Playing Games: Dreamcast (2)

by NFG - 28th March 2006 in Games

In the second of a silly little series, I’m playing every game in my Dreamcast library, offering impressions from a fresh perspective, as many of these have lain unplayed for a long time. Fun or a ridiculous exercise in self-fappery, I leave up to the reader to decide. Read more? ()

First up tonight, it’s Gigawing
Capcom loved us, and they expressed that love with a string of awesome Dreamcast releases. Unfortunately, when they released this early bit of affection they forgot how to express themselves properly. It won’t run with an RGB cable, so I can’t play it. I can trick it into booting, so I can hear sounds, but no visuals ever appear. I am at once saddened and angered that Capcom would tease me so!! You bastards!

GigaWing 2
I used to really rock at this game. I love it, the presentation is so awesome. Absolutely astonishing soundtrack, gobs of bullets, and the awe-inspiring REFLECTO-LAAAAAZZAAAAAAH!!

But now I suck. Three continues, that’s nine lives, before even reaching the first boss, and I used to shut it off if I died even once before the second boss. I’m humbled, thanks Capcom.

Mars Matrix
Oh, I always wanted to love Mars Matrix. I loved the one-button mechanic, and I loved the pure excessive levels of polish Takumi lavished on it, but still… I can’t brook games that make you combo for powerups. In fact, games with combos as a primary mechanic just piss me right off. And the soundtrack! “That’s one s-s-small step for man….” over and over. Give it a rest!!

Zero Gunner 2
Ah, now this is the good stuff. Looks better and plays better than any of the Capcom shmups. Silky smooth polygons, and a wonderfully refreshing gameplay device: One of the buttons drops a pivot point allowing you to rotate your helicopter to face danger. It adds just a dollop of complication and makes it extra frantic. A real joy to play, though on the default difficulty the game is unplayably hard by the 5th stage. I can typically one-life the first three stages, knock off a continue on the fourth, and then it’s a credit-feeding festival from then on. Still, a great fun ride.

Border Down
G.Rev needs to hire a mech designer and a musician ASAP. This shmup tried valiantly to be awesome, but it had totally spent its load by level two, and all the levels, bad guys and bosses totally sucked after the first stage. The music is that worst of styles, fusing everything I hate about new-age elevator music into one audible assault. Everything about this game just screams competence without direction. Talent wasted for lack of a clear and focused goal. Very disappointing.

Psyvariar 2
I just can’t stand bullet-hell shmups. I don’t want to think about combos and buzzing and trickery, I want to shoot stuff, make things go boom, and not have to use my brain for a while. The very idea of letting an enemy live longer so I can buzz more of his bullets and rack up a higher score is anathema to me. I don’t like it.

Raiden, Raiden, wherefore art thou, Raiden?

Bangaioh
What lunacy has brought us here? What preposterous gim-crackery is this, this madness that purports to be a game like so many others? It’s silliness to the extreme slammed head-first into the concrete wall of 16-bit 2-dimensional simplicity. Shoot things, collect things, rah rah rah! Launch 200 missiles, GO!

This is good stuff.

Incoming
Am I the only person who thinks this game is brilliant fun? Ten levels, ten stages each, and each of these hundred stages sees you thrust into another space-age war craft or another. Helicopters, AA guns, massive turrets, jets, tanks, and UFOs – it’s a bonanza of destruction. Sure, it’s a first-gen release, but it oozes gameplay, with tighter control than its PC cousin. This is the perfect zone game. There’s nought to do but survive and destroy, with the occasional half-hearted attempt at making it seem like there’s a point. Escort this, protect that, go fetch yon thingus and put it over yonder. Huzzah!

Expendable
This is by Rage, the company that brought us Incoming. Expendable was their next release, and sadly the last good game they made. They’re no longer with us, which is a shock considering the heights they had achieved on the PC. Expendable kicks ass. It’s Soldier meets Heavy Metal magazine. A ridiculous backstory sees you, an engineered fighting man, thrown to the wolves and given only a destination and a gun. And then another gun. And then several more. And, well, you get the idea. Run and gun, shoot everything and then shoot it again for good measure. You’ll be hard pressed to find an equal to Expendable when it comes to top-down blow-em-ups. (Blups?)

Puyo Puyo 4 and Cleopatra Fortune
These two games are not really at all similar. The former is the gel-dropper we know and love, and the latter is some sort of falling-block egyptian-themed surround-and-capture-gems puzzler thing. The thing is, they’re both made in the fastest, cheapest way possible. If Flash or Macromedia existed on the Dreamcast, this is the kind of game they’d put out. Heavily polished by artists and implemented by programmers who seemed to be operating from too great a distance from the target. Despite the lavish attention to detail both games seem spartan and sterile. Neither one is a great deal of fun to play.

Neo Golden Logres Pinball
Oh dear god. What a mess. There are so many things wrong with this game I don’t know where to start. It’s ugly, the tables are unremarkable except for their blandness. You can’t see where on the table the targets are, because they’re not sufficiently separated from the background (such as it is), and they’re ugly besides. Y’see, pinball is a vertical game. Long skinny tables with the narrow end towards the player. TVs are not as narrow and have the broad side down, so a pinball table is either laid on its side when shown on a TV (bad) or squished into a tiny space to fit vertically (also bad). Logres chose the latter, so the tables take half the screen, are ugly, tiny, boring and generally irritating. There’s not much to see, and the sound isn’t saving the day by any stretch. It sounds tinny, small, as if the sound effects were sampled from a child’s toy pinball table.

I haven’t played this since I bought it four years ago. I didn’t like it then, I don’t like it now. Bleah.

That’s it for my Japanese games, tomorrow we’ll start in on the North American releases. Can you stand the excitement?

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