Inside Pulse 12

Dreamcast: Sega’s Last Scream (Part Two)

Dreamcast: Sega’s Last Scream

GRANDIA II

If you are a gamer, or a RPGer in particular, you should know who Game Arts is. If you don’t, you should be taken outside and bludgeoned with a large, smelly carp. Maybe that’s a bit harsh. You should at least get kicked in the nuts no less than twice, or if you’re of the female persuasion, you should be spanked or something naughty like that. Ahem… Game Arts are only the makers of one of the greatest game series of all time: LUNAR!

Oh, and yea, they make the Grandia series too.

In all seriousness, Game Arts makes good games. In addition to the Lunar and Grandia series, they’ve also made fan favorites like Gungriffon Blaze and Silpheed. But the best game they’ve made for post-PS1 consoles is easily Grandia II.

As always, here’s the story. You play as Ryudo, a happy-go-lucky Geohound (kind of like a Bounty Hunter/Mercenary), who is hired to be the bodyguard to Elena, a songstress for the religious order of Granas. Soon, they are embroiled in a battle for the fate of the planet and learn about the deadly war between the good Granas and the evil Valmar, whose body parts were scattered and are now being sought out by a strange woman named Millenia, who oddly enough, is never around when Elena is.

This is the first game I got for my Dreamcast. Like I’ve said in the past, I was one of the assholes who was too critical of Sega to see a good thing, and I only became open minded on the subject when the Dreamcast dropped to $50, which was when it was in its dying throes. So this was my first experience with the great things that the system could accomplish. The story was excellent, the graphics were great, and the gameplay was unbelievable. The Grandia battle system, which has been tweaked to near perfection, still holds up as arguably the best turn based RPG battle system on the planet. And the magic system, which used a series of equipable Mana Eggs was very unique too.

Grandia II was very popular, and even was ported to the PS2 and PC, but the best version is easily the Dreamcast’s. The ports just don’t play as well for some reason. And sadly, the successor to this title, Grandia Xtreme, was vastly inferior. The graphics were about the same, if not better, but the story was almost nonexistent, and it ended up being a boring dungeon crawl game. Sure the gameplay was incredible as always, but don’t even get me started on the voice acting. They got big names like Dean Cain and Mark Hammill, but they didn’t fit the roles well at all. Grandia II had Cam Clarke though. Cam f*cking Clarke! You know, Leonardo from the original TMNT cartoon’ And Jodi Benson, aka Ariel, the Little Mermaid. All the roles were cast brilliantly here. So Grandia II is an excellent game all around, and a must have in any Dreamcast collection.

Lee Baxley


FIRE PRO WRESTLING D

Bebito didn’t want imports on this list. I wouldn’t blame him if this were any other system, but the Dreamcast has three legendary wrestling titles and they are all import, so what can you do? (Bebito’s Note: Wait, wait, wait. I love imports. Imports are fine and dandy, but you made me include them because of a WRESTLING game?! :p) I have played wrestling games from the NES to the GameCube, but only one game gets my nod as the single greatest wrestling game of all time. This is that game. From the moment I discovered its existence, I knew it had to be special. Sure, I’d played the SNES iterations a little, but the Dreamcast version had so many tantalizing features: downloadable moves, mats, and rename files, not to mention downloadable roster packs, and, in a sea of 4 player Battle Royals, this was a game with 4 on 4 matches and 8 at once Battle Royals. Once I acquired a copy, I truly discovered the joys of this game. A huge roster of wrestlers, from Sting and Steve Austin to Misawa and Muta, barbed wire and light bulb Death Matches, Burning Hammers and Steiner Screwdrivers. Add in the fact that you could download 40 new moves (Schwein! Shining Wizard! Ankle Lock!), and perfectly rendered Create a Wrestler packs with wrestlers obscure and legendary. Tully Blanchard, Genki Horiguchi, and Low Ki all await you on the Internet. Trust this one thing: if you and a friend have a Kai En Tai (Dick Togo, MEN’s Teioh, TAKA, and Funaki) versus Crazy MAX (CIMA, SUWA, Don Fuji, and TARU) match, this will become your favorite wrestling game. A BIG part of this game’s appeal, though, has to be the community. A real, live community of people who love gaming, wrestling, and sarcasm. From the Message board of choice to the best sites to get downloads, there are a metric ton of kickass things to get off the Internet. And then there’s Blackhart. Jason Blackhart has gone above and beyond the call of duty, hacking moves to get better CRITICAL!’s and even adding in moves that were included in Z but not D. You can find him somewhere if you look. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some updating to do…

Chuck Platt



Dreamcast: Sega’s Last Scream

IKARUGA

Man. Who’s having Deja’ vu? Haven’t I talked about this game twice before? It’s like I’m stuck on either telling you to go buy Shining Force CD or Ikaruga on constant basis.

People, what more do you need me to say? It’s a 2D Treasure shooter. It’s a game involving blowing lots of shit up while switching polarities at just the right time to ensure buttloads of points and not getting blown up.

I’ve begged you to buy the Game Cube version twice now. Explained to you that you can now get an English version. A version that doesn’t involve boot discs or modding your system. I’ve told you to go buy it. I’ve demanded you buy it. I’ve crapped in a box and mailed it to your parents in an attempt to get you to buy it. I’ve even pleaded with you to buy it. And if you haven’t… well, that’s why we talk about the Dreamcast version.

Be a supercool hardcore import gamer and buy a DC-X boot disc and the original Japanese version of Ikaruga! It’s the exact same as the US GameCube version but far more expensive and harder to find! But you can impress all your Internet friends by lying and say you owned the original version and that everyone is an asswipe for not owning this incredible seizure inducing shooter! Won’t that be cool?

