Dreamcast Reviews C

Cannon Spike
Grade: B
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Reviewed: 2011/8/14
Rating: Teen

screenshotCannon Spike is an overhead, rapid-fire shooter featuring a hodgepodge of Capcom characters. Anime fans will be thrilled to see Charlie and Cammy (of Street Fighter fame), along with Mega Man and B.B. Hood from Darkstalkers. My personal favorite is Authur (from Ghouls and Ghosts), who clearly has been indulging in steroids over the years.

Cannon Spike has an arcade style with non-stop action and quick stages. In each confined area you'll dispatch waves of robotic baddies before facing off against a boss. Each stage only lasts a minute or two, and the bosses can usually be defeated in less than 30 seconds. The brisk pacing is very refreshing compared to most modern shooters where bosses tend to linger and wear out their welcome.

Cannon Strike is deceptively simple to play, but there's more to it than meets the eye. Each character has five attacks, including two hand-to-hand, two shooting (strong and rapid-fire), and a limited-use special. There's also a handy lock-on button. Each attack has its place, and there's plenty of room for technique. At first you'll be tempted to rely on the rapid-fire shooting, but the melee attacks usually dispatch enemies much quicker.

My appreciation for this oddball shooter has grown over the years. Cannon Spike works great with an arcade stick, and its score-oriented gameplay reminds me of a modern-day Robotron. Sure, you can turn down the difficulty and plow through the game in a half-hour, but you'd be missing the point.

There are nine skill levels, and high scores are saved per skill level. The two-player coop is a nice option, but it's pretty chaotic so I'd recommend playing solo. Like a classic arcade game, Cannon Spike is one of those games you can pop in, kick ass for a few minutes, and feel like your time was well spent. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Capcom Vs. SNK
Grade: A
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Reviewed: 2001/9/9
Rating: Teen


screenshotCapcom has unleashed yet another fantastic 2D fighter. This one is just as good, if not better than Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. The 25+ characters are taken from Capcom's Street Fighter series and SNK's King of Fighters games. The thing I like about this game is that all of the fighters are human, and the combat is mostly hand-to-hand.

The Marvel Vs. Capcom games are flashy, but all the projectile, flying, and over-the-top attacks get to be a bit much. This is more old-school, and I think it requires a bit more skill. You still fight with teams, but these aren't tag teams. You choose two to four fighters, depending on the strength of the characters (you get four points to spend, and the characters are each rated from 1-3). You can't switch characters during the fight, so ordering your fighters is important.

The graphics here are stellar, and the backgrounds are the best I've seen in any fighter, hands-down! Many of the stages have interesting intro sequences as well, and the excellent music is also worth noting. Finally, a "bonus points" system allows you to earn points and buy goodies. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Carrier
Grade: C
Publisher: Jaleco (2000)
Reviewed: 2008/10/28
Rating: Mature (violence, blood, gore)

screenshotThis second-tier survival horror title flirts with mediocrity, but has enough polish and thrills to keep itself afloat. Carrier tells the tale of a soldier sent to investigate a virus-infected aircraft carrier on a dark, rainy night. I like the premise, and the ship's shadowy corridors convey a sense of eerie isolation.

Carrier's basic gameplay involves blasting zombies while saving crew members who provide keycards to access new areas. Some of the infected crew appear normal, so you'll need to use a special visor to detect them. The game mimics Resident Evil both technically and stylistically. From the clanking metal walkways, to the stilted dialogue, to zombie heads exploding on the third shot, you'll be forgiven for calling this "Resident Evil on a boat".

In terms of presentation, Carrier is not bad at all. The stormy sound effects are so convincing that if the blinds are drawn, you'll swear it's raining outside. The interior areas aren't terribly exciting, but the shiny metal surfaces look realistic and colored lighting adds atmosphere. I love how you leave red footprints after walking through a puddle of blood. In addition to plant monsters (which call to mind the game "D2"), there are freaky zombies with long, crooked tongues.

Carrier also incorporates one of the most ill-advised creatures in the short history of survival horror: invisible zombies! You know you've encountered one of these when you stop dead in your tracks and blood begins spurting from your neck! What a load of crap! Equally irritating is how you can't step over zombies lying in the hallways, which often tend to block your path.

