My Dreamcast hates me. And the worst part is, she's (yes, you all know I call me Dreamcast a "she") right! I've been neglecting her, only playing with my many other consoles (except for the N64, that one's sitting quietly in a dark corner). Maybe that's why the laser slowly began to fade away... But now it's back! I really have no idea what's going on, maybe it just needed to rest for a bit, but, anyway, what matters is that I've been playing the hell out of that thing lately, with 3 particular games, 2 I already had, neglected in the shelf, and a new one. Let's break it down:
Le Mans 24 Hours
Amazing game. The only reason I didn't play it much when I got it was because at the time I was more into arcade stuff. Now that I'm seriously in the simulator business this game is a godsend in the Dreamcast's library. The gameplay's just...right, you know? The cars respond to every move you make, with fully analog control that lets you turn or accelerate exactly how much you want, depending on the pressure you apply to the analog pad or the triggers, and it just feels good, driving those hi-powered machines in a variety of different tracks. The graphics are pretty damn awesome, and, of course, it gives you the option to race the whole Le Mans challenge, in 24 hours real-time!
Personally I like to call it Radilgy, as in Radio Allergy. Because that's what the game is all about, your character having a radio-wave allergy, and her father's being kidnapped, and you taking control of a flying robot shooting wave after wave of enemies... Pretty generic shmup storyline, you see. As I stated sometime ago in a comment to a Martin's post, I had it, though, as what happened to Le Mans, at the time I got it just for collection's sake, not exactly to play it. Well, now things are different. In the past months I've became a huge shmup fan, so I inevitably had to play this. Here's what I think.
The graphics are awesome, pure cell-shaded, bright colours, delicious animations goodness! The gameplay is tight, the controls respond well and the game's not impossibly difficult (although it's far from easy). There's the regular shot, a special move identical to the bombs in other games but which is used primarily to render you invulnerable for a period of time and a close-range sword attack, powerful but dangerous to perform since you're right next to the enemies, making it difficult to dodge incoming fire.
I only have two major gripes with the game. First, you can't use the analog pad. This is just stupid. If the damn thing is the closest you have to an arcade stick, why the fuck shouldn't they allow you to use it? The d-pad's fine, but it just isn't the same... Second, the main shot is weak as fuck. Even when you power it all up certain enemy ships take about half a minute to blow up, which leaves you felling like you have a peashooter on your hands.
Other than that, great shmup, specially considering the rather weak competition when it comes to the Dreamcast (face it, it wasn't a particularly great machine for shmup fans...).
Wind & Water: Puzzle Battles
Finally! I thought I would never get my hands on this game! (now I only have to get that Dux...) Played just a little bit yesterday, not enough to pass judgement, but I can already tell you two things. First, the gameplay is rather unique, so be prepared to suck at it at first. The game features a nice tutorial, explaining everything in detail, but still, don't expect to master it right away. Second, this game was made with love. Seriously. The attention to detail, to make this game appealing to the player and has solid, complete and polished as a game can be is really astonishing. Also, the soundtrack's great.
Now, I've only really saw the tip of the iceberg, but I can already tell I'm going to love it. By the way, Gagaman and Father K, would you be so kind as to send me your custom character's codes? I'd love to play as both of you :P
(Gman's rummage vid)