Just go buy Ikaruga people. Buy it for the Cube. Buy it for the Dreamcast. See why Treasure has a reputation for putting out incredible shooters. Look at the pretty screenshots Bebito has provided.

I know Americans generally aren’t shooter fans. I see the sales. I see sports games and FPS games and Stupid Beavis and Butthead stuff like GTA controlling the charts and it makes me sad. Shooters have a grand tradition people. Asteroids! Gradius! Gunbird! Mars Matrix! Parodius! These are all games that require skill! Games that require eyes and fingers to be as fast as your mind. Games where the blinking of an eye at the wrong second can spell doom for your ship. And you owe it to yourself to experience real gaming. Tough as nails gaming. Not watered down so easy a 7 year old can play it and win crap. Games that make you EARN that extra life or levels that make you sweat with anticipation. Games that require lightning reflexes. Games that truly must be mastered instead of beaten.

And you won’t find that outside the shooter genre. So you wanna talk about your massive video game collection? You wanna brag about what you own and what you’ve beaten and how hardcore you are? You wanna believe video gaming measures your manhood and impresses people? Then go try and beat Ikaruga without a continue. Try and see how large of a combo you can get. Then you might have something that raises an eyebrow or gets people on whatever forum you visit to give a rat’s ass. Me? I’ll just be glad you finally grew the hell up and tried a game instead of the latest attempt by a third rate developer to convince you that 3D jiggling pixilated boobs really are a game and not a downright obvious sign that you are one sad and lonely individual.

Alex Lucard


SEGA RALLY 2

Hmm. Ya know, I’ve always found it funny that the games that are the most respected and most critically acclaimed within the gaming industry but yet are the least notable commercially, quite commonly are found inside the house of Sega, especially for the North American market. Virtual On. Space Channel 5. And up until just recently Virtua Fighter. All and more are in that club of games that everybody ‘in the know’ appreciates but ‘nobody’ buys. But the biggest victim out of all of these is the Sega Rally series. Sega Rally is well renowned as debatably the greatest rally racing franchise ever but they’ve sold mediocre when ported home from arcade. Anyone remember the defunct gaming mag, Next Generation? On their top 100 games of all-time feature, this was in the Top 15. Especially with Sega Rally 2, Sega Rosso has crafted one of the most fluidly playable games ever to be made within the genre; much more than a single paragraph can do justice. Powersliding is like a fantastic dream that you never want to wake up from. Cars handle realistically enough to be technically plausible, but arcadey enough to be blazingly fast. The sense of speed is simply breathtaking here without ever seeming ridiculous. Add to that the best original musical score I’ve ever heard in a racing game (No licensed crap here.) and you have something special. The tunes are custom made and are instantly recognizable to the game even if you were to hear them separate from it, sound effects included, giving the game a very distinct feel. Bottom line to end a woefully constrained description? If there was only ONE racing game I told you to pick up for the Dreamcast, this is it. THIS is the fastest, most in-depth arcade racer ever brought home for any system.

“Easy right. Medium left. Long easy right… Maybe.” Music to the ears.

Bebito Jackson



Dreamcast: Sega’s Last Scream

POWER STONE

Rather than cranking out another 2D fighter, Capcom decided to go the 3D route, but make the game more of a hybrid between a 3D fighter and an arcade beat-em-up. The result? Power Stone, one of the most enjoyable multiplayer titles available on the Dreamcast. Originally an arcade title, the game is perfectly ported (as usual with the Dreamcast), with incredibly fluid graphics and animation.

The concept’s simple enough; pick a character, and beat the living piss out of your opponent. However, you’ve got a rather short life meter, and no piles of fancy combos that inundate fighting games nowadays. If you want to do more damage, use your environment. Almost anything can be a weapon: chairs, crates, barrels, etc. And if you’re using a beefy character, you can rip down poles and supports and baseball-swing them into your opponent! Not bad at all, and it doesn’t stop there. Barrels and crates can be broken open to reveal powerups and weapons, ranging from swords to machine-guns to rocket launchers to ray guns. Or, if you’re lucky, a Power Stone will pop out. Collect three of these, and your fighter will “evolve” into a super powered version of themselves, which often looks radically different. You only stay in this evolved mode for a short time, so make use of it by hitting either the L or R trigger; these unleashed devastating attacks that’ll f*ck up everything on the screen.

Character design in the game is great. You’ve got a genie, a samurai, a Native American, a British fighter pilot, a mummy, and more. A random assortment, to be sure, but a good one nonetheless. Each character has a few special moves and combos, but they’re extremely simple to pull off, unlike many 2D fighters. You can even smash your opponents through various parts of the environments; is that pesky glass window in your way? Get rid of it using your opponent’s face! The “evolved” versions of the characters look badass, and a few are reminiscent of Marvel Comics characters. I’m not kidding! Ryoma looks like the Silver Samurai, and Gunrock looks like the Thing when they’ve collected three Power Stones.

Power Stone 2 added a few more characters, like a chef and a useless schoolboy. Also, the second game added a much-appreciated four-player option, so you can whomp on up to three of your friends. Let the swearing begin! The story was a tad more cohesive in this installment, but who plays a fighter for the story? (Bebito’s Note: I guess me and Lucard are alone on that one, eh?)

Like many games these days, repeated plays of Power Stone will unlock various extras, like items you can assign to specific stages. There’s also three mini-games you can download to the Dreamcast VMU: slots, an airplane game, and a ninja throwing star game. Hey, the more the merrier!

To sum it up, the first Power Stone is a better “fighter,” while Power Stone 2 obviously takes the cake for ridiculous powerups and multiplayer madness. Both games are an absolutely necessary addition to any Dreamcast fan’s library. Trust me, you can’t live without them.

Liquidcross

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