Dreamcast Reviews U-V

Ultimate Fighting Championship
Grade: C
Publisher: Crave (2000)
Reviewed: 2010/1/28
Rating: Teen (animated blood, animated violence)


screenshotWhen this game was first released the UFC was just beginning to gain in popularity. Now it seems to be on television every night! The UFC was always a little brutal for my tastes, but its violence is a lot easier to stomach in the form of a video game. Each contest is preceded by a lengthy introduction, and it's a good thing you can skip that, because it's really boring.

The fighters are real UFC competitors, but if you're not a fan of the sport they all look pretty much the same (except for the black dude and the Asian guy). Within the "octagon" (the eight-sided ring), fighters move in a very fluid, realistic manner. The control scheme is simple as can be (two punch, two kick), but the manual does a terrible job of explaining the buttons. That controller diagram on page 3 is microscopic!

UFC does a lousy job of helping the novice player learn the ropes, and its "training mode" is worthless. Unlike boxing, half of the action happens with one guy straddling the other on the ground while attempting to beat the snot out him. Special moves are performed using combinations of the four buttons, and heavy button mashing is the order of the day. Still, the controls are very responsive, giving the game a frantic, arcade quality. The violence is minimal, save for some flying red squares which apparently are meant to represent blood.

Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the game is how you can land a series of successive blows, yet a single punch from your adversary can bring the entire match to an abrupt conclusion. UFC has a learning curve, but if you stick with it, you'll discover a lot of replay value. The career mode is surprisingly deep and modern games could really take a lesson from its user-friendly menu system. Ultimate Fighting Champion won't appeal to everyone, but UFC fans will find a lot to like. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Under Defeat (Japan)
Grade: A-
Publisher: G-Rev (2005)
Reviewed: 2006/7/14

screenshotOkay, what's with the silly name? Was "Ass Kicked" or "Beaten Senseless" already taken? If that's supposed to be a translation, then I don't get it. Nevertheless, Dreamcast shooter fans owe it to themselves to track down this quality import. If you think you've seen everything the system can do graphically, you need to play Under Defeat. Visually, this blows away anything I've seen on the Playstation 2, much less the Dreamcast.

It's a vertical helicopter shooter that lets you unleash mass destruction on military bases, bombers, and battleships. The objects and scenery are so meticulously rendered that many areas appear to be photo-realistic. It's the extraordinary explosions however that really steal the show. We've all seen particle effects in video games, but rarely used this effectively. From the brilliant initial blast to the streaming smoke left from flying debris, the eye candy is amazing. As my friend Scott observed, "Hey, look at that smoke - it looks like... smoke!"

The underlying game is just as impressive. Your rapid-fire cannon can be angled slightly left or right, allowing you to strafe enemies not directly in your path. You're also equipped with bombs, and can summon an "option" mechanism to fire by your side. Under Defeat is tough, but you're provided three continues and high scores are saved automatically. If the game has a fault, it's probably the emphasis on huge bosses with their long life meters. Still, this is an absolutely stunning shooter that's truly a "must have" for collectors. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Unreal Tournament
Grade: B+
Publisher: Infogrames (2001)
Reviewed: 2004/1/15
Rating: Mature (animated blood and gore)

screenshotAfter playing Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament seemed like almost the same game. Both are on-line compatible, multiplayer first-person shooters, and both provide a satisfying level of bloody violence. Unreal Tournament looks slightly more polished and high-tech than Quake III Arena, but both play nearly the same. I really like how in the space stages you can look out the windows and see spaceships and stars zooming by. I also enjoy the witty comments characters make as they blow each into oblivion.

And if you thought the flying body parts of Quake were cool, you'll really appreciate how chunks of flesh actually bounce around in this game. Besides the standard weapons, you get a chainsaw and my favorite, a shrapnel-spraying Flak Cannon. Additional moves include a "taunt" and "wave", but I'm not sure how practical these are in battle. As with Quake III Arena, I'd strongly advise you to play this game with the Dreamcast keyboard and mouse, or else you'll be in for a world of hurt, my friend. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Urban Chaos
Grade: D+
Publisher: Eidos (2000)
Reviewed: 2004/9/17
Rating: Mature (animated violence, animated blood, strong language)

screenshotI hated this game initially, but after a while it began to grow on me. Urban Chaos is a 3D, free-roaming police adventure set in a dark, rainy, present-day city. You can play as a black woman or a white guy, and each has a unique storyline. The urban landscape effectively conveys a glum atmosphere with its trashy streets, boarded up windows, and graffiti-covered brick walls.

