Dreamcast: Sega’s Last Scream (Part Three)

Dreamcast: Sega’s Last Scream

SONIC ADVENTURE

Ahh, Sonic. Tails. Knuckles. Amy. And the rest, launched upon the Dreamcast into what would sadly become a poor-yet-workable analogy for Gilligan’s Island. However, the trip of the Dreamcast wasn’t yet a tale, and never turned out to be a fateful trip, but it did carry out upon its maiden voyage one hell of a launch title. Because pound for pound, Sonic Adventure preserved everything that was so great about its 2D predecessors, and fit the bill of new features as Sonic and friends entered the 3D realm.

Jumping out of the gate on 9.9.99, Sonic Adventure was the Hedgehog’s first real foray into a 3D game (no, the Sonic 2 and 3 bonus stages don’t count!) that found him in the midst of what might be able to be called a world akin to our own- if have places like Mystic Ruins and a floating shrine for the Master Emerald are indeed just a small jog or train ride away. Through the course of the game, you’ll play out the story from the perspectives of all the characters involved, from the older cats like Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, as well as some new faces, including a fishing redneck cat named Big, E-102’y’ (read ‘Gamma, methinks) with the face only Dr. Robotnik could love, and the reintroduction of Sonic’s un-love interest, Amy. The gripe against ‘Dr. Eggman’ (which has to be one of the poorest name imports since ‘Princess Peach” yeesh), as it is unfolded Jackie Brown-styles from each of the character’s point of view. This time out it seems as if Eggman, discontent to be resigned to his Mean Bean Machine or jettisoning his Russian-sounding last name, is out to capture all of the Chaos Emeralds to create and feed a monster with the most original name ever, ‘Chaos!’ The point of the game then, is to keep the emeralds away from ‘Eggman,’ as to keep Chaos in check. Fun times indeed.

Despite being a launch title, Sonic Adventure exhibited many quality elements that put it into a class by itself- that is, given the remarkable amount of time spent by Sega setting the bar as high as it could go. Sporting immense environments and a colorful dynamic backdrop, the visuals on Sonic Adventure were as breathtaking- if not more so- than other platformers of it’s day. The animation stays at a solid frame rate across the board, and is complimented by the great recreation of everything ‘Sonic’ in a manner that the Dreamcast delivered so well. Some cats initially complained about the camera acting up in some places, but these are the arguments of the impatient and spoiled- it has no detraction whatsoever. Immense bosses, colorful enemies and worlds; the magic elements of the old had been made anew against a whole new axis for developers to play with and for gamers to drool over.

You want gameplay? Sonic Adventure brought it like none other. Spanning across the aforementioned character roster, each one has his/her own quest and own techniques needed to complete the level. So while you’ll be sending Sonic and Tails against the clock like yuppies in the business world and making like a thugged out cat burglar with Knuckles (who gets some of his history clarified through the progression of the game), your task with Big the Cat involves fishing for the largest catch you can find, in stereotypical redneck fashion. Hell- even if you begin to grow bored whacking mechanical ostriches with Amy or shooting up any given place with E-102, there’s even a Chao minigame you can play on your VMU. Add to the fact that there’s a special amended surprise when you beat the game with every character, and you’ve got a damned fine platforming adventure right in front of ya!

The score of the Sonic games have always been held at some sort of gaming vanguard, I’m sure, and Sonic Adventure doesn’t disappoint. The game makes good use of the Dreamcast’s sound hardware, as well as putting forth the most delightfully annoying orchestrations of J-Pop tunes (you’ll know exactly how I feel whenever Tails comes out to play) heard this side of the Pacific. Each piece composed for the game compliments its assigned level like a pair of fuzzy dice in the windshield of a Pinto. The voice work, albeit somewhat comical at times, lends the characters a personality that we all knew existed, but because of new hardware, could now audibly appreciate.

All of this aside, Sonic Adventure‘s position in the Sonic Pantheon is a high one; in my opinion, ranking right up there with the Sonic 3 + Sonic and Knuckles Combo and Sonic CD. And for the cheap price of admission, you owe it to yourself to spend some time with this game- your Russian doctor and pet echidna will thank you.

Frederick Badlissi


STREET FIGHTER III: 3RD STRIKEADIO

Ahh, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. Not only does the Dreamcast have Naomi titles down flat, but Street Fighter’s 3 & 3/3rds reiteration proves that the animation-fest that is CPS3 can be taken equally in stride. Adding 5 new zany cats to the roster (including your favorite Chinese cop, and that guy who speaks in grunts- this time without a secret code!), intermittent rap songs in-between fights, and a grading system that makes you feel unnecessarily inferior to a CPU chip, Third Strike brings you all the parrying and flash you’ve come to know and love! And while this apple didn’t fall far from Double Impact, Third Strike is still indeed worth a go.

Frederick Badlissi



Dreamcast: Sega’s Last Scream

SHENMUE

Yu Suzuki is a god. What… you don’t know who he is? (Bebito’s Note: Seriously though, if you don’t know who Yu Suzuki is, you have no business reading this site. Go away.) He’s the brainchild of Shenmue, one of the most unique and original titles to ever be created. He had a vision multi-episodic story, and a game experience unlike any before it. A story of nothing other than good versus evil.

