Racing DX (Japan)
Publisher: Redspot Games (2010)
This slick new Dreamcast racer features 2D graphics, a classic overhead viewpoint, simple controls, a four-player split-screen mode, and an outstanding
techno soundtrack. Had I not known better, I would have thought Rush Ralley was designed exclusively for my enjoyment!
And to think - I might have never even known
about it had I not stumbled upon it on PlayAsia.com
. Its design is similar to other overhead racers of the 1990's, most notably Thrash Rally (Neo Geo). The one-player circuit mode takes you through various desert and city environments. The controls are terrific, and I love how your car peels wheels and skids around tight turns. There are eight cars in each race, so there's a lot of jockeying going on. The camera is pretty tight and the screen scrolls quickly, giving you little time to react - even with the benefit of turn prompts. You really need to memorize the track layouts to navigate them efficiently. Fortunately they tend to be short in length, so after failing to qualify for a race or two you'll have them down pat. Some tracks are harder to follow because they run both on and off-road. It's very easy to get caught up on twisted, broken guardrails, which is frustrating. Sometimes you'll head in the wrong direction, only to discover an unlockable secret! The graphics are average at best. Although most tracks feature overpasses, there's little sense of depth and the cars look decidedly flat. The scenery is pretty sparse, even in the city. I do like how you can plow into pedestrians (and cows), causing them to shriek while being splattered onto the pavement (Grand Theft Auto 2-style!). The headlight effects of the night tracks also look pretty slick. High scores are recorded with initials to VMU, and a code is provided so you can post your score online. The split-screen mode offers a slew of options (including special items), but I didn't find these to be quite as fun. Rush Rally's soundtrack is a superb collection of synthesized tunes which add to the game's old-school flavor. A second disk includes the soundtrack, and sometimes I drive around listening to it while pretending I'm playing the game.
That's dangerous! Rush Rush Rally is really an unexpected treat for Dreamcast fans looking for something new. Note: This CD is region-free. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
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