Ah, the Dream On demo disks. You've gotta love 'em. Just when you thought you'd seen it all, they still throw up lovely suprises. For those not in the know, the Dream On demo disks were, well, demo disks that came free with the Official Dreamcast Magazine in the UK. Possibly in Europe too, but please - don't quote me on that.
Today, I discovered something amazing. Whilst rummaging for a VM, I happened across Dream On volume 8. The fact that it features playable levels from the sublime Soul Reaver and heavenly Rayman 2: The Great Escape is not what caught my eye though. No, it was something a little more obscure: Sega Swirl.
Sega Swirl is a free game that Sega distributed over the net and through the magazines and one which, until now, I had never even heard of. But what is it? Only one of the finest puzzle games this side of Tetris, folks!
The premise is a simple one: the screen is filled with a grid of multi-coloured 'swirls.' By selecting a particular swirl and pressing A, it disappears - also taking with it any swirls of the same colour that happen to be in direct contact with it. When they disappear, the swils above fall down into the void left behind and that creates more combinations of adjoining swirls. As is the usual with this kind of puzzler, the bigger the combos you create, the bigger the points you can rack up. With my prose creation skills being as lacklustre as they are, that probably sounds really confusing, but trust me - it's gaming at the most basic level, and is a lot of fun.
There are several different play modes availible, such as trying to clear the screen against the clock, taking turns to create combos against the Dreamcast, or - if you have any friends who will even touch a joypad that isn't attached to a PS2 (which I don't, the goddamned HEATHENS) - you can play a four player game in which you try to foil your opponents' attempts to get big combos by screwing up the layout of the swirls.
It really is a great game and one that (given a few more game modes and some jazzed up graphics) could probably have been sold as a full priced puzzle game - just look at Bust-A-Move and it's 17 sequels. What I mean is that as a totally free, Sega produced game, Sega Swirl is unfaultable. If you aren't lucky enough to have a copy of Dream On volume 8, you could always play a Windows version of Sega Swirl by clicking here to see what all the fuss is about. And you'd be advised to, as Sega Swirl is so good - it even features in a penny arcade comic! (click on it to read it):
When you're done with that, you may want to click here to read my review of Dragons Blood / Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm at Defunct Games - the net's premier retrogames review source; or here to view my lynching of Fighting Force 2. Just don't tell Eidos.
Finally, a word of congratulations to the Italians for winning the World Cup - and I'd also like to take this opportunity to wish Zinedine Zidane all the best in his new career as a UFC cage fighter: