Review: Dreamcast Collection
Poor old Sonic The Hedgehog. Plucked disturbingly from his native two dimensions and plopped into all sorts of awful third dimensional adventures, he never seemed to quite regain the wow factor he so rightly deserved when his first game appeared back in 1991 (a shocking twenty years ago this year). Even his recent side-scrolling XBLA reboot did little to raise the little blue Hedgehog back to former glories, so it’s quite interesting that SEGA have chosen to include the title responsible for kick-starting the whole Sonic 3D “revolution” in this package. It hasn’t aged well. The camera is dodgy and the addition of story-telling cutscenes and personality to the characters (they talk!) basically detracts from what the franchise is all about: fun and easy platforming. There’s no clear objectives or assistance as to where Sonic should head next, and the inclusion of other non-story based sections and areas feel useless and tacked-on in an attempt to add substance and believability. Sonic’s rather woolly to control and, despite the speed at which he whips around, it’s hard to build up a decent momentum as you’ll invariably end up running into a wall or similar obstruction due to general unresponsiveness.
Out of all of the games in the collection, Crazy Taxi was the one I was most looking forward to playing, and is probably a bigger disappointment than Sonic Adventure. The premise is simple, choose from one of four cab drivers and race around a San Francisco-alike city picking up and dropping off fares within a certain time slot. You earn money (and more time on the clock) for each fare successfully dropped off and by pulling off stunts and near-misses, which goes towards your final grading when you eventually run out of time, voiced by an annoying cab controller who sounds a lot like Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice. Other vehicles, pedestrians and objects in the road block your way, slowing you down and stopping you from getting to your objective. Take too long to get a fare to their destination and they’ll lose patience and jump out, even if you’re driving flat out down a hill, the lunatics. A giant green arrow appears above your vehicle showing you which way to go, but (like all good satellite navigation systems) it often gets it wrong and tries to guide you through water (which you don’t drown in, strangely enough), buildings or other insurmountable objects. Control requires cat-like reflexes, as obstacles appear literally out of nowhere and slow you to a halt. The vehicles are also quite jumpy, spinning out recklessly as you try to pull away from a stop for instance, adding to the overall frustration you can’t help but feel when playing Crazy Taxi.
Space Channel 5: Part 2
Taking control of Ulala, intrepid news reporter for Space Channel 5, you use your amazing dance skills to fight off the evil Rhythm Rogues in this camp, 60′s inspired rhythm action title. Ulala (pronounced “ooh la la”) catwalks through the different levels, taking part in a series of call-and-repeat dance battles to ward off your enemies and save the unfortunate souls that have been taken prisoner. Those you save begin a dance troupe behind you, performing moves in unison each time you press the corresponding button. The battles are easy to start with, but as you progress things get ridiculously hard as the amount of moves and the speed with which you have to pull them off increases. Miss a move and Ulala either takes a hit or misses the chance to save someone, depleting the amount of hearts you have; run out of hearts and it’s game over. Your score is based on viewers, which increase the better you do and are eventually changed into stars to help you through boss battles, which usually sees you boogy-ing against a giant mechanized foe of some sort. SP5p2 is great fun, a sort of cross between “Love Shack” era B-52′s and The Jetsons, and is the title I played the most out of this package even if some of it is pad-snappingly hard. Guaranteed to have you singing “right, chu, left, chu, up, chu chu” in the bath. And Michael Jackson’s in it.
SEGA Bass Fishing
Fishing is never a sport I really got the fever for, so it was with some trepidation that I booted up SEGA Bass Fishing, and I must say I wasn’t entirely disappointed or overwhelmed either way. There are a range of modes for you to get through depending on what floats your boat (excuse the pun), but the core gameplay remains the same throughout: select a lure, cast it into the water and replicate the correct movement (reel and stop, or reel constantly for example) in order to lure in the biggest fish. Once you hook one, you fight with it to reel it in before the time runs out. Learning each fishing area and selecting the correct lure is key, as is wrangling your quarry correctly once it’s hooked. Once you catch it, it’s weight is added to your total and you move on to the next fish. There are a good range of different areas to fish in, as well as various times of day and weather conditions, which all adds to how difficult it is to reel in a fish. Landing a big one is rewarding enough, but repeated play tends to get a tad boring after a while. Dedicated fishers are probably best off sticking to the reel thing. Guffaw.
At the cheaper price of £24.99, The Dreamcast Collection is an inexpensive trip down memory lane, albeit one that will more than likely end in disappointment. Space Channel 5: Part 2 is easily the pick of the bunch, with SEGA Bass Fishing proving to be little more than a distraction whilst Sonic Adventure and Crazy Taxi are just plain awful. Sonic and Taxi are currently both available on XBLA for 800MSP each, which equates to around £14.00 if bought together, so for another 11 quid you get SP5:P2 and SBF, which is hardly worth it. I’d recommend waiting to see if Ulala’s adventure hits XBLA before purchasing The Dreamcast Collection, or at least waiting until the whole package goes into the bargain bins (which probably won’t be that long).
Review: Dreamcast Collection Results
What we liked:
Space Channel 5: Part 2
Each game has a few different modes
What we disliked:
Three wrongs don't make a right
Probably best left as fond memories