TNN Motorsports Hardcore Heat
Publisher: American Softworks (1999)
TNN Hardcore Heat has an easy-to-play, arcade style that struck me as an off-road Daytona USA. The races tend to be short and competitive, with plenty of bright, attractive scenery. You'll cruise down US beaches, speed past a castle in France, and careen off sand dunes in Egypt. My personal favorite is the Russian track with its banked turns and snow-covered trees. Hardcore Heat isn't hard to play, but I was initially perplexed by the fact that the driving controls are not
explained in the instruction booklet (although the replay
controls are). I actually had to bring up the game's option screen just to view the control scheme. It's amazing how often I've seen this oversight with other Dreamcast games! Hardcore Heat's racing action is entertaining enough, but since you're mainly off-road, it's hard to build up a head of steam, and you can expect a lot of spinning wheels in the mud. The uneven controls tend to give you either "too much" or "too little", especially in the split-screen mode. An unbalanced vehicle selection screen offers everything from dune buggies to powerful pick-ups, with the trucks holding a huge advantage. Hardcore Heat's races are ideal in length, with a handy track indicator that makes it easy to gauge your opponent's positions. There are certainly better racers on the Dreamcast, but off-road fans shouldn't be disappointed with this one. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
Publisher: Acclaim (1999)
Following in the footsteps of Hot Shots Golf
(Playstation, 1998), Tee Off provides a light-hearted golfing experience with anime-style characters. The game didn't win me over immediately but grew on me over time. The visuals feature smooth textures, fluid animations, and realistic physics. Unfortunately, the courses appear very rather flat and dull. You'll want to crank up the difficulty level if you want any slopes at all. The swing mechanism is a curved version of the classic three-press meter (start, power, accuracy), and it works like a charm. Unfortunately, aiming your shot is difficult due to the fact that there's no overhead view
. Once you learn to deal with the limited camera angles however, Tee Off is a pleasure to play. I especially enjoyed the soundtrack, composed of catchy synthesized tunes worthy of a Sonic Adventure game. The pacing is pretty good, but it still took about an hour to go 18 holes against the CPU. The game prompts you to save your progress after every three holes, which is a great
feature. A fun bonus game called G-Ball is also included, which plays a lot like croquet. It's not flashy or original, but Tee Off Golf is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (2001)
This follow-up to the spectacular Virtua Tennis offers new features like female players, more realistic graphics, a new camera angle, and a World Tour mode. Of the sixteen pro players, I only recognized Venus Williams, Serena Williams, and Lindsay Davenport, but I did see male celebrities like Matt Damon, Marky Mark, and Sylvester Stallone (see for yourself!). The female players definitely have a unique feel, and tend to be more challenging. The graphics are definitely a step up this time around, which players that are muscular and life-like. At times you can even see the emotion on their faces. Sega took a real risk by slightly altering the excellent control scheme and adding a extra button for slice shots. While this doesn't hurt, it completely unnecessary, considering you could slice in Virtua Tennis with the single button. There's a second camera angle you can use in the one-player mode that really puts you close to the action, and although it's not as playable, it's still fun to try out. The new World Tour mode is very cool. It lets you create players, train them, and enter them in tournaments. The training mode is actually a series of addictive mini-games. Tennis 2K2 is an outstanding game that retains the solid gameplay of Virtua Tennis while adding some fun new features. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Accolade (1999)
Test Drive Le Mans
Publisher: Infogrames (2000)
I didn't know it when I bought this game, but the Le Mans is a 24 HOUR race! That's right, and this game will let you recreate that long torturous ordeal, if you're masochistic enough to inflict it upon yourself! I can't imagine that anyone that would actually do that. There's probably a bug that makes the game crash after 23 hours and 57 minutes. Thank God you can compress the time, or even better, stick with the "quick start" or championship modes. These graphics are terrific - nearly Gran Turismo quality. You can even see the reflections of the scenery on your shiny car. The tracks are realistic, which usually means boring, but in this case the scenery is beautiful and there are some incredible lighting effects. You'll have to use your imagination during pit stops though, because your crew is completely invisible. The tracks tend to be narrow and curvy, and you'll need to lean