Now that we’re covering all of Sega’s consoles, there are plenty of classic and lesser-known games that can be shared with our readers! This month’s Reader Roundtable has a great selection of titles that’s sure to make you want to go rummaging through your games to play them again or hit up the nearest game store to get your copy. Read on and see what we’ve been up to in February.
Turbo OutRun by Ken Horowitz
As big a fan of the arcade classic as I am, it always pains me to come back to the Mega Drive version of Turbo OutRun. Just about everything that made the original so good is absent from it, and it plays almost like an entirely different game. It seems that Tiertex tried to spice things up by adding upgrades, but… wait, why the hell is Tiertex developing this? Why didn’t Sega let the same people who did the Genesis port of the original OutRun handle this one? Why did they have to try and change the winning formula that made this franchise so popular in the first place? It’s madness…. madness, I tell you! This mediocre effort is what happens when you farm out a beloved franchise, and no matter how many times I boot it up, it never gets better.
Shadow Dancer by David Dyne
For the past week I’ve been trying my hand at the arcade version of Shadow Dancer via the RetroCade console, and thus far it’s been more frustration than fun. I played Shadow Dancer to death on the Genesis growing up, so I figured it would be an easy transition to the arcade game. Wrong. In the Genesis version you can immediately counter attack anyone who gets close with your sword, and you can jump kick foes in the air who are about to land on your head if your reflexes are quick enough. Without these two vital options, I feel like someone who is just practically helpless whenever the enemy closes to melee range, as you can’t react well enough to deter attacks. The soundtrack never rises to anything memorable, unlike the Master System port, where the 8-bit renditions are excellent and the boss battles are more an exercise in jumping at the right moment than slinging shurikens. I’ll have to keep plugging away at this one to see if I can finish it, even if it means having to drop $100.00 or more in virtual quarters due the constant deaths.
Trampoline Terror! by BubsyFan1
There are some ways in which my game and movie collections are treated identically, and one of those is if the titles and/or covers are ridiculous, it is mandatory that those games/movies are in my collection. When I saw this game was 50% off at a local game store’s Black Friday sale over a year ago, this game went to the top of my want list for the day.
Lately, for whatever reason, I have been going through two long RPGs at the same time, and even though I’m a big fan of the genre, I needed a break. It turns out that Trampoline Terror! is just what I needed, which was a short action-oriented experience to reset my mind for the long, grindy RPG experience to ensue.
As a game, I felt Trampoline Terror! was good but not great – maybe a six or seven on this site’s rating scale. Despite not having much going on in the gameplay department, the game does a good job of letting you figure out the mechanics and the different puzzle elements presented to you as you progress. In addition, the music was surprisingly solid. All in all, that leads to an enjoyable experience. However, unless you’re a fan of mastering games so you can speed run them to finish them in the lowest time possible (I’m not), there isn’t much replay value – you know exactly what you need to do and just do it. A few unexpected things can happen, but if you’ve already beaten the game, it won’t really add any challenge or excitement to it. Even though I won’t be revisiting this any time soon, I could see myself wanting to pick it up again in a year or so. Just enough time to let me forget some things about the levels.
For me, it is always nice to run across games like this as it reminds me that these types of games actually had physical console releases. Nowadays, this would probably just be a flash game. Maybe I’m just weird, but there’s just something about it.
Wetrix + by James Villone
I only have a few Dreamcast titles, as much as I love the console. I have Sonic Adventure, often considered the best 3D Sonic title. I have Ecco: Defender of the Future, as a huge fan of the classic series, it’s the only 3D Ecco, and possibly the most beautiful title on Dreamcast. As a fan of fighters, I have two of the best on the console, Soul Caliber and Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Beyond that, I bought Crazy Taxi because I knew it was very fun in the arcade. And finally, I have Wetrix +, a title that I bought just because it looked unique and fun. I was never huge into puzzle games, but I can occasionally get into Columns or Tetris, and the name of Wetrix + is self-explanatory as a Tetris-style game that includes water.
I haven’t been playing games much lately, so I fired up Wetrix + as I remember it being fun for short periods of time. It lives up to the hype on its jewel case as “An Amazing New 3D Puzzler!” And its graphics are even better than expected from the screen shots on the back. The jewel case also summarizes the game accurately: “a hypnotic, addictive, blindingly colorful water-based puzzle game that plays on a moving and grooving 3D landscape!” Yep, that’s exactly what it is. The title screen shows that Wetrix + emphasizes wild colors, and realistic water splashing around.
Actual gameplay is like Tetris gone crazy. We drop blocks onto a three-dimensional landscape, with an isometric view. The goal is to build up the landscape in a way that water can be safely contained, so basically, we need to build up the edges, so water doesn’t spill out. Complicating matters is that we also get bombs and “negative” blocks that dissolve the landscape where they land. Water falls in small droplets, and also drops down in the form of rain clouds. We also get fireballs that evaporate the water, which is actually a good thing, since the goal is just to avoid water spilling off the landscape.
It’s a unique, engaging gameplay experience, for anyone that has any taste for puzzle games. The music is not amazing but it’s decent enough, with drums and flutes complimenting the calm-yet-tricky gameplay. The background resembles a tie-die poster with the colors and shapes moving and animating.
There seems no exactly correct way to play. We have to build up the general perimeter, while I also try to build up walls in one section to contain water, while I leave another section separate, so it can be dissolved and exploded, without losing water.
The one disappointing thing is that no matter how skilled we become, the randomness of objects seems to outweigh our skill-level, so it never seems possible to just play continuously. Later levels include little creatures moving around and destroying our progress. Regardless, this is a great unique puzzle game, which highlights the creativity that Sega was known for through the Dreamcast’s short lifetime. Graphics are also about as advanced as imaginable for a puzzle game, with new pieces casting light reflections on the landscape, and superfluous effects like paint spraying everywhere when we beat a level. Wetrix + is definitely a solid title for any Dreamcast collector.
NBA 2K by Mike Perez
Basketball fans today are spoiled by the consistent quality of Visual Concepts’ NBA 2K series, but back in 2000, it was something completely new. Saturn and PlayStation hoops games just weren’t able to portray a sense of realism on the same level (though Sony’s In the Zone was very impressive for its day). The Dreamcast wowed me with NBA 2K, and it was just amazing how great everything looked! The following year, Visual Concepts improved it with online play, but I’ll never forget just how impressed I was when I first saw the original game for the first time. Between that and NFL 2K, I honestly thought that Sega had EA Sports beat on all fronts.