Thirty quid, it seems, buys you a slice of gaming history. It’s not terribly distant history, and the slice you get is hardly the finest bit of the cake, but it’s a cross-section of SEGA-published Dreamcast games that made up a fair chunk of the console’s homegrown output. Sadly, this so-called Dreamcast Collection isn’t going to represent the company’s last major piece of hardware very well with fans – and it feels especially lacklustre given that two of the games, arguably the best two, are already out.
The duo in question? Sonic Adventure, and Crazy Taxi. You know, I’m a big fan of the latter game – to me it embodied SEGA’s arcade approach to their development that powered much of my gaming upbringing. I adored Crazy Taxi when it first hit the Dreamcast and although the novelty has worn off a little since it’s still an outstanding example of how to create a pure, addictive title without being bogged down with bloat and unnecessary filler. It’s streamlined to an inch of its life, only the home console-exclusive Crazy Box mode adding to the lifespan.
But Sonic Adventure I didn’t really get on with. Yes, I loved the Sonic stages (who didn’t) but the role playing sections, whilst technically impressive for the time, felt dated then and Robotnik only knows what today’s generation will think of the Adventure Field sections and the ridiculous plot. That said, I literally spent days with the Chao Garden section, a beautifully done side plot in which you could raise little Chaos away from the main game itself – a peaceful, enriching part of the game that always brings back happy memories.
But with both of these games already available over Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Store, surely SEGA fans will have already grabbed the two main games, thus making this ‘Collection’ seem all the more pointless? Well, perhaps, but the fact is that the two other games aren’t available seperately, at least not yet. First up is the Marmite-like SEGA Bass Fishing, a game that simultaneously made me afraid of swimming underwater and managed to make me part with money I really didn’t have for a daft controller. That, incidentally and amusingly, worked with Soul Calibur.
It feels distinctly dated now, more so that any other game in the pack – not just because of the shallow gameplay but the visuals are really bad, even allowing for the age of the game. So whilst Bass Fishing is the filler here, it’s left to Space Channel 5: Part 2 to steal the show; and, as you’d probably expect if you’re familiar with the game, it absolutely does. Ulala’s Barberella-esque attitude shines through some slightly rough graphics to provide a brilliant take on the music rhythm genre, the player tasked with making her dance her way through her reporting.
And that’s the Collection. Although there’s no numerical tag attached to the title, we’re now desperately hoping there’s going to be at least one more pack of Dreamcast games, because even if SEGA are limited to only SEGA-published games (a safe assumption) there’s a wealth of other titles out there more befitting some current-gen exposure. For starters, Ecco The Dolphin would be lovely to play through again, Ferrari 355 Challenge would show the likes of Gran Turismo how it’s done, Jet Set Radio would be a delight and we’d kill for Sega Rally.
But some games are unlikely: the utterly stunning Phantasy Star Online just wouldn’t be possible now, Maken X is never going to get let out of the cupboard and the Shenmue duo? Not a chance. Instead we’re left with four games that aren’t really going to set emotions running high despite there being three decent games included – Bass Fishing is a bizarre choice, but maybe SEGA are just trying to cover all the bases – and the lack of any real work on bringing them up to date just shows that this is a by-the-numbers compilation.
The next one could be great, though.