on the brakes quite a bit. Moderation is the key, and arcade vets will have a hard time adjusting to the realistic handling. There are ten tracks and twenty-four cars in all. Up to four people can play in a split screen contest, which maintains a smooth framerate. The steering wheel controller also works very well with this. The background music is relaxing, and the menu music has a Pulp Fiction flavor. I only have a few minor complaints. This game doesn't convey the illusion of tremendous speed, and this is even more apparent in the multi-player modes. In the split-screen mode, the lap times are often displayed right in your line of sight, which is really annoying. Finally, the loading is frequent and long. Arcade fans may not go for Test Drive Le Mans, but Dreamcast owners looking for a realistic racer will love it. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Test Drive V-Rally
Publisher: Infogrames (2000)
The Ring: Terror's Realm
Publisher: Infogrames (2000)
Rating: Mature (animated violence, animated blood and gore)
Tokyo Xtreme Racer
Publisher: Crave (1999)
Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2
Publisher: Crave (2000)
The first Tokyo Xtreme Racer showed potential, and I was hoping this sequel would push it over the top. Tokyo Xtreme 2 is a slight improvement, but a good number of missteps prevent it from being an upper-tier Dreamcast title. Like the first game, you're limited to night racing on Toyko highways, but instead of one loop, you have a whole network of highways to drive between. The scenery is more varied as well, with more distinctive landmarks, wild-looking tunnels, and expansive suspension bridges. If you thought the first game was too easy, you'll be happy to know that the rivals in this game are far more aggressive, trying to bang you into the guardrail at every opportunity. The user interface is better organized, and the sense of speed is improved as well. And instead of having your race end in a "draw" when you take a wrong fork, the game warns you of splits in the road and tells you which direction to take. One new feature that I found a bit superfluous was the ability to customize your license plate - does anybody really care? Some of the other changes are actually a bit detrimental. I found it a bit harder to follow the road ahead, and I'm not sure if that's due to the increased speed or lower camera angle (maybe both). The brake lights of the cars ahead of you emit this big fuzzy red glow that looks awful. Finally, the split-screen mode has been axed altogether, so this is strictly a solo affair. Fans of the first game may find it worth the upgrade, but Tokyo Xtreme 2 didn't hold my attention for very long. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Tomb Raider: Chronicles
Publisher: Eidos (2000)
Rating: Teen (animated blood and violence)
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
Publisher: Eidos (2000)
Rating: Teen (animated violence and blood)
Save mechanism: 33 blocks per save
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
Publisher: Activision (2000)
Originally released for the Playstation in 1999, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater set a new standard for extreme sports games thanks to its innovative controls and stylish presentation. This version improves upon the original slightly, with sharper graphics and smoother edges. It takes a while get used to playing Tony Hawk with the Dreamcast controller since the analog stick isn't supported and there are only two shoulder buttons instead of four. It's not a major problem however, because once you get the hang of it you'll be pulling off spectacular stunts with ease. It's fun to unlock new environments in the addictive one-player career mode, and the two-player split screen provides terrific head-to-head competition. This edition of Tony Hawk is only a modest improvement over the Playstation version, but Dreamcast owners will be happy just to play this classic on their console. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Publisher: Activision (2001)
This fine sequel builds on the strengths of the original Tony Hawk Pro Skater game. The intro video is jaw-dropping, with professional boarders that seem to defy gravity. The game itself is just as fun as the original, but there's more of everything, including additional options, tricks, techniques, courses, skaters, and playing modes. You can even choose a female character this time. Pro Skater 2 is more challenging than the original, but the scores tend to run much higher. The graphics haven't changed too much, and I'm surprised there's no blood when you take a nasty spill. Locations include New York, Venice Beach, Philadelphia, and Mexico, and each contains its share of hidden areas and surprises. Not only is a create-a-player option included, but also a nifty create-a-skate-park feature as well (wow!). The new soundtrack is awesome, with tunes by Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Papa Roach. With award-winning gameplay and ample replay value, Tony Hawk 2 proves itself a worthy sequel. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1999)
