The Dreamcast represents one of the last major consoles to feature four controller ports as standard, and the inclusion of a modem makes it a system that truly straddled the eras where playing with others became an oxymoronic experience with gamers connected via the internet as opposed to being sat on the same couch. Obviously, there are still plenty of games that offer local multi-player play modes but these days it's seen as a unique selling point or gimmick rather than a standard feature. Enter Alice Dreams Tournament, an independently developed Dreamcast exclusive that borrows heavily from the Bomberman series and is all about recreating the local multi-player sessions of old, but with a modern twist.
|The final look of Alice Dreams Tournament.|
It was with this blueprint that developers Julien Desquenne and Nicolas Pochet launched a Kickstarter to get Alice Dreams Tournament turned into a reality; and the project quickly reached its meagre €8,000 target, finishing with a total of €28,000 from 374 backers (full disclosure - one of those 374 backers was me, along with several others from the Junkyard team).
|How the earlier Alice Dreams game looked.|
In it, you are tasked with clearing as many stages as possible with your bombs as waves of AI enemies spawn. Some of these enemies are totally benign and will pass through you as you drop your bombs all over the stages and create huge chained explosions; while other enemy types will kill you on contact, thus reducing your lives counter. If the timer runs out or all your lives are lost then it's game over and you are offered a QR or alphanumeric code. This code can then be entered into the Alice Dreams Tournament website (or scanned with your phone) and your effort will appear in the online leaderboard. A cursory glance at this leaderboard will also reveal that multi-player attempts at this score attack are allowed, but in practice playing with two or more players actually makes things a little trickier as you not only have to avoid the deadly enemies; you have to avoid your teammates' blast radiuses too.
As you'd expect, there are the standard free-for-all and team battles where 1-4 players can duke it out in order to score the most points; but there are a number of highly enjoyable extra modes, many of which make use of the VMU. Colour Battle equips teams with red and blue paint balloons, and the team who covers the most of the environment with their colour wins; while Bodyguard makes one player the target and another the titular bodyguard who can create protective barriers and use bombs to attempt to kill the opposing target while avoiding the counterpart bodyguard. Brain Battle has players doing maths, where sums appear at the sides of the screen and players must choose the correct answer to stand under before the entire stage is destroyed by fire. Assault tasks players with destroying the enemy's armoured target boxes; while capture the flag is - as you'd expect - a capture the flag game where the flag is actually a 'beast' that needs to be returned to a nest. No, me neither. The interesting twist comes when the 'night' variation is thrown into the mix.
As stated, all of these modes are playable with 1 to 4 players, with AI making up the numbers regardless of how many human players there are. Naturally, you can turn these off if you want to play with just friends, but it's commendable that there are so many customisation options for the number of players, timers, numbers of points required to win etc.
If anything, Alice Dreams Tournament represents a triumph of simplistic aesthetics and enjoyable gameplay, and proves great things can come in small, affordable packages. Here's another look at Caleb's recent video on Alice Dreams Tournament in action:
Kickstarter backers who chose to receive the US and Japanese styled package versions should have their copies of the game now. Those who ordered the PAL style and collector's editions have reported a delay in delivery but Julien Desquenne has told us that these should be shipped in early May 2017. The game should be available to non-backers through the Alice Dreams Tournament website in mid to late May 2017.
Agree? Disagree? What are your experiences with Alice Dreams Tournament? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation in our Facebook Group!
Alice Dreamcast Tournament Website
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