noiseredux vs.

Posted on Mar 16th 2013 at 06:23:37 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Dreamcast





Before my wife and I moved, I had to make a very tough decision. You see we had just about a month to pack everything up. This meant Iíd have to pack pretty much my entire video game collection. But of course Iíd have to leave at least something out if I had a spare hour here or there to actually play games. I decided that the one console Iíd leave out would be my Dreamcast (kind of a no-brainer I suppose). And Iíd need to also leave a small handful of Dreamcast games unpacked. But how do you choose? Who knows what youíre going to want to play, right? By the time all was said and done I had narrowed it down to just two final games -- Phantasy Star Online Version 2 (more on that in another post) and Sega Smash Pack Volume 1.

It might seem kind of funny to leave out a console to play a bunch of emulated games. But ultimately I was really pleased with my decision. When I wasnít getting sucked into PSO, I had ď12 Great GamesĒ to explore -- most familiar, but some new to me -- and from various genres depending upon my mood. So with that in mind I ask that you get pretty comfortable as this is probably going to be one of my longest blog posts ever. Thatís right, Iím gonna tell you about every single game on hereÖ





Sonic The Hedgehog is obviously a game we all know pretty well. Indeed I was a convert to the blast-processing hype of the day, and my Genesis was bundled with this very game. Oh how jealous my NES-owning friends all seemed at the time. Though I swear I beat this game as a kid, I had no solid memories of the ending. So had I actually done it like I thought I had? WellÖ I think so. But I canít be certain. In recent years this original entry has appeared to be one of the harder games in the original 2D series. I can blow right through Sonic CD usually only losing one life in haste. But going back to OG Sonic always seemed difficult.

When I found myself with a limited selection of games I realized something really important about this game -- itís really not all about speed. In fact, the levels I hate the most (water ones) really require a lot of patience. When Iíd try to rush through, Iíd get nowhere. But if I took the time to just get an air bubble every time I had the chance, Iíd survive no problem. And so that seemed to show me a certain genius in Sonicís design. Itís a flashy, bright and fast game thatís maybe also meant to be savored. And I must add that doing so via VGA adapter is totally worth it. Like I said, Iíve owned Sonic since its release and not until seeing it in its VGA glory have I realized just how incredible those sprites really looked. And the compilationsí audio issues aside, this game really had some incredible music. I canít go back and tell you if I did or didnít beat the game as a child for sure, but I can tell you I felt totally triumphant sitting down and beating it in a single sitting this past month.




Golden Axe was a game I always enjoyed back in the day. I obtained my copy as part of the Sega Classics Arcade Collection which was a pack-in with the launch Sega CD. And though I enjoy beat-em-ups quite a bit, this one seems to have not aged as well as I wish it did. Itís totally possible Iíll get a bit of hate for this as Golden Axe seems a pretty beloved franchise, but I just donít really think the original is all that great if Iím to be honest. Honestly, Iíd much rather play Streets of Rage any day of the week.





I didnĎt actually play Shining Force this month, but I did get my first taste of it on this collection a year or two ago. And since then Iíve become a total convert to the franchise. The original Shining Force is a ridiculously awesome strategy RPG with excellent (albeit repetitive) music, cool (albeit repetitive) animations and a gigantic cast of characters considering the time of its release. I must admit Iíve long been a sucker for S-RPGís though. Thereís something about combining the grid-based movement and strategy of chess with the attack/magic/heal/etc combat of a traditional turn-based JRPG. Like I said this game made me a fan, and Iíve recently spent a good deal of hours plugging away at Shining Wisdom (an Action RPG) on the Saturn.





Wrestle War is a game. I donít have a whole lot to say about it outside of that. WellÖ I suppose as a curio itís kind of neat addition by Sega since itís not exactly one of their most popular releases. But to be frank I found it totally boring. Itís a lot of button-mashing as far as I can tell, and that doesnít really help a game based around something Iím already not interested in (wrestling). So I really didnít spend much time looking into this one.





Streets of Rage 2 is really pretty awesome. I think we can all agree on that one. But would you think less of me if I said I still prefer the original game? Perhaps itís nostalgia. Again, the original SOR was part of the Sega Classics pack-in on Sega CD and I spent countless hours on that one. The music of the original is still so iconic to me. Fast-forward some years and Streets of Rage was semi-responsible for not only making my wife a gamer herself, but even helping her realize that she had a new favorite genre (beat-em-ups).

But while I still prefer the original, thereís no denying that the second is fantastic. And truthfully I applaud Sega for putting the sequel on this collection rather than the original. It would have been so easy for them (Iím guessing) to have included the original four games from that Sega CD collection but instead they opted to deliver what is considered the fan-favorite of the SOR Trilogy. Iím reminded that I still need to beat this one, though most beat-em-ups get reserved for co-op with my wife nowadays.





Columns was in fact one of the other games that was part of the Sega CD collection Iíve been mentioning. If youíre not familiar itís a blocks-drop-from-the-sky puzzler that I guess was Segaís attempt at a Tetris-alike. Though unlike Tetris you can only move the order of the jewels, which are arranged in vertical lines always three-pieces long. Itís a pretty good, if not remarkable arcade puzzler. Sure itís simple as heck -- and Iíd far prefer any number of puzzle games. But I was also able to find a lot of enjoyment in it for several nights in a row. I played through equivalent of Tetrisí B Type game on multiple difficulties -- though admittedly I could never seem to beat the hardest one.





