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Reader Roundtable Vol. 139

The first edition of our Reader Roundtable is short and sweet, and sometimes it’s better that way. As long as the games are good, we’re happy, and this month’s selection has some great ones. Read on and see what our readers had plugged into their consoles in January and see if there’s something you should be playing!

Crazy Taxi By Ken Horowitz

When I pick up my kids from school, I often put the radio on the whole drive home. This means that they have to listen to lots of ’80s and ’90s goodness (dad’s car = dad’s radio). A few weeks ago, I had The Offspring playing as we started our drive, and my youngest daughter Emily really seemed to enjoy “All I Want.” Her reaction got me thinking, and that evening I put on Crazy Taxi on my Dreamcast. She knew the game from our local arcade, and when she heard the song, she instantly asked to play. We had fun driving around the city for about an hour, and she spent another 30 minutes or so exploring the Crazy Box mode. Being able to enjoy Sega games with my kids is a great thing and getting her to listen to great rock music is just an added bonus. Crazy Taxi is a game that lets me do both at the same time, so thanks to Sega for that!

Phantom 2040 (Game Gear) By David Dyne

Now here’s a game I only played this month for about five minutes or so just to be sure the cartridge was working. The Game Gear version may not be as intricate or flashy as its Genesis and SNES counterparts, but it still looks to be a promising action platformer with plenty of options to traverse stages and dispatch enemies. When it finally comes time to give this title the full playthrough, I’ll skip the real hardware as usual with GG games and use the Retro Freak with the Game Gear adapter and a Genesis controller for the best experience possible. Here’s hoping we see some more retro systems in the near future that will support the Game Gear and not suffer from the same compatibility issues that plague both the Retro Freak and Retron 5.

Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future By James Villone

Lately my screen-time has been devoted to my new iMac, for studying programming (for iPhone apps). I’ve also been rearranging my office to make it more comfortable, and in that spirit, I’ve been running my Dreamcast for the music test of Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future.  

My Dreamcast is connected to my TV with A/V cables; then my TV sends headphone output to my SONY stereo’s input jack. It seems convoluted (especially that the Genesis’ headphone output can plug directly into that same input jack, in my stereo), but this seems the only way to play my Dreamcast over my stereo right now, and it sounds beautiful. In Ecco’s music test, I’m especially a fan of track #4, which includes a lot of soothing, heavenly New Age synthesizer. It sounds great as quiet background music, humming in surround-sound through my office.

Defender of the Future is the only sequel to Ecco the Dolphin’s classic series, and although it was developed by the same company, none of the same people were involved! So, there’s no music from Spencer Nilsen, noted composer of the classic series, but this soundtrack does at least have a similar spirit. A funny detail about the music test is that it includes the constant sound effect of bubbles, which I don’t mind, and which adds to the nature sounds already present in the music.  

Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future is a great game, and a high point of the Dreamcast library, including a soundtrack that’s enjoyable, even when completely removed from the game. These last couple weeks of cold snowy winter, Ecco’s soundtrack in my office has felt like a splash of sunshine from the Caribbean!

Ninja Gaiden (Game Gear) By Mike Perez

I bought the GG version of Ninja Gaiden thinking that it was a port of the excellent Master System game. I really enjoyed that game, since it was so much like the NES classics. To be able to play Ninja Gaiden on a Sega machine was really enticing, especially on the Game Gear. I had really high hopes for the Game Gear, but those hopes were kind of dashed. It turns out that the portable NG game is a completely different one, and one that’s not as good. It’s short, and the gameplay isn’t fun as the console version. The graphics aren’t anywhere near as good either, and overall, I’d have to put this one at the lower end of the series. It’s still fun for a while, though. I would just have to recommend that anyone expecting the NES or MS games should look elsewhere, since this entry is an almost entirely different beast.

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