Game Name: Dreamcast Collection
Platform(s): Xbox 360 (reviewed), PC
Release Date: February 22, 2011 (US), February 25, 2011 (EU)
In 1999, players everywhere got to experience the Sega Dreamcast in all it’s glory when it took the world by storm. The console brought about not just extensions to Sega’s Sonic franchise, but launched many new IPs which caught on quickly with fans and literally became instant cult classics. Sadly, the system itself just could not keep up with the competition from the Playstation 2 and Nintendo’s Gamecube and went out just after two years. Fast forward to today and Sega have released the Dreamcast Collection with four titles that either are, or will be on the Xbox Live Arcade and PSN for the Xbox 360 in a single-disc format. With a new coat of paint on each title as well as achievements and online leaderboards, these four remakes certainly bring back some nostalgia, but do they still stand up against the titles of today? Here is my review for the Dreamcast Collection.
When you think of the Sega Dreamcast, Sonic Adventure is usually one of the first titles that comes to mind. Adventure was Sega’s little blue mascots first trip into a true 3D free-roaming world and brought about features which we still see in Sonic titles to this day.
This version is pretty much made up of the exact experience we seen on the Dreamcast. However, it does lack the DX edition’s extra content such as Mission Mode and the game gear titles which was brought to the Gamecube, but if you remember, we didn’t have those on the Dreamcast version so I overlooked this minor issue (There is however a game-gearless add-on which is on the XBLA for 400 points for those of you who crave a more complete version).
The main story as many of you know by now has the dastardly Eggman after the seven pieces of the legendary Chaos Emerald. Doing this he has also freed Chaos in the process, so it is now Sonic and his friend’s job to restore the emerald and stop Eggman from conquering the world with his new liquid ally. One thing I have always loved about Sonic Adventure was how the story branches out. There are six different characters to play as within Sonic Adventure, those being Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Big and E-102 Gamma, which all play quite differently from one another. After meeting each character in the story, their own unique plot which ties into the main story is unlocked so in a way this leads to many different experiences in one neat little package. It may not sound like too much now, but at the time, having so many different playable characters with such large roles was a big deal.
When I started playing this version, the first thing I noticed was how the whole game looked sharp and boasted some much fresher visuals, even if the picture is not as well formatted for current televisions like many remakes have been over the years. As far as the feel goes, the transfer to the 360 controller also went quite smoothly, but the problem with Sonic Adventure is not the presentation or even the controls really. My only true complaint is that you still have to fight with the camera quite a bit, especially during boss fights. This not only hurts the gameplay, but it also makes this much older release feel it’s true age. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a blast reliving memories of this title and when I entered the Mystic Ruins, it was like I was playing it for the first time all over again so the original charm is still very present. Sonic Adventure still has that nostalgic greatness factor and remains fun to play, but compared to the much more solidly built remakes we see today, it could have used some fine tuning before being released.
Space Channel 5: Part 2
The most unique title on this compilation is without a doubt Space Channel 5: Part 2. Though it was released for the PS2 under the name Space Channel 5: Special Edition, we never actually seen this title released outside of Japan on the actual Dreamcast console itself. SC5P2 is a Rhythm-action title through and through, and uses a “Simon Says” type method of gameplay where you must match the exact beat you hear in a funky outer space setting full of crazy characters.
Starting off in the game, you are quickly thrown into the role of Ulala, a reporter for Space Channel 5 who now must save the world from a new threat, the mysterious Rhythm Rogues lead by Purge, who have kidnapped many citizens including the very flamboyant President and Space Michael. Each character you come across is full of the same funky, bright, and cheery style that this game so well possesses which makes progressing through this gem a blast as there are a lot of interesting sights to see on your journey.
The graphics also do their job quite well and Ulala and friends have never looked better. Honestly though in this title, even though the visuals are wonderful and really fill the game with life, you could play it with your eyes closed as the control set-up is easy to use and make this one of the best examples of a rhythm-action game to date. There are a ton of different songs and beats players will have to match on their quest, each usually being different based on whatever stage you are in. The good thing though is that while the music varies, the controls always stay the same with the UP, LEFT, DOWN, RIGHT, A, B layout. This scheme makes it easier to concentrate on the vast amount of beats you must quickly memorize which gives the game a great pace and puts actual gameplay at the forefront of the experience.
Extra content on this title is also a huge plus, as this title is chucked full of secrets and modes which let you not only experience the core gameplay with Ulala in a 100 stage battle mode, but see a completely different difficulty and lyrics for each tune based on the way you play.