Carrier does have a nifty auto-aim feature, and the handy "run" button makes it easy to back-track around the ship. The vibration function is nice, and you get a steady diet of health supplements and save points. Carrier is not up to Resident Evil standards, but if you're a survival horror freak in the mood for something different, give this one a shot. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

new Castlevania Resurrection
Grade: NA
Publisher: Konami (2000)
Reviewed: 2021/10/28

screenshotIt's sad to leaf through old Dreamcast Magazines and read an enthusiastic article about a game in development that would never see the light of day. Canceled in 2000, the remnants of Castlevania Resurrection have only recently been unearthed. I wanted to try it first hand, and just as I had hoped, this game transported me back in time!

Showing Resurrection to friends elicited oohs and aahs. Its rich graphics are razor sharp, featuring soaring cathedrals, ominous gates, and quaint medieval cottages. I love how the light refracts through the stained glass windows. The soundtrack is as haunting as it is surreal. This had the makings of a landmark title for the Dreamcast, but like the Y2K bug, never materialized.

Resurrection's gameplay is a logical evolution of Castlevania (Nintendo 64, 1999). You control a female warrior armed with a whip and sword, hacking and slashing your way through grim reapers, floating bishops, and skeletal apes while jumping over pits and solving simple puzzles.

A select menu offers a glimpse of six uncompleted stages, with the courtyard being most complete. It feels dark and constrained as you wander the streets, climb stone staircases, and creep across building ledges. You sometimes find yourself on the "other side" of unfinished scenery, stuck in some kind of alternate dimension you'll struggle to escape from.

Other stages feature bits and pieces of various ideas, including a winding staircase, a hydra, and pits of lava you can walk over unharmed. The camera angles are all over the place and hard to adjust. Most enemies are difficult, if not impossible, to slay. The combat feels unsatisfying as you repeatedly swat away in the general direction of an enemy.

Castlevania Resurrection's atmosphere immerses you in an dark supernatural world, but there's nothing particularly fun about playing this prototype. Frankly it's a nauseating experience I could only tolerate for minutes at a time. Resurrection may transport you back to the year 2000, but you'll be in a real hurry to get back. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Centipede
Grade: D
Publisher: Hasbro (1999)
Reviewed: 2000/8/31
Rating: Everyone

screenshotMany game companies like Hasbro seem to believe that if you take an old game and add fancy 3D graphics and digitized sound, it will be even better. Well, as we've seen time and time again, that is not the case, and Centipede is a prime example. This new 3D version looks good but the gameplay is much slower and far less exciting. Cool power-ups and decent control make this game playable, but it's certainly not addictive by any means. Fortunately, the original arcade version is also included on this disk, which is crazy addictive. Centipede for the Dreamcast is pretty lackluster overall, but at least it's better than the horribly choppy Playstation version. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 

Championship Surfer
Grade: C
Publisher: Mattel (2000)
Reviewed: 2006/7/14
Rating: Everyone


screenshotWith its huge angular waves that resemble jagged blue mountains emerging from the water, it's easy to write off Championship Surfer as bargain bin material. Stick with it however, and you'll discover an addictive, albeit flawed title. It's a shame the game doesn't offer a tutorial mode, because its learning curve is substantial. Even after playing for a few hours, I still feel like I'm missing something.

The main "championship" mode lets you face off against other surfers in a tournament spanning several locations. The reasonable controls make it easy to stay on your board, but earning enough points to progress to the next round is hard. While my scores did gradually improve, I never did make much progress. I suspect you need to execute some crazy Tony-Hawk style stunts in mid-air to earn the big points.

As I mentioned before, the waves look pretty bad as they approach, but not bad at all once they're fully formed. The various beach locations don't make a difference since the camera angle faces the sea, but I really dig the variable weather conditions. The raging thunderstorms look especially wild with lightning striking the water in the distance. In terms of audio, the sound of crashing waves is convincing enough and the background guitar music is very pleasant. It's hard to recommend Championship Surfer to the casual gamer, but patient Dreamcast fans looking for some fun in the sun should check it out. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Charge 'N Blast
Grade: C
Publisher: Xicat Interactive (2000)
Reviewed: 2012/8/29
Rating: Teen (animated violence)


screenshotCharge 'N Blast offers arcade-shooting action with lock-on targeting, mammoth bosses, and massive explosions. It's a "behind the back" shooter in the tradition of Nam 1974 (Neo Geo) and Cabal (NES). Unfortunately it's saddled with one of the most non-intuitive control schemes ever conceived.

The X, Y, and B buttons let you charge a weapon (to three degrees of intensity), and A fires. It is not necessary to hold in the charge buttons, and it only took me about ten years to figure that out. The shooting controls are tough enough, but you'll also need to move sideways (using the shoulder buttons) to avoid incoming missiles.

The three selectable characters come with grenades, rockets, and lasers, but I prefer the "multiple missiles" which let you target several enemies at once. Just keep in mind that your aim is critical even with the guided missiles. The stages have funny names like "City of Nest", "Party on the Beach", and "Desire Town". The beach stage boss looks just like Godzilla, and I love the splash effect when he collapses into the water. Each boss is temporarily protected by a shield generator, and the poor octopus boss has one located in his ass. That's got to be uncomfortable.

Charge 'N Blast is a pretty intense shooter once you get the hang of it. There's some slow-down and the game is short, but it has a "one more time" quality. A female voice delivers repetitive lines like "I will provide you with an energy cell", and the appealing soundtrack sounds a lot like House of the Dead 2. High scores are saved, but you need to score 550K to rank in, which is way too high. Turn down the difficulty if you want to have a chance of cracking that. Charge N Blast is an acquired taste, but arcade fans will enjoy its frantic mayhem. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Easy/5 cnts/max life
Our high score: 684,703
1 or 2 players 

ChuChu Rocket!
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Reviewed: 2002/3/15
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe Sonic Team strikes back, this time with a frantic puzzle game unlike anything you've ever seen. ChuChu Rocket is played on a square grid full of scampering mice and the occasional cat. The object is to direct the mice towards your rocket ship by strategically placing arrow tiles in the grid. The game can be played by up to four people at once, and this was one of the first Dreamcast games with online capabilities.

The action is fast and dynamic, and takes a while to wrap your mind around the concept. One cleverly placed arrow can direct a slew of mice away from another rocket ship and straight to yours. Once you get the hang of it, ChuChu can get addicting. For the solo player there are some thoughtful puzzle challenges that will test your mind and reflexes. The graphics are whimsical but nothing fancy, and a quirky musical tune plays nonstop in the background. The gameplay eventually wears thin, but you have to give it credit for originality. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Coaster Works
Grade: D+
Publisher: Xicat (2000)
Reviewed: 2002/3/15
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThis simulation game lets you construct and even ride (!) your own roller coasters. A nice CAD-style design tool makes it easy to lay the tracks and view your creation from every angle, and you'll need to obey the laws of physics and make sure the turns aren't too sharp. It only takes a few minutes to create a ride, and it's easy to bank turns and make small adjustments here and there.

Once you're done, you can take a "test ride" that gives you a live, first person perspective of your ride. There's no way it can duplicate the sensation of being on an actual roller coaster, but it's still interesting to watch. The shaky camera and screaming sound effects also add to the illusion. The graphics are fairly simple, with sparse amusement park backgrounds.

If there's one area where Coaster Works falters, it's the fact that there's only ONE playing mode. Actually, it's more like a tutorial that lets you build six increasingly larger and faster roller coasters. While this slow approach may be suitable for younger (or dumber) players, I found it to be annoying. Let's face it, most people want to jump right in and build a MONSTER roller coaster without having to build five intermediate rides first! A "free hand" design mode would have been nice, and it would have been cool if they had included some sample roller coasters. When all is said and done, Coaster Works is an interesting concept, but there's not much of a game here. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Confidential Mission
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (2001)
Reviewed: 2001/6/10
Rating: Teen (13+)

screenshotThis light gun shooter is basically Virtua Cop for the Dreamcast. Been there done that you say? Not with these nice Dreamcast graphics you haven't! In Confidential Mission, one or two players shoot their way through three James Bond-style missions.

