Totally Ridiculous Comparisons: No. 3

I figured that after Totally Ridiculous Comarisons: No. 2, enough was enough because, just like a bird who is that fat she also has tits on her back, you simply can have too much of a good thing. But fear not! There are no fat birds here - in fact, there are no females here whatsoever...but I digress.

In the past we have seen Super Runabout trade haymakers with Charge N' Blast; and we've witnessed the spectacle of F355 Challenge take one hell of a Maggie Thatcher-style beating at the hands of Star Wars Episode 1: Racer - but now it's time to stop fucking about. It's time for the big boys to step into the ring...

So, without further ado, gents and gents, put your wank mags and pot noodles down - and give a warm Dreamcast Junkyard style welcome to the new contenders (drumroll please):

"Are you ready? Are you ready? Let's GET IT ON!"
Daytona 2001 Versus Shenmue

Round 1: Graphics

Whoa...where to begin? Daytona's visuals are something else. It's simply arcade perfect - you know, if Daytona 2001 had actually ever been in the arcades. But first things first - the vehicles. Each car is really well modelled and super shiny. There aren't any real-time reflections going on, but you get the idea as the clouds glide over the bodywork like Swiss Tony(above left)'s hands might glide over the soft thigh of a 19-year-old blonde. Cough. The framerate is consistent and the draw distances are pretty spectacular at times - check out the entire track laid before your eyes as you disappear down the hill and under the bridge on the Mermaid Lake track - it's a really impressive sight, especially with 39 other vehicles battling for position all around you. Trackside detail on some of the courses is a little sparse (Circuit Pixie and National Park Speedway for example), but on the whole, Daytona 2001 is an almost perfect example of the Dreamcast's technical superiority.

A totally different visual style to Daytona, Shenmue is again arguably one of the best looking games on the DC. Everything is modelled with such meticulous detail you have to wonder about the sanity of the developers. Go into a shop and look at the shit on the shelves - it's all labelled up - no N64 style masses of colour here, guv'nor. Peoples faces, bikes, doors, kettles...even the inside of the freaking bus to the's all immaculatley m
odelled. And it's not just the things you interact with either - the actual environment looks so realistic due to the overbearing use of drab colours. Where Daytona jumps through the retinas with overbearing joyful garishness, Shenmue heaps on the atmosphere with a colour palette similar to the one used in the Grim Reaper's bedroom. Don't ask how I know - just take my word for it. And then there are the little things you don't notice at first, like the proper shadows and the real time lighting. It ain't perfect (some slowdown and the way shadows don't fall on snow(odd)), but it's still an exceptionally good looking title.

Winner: It's a Tie, folks.

Round 2: Sound

Daytona on the Saturn featured music so cringeworthy that it is said one unhappy punter stabbed knitting needles through his own ear drums just so he could play it without breaking down in tears. Bit drastic, I know - but apparently he'd lost his TV remote and couldn't turn it down. That is probably a lie, more than likely concocted by me - but who can forget "Blue, blue skies..." AAAAARGH! It's worse than Eurovision. Daytona 2001 isn't quite as bad, you'll be pleased to hear, although the soundtrack is made up of remixes. They're nowhere near as offensive as the original choons, but still, not really up to scratch - and what happened to the top notch menu music from CCE?! Oh well. Elsewhere, sound effects are pretty much by the numbers - the odd throaty engine growl here, the odd tire screech there - all perfectly acceptable, but hardly amazing. One nice extra I noted is the way you can now hear the crowd as you whizz past the grandstand corner on 777 Speedway, which is nice, but overall Daytona is pretty average in the speaker/ear collaboration department.

Shenmue is a game that has had hundreds, maybe thousands of man hours poured into it. You can see this in the graphics - and the sound is no different. Again, you don't really notice it while you're playing, but the little incidentals that chime in, and the atmosphere building crescendos during cut scenes should be applauded. There are some areas that are marked out by their music (for example, I know for a fact that everyone reading this who has played Shenmue for any length of time will remember the music in Ryo's house and garden - that sort of drummy, slow melody). The voice acting of the NPCs (and Ryo, for that matter) can be a bit grating in places (especially that cretin Tom at the burger bar, with his faux Jamaican twang), but lets look at the bigger picture - it's head and shoulders above most games in this genre. Individual character's personalities can be picked up through how they speak and emotion is well conveyed through the dialogue. So, pretty good then.

Winner: The Hero of Hazuki's Shenmue

Round 3: Gameplay

Daytona is one of those games you'll either love or hate when it comes down to gameplay. By gameplay, I primarily mean how the cars handle, but will also wax lyrical about the other aspects of the way it plays. But first: handling. You can tweak vehicle set ups in Daytona 2001, but in truth it doesn't really make much of a difference to the car's classification: some are fast with shit cornering, some are slow with good cornering. The generic Hornet car (let's be honest - it's the one we all use, all the time) bobs about under the strain of the engine like it's got a see-saw underneath it and cornering can be a nightmare unless you get a feel for the way the game wants you to play it. Daytona, believe it or not, is a game in which braking is essential - if you don't, you'll be seeing that comedy car flip more times than is healthy. To successfully navigate the more hideous turns, it is imperitive that you know how to drift the cars without spinning out and unless you can do it, you'll probably think Daytona is an unplayable, difficult and ultimatley shite game. Give it time and you'll see the error of your ways - mark my words, young Jedi. Elsewhere, there is a generic championship made to battle through and the usual array of single races etc. Cars are unlocked by winning championships and, wierdly, by playing for set periods of time. The overall concensus with Daytona 2001 though is this: have patience.

Shenmue is very much something of an aquired taste in gaming. The slow, but ultimatley intriguing plot takes time to bear any real fruit and many people may lose interest before the story really kicks off. As with most RPGs (although, Shenmue is more of an action-rpg), the very nature of the adventure is plodding. But lets talk about controls first. I didn't really like the control set up - using the D-Pad is a nightmare at times and I was forever pushing the analogue stick by mistake and fucking the camera up. The fighting controls are OK, but again, using the D-Pad is a bit wrong, and you can never really execute the move you want to becuase button presses and actions being taken is so inconsistent. I'm nit picking, I know. Another thing that really annoyed me was the constant waiting around for the time to pass - sometimes you have to wait till 7 in the evening to meet someone or go somewhere...when Ryo gets up at 8.30am, that's a long time to wait around. It's a storming game, but sometimes you have no choice but to leave it running while you go off and do something and then come back when the virtual time has passed sufficiently to progress the story. Bah.

Winner: Due to the infuriating D-Pad and waiting around, it's gotta be Daytona

Round 4: Longevity

Daytona has 8 tracks, a minimal numer of initial cars (although as mentioned, some more can be unlocked) and only a few different play modes. Nevertheless, you can play the tracks in reverse, mirror or reverse mirror so it jazzes things up a bit. However, you have to consider that Daytona is an arcade racer at heart and is intended to be played in short, hi octane stints - it ain't Forza Motorsport afterall. That said, beating lap records and perfecting your drive is still a lot of fun, so there is some longevity here.

Ah. Here Shenmue shines. The overall quest in this first installment of the Hazuki revenge story isnt overly long - but it kept me going for a good while. The game spans 3 GDs (the fourth is a graphics showcase/mess about disc) so you do get an idea of how long you'll be playing - but the real clinchers are the side quests you'll often be asked to complete, but don't have to. For example, helping an old codger find a particular address. Other sidelines include collecting toys from the slot machines and finding the audio tapes and Saturn games for the console under the telly in Ryo's gaff (you'll save a pretty penny in arcade trips y'know). I personally didn't even bother with all that stuff, but I still got a lot of play out of it. Just don't mention the slightly gay handing out of prizes after the forklift truck race at the docks. Shudder.

Winner: It's gotta be Shenmue again - if only for the sonic toys.

Overall Winner: Shenmue

Scores on the boards: Daytona 2001: 2 Shenmue: 3

There it is. The scores don't lie - it was a tough one, and the closest match up thus far, but Shenmue took it. Daytona needn't be down hearted though - it was a mammoth task. Like England winning the world cup. But what the HELL am I talking about? They're inanimate bits of pressed plastic. I need to lie down.

And on that (slightly surreal) bombshell, here's a picture of a prototype Dreamcast that hasn't already been copy and pasted to death from some other, inferior website or blog:

Cool eh?


Animated AF said...

That Dreamcast prototype is BUTT ugly. Like, PS2 ugly.

gnome said...

Lovely protoype. PSOne style,but pre PSone, but post PSX/Playstation. And a nice midnight laugh this post.


Unknown said...

There was never a doubt that Shenmue would lose, but you did get me going in round three and the 39 cars on circuit set my heart palpating.

Enjoyable comparison, and the prototype would have looked a lot neater under my tv than the warped plastic look of the 360.

Tom Charnock said...

lol :-D yeah, the kid has a lot of heart, but shenmue was the bigger of the two men. Played mermaid lake on hard last night - whilst pissed - and came first!!! Alcohol and driving - the perfect combination.

Tom Charnock said...

also, don't you guys think that prototype looks like a cdi?

Animated AF said...

It does, now you mencion it. Probably why they changed it.

Animated AF said...

One last thing: CHRIS WADDLE.

Porroe said...

That proto DC is horrible!!

gnome said...

Nope. It's CDi HOT!

gnome said...

Yes, the Dreamcast Junkyard is THE place for aquarium fetihists...

fatherkrishna said...

Apart from bad spelling on the posts... I truly understand the chore of having a shit wireless keyboard... i've noticed what SUBLIME POST THIS IS. crap... hit caps lock by accident! played Shenmue for six months solid and stumbled across it by accident only realising it was worth a look in by its £25 pricetag at gamestation when other DC games were checking in at £2.50. Only discovered Daytona at the caravan site arcade as a defunct arcade game that allowed me to play over and over for 50p cos the machine was faulty. Have since purchased as a Saturn game and love it. However as a stand off Shenmue would win over any game cos its been not only my defining game but the reason I have sold my soul to the DC. TLC you kick gaming ass and as a consequence i have re-sold my soul to the yard! I'll quit this post before I go off at a tangent and just say Dreamcast junkyard is the best hit on the net.
Respect by the barrel load!

Tom Charnock said...

Lol - FK, you're making us a manly way of course...