Back in November 2010, online retailer GameStop let slip that a title called “The Dreamcast Collection” was to be released. In January 2011, SEGA officially announced The Dreamcast Collection for the XBOX 360 and PC. Between that time, speculation and hype ran rampant. Was the collection to be as massive as the previously released Genesis collection? Were we to receive Power Stone, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and many more non-SEGA games on a release published by SEGA? Would the disc contain both Shenmue titles? Once officially announced, many of the expectations were not met. It wasn’t to be an all-out tribute to the console, nor a mega collection of a dozen games. Rather, the Dreamcast Collection turned out to be a disc release of four previously released and soon to be released XBLA titles at a budget price.
Despite not being what many were hoping for, how does the release fair as an XBLA compilation?
I wanted to point out that two of the four games have already been released and have been reviewed here at SEGAbits. Despite being reviewed by George and being the PSN versions, they very much echo my thoughts on the games. I suggest checking out those reviews for more in depth information: Crazy Taxi review, Sonic Adventure review.
The Dreamcast Collection comes with some rather slick cover art. You’ve got the four games represented in vertical banners and a big picture of the Dreamcast front and center. Despite not all the titles being 1:1 representations of their Dreamcast originals, it was smart of SEGA to feed off of the love for the console by showing it on the box. The vertical sloped bar on the left of the package echos the NTSC Dreamcast cover art, which is a nice touch.
The back of the case details the four games, providing a screenshot, short description and an icon (also seen on the back of the Dreamcast Collection vinyl record). Unfortunately, the manual only offers up one or two pages per game, so those who require a manual to understand how to play a game are SOL. The back of the booklet features an ad for Sonic 4 Episode 1, first time I’ve seen the game advertised in print.
When you insert the game into the 360, you’re immediately brought to a menu (seen above) with the four game’s titles. Moving from one game to another changes the background art and music, selecting games plays a clip appropriate to the game. I have no problem with the simplified menu, because if the collection only includes the games, might as well make them as easily accessible as possible. However, I would have really loved to see the Dreamcast boot screen before the menu launched.
As previously stated in George’s Sonic Adventure review, Sonic Adventure features standard and simple controls. The camera isn’t perfect, it never was in any incarnation of the game, but it is far from game breaking. As with most early 3D platformers (and some modern day ones), it takes a little time to master the camera. The game features two camera modes, free and auto. Auto is what the Dreamcast original had, while free was added to the PC and Gamecube releases. Unfortunately, Sonic Adventure does not feature widescreen support, which is a real shame. I can understand how the FMV movies and menus would look odd stretched or chopped while the gameplay was 16:9, but I doubt anybody would complain about how the options menu does not match the gameplay in aspect ratio.
Crazy Taxi shares the same controls as the Dreamcast original, making the strongest component of the original intact. Thanks to widescreen support, players are able to see a bit more on either side of the car, which helps a bit in spotting shortcuts and potential fares.
SEGA Bass Fishing‘s camera is often fixed, which allows for minimal difficulties. Sometimes, while reeling in, the camera might go behind a log or a fish, but it never got stuck or hindered the gameplay. Controls are very similar to playing on the Dreamcast control pad. You reel with the triggers and move the rod about the the left stick. What SEGA Bass Fishing on the 360 lacks, and what many argue to be the reason to play the game, is the fishing rod controller. Being unable to flick the rod to cast and jerking it around when you get a fish does hurt the game a bit, but not as much as, say, playing Samba de Amigo without maracas. Despite not having a fishing controller in my hands, I found myself really getting into the game with a standard controller. The inclusion of widescreen, achievements and avatar awards also help in making me want to play the title despite also owning the Dreamcast original with rod.
Space Channel 5 Part 2 excels in camera and controls. Unlike the first game, all of the scenery is graphically based, so no fuzzy out-of-synch pre-rendered backgrounds like in the first game. The camera is out of the players hands, allowing for dynamic shots with little to no issues. Controls in part 2 have been improved over the first game, giving players a little more wiggle room in hitting the appropriate “hey!”, “chu!” and directions. The controls are mapped to both the analog and digital controls, so you can pick which works best for you. I found the digital pad to be faster, but the analog to be more fluid.