In my opinion, Space Channel 5: Part 2 was my favorite title on the disc for this compilation as it is full of ageless charm and songs that can still get stuck in your head hours after putting down the controller. If you have by chance never tried this small yet bubbly franchise before, now is your chance to get into the groove with one of the finest titles in the genre period or step into this humorous world all over again. Chu! Chu! Chu!
Crazy Taxi is yet another one of those titles that made the Dreamcast so memorable to start with. For the version included in this set, we see the exact same release that hit the Xbox Live Arcade recently which had a few changes from the original. Not that there is anything wrong with that though, as this title still keeps it’s full arcade flare and is a very strong offering, being full of competition along with crazy one-liners and the same fast paced rush to make your clients happy to simply get some cold, hard cash in your pocket.
Our very own Travis Bruno wrote up a detailed review for this version of Crazy Taxi which you can check out for yourself by clicking HERE.
Sega Bass Fishing
Back when this title was released, I will be honest, I did not even give it a look as fishing titles did not appeal to me then, and really do not appeal to me much now except in certain cases. When I started Sega Bass Fishing, I let out a bit of a sigh, thinking it would be a bore and was blown away at how “hooked” I truly became. The main thing that caught me by surprise is that Sega Bass Fishing is not a simulation title whatsoever, instead it is a timed arcade-style title where you must catch fish in different locations, with the emphasis on obtaining a certain weight of fish to complete each level. That is pretty much what the arcade mode in this title consists of, and though it is pretty simple to complete the whole game in one setting, it is quite hard not to want to go at it again.
Consumer mode is also a hefty part in the game, and while it plays about the same, there is a lot more exploration to be had with this mode as well as many new and rare lures which can be unlocked, allowing you to catch bigger fish as your progress. I am aware that there was originally a rod-and-reel controller that was released with the original, and while something like that would have been nice to see, the full experience can still be had with the stand-alone controller.
Instead of just seeing your fisherman in a boat and waiting to see if your line gets a tug, you instantly get an underwater view of your lure as a fish consumes it, leading to an awesome sequence where the music suddenly changes and you must fully control your rod and reel with the analog and button controls to reel in your catch successfully. You are given a guide as well which gave this title a more of an arcade feel as he commentates your experience, giving direction when needed on how to pull in a fish.
The visuals are also nice as well, with the water being detailed and animations are also well done which make everything look and feel as it should. Even by today’s standards, aside from the fisherman’s model in the game, everything seems to have stood the test of time and could give many fishing titles of today a run for their money.
I was happy to find this title in the collection simply because I had no idea what I missed out on so long ago. Sega Bass Fishing is not only a fun fishing game, it also captures the essence of an arcade classic which can be a rare find in the current market of gaming and is simply a joy to play as you compete to land the catch of a lifetime.
When this whole compilation was announced, I was a bit taken back by the lack of other Dreamcast Classics such as Shenmue, Jet Grind Radio and Seaman, but after spending a whole lot of time with this disc, I can easily say all four titles can lead to hours of pure nostalgia and truly give those who might of missed out on the console a true taste of why it is still one of the most respected systems of all time. Online leaderboards are a great addition as well for the likes of Crazy Taxi, Space Channel 5: Part 2, and Sega Bass Fishing and add a bit more of a reason to compete against players all over the world for that coveted top score. Achievements are a nice addition, but the achievements are just made up of 200 points each, so while these are just four arcade titles on one disc, the way this was done makes the whole compilation feel like arcade titles, which may lead players waiting for these titles to become “Deals of the Week” in digital format rather that getting this disc as a whole.
As far as menus go, there really is a very generic one given that doesn’t boast any sort of extras or even a flashy presentation, which makes this collection more of a simple compilation rather than a true tribute. Honestly, this disc is not a tribute to start with, as it’s main purpose is to bundle together four releases rather than celebrate the actual Dreamcast and if you know Sega, they tend to celebrate their characters with the likes of Sega Superstar Tennis and Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing that have been released over the past couple of years as far as fan service goes. There is no doubt that there could have been more, but in this day and age you take what you can get, and Sega did a great job giving fans four spectacular offerings that all look sharper and play as great as they ever did (aside from the small flaws with Sonic, of course). Add in the discounted price-point for all and the fact that Space Channel 5:Part 2 and Sega Bass Fishing are still not out for download in the XBLA, and players now have one disc that can pack quite a punch for any Sega fan out there with this quite varied and simply fun to pick-up-and-play compilation.
I Give the Dreamcast Collection for the Xbox 360: