Archive for the ‘Dreamcast’ Category

Sonic Shuffle

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

I bought Crazy Taxi before I had a Dreamcast. And when I finally got my hands on the system, right before it was discontinued, it came with two (yes, two!) pack-in games: Sonic Adventure and Sonic Shuffle.

Sonic Shuffle is a rip… er… clone of Mario Party. You take your characters around various game boards and play mini-games to earn currency, and whoever gets the most wins! Only instead of Mario and Friends it’s Sonic and Friends, and instead of collecting coins you collect rings, and instead of being fun and exciting the game is boring and tedious.

I could only stomach playing this game one half of a time. I tossed it in the old Dreamcast mostly because it was free and I was hungry for something new to play. And it just didn’t do anything for me. All I could think of was how similar this game was to Mario Party, all the way down to the sound effects and the effects of the different spaces. And since I had already played that game to death I was just kind of done with the experience. And I kind of wonder, would I have liked this game better if I hadn’t already spent several dozen hours with a game that was mostly identical?

The Typing of the Dead

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

The House of the Dead 2 was a pretty good game. But along the way someone somewhere had the bright idea to combine the gory zombie shooting game with a typing tutor.

That might have been one of the best ideas ever had by anyone.

The game was already borderline ridiculous anyway, and this game is identical to its predecessor in every way… with a few exceptions. Instead of guns your guys have giant Dreamcast systems strapped to their backs and keyboards strapped to their fronts. They need these because the zombies that assault you have letters, words, and phrases welded to their fronts. You have to type the phrase on your ‘Dream-Blaster’ to neutralize the threat. The stronger the enemy, the longer and more complex the words and phrases are, and you’ll eventually work your way up to full sentences. Some are relatively normal, but some… I just don’t have the words.

The spectacularly entertaining horrendous voice acting is intact, which is a relief. Most of the enemies have been retrofitted to have pop hammers and lollipops instead of axes and such of the previous game, which just adds to the silliness. And sprinkled through the levels are powerups for big-headed zombie mode. It’s all just silly enough to be a really good game.

Typing of the Dead

This is one of the few games that I bought more than once on purpose. It seems to be ridiculously rare, but I stumbled over a copy for my Dreamcast, so I picked it up. And then a few months later I found a copy of the PC version (which seems to be even rarer) at one of my local toy stores when it went out of business, so I snapped it up as well. I spent a lot of time playing with both versions, so it was totally worth it.

And, as an upside, it made me a better typist, and it was a game I wanted to play. So, chew on that Mavis Beacon.

The House of the Dead 2

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

The original House of the Dead game was a pretty fun game. I mean, what could be better than shooting hordes of zombies in a mansion? Why, shooting hordes upon hordes of zombies in a city, of course!

You take control of one of two new mysterious agents of the equally mysterious organization ‘AMS’ and have to figure out what’s going on.

The game is a whole lot like the older one. You run through the city, shooting most things that move (try to not shoot the innocents, m’kay?). There’s still the branching paths depending on who you shoot and who you save, no big deal.

But, oh man, the voice acting in this game is on a whole other level. I don’t think the people who did the voices in this game actually speak English. It’s like they were given a phonetic pronunciation guide for English words, and then were given some muscle relaxers before the recording session.

Yeah, the story makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but the voice acting in this game clinches it for me. I can’t tell if the game is supposed to be serious or not. Due to the fact that I can hardly keep a straight face when the ladies in distress scream, “Don’t come! Don’t come!” make me think that it’s not supposed to be taken just too seriously.

Crazy Taxi 2

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

The original Crazy Taxi is one of my all-time favorite arcade games. I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing it, and although I can’t be considered a pro at it by any stretch, I consider myself to be competent at it. So when a (direct to home console) sequel came out, I was compelled to give it a try.

The sequel plays a lot like the first game with a couple of minor differences: the city is New York instead of San Francisco, the cabbies are different (although the original 4 can be unlocked), the car can jump, and you can pick up multiple people at once.

What hasn’t changed in this version is the arrow that is supposed to show you where your next destination is. It ends up, more often than not, pointing directly at the place you have to stop, rather than the best route to take, so you’ll encounter the arrow pointing an an impassable building, with your stop directly on the other side.

I’ll admit that I didn’t really put as much time into this game as I did the original. In order to get really good at the game, you have to commit the city layout to memory, since the arrow isn’t as helpful as it could be. That was something that I didn’t take the time to do. What I did do, and where I spent most of my time, was to complete the ‘Crazy Pyramid’ mode, which is a series of drills designed to make you a better player. Though, I do admit, I only did it to unlock the weird baby carriage… thing. Yep, you get to travel around the city at breakneck speed, delivering people to their destinations in a giant baby carriage. Try to tell me that’s not awesome.

KISS Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

It is not physically possible for me to walk by a game that costs less than a dollar and not get it. Especially if it’s new and I don’t already have a copy. There are days where I do wish that I didn’t have this problem, though. The day I bought a game based on the band KISS was one of those days.

What this game is about, I have no earthly idea. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. But there are these guys, not actually band members, who have to run around generic scummy city areas, killing aliens and collecting pieces of KISS armor (those outfits that the band members wear on stage). Other than playing dress-up with your guy, what does KISS have to do with this game? Well, if you walk up to a jukebox you can hear a few seconds of one of the band’s songs.

This game is so bland, so boring, and so empty that after the initial action, I wandered around after about two hours before I finally found the stupid piece of armor that I was looking for. So I never managed to figure out what was going on in this game or why I should care, so I quit caring and excised this thing from my Dreamcast for good.

Jet Grind Radio

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Leave it to those wacky folks at Sega to take an innocent pastime like skating and using spray paint to vandalize private property and turn it into a video game involving kidnapping, the military, and eventually demons.

