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Dreamcast Collection (Xbox 360) artwork

Dreamcast Collection (Xbox 360) review

"Sega had a legacy here to uphold. You know how hardcore gamers love to laud accolades on lesser known, dead systems and celebrate their obscure appeal? Well Dreamcast was one of those systems. Hell, Dreamcast might have been the system – only the near-mythical Turbo Duo vies with it for that title."

What’s with these rubbish ‘collections’?

Dreamcast Collection continues a distasteful trend publishers have got going, where they package a mere handful of games, many of which are weak or unheralded or would not be what the buying public has in mind for the collection, and try to cash in – preying on our nostalgia-based vulnerabilities.

Just prior to receiving this game, I noticed, with some disgust, that Konami has a pair of retro compilations: and each one includes exactly three games. There was simply no way all six games could have fit on one disc; it would have been impossible. And the inclusion of the six seems laughably random (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Frogger? Really?) until one realizes that they’re only on the discs because they were already made available on the Xbox Live Arcade service.

Here's where I'm going with this: Konami thought it a prudent moneymaking move to take those cheap downloads and slap them on a couple of discs: double-dipping, as it were. Cha-ching!

Guess what? Sega’s done the same thing. But in the case of Dreamcast Collection, it’s a far greater tragedy, given that Sega should be celebrating their last beloved, fallen console; not denigrating its memory by taking a weak sauce selection of titles (on the whole) which were already available on XBL and misrepresenting them as the expired heart of the console.

All that being said, we do get Sonic Adventure, and nothing says Sega like Sonic. Adventure is still a decent 3D platformer that manages to look good, even today; it’s refreshing to play through it and see how well it’s retained the old Sonic panache which we’ve now seen expunged from the franchise in more recent years. The camera isn’t great, the checkpoints begrudge progress, and the controls feel clunky, especially for a game that prides itself on speed, but more often than not, these are the conventions that are noticeably lacking when we venture back in our gaming time machines.

The most interesting game on the disc, is the esoteric Space Channel 5: Part 2. The sequel to the trendsetting, ahead-of-its-time rhythm game is just as enjoyable as ever. Naturally, it speaks further of Sega’s ineptitude in handling the compilation that Part 2 was chosen over the superior original. But if there’s a reason to get this collection, this obscure entry just might be it. Of course, you could simply download it on XBL if Part 2 really was your killer app back in the day… Then again, it probably wasn't.

Crazy Taxi, the game I was most excited to replay, acts as a microcosm of the entire Dreamcast Collection experience. It’s the same manic pick-up-and-drop-off driving fun we enjoyed on the DC and in the arcade, though again, the controls are a lot more slippery than we probably remembered. Sega was either unable or unwilling to shore up rights to the soundtrack, which is profoundly conspicuous in its absence. I was a bit surprised that the omission should degrade the experience so much, but when you think of it, soundtracks are integral in driving games, and Crazy Taxi doesn’t feel like Crazy Taxi without The Offspring.

So yes, they half-assed the best title on their half-assed collection. It’s sad, but at least they’re consistent.

I should also tell you that SEGA Bass Fishing is on this disc.

Sega had a legacy here to uphold. You know how hardcore gamers love to laud accolades on lesser known, dead systems and celebrate their obscure appeal? Well Dreamcast was one of those systems. Hell, Dreamcast might have been the system – only the near-mythical Turbo Duo vies with it for that title.

This is what was at stake: And Sega gave us fishing.

When you consider what could have been included, the travesty becomes all the more apparent: No Jet Grind Radio, no Chu Chu Rocket, no Ecco, no House of the Dead 2, no Shenmue.

(But we did get fishing.)

SEGA Bass Fishing is not a bad game – I don’t want to give you that impression. If you were wondering, it’s actually quite manageable with the analog sticks, and you might accidentally have a little bit of fun with it to boot – I know I did. But it’s a fishing game on our only (so far) Dreamcast Collection. The DC had a sweet fishing peripheral that I’m sure Sega realizes we won’t have access to on our Xbox 360. Not having the peripheral doesn’t kill the appeal of this poor selection, but it does critically injure it.

I’ll reiterate: it’s not that the games on offer on this disc are poor, or even poorly emulated – collectively, they are pedestrian performers to be sure, but they’re not terrible. It’s simply beyond regrettable that the games chosen weren’t chosen out of love, sincere nostalgia, and a willingness to give the fans what they want: a collection worthy of the system and representative of the experience the system provided when it was alive and well. The phrase "wasted opportunity" has become rather cliche, but it applies here all too well.


Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (March 28, 2011)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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honestgamer posted March 28, 2011:

This review does an excellent job of showing what the collection could have--and should have been--and (more importantly) what it isn't. I made the same point about The Offspring from Crazy Taxi when I reviewed the original Xbox Live Arcade release of that particular title. This is a collection of poorly executed ports and it should have been bigger and better. Maybe we'll see that down the road. The Dreamcast did deserve better than this compilation disc.
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Masters posted March 28, 2011:

Thanks Jason. This thing was a major disappointment.

And thanks for the catch, and the cover art.
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CoarseDragon posted March 28, 2011:

I always wondered how they pick games to be in such a collection. Did one sell more than the other. At the end you noted some good choices and that makes me wonder.

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