The fond memories of Sega’s Dreamcast console are near and dear to a lot of gamers. When news of a Dreamcast collection created a buzz around the video games industry, it was hard not to get excited to relive all of the great games from the now infamous console. Gamers were already teased with downloadable versions of Sonic Adventure and Crazy Taxi on the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation network, with the hunger for more titles growing in the minds of fans. Unfortunately, when the news of an entire collection releasing to retail was on the way, there was some disappointment for fans as the collection would only have a total of four titles, including two of which were already available in downloadable form. To add insult to injury, PS3 owners would have to be happy with the two PSN releases, as the collection was only coming to the Xbox 360 and PC.
Now that the collection is available, it is pretty easy to say that it represents what could have been a great collection of games. On the Xbox 360 version (as well as PC), you are getting Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi, Space Channel 5: Part 2, and SEGA Bass Fishing. Once you load the disc, you are presented a menu where you choose from each of the four games, and your choice launches what is essentially the Xbox Live version of the game. If you already have the XBLA version of either already available title, these are the exact same version, right down to the achievements and game saves. This is nothing new for these types of collections, as there have been retail releases of XBLA games before that are similar in design.
The gameplay is exactly what you may remember from each of the titles, and translates well on these ports. Everything from the timing down to the button presses is here, and at times you may feel as if you are actually playing on your old Dreamcast. The controls are still poor in Sonic, Crazy Taxi still has some rough spots in the driving mechanics, but this much you may already know from the previous downloadable launch. Space Channel 5: Part 2 is rhythm game that can get really tough in parts, as there are essentially no visual cues as to when you are supposed to press each action and you must rely solely on the timing of the audio played. Fortunately, SC5: P2 does take you through a somewhat strange, but interesting story as a reporter fighting against a villain, while rescuing innocent bystanders in the process. Then you have SEGA Bass Fishing, which will either appeal to you or it won’t. It has you select a lure, based on your preferred play style, and cast your line in the water. You reel in with varying speed with your choice of button, bumper, or trigger, and each fish caught goes toward a total weight score in the game.
The graphics may be the best part of having these games appear on a current gen platform. In a world with SD televisions no longer available on the market, it can be challenging to plug in that old hardware and adjust to the eye strain that can be experienced with the display of old games on new televisions. This collection looks great on a high-def display, and you won’t be compromising looking at a fuzzy stretched picture for nostalgia gaming. Every title has been touched up graphically, without changing any of the gameplay. The audio and sounds have that dated feel, but are surprisingly clean and easy on the ears.
The only multiplayer aspect included is the addition of the online leaderboards, but seems like a gimme as the two previously released titles were already implemented as part of many gamers’ online library and feel like a standard feature. The problem with this collection, much like other offline retail releases of XBLA games, is that it requires a few extra steps to pick up and play these titles. Each one requires you to exit to the console dashboard and re-launch the disc to pick another game to play. With no option to install the game and no longer need the disc, you won’t be able to quickly select a game and play it for five minutes before moving on to a more recent release, especially if the disc isn’t in the tray.
Overall, the collection is a decent attempt at teasing Dreamcast fans with what could have been a great collection, had it included much more games. The games are still somewhat fun, and are able to mildly satisfy the Dreamcast hunger for re-releases. If there is going to be another collection of Dreamcast games in the future, perhaps a Volume 2, then an apology to the tune of a more extensive collection on the disc will be more than enough to make most fans happy.
*SEGA provided SlimGamer.com with a review copy.