Review: Dreamcast Collection

It’s not supposed to feel like this. Memories shattered, once vivid recollections of gaming past made vague and incoherent in a flash: the Dreamcast Collection, despite having vast potential, takes your SEGA-hued heart and tramples all over it – whilst all the while reminding you, like some cheap Saturday night television game show, what you could have had.

And whilst we’re not ignorant enough to assume that, in drawing together a list of Dreamcast games for republication, the titles in question would need to be both readily available code-wise and be SEGA published, there’s still better examples of the 128-bit console’s raw inventiveness (Rez), scope (Shenmue) and graphical grunt (Jet Set Radio) – projects hopefully (and whimsically) saved for Part 2, if indeed there are such plans.

Fanciful dreams aside, we’re left with one ambitious but slightly botched attempt to re-invent Sonic, a sequel to a rhythm action game that gathered too much fluff over the original, a fishing game with barely any redeemable qualities and – yes – Crazy Taxi, which we reviewed seperately here.  The latter feels the freshest, the least dulled by the advances of time, but all the games in the collection have aged badly.

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Sonic Adventure, for example, still manages to frustrate and delight in equal measure, except now it looks desperately old: animation basic, textures even more so.  The Adventure stages provoke recollections of long past exploration – Mystic Ruins still retaining that wonderful theme music – but in retrospect only ever served as a means to an end.  And the action stages differ wildly in execution – the Sonic levels often wonderful but all the bit part players bringing their own takes on each stage still spoils the party a little.

Bass Fishing, though, still plays horribly; its pick up and play coin-op mentality distilled even further when you don’t have a thirty quid plastic rod to wave about at the screen.  It’s dumb, a little bit dull and alarmingly ugly; the lack of visual fidelity was a disappointing smudge on the original console but even more so when upscaled for the Xbox 360 and PS3.  There’s an element of tension and strategy in there, somewhere, but it’s hidden so well the game just feels shallow.

Space Channel 5 Part 2 is an odd inclusion, too – the first game in the series was slightly better, a tighter, less fluffy game which didn’t feel quite as contrived, but given that the pre-rendered video cutscenes in Part 2 are so blocky it’s perhaps obvious why SEGA opted out of bundling Part 1: at least the environments here are fully real-time.  The game, a rhythm action title dressed in Barberella stylings, oozes style and comes across as rightfully sassy, but was hardly a universal highlight for the Dreamcast.

Unlike Crazy Taxi, then, which was an iconic game for the system.  It’s still great fun, offers plenty of challenge and potential for mastery and – despite the age – doesn’t actually look that bad.  The HUD’s a stretchy mess and the newly updated music’s terrible, but as the highlight of the ensemble it’s present and correct and still an absolute blast – why it takes longer to load than the original Dreamcast version did is anyone’s guess though.

Pros:

  • Sonic Adventure has a decent amount of game in it
  • Crazy Taxi is still great fun
  • The price, if you shop around, is reasonable

Cons:

  • All the games look and feel more dated than you might think
  • The selection is poor given the potental elsewhere
  • The presentation is poor

Your milage, as they say, will vary.  The Dreamcast Collection, on disk at least, feels like a hurredly thrown together pack of games with hugely varying levels of quality – the startup menu is disgusting, the interface clumsy and the fact that the two best games are already available on the various download services almost entirely negates the very requirement that this compendium exists at all.

But it does, and – here’s the rub – at around £20 it’s actually not a terrible purchase decision.  Crazy Taxi is great, Sonic Adventure will give you a good few days of playtime and – who knows – you might actually dig Space Channel 5 Part 2 and find your own groove.  It’s just, in our opinion, this isn’t how we’d have wanted the Dreamcast to be remembered; there are far greater stars in this sky.

Score: 5/10

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18 Comments

  1. They missed a trick not selling collections in seperate releases. Like, Sonic Adventure Collection, Shenmue Collection for each of those games.. then Sega Arcade for Crazy Taxi, Bass Fishing, House of the Dead (with Move support??) and Sega Rally.

    fewls

    • they missed a trick not giving me the Powerstone games! haha

  2. I’ve already got Sonic Adventure and I don’t think I wanna pick up any of the other games in the selection.

  3. This really highlights the problem with these collections. Unless they contain the gems that everyone remembers as their highlights it just shows the consoles weaknesses and age.
    I remember when I watched an episode of Some Mothers Do Av Em a couple of years ago cos I loved it so much when I was a kid. I just felt embarrassed.

  4. Sega should release Jet Set Radio on PSN and I’ll be happy. Due to it’s style it’ll look reasonably ok, add in some smoothing and it will look very ok.

  5. I bought crazy taxi from psn and with your own music playing (a la offspring) its very good and well worth the price tag but bass fishing and space channel 5? whoever thought this collection up must have been on drugs or something. as for sonic adventure, i would have bought it if it were in full widescreen and not big black border o’vision. Where is house of the dead 2 (move compatible)…daytona usa…shenmue1&2…sega rally2…jet set radio…rez…ecco the dolphin defender of the future? all better and also the main games that you remember when you think of those good old dreamcast days…..oh! and the boot disc that you needed to play em lol….only joking!

    • isn’t Daytona and Sega Rally under a liensue? supposed to be HD remixs of both of this apparantly… although Sega Rally will be named Sega Rally Online much like Outrun Online.

      (sorry bout the spelling)

  6. Not my cup of tea, Megadrive collection (while good in parts) ruined my rose tinted specs

  7. Most games get eclipsed by sequels or at least new franchises from the same genre. It’s the very reason games age so badly. For me, Timesplitters 2 was truly horrific (when I tried it last year). Dear god, remember the good times and never, EVER boot it up again.

    However, there are a few gems from days gone-by and they’re worth enjoying as we might find that that there’s nothing available to supersede them – even with all the whizz-bang technology we have these days.

    • Thats my stance on these collection/re-mastered games. Keep those memories in your head. Just take a look on Youtube if you need reminding how dated they all look now.

  8. Would be great to save hard-drive space but with only four games (two that I would avoid) why make it lack the legendary Sonic Adventure 2 and Shenmue Series????

    hell even Virtua Fighter 3 and Ecco would’ve been great

  9. “Downward spiral” – heh – I see what you did there.

  10. There are a lot better Dreamcast classics than this why Sega have you put games on this which are already on PSN and XBLA, it seems Sega does or can’t be bothered to do these packs. Good job i still have my trusty Dreamcast and it’s awesome games to play now and again.

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