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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Dreamcast Reviews X-Z

Xeno Crisis
Grade: A
Publisher: Bitmap Bureau (2019)
Posted: 2021/11/20

screenshotXeno Crisis is a real throwback. It takes the run-and-gun gameplay of Super Smash TV (SNES, 1991) and applies an exciting Aliens theme. One or two players blast hordes of creatures via a tilted overhead view, clearing one room at a time. The 16-bit graphics shine, beginning with that massive lander craft setting down on the planet surface. The semi-cartoonish characters are rendered with style and personality, calling to mind Metal Slug (Neo Geo, 1994).

I love the pacing of this game. There's a short pause upon entering each room before aliens of various shapes and sizes begin pouring in. You're armed with a kick-ass rapid-fire assault rifle that splatters screeching aliens all over the place. The rectangular rooms may look similar on the surface, but a randomizer ensures no two games are the same with different configurations, enemies, and humans to rescue. Two-player co-op runs without a hint of slowdown.

To keep things clean, the game only displays your health or ammo supply periodically. Running out of ammo causes a new box to appear. To get it you'll often need to navigate across a room with only your fists as your defense (or maybe that stash of grenades you forgot about). Between stages you can pump up your soldiers attributes by trading in dog tags you collected.

The controls might be an issue. You aim your weapons by using the four buttons on the right like a second thumbstick. The problem is, you'll need to cover two buttons to fire diagonally, which can be a bit awkward. Alternate controls are available but less satisfying. This game is more suitable for a dual-stick configuration, and it works well with a Virtual On controller if you're lucky enough to own one.

Xeno Crisis is a pure arcade experience that's easy to pick up and hard to put down. Its high octane music pumps your adrenaline as you strive to beat the high score displayed on the top right. If you own a Dreamcast, this game will single handedly catapult your beloved console back to the top of the pile, where it belongs! Xeno Crisis is available from Bitmap Bureau Shop. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 275,154
1 or 2 players 

Xtreme Sports
Grade: D+
Publisher: Infogrames (2000)
Posted: 2015/1/27

screenshotYou know a game's gonna be off the hook when it drops the "E" in extreme. Xtreme Sports is a series of short races that make up to one long competition. You'll race on snowboards, hang gliders, bicycles, ATVs, and more.

The first leg is snowboarding, and the sensation of careening down a steep mountain is exceptionally good. The slopes are smooth and your viewing distance is spectacular. At the bottom you'll arrive at a set of hang-gliders, and these segments prove to be the game's undoing. Instead of soaring into the big blue yonder you must hug the ground, weaving around red balloons and touching blue ones. The wind whips you all over the place and it's just really aggravating. You're prompted to hit A to dismount, but if you don't hit it at the right spot, it's game over!

Should you survive, Xtreme Gamers regains some traction with a rugged ATV race which takes you to the finish. It's really amazing how the landscape "terraforms" as you race towards it, but I'm not convinced that effect was intentional. The controls could be better. Who designs analog steering that causes you to veer sharply left or right for no particular reason? The courses are peppered with big arrows signs, yet it's still easy to get stuck in outlying areas. One nice feature is how the game tells you how many seconds you're running behind (or ahead) at each checkpoint.

The announcer is unintentionally hilarious. Once when I dismounted late from my glider he exclaimed "Beautiful! You failed man." After another race he yelled "You got a gold medal! You gotta do better than that!" The game packs some solid techno beats, but the voice samples talking about nuclear detonation and atomic fallout are kind of weird. The two-player split-screen is decent and high scores are saved to VMU along with initials. Xtreme Sports has a nice concept with plenty of variety and nice visuals. But as with many third-party Dreamcast titles, it feels more than a little undercooked. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Zero Gunner 2 (Japan)
Grade: A+
Publisher: Psikyo (2001)
Posted: 2009/4/11

screenshotThe fact that this magnificent shooter never reached the shores of America is a crime. Dreamcast import fans have been extolling this game for years, and for once, you can believe the hype. Zero Gunner 2 excels in every way imaginable, combining first-rate 2D shooting with absolutely stunning visuals. Unlike most shooters which are ported from the arcade, this one uses the entire screen.

You command a helicopter that unleashes a steady stream of thin missiles against cannons, boats, jets, and stealth bombers. The bosses typically begin as oversized vehicles (like an airplane or sub) but gradually transform into flying robots via brief cut-scenes. One particularly memorable boss engages you as he climbs between two buildings, and the animation looks spectacular. You have three different helicopters to choose from, and frequent power-up icons increase your firepower to obscene levels.

The control scheme is boldly original. By holding in the B button, you rotate your helicopter 360 degrees, allowing you to aim at any part of the screen. This comes in handy during boss encounters when the screen begins scrolling every which way. It's great fun to circle an adversary and pound him relentlessly while remaining just out of his range. Another original concept is how icons gravitate towards you when you stop firing. And it's refreshing how "bumping" into enemies does not cause you to explode on contact.

Visually, Zero Gunner 2 is a marvel. As you buzz oil rigs, skyscrapers, and rocky gorges, the camera treats you to some breathtaking views. The smooth, polished 3D graphics show no sign of frame-rate stutters or slow-down, with the exception of some of the larger, more jarring explosions. The techno soundtrack is decent, but tends to get lost in the frantic action. Another pleasant surprise is the reasonable difficulty level.

The normal setting is relatively easy so you'll get to see a lot of the game without having to use continues. And the bosses never overstay their welcome. Two people can play at once, high scores are saved automatically, and as icing on the cake, you can save your best game to VMU and replay it later! Zero Gunner 2 is not a cheap import, but if you're a real Dreamcast fanatic this one might just be worth breaking your piggy bank for (just be sure your machine can play imports first). © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: SLN 250,000
1 or 2 players 

Zombie Revenge
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (1999)
Posted: 2008/10/28
Rating: Mature (17+) Animated blood, gore, violence

screenshotZombie Revenge plays like a third-person House of the Dead, with one or two players fighting zombies and plant monsters in factories and sewers. The generic name is fitting, because Sega clearly didn't put a lot of thought or effort into this title. Still, I like its arcade-style mayhem, which combines fast-paced action with well-defined visuals and crisp controls.

In addition to shotguns and machine guns, your weapon selection includes a devastating flamethrower and massive drill. When you run out of ammo (a rare occasion, trust me), don't lose heart because your punches deal as much damage as bullets! The shambling zombies look pretty standard, but I have to give some of these bosses props for being so morbidly grotesque.

At its best, Zombie Revenge feels like a 3D Streets of Rage, especially with two players fighting side-by-side. Enjoy it while it lasts, because the ride is short and very linear. There may be a few hidden rooms to discover, but the main route is always the same.

Extra modes include "boss battle" and "training", but the only one I found worthwhile was the "original" mode, which offers a remix of the standard arcade mode. Two VMU games are also included (Zombie Fishing and a memory game), but these won't hold your attention for long. Sega should have added more meat to the main game, but Zombie Revenge is still good for some quick, lightweight fun. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: arcade
Our high score: SDZ 28590
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, CD Romance