As is customary on most Saturday afternoons, yesterday I found myself in the local game shop handing over hard earned cash for Dreamcast games. In the eyes of some people, this probably seems like a pretty bizarre notion - indeed, one youngster who was stood behind me in the queue at the checkout was obviously totally bemused by the sky-blue cases I had in my hand. With hindsight, I should have explained to him the lengthy tale of a great console, lost in time but whose lagacy still lives on in so many wonderful ways...but as we live in an age of tabloid frenzied paranoia, I thought it best not to even look in the little lad's direction for fear of being accused of trying to abduct him.
Now, yesterday's haul wasn't the most fruitful. The games I decided to get were Suzuki Alstare Racing and Speed Devils Online. I realised that without an online connection (and the fact that the servers probably lie dormant in a dark, dusty room in an abandoned warehouse), I wouldnt be able to play Speed Devils Online...erm..online. But, as one would deduce using only the most meagre amount of brain power - Speed Devils Online (SDO) must be superior to the original in single player because it is the pseudo sequel. Surely, if anything it should be identical? Wrong.
What Ubisoft have actually done with SDO is strip out the entire single player game from the original and replace it with a 'single race' mode with all of the unlockale cars, tracks etc already fully availible. Why?!?!? The single player aspects of the original where what made it so good. The gambling of cash, the upgrading, the rivalries between racers...All gone!
And on top of that (get this), the graphics are actually worse in SDO than in the first game. How? Why? I don't know but the original looks pretty sweet - very smooth, very shiny and with some great lighting effects. SDO has blurred, grainy textures and is about as much fun as sitting on a knitting needle. And the cars don't turn anymore. You just have to make do with hitting the walls at every turn and scraping around. Believe me, this ain't no Daytona 2001.
Suzuki Alstare on the other hand allows me to play the first track in arcade mode...then hangs on the loading screen. From what I've played of it (and remember from the first time I owned a Dreamcast while it was actually still in the picture), Suzuki isn't a bad little game at all. It's certainly very playable and the bikes handle really well. Graphics are certainly colourful but hardly spectaular...but overall quite pleasant. I was considering taking them back to the shop for either a refund or an exchange, but to be fair they only cost £2.50 each and it's not worth the hassle, so they'll be consigned to a special area of the Junkyard called 'the shed'.