Cast Off Your Dream: Re-Volt

Does the Dreamcast have enough voltage to play a racer? We find out in Day 6 of our salute to influential or fun games on the beloved console.

I may get some flak for this recommendation but Re-Volt is a fun game to play. It didnít feature stellar graphics, an amazing soundtrack, or audio effects. It wasnít even a system exclusive as it appears on PCs and every major console at the time.

revoltDC1 What the game did offer was incredibly fun four player split-screen play. It did this well before the latest two iterations of Mario Kart.

Take the original NES title RC Pro Am and let the wild and crazy (and now defunct) developers at Acclaim redo it and this is what you get. Basically, you race an RC car across tracks made out of household objects and youíre the first to cross the finish line. Along the way, players may come across some voltage icons to run over that would dish out random weapons.

Personally, it wasnít that fun to play alone, but this may have been one of the first games I played in a party setting and had a blast. Hence, my first party game.

The game is still available for all those old systems, and it can easily be found for the Dreamcast. However, the PC version is now considered to be abandonware and it can be found doing a simple Google search.

Cast Off Your Dream: Resident Evil Code: Veronica

The search for a missing brother and then the search for a missing sister dominates our title for Day 5 of influential Dreamcast games. Oh, and thereís a virus that makes things interesting. T-virus.

Iím going to share a personal opinion with you right up front. Resident Evil Code: Veronica is the second greatest Resident Evil game behind Resident Evil 4. Well, now you know where I stand.

resicvx_004-largeThe game starts with Claire Redfield looking for her brother Chris on an island owned by the Umbrella Corporation, andóI really donít want to spoil anything if youíve not played this game because it has possibly the best story of all the RE games. However, she does find Chris, but then Chris looses her and zombie hilarity ensues throughout the entire game. Even though RE4 had some of the creepiest characters, hands down Veronica is the scariest game. I donít think Iíve ever jumped so much while playing a game.

This title featured rotating camera angles that greatly enhanced the cinematic thrills. It was no slouch in the graphics department either. If youíve been reading the previous posts this is starting to become clichťd, but once again a developer was pushing the limit visually and aesthetically, and Capcom utilized the console to some of its best potential early in the consoleís life.

This is one of those rare games that is must play. If youíve not, you are in luck. Itís easy to find for the Dreamcast (the original and an enhanced versionóVeronica X), but ports are also available on the PS2 and is easy to find for the Gamecube (Think Wii. Although the Ďcube version is the lowest reviewed of the three.) However, of all the older RE games, it holds up pretty well.

Trust me on this. Play it.

Cast Off Your Dream: Soulcalibur

Did the soul burn better at home than the arcade? We take a slice out of day 4 at our look of Dreamcast games to find out.

Following behind Sonic Adventure, Soulcalibur is the second best-selling game on the Dreamcast. A launch title, the game featured improved graphics, sound, and new modes over the arcade port. A launch title, it was the one game that sold consistently throughout the consoleís lifespan.

Soul_Calibur_DC There were a couple of innovative features put into this fighting game. The player had a wider range of movement that gave the gamer a sense of real 3D. It also allowed players to ďbufferĒ their moves.  You could basically plan out an attack while performing a defense, for instance.

The best feature I like was the ability for the winning player to keep performing moves on their opponent after they were K.O.íd. Being able to taunt with repeated kicks to the other person on the couch is a nice touch.

The game received near perfect scores and is considered by some to be one of the greatest games of all time. I wouldnít take it that far, but it is one of best fighting games Iíve played (and Iím not a big fan of fighting games).

Itís spawned a slew of sequels but none have really attained to the status of the original title. If youíre itching to play it can be found on Xbox Live Arcade but a huge drawback is the lack of online play. There was a little HD updating and some basic leaderboards, but itís not been well received because of this. However, being one of the most prolific titles on the Dreamcast it can still be found rather easily.

Nightmare was awesome. ďNightmare was seriously wounded, but the soul still burns.Ē

Cast Off Your Dream: Jet Grind Radio

Day 3 in our look at excellent Dreamcast games has all to do with a game of tagówith innovation.

When most gamers think cel-shading the first game that comes to mind is Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. However, Jet Grind Radio (Jet Set Radio sans North America) had that beat (pun intended) by almost four years. The visuals pioneered the use of cel-shaded graphics using a colorful pallet and a color style and thatís been rarely seen in games since.

img_8 You play as a character named Beat who must perform stunts across a J-Pop city and recruit a gang of people to help him in his quest to ďtagĒ the city with graffiti. Once an area is conquered and tagged, the rival gang would secede the area over to Beat. While all this is going on, the player has to escape rival gangs and the cityís police. Although the controls were simplistic the first few hours of the gameplay were brutal to most gamers. Once that learning curve was over it was smooth sailing. A lot of joy was had in performing a fluid motion of tricks.

