Rating: T (Teen)
Publisher: Sega of America
Release Date: 11/2/2004
When the Playstation 2 EyeToy was released last year, it came with a pack-in disc of mini-games known as EyeToy: Play. Support for the peripheral has been a bit sporadic ever since, with the lackluster EyeToy: Groove disc leading the pack, but this fall saw the release of Sega Superstars, which is…you guessed it…a collection of mini-games, but with a Sega theme. There’s twelve mini-games in total, each based on a Sega franchise.
Sega Superstars is a collection of mini-games; there is no story. At the same time, though, you can’t penalize a game for not having a story if it was never meant to have one in the first place. Hell, if you want, you can combine the backstories of each individual franchise represented in the collection. Regardless, the story rating here is simply one that won’t affect the overall score, positive or negative.
Most of the mini-games look nice and smooth; the only real pixellation you’ll get is the image of yourself on the screen. You won’t see any mindblowing character models or insane draw distances, but that’s not the point. (Actually, you’ll barely see any draw distance at all, since the games are designed to be rather “flat.”) I encountered zero framerate problems, which is always a boon.
While some of the sound effects can be irritating (like the bridge triggers in ChuChu Rocket!), the overall audio in Sega Superstars is quite pleasing. Many classic Sega tracks are here, like the themes from Space Channel 5 and Samba de Amigo. Just don’t expect a flawless grand orchestral score, and you won’t be disappointed.
The gameplay naturally varies for each mini-game on the disc, so I’ll make like Run DMC and break it down:
- Virtua Fighter – You get to beat the crap out of VF characters as if they’re actually standing there. You can attack, block, pull off combos…very, very cool.
- Virtua Striker – You pop balloons by headbutting a soccer ball at them. Kinda weak, but not horrible.
- ChuChu Rocket! – The lil’ mice (ChuChus) are running from cats (KapuKapus) towards rockets, and you must raise and lower bridges to help them. Seems simple enough, but it gets rather hectic, and you often must decide how many mice will die in order to save the rest.
- Crazy Taxi – Ugh. For the love of God, don’t play this mini-game…it’s just painful. All it consists of is you waving your arms around like a moron trying to hail a taxi. The entire disc would’ve been better off without it.
- NiGHTS into Dreams – If there’s any Sega character who doesn’t get his due, it’s NiGHTS. He’s only had one real game to himself, but he’s loved by Sega fanatics worldwide. Anyway, his mini-game is essentially the same as his original Saturn title, except you use your arms to literally fly NiGHTS through various rings.
- Sonic the Hedgehog – C’mon, you knew he’d be in here somewhere. Remember the halfpipe bonus levels from past Sonic games? Then you should know what to expect with this mini-game. Sonic speeds down a tunnel, and you use your arms to guide him to the right or left in order to collect rings and Chaos Emeralds, hit speed boosters, and avoid spiked balls.
- House of the Dead – If you’ve played the EyeToy: Play mini-game Kung Foo, then you’ll be ready for this. Zombies and other nasties pop up on the screen, and you swat them down. Every now and then, a frightened girl will appear, but take care not to hit her by accident; if you do, she’ll smack you. There’s also boss fights, and you need to time your assaults accordingly, as bosses can only be damaged when a green indicator is flashing on their heads.
- Super Monkey Ball – You use your arms to angle the board that… and friends are rolling around on, much like the original games. Luckily, the boards aren’t nearly as difficult this time around.
- Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg – Reminds me of Katamari Damacy. Billy rolls around a monstrous egg and demolishes things. Bwahaha!
- Space Channel 5 – This plays just like the original SC5 games, where you have to repeat a pattern. Rather than pushing buttons on a controller, though, you’ll smack directional panels on the screen. Just touching the panels won’t cut it; you definitely need to thrust your arms at them with some force! And yes, the amazing SC5 music is present.
- Samba de Amigo – A monkey with maracas and a sombrero. If that wasn’t cool enough, yes, this mini-game is just as fun as its Dreamcast namesake. Rather that using maracas controllers, though, you’ll be waving at color panels in time with the beats; plenty of Latin-theme songs are in here, including the SdA theme music and Buster Poindexter’s hit Hot! Hot! Hot! (though of course it’s not actually his version).
- Puyo Pop Fever – This game alone makes the entire collection worth it. Loads and loads of multicolored Puyos fall from the top of the screen, and you use your entire body to guide them into four different colored bins on the left and right. Bombs will drop, too, and you just want to let those fall to the ground; if they make it into a bin, you’ll lose points.
Overall, the mini-games are quite good (except for Crazy Taxi). The control is surprisingly responsive; the motion tracking in Sega Superstars is much more sensitive than it is in other EyeToy titles like EyeToy: Play or EyeToy: Groove. While this is generally a good thing, sometimes even the mildest disturbances (like shadows) can throw off your game.
This was an easy “10” rating, no question. EyeToy games are specifically designed to be played over and over again; even if you get bored for a while with one game, you’ll likely bring over your friends and play alongside them, which makes the entire gaming session a lot more interesting. Competing for high scores and such almost makes it an entirely new game, and that is something you’ll never grow tired of.
All of the minigames have the “easy” mode ready by default; to unlock harder modes, you need only complete the mode before it. This is a perfect difficulty curve. Newcomers won’t have any problems, and even if you get good enough to complete the more difficult challenges, you’ll still have high scores to overtake.
The EyeToy itself is indeed a gaming innovation, and every EyeToy disc so far has naturally taken advantage of that. Sega Superstars is no exception; while the mini-games and characters are all based off of existing properties, using them in this particular format is quite a breath of fresh air.
Sega Superstars falls into the same “dont knock it ’til you try it” category as the other EyeToy games as well as titles like Harvest Moon. What appears to be completely ridiculuous and stupid is actually very entertaining and fun, if you’ll just give it a chance and play it.
Sega diehards will snap this up, as they tend to do with just about anything Sega-related. Even if it’s complete crap! Luckily, Sega Superstars isn’t complete crap, and Segaphiles won’t be disappointed. As far as casual gamers are concerned, the variety of mini-games may draw them in, as well as the simple fact that it’s an EyeToy game. EyeToy users finally have more to play with!
Sega’s classic charm is all over this game like white on rice. In addition to all of the wonky mini-games, there’s also a Chao Garden, just like the ones that appeared in both Sonic Adventure games.
When you first go to the Garden, there’s an egg sitting there. Rub it for a bit, and a Chao will pop out. You can pet and tickle the creature, and also use Rings you earn from playing mini-games to buy it various toys and items. The Chao Garden was by no means a necessary addition to the anthology, but it’s still an interesting facet to Sega Superstars.