The Sega Dreamcast was one of the best consoles of all time… but you would never be able to figure that out by playing this collection.
Just hearing the word “Dreamcast” is enough to evoke warm, fuzzy feelings in the heart of any gamer with decent taste, and while it’s common to hear older gamers wax poetic about the 8 or 16-bit golden age, the years that comprised the Dreamcast’s short lifespan will always be my favorite period in gaming history. For the first time ever, 3D graphics went beyond abstract shapes and suggested details and actually looked like the things they were supposed to look like. Sega absolutely gave it their all on what was ultimately a futile last stand, but in doing so they gave us some of the most unique, creative, and innovative games in the industry’s short history. It was the system that made arcades obsolete by giving console gamers the first true arcade perfect home conversions since the Neo Geo. Long before Xbox Live and PSN, Sega was pioneering online play, with innovations like downloadable content and voice chat, years before any other hardware manufacturer would even attempt any sort of similar dedicated online service.
Unfortunately, Sega’s own managerial ineptitude and Sony’s unstoppable, PS2 hype machine drove the Dreamcast to an early grave, but even now, a decade after it’s untimely death, the Dreamcast still manages to hold a special place in the hearts of true gamers. Unfortunately, the company that spawned the Dreamcast doesn’t quite have the same standards that they once had, and while they still make the occasional gem, Sega has certainly fallen from grace, and nothing exemplifies the difference between Sega in 1999 and the Sega that exists now than the Dreamcast Collection for Xbox 360.
This collection has a multitude of problems, and first and foremost are the games that actually compromise this collection: Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi, Space Channel 5, and Sega Bass Fishing. Now, I actually like some of these games, but even fans of these games have to admit that these aren’t the first titles that come to mind when you think of the Dreamcast. Even if you were to limit yourself to just Sega’s first party releases, there’s a bunch of titles that would’ve been better examples of why the system is so beloved; Jet Grind Radio, Shenmue, Skies of Arcadia, Samba De Amigo, Chu Chu Rocket, or my personal favorite, Phantasy Star Online, all would’ve been excellent choices. Hell, even Virtua Fighter 3tb or Sega Rally 2, while arguably the weakest entries in those series, would’ve been preferable over Sega Bass Fishing. I think I would’ve even been happy with Dynamite Cop or Zombie Revenge. It really boggles the mind… Sega was tasked with creating a collection of the Dreamcast’s best games, and with the ability to pick games out of one of the strongest libraries of any system in gaming history, they pick a fishing game?
Now, like I stated earlier, I do like some of the games on this collection, even if they aren’t exactly the first games that come to mind when I think of Dreamcast AAA hits, Sonic Adventure and Crazy Taxi. While their age has only made their flaws even more noticeable, I will still vehemently defend Sonic Adventure as a solid platformer with some admittedly questionable design choices, and as far as I’m concerned, the original Sonic Adventure and Wii sleeper hit Sonic Colors were the only genuinely good 3D Sonic games (Hopefully I’ll be able to add Sonic Generations to this short list later this year)… And yes, while Crazy Taxi’s floaty physics will likely frustrate newer gamers, I still think there’s a good amount of unpredictable, arcadey fun to be had, if you’re willing to give it a chance.
But despite actually liking these games, I have to say that the quality of these ports in this collection is as questionable as the selection of games; to put it simply, it’s obvious that the bare minimum of effort went into making these supposed “HD” ports. Take Sonic Adventure for instance: when playing on an HD tv, the game itself plays in a tiny, 4:3 window in the center of the screen, with a giant border surrounding it. The most damning example of just how lazy these ports are is that the 2003 port of Sonic Adventure for Gamecube running in 480p arguably looks better than supposedly “HD” Xbox 360 port released in 2011.
The other games in this collection thankfully manage to avoid Sonic Adventure’s technical laziness and actually have true 16:9 support, but Crazy Taxi didn’t get through the porting process completely unscathed either. The game is missing it’s iconic soundtrack by Bad Religion, and the game simply isn’t the same without the music. The fact that Sega didn’t want to pony up the cash to re-license the game’s original soundtrack is just another sign of just how little money and effort Sega put into these ports.
Basically, if you like any of the games on this collection, you’d be better off buying any of the last-gen versions of these games — Sonic Adventure is available on the Dreamcast and Gamecube, Space Channel 5 was ported to the PS2, and Crazy Taxi is available in one form or another on every last-gen console — not just because it would probaly be cheaper, but also because you’d probably get a better version than what’s on this collection.
Also, don’t expect any bonus content. While Sega’s own Sonic’s Genesis Collection for PS3 and 360 was filled to the brim with developer interviews, concept art, and bonus games, the Dreamcast Collection offers nothing in the way of extra content. No interviews, no manual scans, not even a brief description about each game. As I stated earlier, Sonic Adventure was re-released for the Gamecube in 2003 with some minor extra content (the ability to play as Metal Sonic and a pointless Mission mode,) and that extra content is still available in this collection… For a price. I can’t believe that in a collection this half-assed, Sega has the gaul to ask fans to pony up an extra $5 for bonus content when Sega themselves clearly spent as little money as possible porting these games.
There are good games on the Dreamcast Collection, but you’d be better off playing them elsewhere, where you’ll likely get a better experience for less money. The Dreamcast was a wonderful system that never got a fair chance, and this collection is just another insult to it’s name. Buy only if you don’t have access to any of the last-gen systems and have no other way of playing any of these games.
Final Score: 5/10