The game is played from the eyes of Ryo Hazuki. He runs home one day to find a man beating the tar out of his father. This man, Lan Di, wants to know something about a mirror. Ryo’s father, Iwao, will not divulge the information Lan Di wants, and is killed for it. Lan Di mistakenly lets Ryo live, and he vows to get revenge for his father’s death, which sets him on an adventure to find out more about this mirror and try to catch a boat to Hong Kong.

The game is very unique because it plays like REAL LIFE. You have a clock on the screen, and time passes during the game. Every day, you get an allowance, and go about your business. Every house has a name by it, and chances are, there are as many people as houses. The town feels like a real Japanese town. The weather will even change.

There are several different modes of play. Usually, you’re just walking around talking to people like normal. You will occasionally get clues and you use those clues to progress in the game. When you fight, it’s typically done much like a fighting game. And rather than gain ‘experience’ as in a standard RPG, you practice and improve your skills in certain combos to increase their strength. The final mode of play is called QTE, and it plays much like a rhythm game, where you have to press a certain button at a certain time using lightning fast reflexes. Besides those, there also is a really cool Forklift minigame.

But the coolest part are the vending machines and stores! There are vending machines all over the place, and if you put in 100 yen you’ll get a little toy figure, usually from the Sonic or Virtua Fighter games. Plus, you can go into stores and buy certain items (like tapes which contain background music from the game), which will earn you a draw in a bucket, where you can win even more cool stuff, like limited edition figurines and Saturn games. Though they’re actually old arcade games, you can actually take them to your house and play them on your Saturn. That’s what really makes this game special: all the little shit that they throw in, including the figurines, the tapes, the arcade games and the Saturn games. It’s those types of things that REALLY get me loving a game.

The original Shenmue sold relatively well on the Dreamcast, which prompted them to make Shenmue II. Unfortunately, Sega got handed a wad of cash by Microsoft, and America got f*cked over. In Japan and Europe, Shenmue II was developed for the Dreamcast, but with Microsoft’s wad of bills sticking out of their pockets, Sega decided to release it only on the Xbox. That version was released much later than the other versions, and since people didn’t really want to buy a new system or wait, the European version of Shenmue II became one of the biggest import titles. And because of that, the sales of the Xbox version suffered. The future isn’t completely clear on the series. There have been vague announcements made, but nothing is concrete. There were rumors of a Shenmue collection, containing Shenmue I, II and the forthcoming III, and there were even rumors of Shenmue III being a movie only, but no one is really sure for now, except for maybe Yu Suzuki.

Lee Baxley


BANGAI-O

This is one fruity game. What does that scare you? Can you not handle fruity games? Are you incapable of seeing the beauty of a game that is all at once simple to control and complex in the ramifications of its usage? While Lucard has Ikaruga and the wannabes on GameFAQs can pretend they have Radiant Silvergun, I will always call Bangai-O my favorite Treasure game. More than Silhouette Mirage, more than Gunstar Heroes, even more than Guardian Heroes, Light Crusader, and Alien Soldier, Bangai-O, in all it’s fruity beauty, stands as my favorite Treasure game. But how, you ask, can a game that does not command the prices and cachet among the so-called gaming elite be my favorite Treasure game? Simple, the Treasure folks took a simple idea and control scheme, a robot that unleashes bullet storms using a Robotron style control system, married it to a plot that defies logic and explanation, and stirred in a very addictive, puzzle game style, stage structure. The robot is small, the music is odd, and the plot makes as much sense as the untranslated Parodius plot, but the majesty of dodging a few hundred bullets so you can unleash a mighty burst of gunfire on your foes is simply mind-blowing. On a system with more shooters than RPGs, a good point to me, at least, Bangai-O stands as an unusual, and amazing, example of game design that will sorely be missed by the faithful, myself included.

Chuck Platt



Dreamcast: Sega’s Last Scream

CAPCOM VS SNK: MILLENIUM FIGHT 2000

Wow. Was this a fighting game fan’s wet dream or what?

Back in the days before the Dreamcast and the death of the first SNK there were two distinct fighting camp groups. On one hand you had Capcom fans and Street Fighter. Classic characters such as Ryu and Ken. The Revenge hungry Guile. The evil M. Bison. And the all too kick ass Sagat. In the other camp? SNK’s King of Fighters series. Characters such as Terry Bogard, Geese Howard, Iori, and Kyo. Both games had their merits. Street Fighter was much faster, prettier to look at, and more popular. Every arcade had an SF console. KoF on the other hand had far more intricate gameplay and back-story so deep they could fill an entire book. Street Fighter had constant upgrades with SF2, SF2 Turbo, SSF2, and SSF2T. Each game was slightly different and introduced new playable characters. Each KoF game however, was completely different from the one before it, drawing characters from other SNK games such as Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting.

And my god were fans loyal. You think the current fanboy insanity is bad with Sony fans ragging on the Nintendo for being ‘Kiddee’? Or Xbox fans using profanity on anyone who dares disagree with them? Then you never saw SNK fans go at it against Capcom ones. The rivalry was so intense even the companies got into it with characters making fun of each other’s games. Dan from Street Fighter Alpha? Outright jab at SNK characters. SNK fans accused Capcom of taking classic SNK characters and remaking them slightly, slapping on a new name and adding them to the Capcom stable of characters. Ryu was just Ryo. Ken was just Terry Bogard without a hat and ponytail. Capcom fans called KoF games graphically beastly and horribly unbalanced. Some characters just were not playable while others were so overly powerful it was scary.

Me? I was in the middle. My favorite characters are Sagat from Street Fighter and my wonderful wonderful Yuri from AoF/KoF. That little minx cracks me up every time. Yeah, I was more a Capcom fan, but that was because of Darkstalkers. Donovan Bane, Demitri, Morrigan. Those characters kicked ass!

But the debate raged. Who was better? Ken or Terry? Athena or Chun Li? Iori or Akuma? Vega or Joe? Any possible combination, people would fight over it. But it was all in the minds of very obsessed gamers. And badly written fanfics.

But then it happened. SNK needed cash to stay afloat. And Capcom needed something new after exploiting their partnership with Marvel to the point of exhaustion.

So enter two games. The first was SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium for the Neo Geo Pocket Colour. The greatest fighting game ever made and one that you must go out and play. The second was for Arcades and the Dreamcast and was called Capcom vs SNK: Millennium Fight 2000.

CVS: MF2K was made by Capcom but followed more the SNK KoF style of gameplay where you used teams of characters instead of one on one battles like in Street Fighter. Characters were worth a point value ranging from 1 to 4 and your team had to equal 4 points. It was an interesting concept although it made some teams like Balrog (3 points) and Ryu (2 points) or Geese (4 points) and Terry (2 points) impossible. But it let me have my dream team of Sagat and Yuri, so I was more than happy.

This game also helped to introduce the concept of Grooves. There were three different ones. A Capcom Groove set in the style of SFA and SSFT2, An SNK groove set in the style of KoF where you charge for special moves. Both grooves have their own merit and flaws.

I bought this game on Launch Day. I already had spent massive amounts of free time in the arcade pissing off people with the sound of ‘Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!’ Trust me people, a great Sagat player is to be feared. Same with Yuri. Now if only Shingo was in the game. Between him and Sagat I’d have a team of the most annoying vocals in all fighting gamedom! ‘TIGER! SHINGO KIIIIICK! TIGER! SHINGO KIIIIIICK!’

I fell in love with this game. I ignored the stupid fanboy rantings from both sides and enjoyed the game for what it was. Some kick ass tag team fighter action. I loved seeing characters interact before battles. SNK and Capcom counterparts make snide moves towards each other as their respective fan bases would do in chat rooms or on forums. Even characters from their respective worlds had special intros when meeting rivals. Sagat’s scar would glow whenever he encountered Ryu. Ryo would just shake his head at Yuri. Ken and Terry would compliment each other on being babe magnets. And Geese and Bison would just trade evildoer cliches’.

Is it as good as the NGPC game? No. Nothing is. But you know what? This game still allowed you to have your dream matches between SNK and Capcom characters. It allowed a lot of heavy trash talking in arcades as Kyo beat Guile, Cammy beat Iori and other bizarre and amusing battles occurred. It was a little slice of heaven to be able to play these characters in an arcade and against random people.

To unlock Morrigan and use her against Mai. Sheer Bliss. To watch a Geese Master take out a team of 4 other characters, perfecting them all. Amazing. Capcom vs SNK was a dream come true, even if some overly retarded fanboys had to bitch about minor little things proving that the worst people are the hardcore fans, because they WILL find something to complain about even when given their dream game.

I still play this game on my Dreamcast more than any other. I love to see how high of a Groove Point Score I can get. I still have things to unlock because I never traded points from my NGPC to my DC. If I see it in an arcade, I will go out of my way to play it.

This game rekindled my love of arcades in the same way that Street Fighter 2 did when it first came out. And in the same way SNK vs Capcom Chaos has. Although in that case, I just sit around at home and play it on my Neo Geo because I was insane enough to pay a few hundred dollars for it (and SS0! JOY!!!!!)

A true fighting fan needs to play this game. To try out different teams. To truly savour what it is like when the two greatest fighting games ever made came together for the first time. This game is a page of history. Like Sonic appearing on the Game Cube. Like Camelot leaving Sega. Like Zelda appearing on the CD-I. Capcom VS SNK is a game you have to be thankful exists. And it only could have been playable on the Dreamcast. Marvel vs Capcom 2 on the PS2 or Xbox? Laughable. Capcom vs. SNK on anything but the Dreamcast or Arcade? Humorous. This game was designed for NAOMI people. This game was designed for the Dreamcast. Imbibe this ambrosia of the fighting game gods in its nature arena. Don’t settle for second best. Get your groove on here and now. Maybe you’ll even be able to take on Sagat and Yuri with some practice. ;-)

Alex Lucard

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