Another game I could get some hate for is Vectorman. I actually first played it as part of fellow RFGen-er Crabmaster2000ís short lived community game club back in 2009 or so. For whatever reason this game has just never clicked with me. And I am a fan of run-n-gun style platformers. But thereís something just off about it for me. Even worse on this particular port is the default button configuration, though you can change it to whatever you like in the options menu so donít let the deter you. But like I was saying, I just canít seem to make myself enjoy Vectorman. Iím not sure if itís that I feel like thereís just a lot of blind jumps, or if I find the combat a little wonkyÖ whatever it is it just seems like every time I give Vectorman another chance it still does nothing for me.





Phantasy Star II isÖ a Phantasy Star game so Iím a fan. Having first discovered the original Phantasy Star several years back as part of Racketboyís Together Retro game club, I have since become a total sucker for the franchise. In fact I recently came to the shocking conclusion that I actually prefer Phantasy Star as a series to Final Fantasy. The characters, universe, music, setting, story and pretty much anything else just seems to appeal to me so much more. And this is coming from a guy who defends Final Fantasy XIII.

Beating the original Phantasy Star felt like a huge achievement to me. And Iíve raved about that game ever since, insisting that it outshines its immediate 8-bit contemporaries Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior in many ways. But it had also occurred to me that I hadnít taken the time to really delve into other games in the series until fairly recently. So I figured the Smash Pack was a good excuse to start making my way through the second game. Though I havenít beaten it yet, Iíve sunk probably 6-8 hours into it and am quite impressed. Though the music isnít as good as the original, itís still totally memorable. And everything looks great in 16-bit. Though the confusing first-person dungeons are gone from this one, theyíre replaced with equally confusing overhead dungeons which for some strange decision in design feature weird pipes above your characters that often block your view. Iím guessing these were featured to show off some processor that Sega was proud of on their Genesis hardware, but manÖ itís rough. But having said that, if you let yourself use maps for the dungeons itís a fantastic (but grind-heavy, be warned) RPG that any admirer of the series should look into.





Altered Beast on the other hand is such a terrible game. Though the graphics were at the time well-detailed and the game does feature some voice samples that show the original Genesis hardware off, itís just such a boring, sluggish and awkward game to actually play. And unlike Golden Axe or Vectorman, I feel like I probably wonít get a whole lot of disdain for proclaiming this.





Revenge of Shinobi fares slightly better. And as a side-note, how confusing did the Shinobi series get during the Genesis days? There was Shinobi 3, Shadow Dancer and this one all around the same time, right? I know I often have trouble keeping track of which is which. When I saw Revenge listed on the back of Smash Pack I got really exciting thinking ďoh man, I hope this is the really awesome one with Batman, Spiderman, Godzilla and that forced-scrolling horse level!Ē But no. Itís not. Instead itís a pretty good Shinobi game. But I donít knowÖ maybe itís just because I was hoping for a much better game in the series, and then comparing the two unconsciously. Or maybe itís because I have no idea how to even beat the first bossÖ but I guess I just kind of feel like Revenge is a game that looks a bit better than the original but seems to actually play a bit worse. Just me again?





Virtua Cop 2 is one of the other non-Genesis games on this collection and holy crap is it awesome! Now understand that I had to play this version with the control pad because Iíve yet to track down Dreamcast light guns, but even then the game was just incredible. Sega really knew what they were doing with light gun games, eh? I mean, Iím a really big fan of the House of the Dead series so I had a good idea of what I was getting myself into here. But damn, Virtua Cop 2 is just some amazing arcade fun. And like I mentioned earlier, hereís a game that really benefits from having a VGA box for your Dreamcast. Oh, and since experiencing the game here for the first time, I did manage to track down the Saturn port of the game along with a couple of Stunner light guns for my CRT TV in my new game room.





And finally Sega Swirl is the one new game to this compilation. Though certainly a simple game -- and letís be honest, not even a wholly original puzzler. But it did offer something that makes it a very notable game in the Dreamcastís libraryÖ online play. Some of you may be aware that a small number of Dreamcast games are still actually online to this day, but Sega Swirl has the distinction of probably never going away. Thatís because the game used POP3 email as its means of getting online. So anyone with a POP3 enabled email account can pretty much always get a move-by-email round of Sega Swirl going with a friend. And with that, weíre left with another one of those little reminders just how stupidly ahead of its time the Dreamcast really was.


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Comments
 
Oh, my poor, sad Dreamcast.  *sigh*

I think I'll stand with you and agree with your Streets of Rage sentiment.  Just a better game, in my opinion.

I got excited about community playthroughs and looked into the forum, then was a bit bummed because I don't have any of the gmaes Sad  Oh, well.  Maybe next time.

Thank again for the trip, noise!
 
I have this one in my Dreamcast stack, but never thought about what was actually on it until now.

Thanks for putting me more in-the-know on this one.

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