Though it received little fanfare during its release, Toy Commander has become a cult classic over the years. It lets you drive and fly miniature toy vehicles around rooms of a typical house. With planes, cars, and tanks, this game is designed to appeal to the little kid in us all. You can switch on appliances, race other toys, and embark on search-and-destroy missions. Each room is a miniature world in of itself, and you'll spot some subtle humor if you pay attention (was that a Sega Saturn
in the attic?!). Toy Commander's tranquil soundtrack is a good fit for the surreal action. Despite its winning premise however I didn't find the game especially fun or compelling. I liked fighting little green army men and searching for hidden items, but item-transport missions are just tedious. In the racing stages it's so hard to follow the tracks that you're better off following another vehicle instead. Toy Commander's controls are good but navigating tight areas is problematic. A nice split-screen mode accommodates up to four players, but it can be hard to locate opponents because they are so small! Toy Commander really isn't my cup of tea, but if you find the premise intriguing you should give it a try. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Activision (2000)
Publisher: Acclaim (1999)
This was an impressive title when it was released at the Dreamcast launch in 1999. Although the futuristic graphics are still attractive today, Trickstyle shows its age with erratic controls and uneven gameplay. The game is set in 2099, when kids race around town on floating skateboards. The nine blocky characters wear some of the most ugly, tacky-looking outfits I've ever seen. You compete in a series of racing and challenge (trick) stages, but first you'll want to try the training exercises to get familiar with the tricks you'll need to master. Jumps and spins allow you to reach high places, "drills" let you smash through windows, and the speed luge lets you glide along rails. The courses themselves feature some wonderful scenery, providing ample opportunity to show off your stuff. Locations include London, Manhattan, and Tokyo, and they all look attractive and occasionally amazing. The smooth sensation of surfing on a cushion air is fun and sometimes even exhilarating. The courses are fairly well designed, although you'll often need to memorize them to take first place. The difficulty of the courses is very uneven. While some of the early courses required many retries, I was able to win some of the advanced runs on the first try. The control is average at best. Taking tight turns to be problematic, and it's hard to ride the rails. These problems are amplified in the challenge stages, where you're expected to pull off a series of tricks with precision. The futuristic music is appropriate, but somewhat unpleasant. Trickstyle is entertaining enough, but it's not a standout title. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Triggerheart Exelica (Japan)
Publisher: Warashi (2007)
Publisher: Triangle Service (2005)
Typing of the Dead
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Being an avid game collector, I HAD to have this game if only for the bizarre premise, but it turned out to be remarkably good
! It's just like the House of the Dead 2 light gun game, except you type words and phrases to shoot the monsters. It sounds like a really bad idea, until you try it yourself! Not only is it surprisingly enjoyable, but you get the additional benefit of improving your typing skills. But don't get the wrong idea - this is no Mavis Beacon program. Words or phrases appear on top of each approaching monster, and each correct keystroke results in a hit, often blasting off an appendage. The last letter effectively kills the beast. The game provides plenty of instant gratification, briefly flashing a grade for each monster you kill. The words and phrases you have to type are entertaining in of themselves, and many are completely off-the-wall. Bosses spice up the action by adding additional challenges, like requiring you to answer questions. At the end of the game, you get a comprehensive evaluation of your typing skills, including letters per second, accuracy, special keys, reflexes, etc. The two-player mode is fun, and with keyboards going for $19, it's affordable too. Is the underlying game really much different from House of the Dead 2? Well the violence is a bit turned down; the zombies carry plungers instead of axes. The heroes run around with keyboards and Dreamcasts strapped to them, which looks hilarious. But the level designs look the same to me, so don't expect many surprises if you've already played through House of the Dead 2. I should also mention that this game seems to appeal to women - even my wife likes it. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
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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