No fooling.

Jet Grind Radio (a.k.a. Jet Set Radio just about everywhere else in the world) starts out with a guy (Beat) who has a burning desire to start his own inline-skate gang. He quickly recruits a couple of folks hanging out on the street (Tab and Gum), and gets to work carving out a niche for his fledgling group.

He does this by skating around the different parts of the city (Tokyo-to, the names in this game are very creative), using the spraypaint scattered everywhere to tag a certain amount of objects. “Tagging” in this game is “street” for “putting your gang’s logo on it”. Tag enough things in a rival gang’s territory, and two things will happen:

  1. The local police force will send out increasingly-deadly means to stop you, one detective → squads of cops in riot gear → helicopters → tanks and heavy artillery. It seems a bit excessive to me, but I’ve never been in charge of ridding the streets of rampant graffiti activities.
  2. Your group will challenge another group to a race of sorts. You skate around a circuit with three members of the rival gang. Your goal is to catch up with them and tag them in the back with your gang’s logo. Then you get to control their area of town, somehow.

Central to all of this is the pirate radio station, run by Professor K. He does the exposition between acts and is supposedly the one feeding the music into the gigantic headphones that some of the characters wear.

The actual story of the game is completely indecipherable. It involves pieces of an evil record, a corrupt organization, and demons in a shape that roughly resembles a hippopotamus.

No kidding.

Sega Swirl

Friday, August 31st, 2007

A while back I briefly mentioned that Sega Swirl, a freebie game included with multiple Sega products. In saying that it was terrible, I gave it more space than it really deserved, but I suppose I should at least justify my position.

Sega Swirl is a clone of the old, also not very good, puzzle game SameGame. Simply put, you have a screen with different colored elements (balls, Sega logos, or what have you). If two or more of the same color are touching, you can clear them and the rest of the elements will collapse down and to the left. The goal is to make your screen empty.

Sega Swirl gameplay

Saying that this game is terrible may be me lashing out because I can’t think far enough ahead in the way required to win this game. I may be frustrated because my brain does not work in such a way that lets me see enough moves in advance to be successful. Or maybe I feel that the game is too inaccessible and can only be completely enjoyed by a fraction of a fraction of people, and is flawed as a result. But that would be silly.

The Typing of the Dead

Friday, June 29th, 2007

A little on the busy side today, please enjoy these impressions of a game that I wrote back in 2002.

If you’ve already played The House of the Dead 2, then you know how the basic story of this game goes. Two agents run around a city, killing millions of zombies who are trying to eat the world. In the original, you were armed with a gun, in this one, you are equipped with a portable Dreamcast and keyboard strapped to your chest.So how do you beat up zombies? Every time a zombie appears on the screen, a little bubble will pop up with what phrase it takes to kill it off. The phrases range from one letter to phrases that are a little odd. Part of the reason that the game is so fun is that it doesn’t take itself very seriously, it knows that deep down it’s just a typing tutor. So it has to do something to keep all you grownups coming back for more (this game is rated mature, after all). One of the most striking changes is in the weapons that the zombies use. Instead of axes, they use spatulas and toy hammers. It makes me giggle just thinking about it.

Along with ‘Arcade Mode’ the game also features an ‘Original Mode’ which features ‘powerups’ you can get (they slow the zombies down or finish typing the word for you), as well as some drills to help increase your speed and accuracy (‘Defeat 30 zombies as quickly as possible!’, for example.) There are plenty of modes to keep you entertained for a while.

So, if your typing skills are sub-par (like mine) and you want to try to make them better, then you should go find this game. Also, as a side note, the game was developed for the computer, but never released in the United States. If you go here you can download a demo nontheless.

Get it. It’s good.

Space Channel 5

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Rhythm games just seem to get weirder and weirder. Case in point: Space Channel 5. This is a game about ratings. You play the part of eye-candy reporter Ulala as she investigates some weird alien phenomenon that is forcing people to mindlessly dance. How does she combat this? Why, with the power of dance, of course!

Each stage has a distinctive sound track that plays throughout. As you make your way through the stage, you will be stopped periodically by people and aliens that will do a few dance moves. You have to mimic these moves to set the hypnotized people free and defeat the aliens. You also have an approval rating that is based on how well you dance (you work for a TV Station, remember?). Miss too many steps (lose too many viewers) and you have the plug pulled on your show.

If you do play this game, be sure to keep a look out for ‘Space Michael’. Some famous singer/dancer/songwriter managed to record some ‘Woo’s and a ‘Thank you, Ulala!’ specifically for this game.

Crazy Taxi

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

I think Crazy Taxi might be my favorite driving game to come out in recent memory, even though on the surface it looks a little dull.

Crazy Taxi tasks you, as one of four cabbies, with picking up customers and taking them to their destinations withing the time limit. You get them there quickly and you get bonus seconds added to your clock and money added to your bankroll. How you get the customers to their destinations, though, that’s where the fun starts.

Your cab is unique in that it’s got the amazing ability to accelerate from zero to top speed in under 5 seconds, can stop on a dime, can drift around corners, and is completely indestructible. If you give your customers an exciting experience, they’ll give you tips. How do you make it exciting? Near misses going through traffic, jumping and getting ‘big air’, and drifting around curves. Each successive tip increases your multiplier, which increases the tips you can get, while crashing will reset your counter. So you’re encouraged to drive extremely aggressively, but not hit anything. It’s quite the challenge, especially with congested streets, and cars that always seem to right in the optimal path of your car. Set all of this mayhem with a soundtrack by The Offspring and Bad Religion and you have the makings of quite a game.

Your reward for playing well, other than a high score, is that each successful fare adds precious seconds to your timer, allowing you the ability to play longer. The better you get at the game, the longer you can play it, which is quite the anomaly for an arcade game.