 

Featuring a wide range of music from J-Pop, hip hop, dance, and a sprinkle of futuristic jazz there was an ever changing variety of up-tempo tunes to listen to. The metallic sound effects seemed to match the look and style of play.

It seems as if Jet Grind Radio was to go the way of the Dreamcastóinnovative and way ahead of its time. Like most of the titles weíve featured itís achieved a cult status. Howeveróand here may be some good newsóSega  has recently renewed some legal rights to the game and itís been rumored that the game may show up on XBLA or PSN.

This game can be easily found online at an affordable price. Definitely one to add to a collection.

Cast Off Your Dream: Crazy Taxi

Hey, hey, hey! Itís time to make some crazy money? Are ya ready? Here we go! Itís day 2 of our homage to the Dreamcast.

Released almost right after the launch of the Dreamcast console, developer Hitmaker had a hit on their hands with Crazy Taxi.

Whoíd ever thought driving a taxi would be a blast? This game is all about style. Basically you pick up fares and get your customer to their destination as fast as possible. The catch? They tip you better the crazier you drive. This is a game all about stunts. The more you perform, the better your reward. The trade off is that you still have to deliver your fare in a certain period of time. This was an ingenious way to get you to memorize the layout of the city.

 

In regards to the city, this was one of the first games to have prominent in-game advertising. Youíll make deliveries to Pizza Huts (think about that one), Tower Records (uh, I guess the advertising didnít work), Leviís stores, and a couple of other restaurant and clothing stores.

Featuring unprecedented graphics for itís time, this is one of those early titles where gamers preferred the console port to the arcade. See, arcades were where you went for the power. However, the Dreamcast delivered that with Crazy Taxi.

With lightning fast gameplay, excellent audio, and a great soundtrack featuring songs by Bad Religion and The Offspring, Crazy Taxi went on to become one of the few surefire hits on the Dreamcast. It spawned a sequel for the console that added a few twists on the gameplay and had a different soundtrack, but it didnít really achieve the notoriety of the first.

Itís the original title that most gamers prefer. Because of itís status, itís one of the easier games to find on the system, but it can also be found on every other major system at that time.

If it was an XBLA or PSN title it would be a best-seller.

Cast Off Your Dream: Rez

I kick off day 1 remembering Dreamcast games that were the most fun to play. Some may not have been critically acclaimed or best sellers, but hey, this is my list. Enjoy it.

UmÖyeah. Rez.

rez_2_2 Back in 2002 I had come across a game for my PlayStation 2 called Rez. Its weird main character and trippy visuals instantly turned me off. Little did I know at the time that it was also available for the Dreamcast.

Fast-forward to 2008 and this little game shows up on Xbox Live Arcade with widescreen support and HD visuals for $10. By this time I had been full of Geometry Wars, Lumines and games like Warning Forever. Trippy visuals were ok. Plus, a certain somebody who specializes in obscure games would not stop raving about the original. I figured why not.

Absolutely amazingóand mesmerizing. Iíll be honest and say Iíve never played the Dreamcast version of Rez, but if this was close in 2001-2002 to the same game I played in 2008, then this game was completely ahead of itís time.

Rez is a rail shooter where the main character floats in a form of cyberspace. He then locks on targetsóup to eight at a time I believe and fires away. It gets to be a little harder than it sounds.

Rez_ingame Speaking of, the sound is key to this game. The music and effects pulse in rhythm to the shots and what is happening on screen. The PS2 version of the game came with a device called the Trance Vibrator. It would pulse in conjunction with the game. It was meant to be put in a pocket or sat on, but, well, this is a family-friendly site. Iíll stop there.

As a result of playing the game many people described having a form of synesthesia, basically crazy reactions to the game whether by sight, sound, or touch.

Because of itís cult status, the Dreamcast version is incredibly hard to find. Well, that and it only had a Japanese and European release on the console. However, this is one of the few games that appeared on the system that can be revisited at an affordable price and enhanced for current generation game play.

You can even use up to four Xbox 360 controllers as trance vibrators.

Cast Off Your Dream

On September 9, 1999 I was was sitting at my workstation waiting for the sky to fall. Alarmists were predicting the pre-curser to the Y2K fiasco. It was my task to make sure all the clocks in the office computers would function properly. Planes were supposed to fall out of the sky. Nothing happened.

I had spent most of my high school and college working in the electronics department at the local Wal-Mart, and I was there for quite a few console releases. The Nintendo 64 was the last. I was a huge PC gamer at the time (a game a paycheck) and I couldnít understand all the fuss over the last consoleóthe Nintnedo 64. People came in at midnight to get it.

On 9/9/99 I had been married a month and was a year and a half removed from Wal-Mart. One of my old wedding buddies was still employed there. We (I still feel a part of the ďfamilyĒóthey were that good with loyalty) were the best store in the district. Sold the most goods. Made the most profit.

I remember my friend telling me that they sold one Dreamcast. One.

So began the rise and fall of the critically acclaimed Sega Dreamcast, a system that almost killed a company and eventually became a cult console.