The game's profanity-laced dialogue, along with the ability to drive a car around, gives the game a Grand Theft Auto vibe. In addition, the short missions often have minor side-quests which reminded me of Spider-Man 2. The missions themselves are short and not particularly difficult. Initially there's a lot of hand-to-hand combat involved, but advanced missions feature weapons like machine guns and shotguns.

I like how you don't necessarily have to "kill" each enemy, but have the option of "arresting" them by disarming them down and applying handcuffs. This makes the battles far less repetitious than they may have been otherwise. In addition to wandering the streets, you'll be required to scale buildings and perform some death-defying leaps. A helpful radar display directs you to all relevant targets, but it never zeros in on exact locations. While this isn't necessarily a bad idea in terms of game design, it may confuse novice players.

My main beef with Urban Chaos is its awkward control scheme, which borrows heavily from Eidos' flagship franchise, Tomb Raider. Pushing up causes you to move forward, no matter where the camera is situated. It's difficult enough to navigate around the city using this scheme, but aiming your kicks is especially problematic. The car driving aspect is equally stiff, and the car's movement tends to be erratic. Fortunately, aiming weapons is a breeze thanks to an easy auto-aiming mechanism.

The graphics in Urban Chaos are a little rough, but since the game takes place under the cover of night, its visual flaws are not glaring. The dramatic music is quite intense, and the sound effects are also effective. There are always tin cans rolling around in the streets, and cats and sirens can often be heard in the distance.

Unfortunately the clips of voice dialogue, which often border on silly, don't sound as clean as they should be. You can actually hear annoying "tick" sounds between the sound bites. Urban Chaos still manages to be mildly entertaining despite its shortcomings. If you can get a handle on the control scheme, you may find its dark world a worthwhile place to visit. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Vampire Chronicles For Matching Service (Japan)
Grade: A
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Reviewed: 2006/5/17
Rating: Teen

screenshotCan someone please tell me why, in God's name, was this not released in America? This terrific package combines all three Vampire Chronicle games (known as Darkstalkers in America) into one of wildest and most distinctive 2D fighters you'll ever lay eyes on. It's an occult-themed one-on-one brawler with a penchant for the absurd.

The wide range of stylish, supernatural characters include traditional monsters like the vampire Dimitri, the Frankenstein clone Gollum (Japanese name), and the werewolf Gallon. The insect-like Q-Bee, the robot Phobos, and hopping corpse Lei-Lie represent some of the more bizarre participants. Most male gamers, however, seem to favor the ultra-sexy succubus Morrigan and her younger sister Lilith.

Upon starting a new game, you can select from three modes (Vampire, Hunter, and Savior), each of which offer a slightly different experience. The action is exciting, frantic, and completely faithful to the arcade. There are no "juggle" moves, but I like how you can attack opponents on the ground. Your thumb may become sore after a while, but it's well worth it.

Chronicle's graphics are a work of art. The backgrounds are imaginative and atmospheric, depicting a host of weird and spooky locations. The fighters themselves employ some truly outrageous attacks that will cause your opponent to gasp, "What the [expletive] was that?!" Some of the "out of nowhere" attacks from shape-changers like Pyron and Anakaris are admittedly cheap. An options screen lets you adjust the difficulty, and you'll definitely want to crank it up from the two-star default. Even the game's jazzy background music is outstanding.

In case you're wondering what the "for matching service" part of the title means, it indicates the game originally had on-line capability in Japan. You may have missed Vampire Chronicles the first time around, but you can still enjoy it with the help of software (like DC-X), which allows you to play imports on your North American console. If you crave 2D fighters, you'll want to track this one down. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Vanishing Point
Grade: F
Publisher: Acclaim (2000)
Reviewed: 2002/2/2

screenshotVanishing Point is another really pathetic racer for the Dreamcast. The vehicles look realistic, but only two are available from the start: A sports car and an SUV. The handling is absolutely deplorable - these cars can't keep their tires on the road! You slide and fishtail all over the place from start to finish, and this isn't even a rally game! There are forty cars and nice variety of tracks that you WON'T want to open up. There's an Internet option, but if you don't like the single player game, I don't hold much hope for the online action. The music is also terrible. This is one to avoid. NOTE: I have been advised by readers that if you can persevere the putrid early stages, Vanishing Point does improve substantially. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
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1 or 2 players 

Vigilante 8 - 2nd Offense
Grade: F
Publisher: Activision (1999)
Reviewed: 2000/9/25
Rating: Teen

screenshotWhat the heck happened here? I really enjoyed the first Vigilante 8 (Playstation), and this edition has some excellent graphics and original battle locations. So why can't I control my freakin' car?!? Neither the digital nor analog controls can prevent you from severely over-steering your vehicle, and that really stinks. And what's up with the collision detection? You can pass through some of the fences and buildings like a ghost! The futuristic "hover" power-up is an unwelcome feature, as it makes targeting enemies even more difficult. And those attack-from-above, unavoidable weapons are really a bad idea. On the positive side, the vehicles look great, and realistically take damage. Some of the battlefields, like the haunted Louisiana Bayou, are extremely unique. Too bad the pathetic control takes away the fun. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
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1 to 4 players 

Virtua Athlete
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (1999)
Reviewed: 2001/7/12
Rating: Everyone

screenshotVirtua Athlete is similar to Konami's Track and Field for the Playstation, and it makes an awesome four-player party game. There are only seven events, and they include shot put, javelin, long jump, high jump, hurdles, and two running events.

The stadium backgrounds are nicely detailed, and the athletes are smoothly animated, but boy do these guys look silly. First off, it looks like they're all wearing thongs! Next, they run like a bunch of pansies! It's hard not to laugh at this game. Before each event, there are some quick instructions flashed on the screen.

The controls are simple, usually involving tapping two buttons and pressing a third at the correct time. The trajectory meters are numeric only (opposed to graphical), making it difficult to judge them very well. There's not much lag time between events, and you can breeze through the game in just a few minutes.

While I enjoyed the first six events, the final event is pure torture. It's the 1500-meter sprint, but it feels like 15 miles. You really need to pace yourself. If you sprint ahead, you'll soon find yourself languishing in last place. Virtua Athlete has a unique feature that lets you build your own athlete and store him to VMU, which is pretty neat. Overall this game is mediocre in many ways, but it's an absolute riot if you have four players. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Virtua Fighter 3tb
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1999)
Reviewed: 2002/7/31
Rating: Teen


screenshotI don't like the title of this game. One reader informed me that the "tb" in Virtua Fighter 3tb stands for "team battle". How in the heck was I supposed to figure that out? Virtua Fighter 3tb isn't bad, but it suffers in comparison to other flashy DC fighters like Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive 2. In fact, VF3tb has long been regarded as the redheaded stepchild of DC fighting games.

The graphics alone will probably scare a lot of people off. The angular haircuts and stiff movements make this look more like a Playstation Tekken game. And let's not forget the real test of graphic quality in a game like this: How good-looking are the babes? Well I'm sorry to report that the obligatory blonde femme fatale is a real dog. She looks like she fell off the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

The stages are more impressive, featuring platforms you can get knocked off of. We're talking about rooftops, subway platforms, floating rafts, and other uneven raised surfaces. The scenery looks terrific, and the "ring out" possibilities keep the tension high. In terms of pure gameplay, VF3tb is no slouch. The buttons are punch, kick, guard, and evade. The emphasis on defense is sure to appeal to the strategy-minded gamer.

The action is a bit sluggish compared to other fighters, but the fighter movements are smooth. One interesting new feature is the "first person" camera angle, but as it turns out, it's pretty worthless. And who did the announcing in this game, Marv Albert? Virtua Fighter fans will force themselves to like this game, but in truth, this is not a standout Dreamcast fighter. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Virtua Striker 2
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1999)
Reviewed: 2013/9/23
Rating: Everyone

screenshotAs one of just two soccer titles released for the Dreamcast (in the states at least), Virtua Striker 2 boasts bright arcade graphics, simple controls, and large polygon players. The close camera limits your view, but a radar display on the bottom of the screen (which you will never use) lets you locate players around the field. You view the action from the side, but nifty close-ups are used for special situations like free kicks. The upbeat music is appealing and the crowd volume ebbs and flows with the action.

So why am I not having more fun? Well, it starts and ends with the controls. The analog stick is inexplicably not supported, forcing you to use the D-pad, and the lack of precision is glaring when taking shots on goal. Worse yet, the controls are so unresponsive that my friend Brent thought the CPU was controlling his player. There's no commentary, and the replays that add a rainbow-colored tail to the ball look ridiculous. I usually gravitate toward arcade-style sport titles, but Virtua Striker 2 was a lazy effort on Sega's part. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Virtua Tennis
Grade: A+
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Reviewed: 2000/8/16
Rating: Everyone

screenshotJust when you thought Sega Sports was running out of steam, they released the first great Tennis game in AGES. And when I say ages, I'm not exaggerating! You can go all the way back to Activision's 1982 Tennis game for the last truly fun Tennis title. What's even more surprising is how simple Virtua Tennis is to play; there are only two buttons: shot and lob!

The key to this game is positioning, and it's amazing how much control you have over your hits. You control the aim, strength, and can even apply spin! As you would expect from the Dreamcast, the graphics are smooth and life-like. You can choose between eight actual tennis players (all men). From a distance they look great, but close ups reveal faces that resemble Frankenstein with Chewbacca teeth.

The background graphics and sound are fine but you won't notice them because they take a backseat to the outstanding gameplay. There are several modes, including 4-player doubles matches and a tournament mode which is full of fun mini-games. Here's something you might not notice: when you're playing the game, check out your VMU screen. You can watch the game on the VMU also!! It may not be practical, but it looks amazing! No question about it: Virtua Tennis IS the best tennis video game EVER, and easily one of the most thrilling multiplayer games of all time. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Reviewed: 2013/8/18
Rating: Teen (animated violence)

screenshotcontrollerVirtual On: Oratorio Tangram (pronounced "Ontario" - by me) is a one-on-one robot fighter designed to be played with the Dreamcast "twin stick". This special controller was only released in Japan, but since the hardware is "region-free" anyone can play this game how it was meant to be played. Even with the special controller however, Virtual On is underwhelming.

You get a selection of humanoid robots, each with a Dreamcast console mounted to their back. Some of these hulking mechs are heavy with armor, and others are light and nimble. I prefer the green "Skeletor" dude with blades for fingers. The variety of robots didn't dawn on me until my friend Scott exclaimed "Oooh - I want to be a girl robot!" Each bout takes place on constrained battlefields like an aircraft carrier, airport, or space station. These locations tend to be flat and pretty boring. There are a few blocky obstacles to take cover behind, but mostly they just get in the way.

There's no English instructions for using the twin sticks, but the game's "attract mode" visually demonstrates how the sticks are used. You can move (or dash) in any direction, turn in place, jump, or guard (close range only). Each stick has two buttons, and there's a wide range of offensive and evasive maneuvers. The fights tend to be confusing cat-and-mouse affairs as both robots dart around while unleashing projectiles all over the place.

It's easy to lose sight of your opponent, but you can easily re-acquire him by rising above the battlefield (spread the sticks apart). Close proximity enables melee moves, but the tight camerawork makes it hard to tell what the [expletive] is going on. The battles tend to last less than a minute, ending with enjoyable animations of the loser crumbling to the ground. The game then plays a slow-motion replay of the fatal hit, but even that's often bewildering.

The goal of the single player mode is to win ten battles (including two bosses) in the least amount of time. It's no small feat. Virtual On's graphics are angular but the vibrant colors and fast action has "arcade" written all over it. The game is treated with a kind of mystical reverence by "hardcore" gamers, but this feels like a rushed port. It randomly prompts you to save without telling you why. The training mode is more like a never-ending single-player mode.

Virtual On can be played with a normal controller with much difficulty! You can bump up the grade by a letter if you own the twin stick controller, but only serious collectors will consider it a worthwhile investment. NOTE: The Japanese edition of the game also features network and customization options. It also includes a massive (75 page) manual housed in an extra-thick CD case. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 19'28"20
1 or 2 players 


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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