Home > 1, Video Games (Main) > Dreamcast Odyssey: Part 1

Dreamcast Odyssey: Part 1

September 1, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

sega-dreamcast-consoleSo I finally reconnected (no pun intended) with my Sega Dreamcast tonight.  It’s been awhile, and even though I should always have it hooked up there are always new games that occupy most of my attention.  I’ll be honest I’m not much of a “retro” gamer but if money were no object I definitely would be.  I’d like nothing more than to buy an old Sega Master System, Genesis, and maybe even a Saturn and attempt to reclaim most or all of my old collections.  There’s also a handful of titles that slipped through the cracks that I would love to go back and play, but I digress.  The Dreamcast is all I have to remember my past gaming heritage by but it’s fitting because it rivals the Genesis as far as creating the most memories of any console I’ve owned.

Conveniently I had all the cords (2 total) plugged into the console so all that was left was to simply connect to the television, which was a snap.  The Dreamcast lived in an era between when you to hunt down separate video cables and nowadays when things like the Xbox 360 power brick exist (ugh).  Obviously the picture was stretched on a flat-panel television so I had two choices:  Suck it up and see my old games for the first time in widescreen or crop the sides so it looked as it should.  I chose the latter and I think that’s your best bet if you’re rigging up an old console again for the first time on a flat screen.

I have to say the controller felt pretty awkward after not holding it for such a long time.  I think I got used to it back in the day (much like the bloated controller for the original Xbox) but it definitely didn’t feel right at the onset.  The left analog stick is positioned a bit too high and the d-pad a bit too far to the right.  Compared to the Xbox 360 controller it was also incredibly light, which was off-putting interestingly enough.  From what I’ve played so far it will probably only take 1-2 hours of game time to get used to it though.

I’ll be taking a look at a few games at a time and I’ll try to spread out the fighting games as much as possible since that’s mostly what I have (it’s my favorite genre and the Dreamcast had them in spades).  It’s worth noting that the first disc I popped into the tray was Crazy Taxi, which is pretty scratched up and launched less and less as the years went on.  It’s now totally unplayable so I’ll be picking up a new copy of that soon so I can talk about it.

The first game I decided on was NFL 2K1.  It always holds a special place in my heart because one friend of mine and I have played it decidedly more than any other football game.  I also think the 2K series, at least for a few years, was far better than the Madden series and I still think that to this day.  More on that in a bit.  

At the time, the graphics were great.  The players were less blocky than what you’d find in rival games Madden and Sony’s NFL GameDay, and there was no pixel-like grain to be found unlike what you’d see on the first PlayStation.  Obviously the Dreamcast came out later and had that advantage technology-wise but I’m just trying to describe what it was like to play the game in comparison to what else was out there at the time.  

nfl_2k1_004

When I play the game these days I noticed it plays very fast and very arcade-like.  EA Sports has slowed their games down since then and they’re a little more realistic because of it.  I would still choose the 2K series at the time however.  Your players actually had flexibility and range of motion, stretching out to grab passes and make shoe string tackles.  This as opposed to EA’s games where to this day I feel like the players have stubby arms and legs.  The motion-capture tackles in 2K1 were incredible as well in comparison to EA’s football games which have caught up in the mo-cap department yet you can still launch yourself and knock the ball carrier over in certain instances even these days.  

In summary this game seemed to give my friends and I a feeling that we could do more with our players and that’s why I think NFL 2K1 is one of the best football games ever.  We played countless dynasties together and drafted countless teams using the fantasy draft option (something that should NEVER be left out of a sports game but sometimes still is).  

motwThe next game I played was Fatal Fury:  Mark of the Wolves.  It’s a funny game because it came out months and months after the Dreamcast was declared dead.  A few titles trickled through even then and Mark of the Wolves was one of them.  It’s a solid 2D fighter that can hold its own in comparison to most games of the same ilk.  Obviously Terry Bogard is available to play as well as Rock Howard and others.  It has an odd feel to it at first because it’s slower and more methodical than the fighting games we’re used to these days.  After you slow your reflexes down a bit and see the chess match within the game it’s quite fun.  Considering all the fighting games I’ve played over the years I wouldn’t put it in the upper echelon but if you need a 2D fighter in a pinch and don’t want to be disappointed this one is definitely worthy of owning.

1043147After Fatal Fury: MOTW I then proceeded to play Virtua Tennis.  If there is an award for most underrated sports game of all time I would have to say this would probably be the winner.  All you do is move your player around and use one button to strike the ball and one to lob it if the situation calls for it.  The more you play though the more you realize that body position and a small margin for error are necessary to have consistent success.  Playing on the higher levels or against an experienced friend will let you know how difficult the game can be, and also how rewarding it can be at the same time.  It also boasts a career mode where you travel to play on different surfaces, purchase upgrades, and earn money through mini-games.  It’s a nice setup for a tennis game and the bells and whistles are simple but plentiful enough where you’ll find yourself making your way through the circuit in no time.  A great game in one-player mode and adding up to 4 players total only increases the fun.

The last game I played this time around was Sega Bass Fishing 2.  I have to admit I’m a sucker for these games and Sega doesn’t get enough credit for pioneering different controllers and such.  Granted they’ve had as many misfires (32X) as triumphs but still they were ahead of their time with some of these gadgets.  Anyways, SBF2 plays very well.  It pretty much gives you everything you’d want in a fishing game.  You have 5 locations to fish at, from dock areas to deep water fishing, and you also have a multitude of lures to choose from.  The other great thing is that the effectiveness of each lure is determined by where and when you use it, just like in real life.  The weather and how deep the water is will guide you on what to use and what to keep in your tackle box for another time. 

The AI of the fish in the game is pretty good as well.  You have bass that typically come in 3 different sizes, as well as an extra large lunker that’s VERY hard to catch.  There’s also small sunfish that will be quick to take your bait before a bigger fish does, so manuevering your line under the water takes finesse.  Also, the big ones didn’t get big for no reason.  They’ll scoff at most of the lures you’ll throw in the water.  This becomes very important in the tournament mode, where you only have a limited amount of time to catch your best fish for the weigh-in.  You have to determine if you want to spend a lot of time landing a monster or play it safe and go for medium and small bass.  

The tournament mode is where it’s at and to me if you enjoy this sort of game there’s a ton of replay value here.  My only complaint is that I guess you could argue this game is pretty realistic because it’s difficult as hell.  The bass typically like to follow your lure the whole way back to the boat as you give action to it then simply swim away, which increases the frustration.  

Nevertheless the free fishing mode lets just about anyone goof around and have some fun while the tournament is hard but satisfying if you can get the hang of it.  I still can’t understand why fishing games never took off.  I once worked at a toy store and there was a crazy demand for handheld fishing games, so why not consoles?  Maybe people have been too embarrassed to hold a fishing controller but hopefully the Wii has changed that and one day a developer will realize people aren’t so bashful anymore.  Two or three fishing games coming out every year would certainly make me happy.

Check back soon for my newest Dreamcast experience!

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