Sonic Adventure goes unchanged in the audio department, bringing back the same classic tunes that Sonic and SEGA fans have grown to love. The game also features a slew of classic Sonic sound effects, including the “woop!” when Sonic jumps. If there is one thing Sonic 4 beat Sonic Colors at, it is that Sonic 4 had the “woop!”.
It has been said again and again, but I’ll say it… again. Crazy Taxi just isn’t the same without the original soundtrack. While I understand how the rights to music can change, I still wish something could have been done to get Bad Religion and The Offspring back in the game. Thankfully, the game does allow for custom soundtracks, so one could easily put together a playlist of favorite songs from the trilogy and collect crazy money while the custom music plays.
SEGA Bass Fishing retains the cheesy 90’s SEGA arcade rock soundtrack, along with the oddly voiced narrator: “LOWER THE ROD!”. Some may be turned off by the dated music and voice acting, but I say it gives the game a lot of charm. Sound effects are excellent, with the clicking of the reel and the splashing of the fish reminding me of the good ol’ days on Lake Miltona, catching fish with my grandpapa.
Once again, Space Channel 5 Part 2 is the winner in music and sound. The soundtrack of part 2 is varied, unique and infectious. An excellent touch is that saving certain people will result in new layers to be added to the soundtrack. Failure to save The Space Bird Mistress causes the soundtrack to be overrun by angry chirping birds, while saving The Space Bird Mistress calms the birds and brings them together in contributing to the song. Oh yeah, and the Space Michael is in the game. OOH-HOO!
I skipped gameplay, as I’m certain we all know how these games play and what they’re all about: adventure platforming, arcade driving, fishing and rhythm music. Each of these games were fantastic on the SEGA Dreamcast and deserve the title of “Dreamcast Classic”, yes, even SEGA Bass Fishing. However, as seen in the above departments, not all the games in the Dreamcast Collection stack up to their original release. Crazy Taxi is great fun, but lacks the original music. Sonic Adventure is as good as the original (how good you personally find the game is up to you), but lacks widescreen support. SEGA Bass Fishing looks and sounds great, but is lacking the fishing controller. That leaves us with Space Channel 5 Part 2. Does Ulala save the day?
I can happily say that, yes, Space Channel 5 Part 2 is a fantastic port of the game. Beating out the Dreamcast original, in my opinion. It is even better than the PS2 rerelease. All the features of the original are intact, with the addition of widescreen support, avatar awards and achievements. While the other three games aren’t as great a rerelease, they too feature avatar awards and achievements which allow for extra incentive to replay the games. I’ve played through Sonic Adventure a dozen times on the Dreamcast, and enjoyed another playthrough on the 360 just to get a Sonic shirt, sneakers and some more achievements. SEGA Bass Fishing and Crazy Taxi offer up some rather hardcore achievements, providing a fun challenge.
The decision to buy the Dreamcast Collection comes down to a few things: if you like Space Channel 5, if you are a Dreamcast collector, if you like having a physical release of a game or are unable to download titles and if you haven’t downloaded more than one of the titles. If you said “yes” to the last point, and intend to get all the games, the collection is equal in price to downloading three of the titles. The bonus is that you get a physical release and get to play two of the games before they hit PSN and XBLA. If you haven’t downloaded any of the titles, you save $10 with this release.
As one who expected the Dreamcast Collection to be what it was, I wasn’t too disappointed. Yes, I’d love a mega collection packed with ten titles and tons of bonus features, but I’d be crazy to think SEGA would cram that all into a budget release. The best the collection offered me was an excellent port of Space Channel 5 Part 2, early access to two of the titles and freeing up harddrive space by deleting my previously downloaded Sonic Adventure and Crazy Taxi. If the latest two titles are any indication, SEGA has gotten better in their Dreamcast releases. Both Ulala and the Bass featured the full games, no cut content, and widescreen support. If future titles follow suit, we could see some awesome ports down the road. Widescreen Sonic Adventure 2 is at the top of my “want” list.
– Space Channel 5 Part 2 is an “A” quality title
– $10 less than downloading all four
– Avatar awards and achievements
– It’s a physical release
– Sonic Adventure doesn’t run in widescreen
– SEGA Bass Fishing lacks the iconic rod
– Crazy Taxi’s OST is MIA
– Interviews, tv commercials or digital manuals would have been nice extras