The graphic quality is about the same as House of the Dead 2, but seems slightly less detailed. People's lips don't move when they talk, but at least their bodies are nicely animated. Bad guys can be shot anywhere on their bodies, and extra points are awarded for "justice shots" (shooting their weapon). There aren't any specials like a duck move or a smart bomb; it's just kill or be killed. The body count gets pretty high, but there's no blood. The bad guys just keel over and disappear, except for the fat guy of course, who you'll need to pump about 10 rounds into. Are fat people this hard to kill in real life?

Interesting locations like a museum and a moving passenger train provide attractive scenery and a nice variety of situations. The game gives you eight credits, but you'll go through them pretty quickly. Although there's some minor branching, the game is fairly linear and surprisingly short. And like most light gun games, it can get repetitive. It's not a standout game, but if you're looking to get some use out of your Dreamcast light guns, Confidential Mission isn't a bad buy. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Crazy Taxi
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Reviewed: 2010/5/22
Rating: Teen

screenshotFirst impressions mean a lot, and the first time I played Crazy Taxi the words "Best video game ever" ran through my mind. Few games are as instantly enjoyable as "Mad Cab", as my friend Scott insists on calling it. You play a San Francisco cabbie trying to earn as much money as possible before a timer runs out. Upon picking up a customer, an arrow at the top of the screen guides you to your destination as you speed through town like a complete maniac.

You'll weave through traffic, jump ramps, plow through hot dog stands, and send pedestrians running for cover. Bonus "tips" are earned for being extra reckless - a concept adopted by many subsequent games (Burnout being one of them). Sideswiping cars won't even slow you down; in fact, it often causes you to accelerate! Must be a Toyota! There's an exhilarating sense of freedom as you drive over sidewalks, through hilly parks, on the beach, and even underwater!

The fast action, crisp controls, and bright arcade graphics make Crazy Taxi a thrill ride from start to finish. The basic controls are simple, but the drift controls are more complicated than they need to be. Also, after picking up a passenger it's very easy to peel wheels as precious seconds tick down. You'll find yourself driving the same basic routes over and over, although an alternate mode is included that mixes things up a bit.

The scenery is so detailed that you'll want to cruise around just for the sake of sightseeing. The traffic is variable and there are a lot of pedestrians milling around. Adding realism are actual stores and restaurants like Levi's Original Jeans and Pizza Hut. The six kick-ass tunes from The Offspring and Bad Religion will pump your adrenaline, but they become tiresome after a while.

Scott and I recently revisited Crazy Taxi after I discovered that our high scores (recorded to the VMU) were over ten years old! And wouldn't you know this game is still every bit as fun as it once was! This is a timeless classic, and if you're looking for a good summertime game, Crazy Taxi is the embodiment of summer fun. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Arcade rules
Our high score: SLN $2,2028.17
1 player 

Crazy Taxi 2
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (2001)
Reviewed: 2010/5/22
Rating: Teen


screenshotThe first Crazy Taxi game was invigorating, but this sequel seems far less inspired. Crazy Taxi 2 is set in New York City instead of San Francisco, and as much as I love the Big Apple, its "concrete jungle" seems drab and uninteresting compared to the rolling hills and scenic harbor of the first game.

The basic gameplay is unchanged as you pick up people in your convertible cab and shuttle them around to familiar destinations like FAO Schwartz and the Hard Rock Cafe. This time you can pick up groups of passengers, including dudes with big Afros and mimes (looks like a new icon is in order). Since groups tend to have larger payouts, you'll want to pick them up whenever possible.

Crazy Taxi 2 incorporates an unnecessary new "jump" maneuver, which has "gimmick" written all over it. I really wish the developers had fixed the drift controls or spinning tires instead. Also notable is what was removed from this sequel. You can no longer associate your initials with high scores, and that's a shame. I can only assume Sega lost the technology since making the first game.

There are technical issues as well, including noticeable pop-up and an erratic directional arrow. This time the soundtrack is provided entirely by The Offspring, and as you might imagine, it wears thin in a hurry. Crazy Taxi 2 still retains the arcade flair of the first game, but it feels like a half-hearted follow-up. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Normal rules
Our high score: SDZ $4,630.98
1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, Gaming Age Online, Shinforce, Sega.com, Racket Boy, Wikipedia, GameSpot, Video Games Museum, Moby Games, Sega Dreamcast.com, The Dreamcast Junkyard