I didnít own one until I saw a used system on eBay used in 2004. By then the console had already been proclaimed a failure and I was buying it just to experiment, but more importantly to play a rare imported game that I came across that had become sort of a cult classic itself. I was a closet shmup fan, and I had spent more on the game than the system itself. Ikaruga was and is one of the best games Iíve ever played.

Over the course of the next year I came across Crazy Taxi, a Sonic game here or there, Soul Calibur (I still burn to play that oneónot the sequels), and Ready 2 Rumble. After a year of play, in a state of confusion I sold the system and the games on eBay for a profit. I kept Ikaruga.

In April of this year the website Thinkgeek came across of a supply of new, unopened systems, and they were selling them for $100. I didnít wait. Since then Iíve toyed with the idea of making a MAME cabinet using the console or at least an Ikaruga arcade cabinet.

The Dreamcast is now officially ten years old and it still has a little bit of life in it. With over 660 games it does see a few new releases a year although most of them are homebrew or done by an independent developer. Systems can still be had for a price and there is a relatively large underground market for games.

I have in my possession what I to believe to be seven of the most influential games on the system, and starting tomorrow and over the course of the next seven days Iíll be giving a little review of each one.

Do you have any favorite games on the system that you miss? My life with the console is short-lived and maybe some of you have married the system. Whatís your Dreamcast story?

Update:

Unboxing the “New” Dreamcast

I had previously mentioned that I was able to pick up a newly sealed Dreamcast from Thinkgeek last week. I wanted to share with you, fine readers, what you may have missed almost ten years ago.

Iíve finally unboxed the console and we get to see if it really was sealed new.

Clicky clicky on the images for larger versions.

DSC00497

First, Thinkgeek got the thing to me in two days. I believe they sold their entire inventory out in two hours. However, it looks like they might get some more in stock in May.

Theyíre a really great site to order from. Iíve used them quite a bit. I even won a photo contest once and won a $100 gift certificate there.

Smart Mass Thinking Putty is a hoot. I suggest the Atmosphere or Oil Slick colors.

DSC00496For being ten years old, the box was in pretty good shape. There were no tears or dings in the cardboard. Both ends of the flaps had seal stickers on them. It looked like it had never been opened or tampered with. You can even see the serial number through the open window on the back of the box.

I commend the owners of the warehouse it sat in all this time. Speaking of time, this system by console standards is old. Certainly built before 9/11 and possibly before the year 2000. All the paperwork and stickers on the console were yellow with age. It also looked like it was probably not in an air-conditioned unit.

DSC00495Everything inside was still sealed and twist tied. The controller, instructions, warranty card (heh), A/V cable, power cord, and super long phone line (Yes! I needed one for my satellite!) were all there.

It even included a demo disc for some launch titles: Sonic Adventure, Rayman 2, Tomb Raider, and I think a sports game.

This was a good sign because I wanted an earlier release of the systemóone before SEGA started making it a little more difficult for players to have, uh, options of what to play.

DSC00494

Behold, hereís everything in all itís glory.

Just like in 2000, I was bummed thereís no VMU. For those of you less than the age of ten, that is the Virtual Memory Unit. It actually was an ingenious little device that plugged into the controller to save your games. It had itís own mini-screen and you can even play some rudimentary games on it. I donít think it was ever used to itís fullest potential. (Of course, was the console itself?) Itís good to know that you can still get VMUís new online for $6-9.

DSC00492

Does it work? Heck yes, it does. The system has a battery that stores the date and time. It still works.

The console was made in November 1999. This puts it very early in the Dreamcast lifecycle. Excellent.

I no longer had any of my original games but the demo disc worked just fine.

I do still have my import copy of Ikaruga. Itís my favorite game for the system and the import is pretty rare. Iím glad I held on to it. I do regret getting rid of my VGA adapter though. (It was not to long ago either when we moved from the Chicago area to where we are now. Snap.) Anyway, after making a couple of coasters I was able to make a swappable boot disc that worked in order to play the game. It was wonderful.

I was actually surprised at how well the system scaled into widescreen and the picture quality in general. I would even say that the composite cable connection gave a better and crisper picture on my big screen than the Wii. (They use the same type of connection. It shows you how backwards the Wii is being almost ten years younger.)

The next thing for the console is to make an arcade cabinet for it and get some arcade joysticks and buttons. Iíll probably even see if I can get MAME working. Instant arcade.

The next step is to get a VMU and possibly another controller. I feel like a kid again.

Dreamcasting Ikaruga

Ikaruga is perhaps my favorite shooter of all time. I own an original Japanese copy of the game for the Dreamcast.

It’s rare. Like hundreds of dollars on eBay rare.

Years ago, in a fit of madness I sold my used Dreamcast on eBay but kept Ikaruga. My original intention was to create an arcade cabinet, but I just didn’t have the room. I do now.

Well, today is a new day. I just bought a BRAND NEW Dreamcast from Thinkgeek for $100!