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Virtua Athlete 2000 (Dreamcast) artwork

Virtua Athlete 2000 (Dreamcast) review


"Sega's other track and field title for the Dreamcast, Virtua Athlete 2000, rarely gets a mention because of its under-the-radar release, so not a whole lot of players remember or even know of its existence. Hell, Sega didn't even publish the game in North America, despite the allure of being developed by the same team that created the then-hot Virtua Tennis. However, it was snatched up by Agetec, a publisher who was known at the time for releasing niche titles no one else would touch."



When people think of track and field in association with Sega, the first game that comes to mind is the Sega Saturn release of DecAthlete, or Athlete Kings as it's called in Europe. It wasn't anything fancy, borrowing the button mashing element from Konami's old-school franchise, but it was one of the more eye-pleasing 3D games for the console, featuring smooth textures and a unique cast of characters. And that's it... no other game is likely to be uttered. Sega's other track and field title for the Dreamcast, Virtua Athlete 2000, rarely gets a mention because of its under-the-radar release, so not a whole lot of players remember or even know of its existence. Hell, Sega didn't even publish the game in North America, despite the allure of being developed by the same team that created the then-hot Virtua Tennis. However, it was snatched up by Agetec, a third-party publisher who was known at the time for releasing niche titles no one else would touch.

Why'd Sega skip it? Is it a buggy, glitchy title? Actually, there's nothing technically wrong with Virtua Athlete 2000, in fact, the game is an "updated" version of DecAthlete, using its exact mechanics, give or take small alterations; all the running events still have stamina bars that force a certain pace, jumping and throwing still require the need to hold down a button for the right altitude, and the final event, the 1500-meter race, still has that goofy bumper car feeling when colliding with other runners. It's extremely easy getting into this if you're a DecAthlete fan, which isn't much of a surprise once you find out the same dev team, AM3 then, Hitmaker here, created both titles.

No, the problem is the odd, questionable changes the team made to this successor. For some reason, Hitmaker excluded three events that were originally in DecAthlete: the 400-meter race, the discus throw, and the pole vault. They contributed a slice of variety to the competition, and without the inclusion of all three, makes an already short experience that much shorter with seven events, each lasting two to five minutes long. Another change that feels like a big detraction is the absence of the varied-looking participants from DecAthlete, like the eccentric design of the Russian athlete or the sensual female French athlete. Virtua Athlete 2000 gives players mundane character models that lack any unique charisma or personality. They all look robotic, and stranger yet, it's strictly a sausage fest, lacking the diverse selection of males and females from its Saturn predecessor.

Shorter and void of the same energy from DecAthlete, it's easy to understand now why this was passed by Sega, as it's hard to find reasons to try this playable, yet bland revision. There were some attempts made, but they feel shallow in the grand scheme of things, like uploading ranks and downloading other players' data, which you can't even do anymore. There's also a create-a-player option, but you can only use the boring, pre-existing models, and its only highlight being that of choosing three abilities that affect your athlete. Nothing to wet yourself over. That leaves us with Virtua Athlete 2000's only real selling point: four player multiplayer. Plug in four controllers and go against your friends to see who's best, but is that a good enough reason to buy this? Unless you can find it incredibly cheap, hardly. This really is a sad follow-up to DecAthlete, a bizarre regression instead of what should have been an awesome improvement featuring a ton more events and features.

Bested... by a game that didn't do anything original to begin with. The madness.

Rating: 4/10

pickhut's avatar
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