This summer I have been mostly playing..

Summer has been very long for me, about three months to be exact, and now it's almost coming to a close as I go back to University at the end of this month. This long time off, however, has given me plenty of time to get acquainted with my Dreamcast and buy new stuff for it. Here I list the top 3 games that I have been the most hooked on those unbearably hot summer days.

3: Puyo Puyo 4
I completely forgot to write about this game here at the Blog, but here it is. Not to be confused with it's follow up Puyo Puyo Fever, which I did write about, this is the last in the series produced by it's original developers Compile, and one of the last to feature the original cast which included the heroine Arle, the green haired devil guy Satan, the tea-obsessed Skeleton-T, and that weird fish with human limbs that has a really long name. I grabbed it off Ebay for a tenner. Anyway, there are many reasons why this game turns out to be a lot better than fever was, despite the language barrier. For starters the graphics are not quite as eye-bleedingly colourful and he artwork is beautiful. Secondly, there are a lot more modes of game play to pick from here, including a endless mode that gives you a choice of 5 different sizes of Puyos from the teeny tiny to the screen-filling huge) and there's even a 4-player mode.

What's had me stuck into it mainly over the summer was the Story mode. While the story in Fever only took a day to complete, the one really long story mode in this took around a month. The fever feature in the follow up made the game a bit too easy, but in this game you get special moves instead, and as you go through the story more characters tag along with Arle, so you get to choose from different specials. Puyo 4 is far more tactical then any of he others I played, and it's all about getting good combos, and the timing of your specials (which you only get a limited few of). I would spend days on some levels later on, as the characters started to get rock hard.

The very final boss, a evil clone of Arle of some sort, has to be one of the most taxing challenges I've come across in a puzzle game. There are two Puyo blobs in the corners worth 500,000 points each, and if the CPU gets one of them, you have automatically lost as rows and rows of blocks fall down on you. If you hit one of the, however, the CPU has 5 shields to stop the blocks falling down for a minute each, and you don't have any specials to use at all! The only way to beat her, after days to trying, was to somehow get both of the 500K blobs AND prevent her from getting anywhere near her two! I got it in the end, and the satisfaction of finally beating the game was overwhelming, especially when I rarely beat games as hard as this one was. Phew.

2: Seaman
No, not that Seaman!
With months of time ahead of me, I decided to start up Seaman again at the start to make up for my poor first attempts at it, in which after a couple weeks I gave p and deleted it. This time, I was determined to get right to whatever kind of ending this game has, if it even had one. Playing it for five minutes every one or two days seemed to do the trick. The questions the miserable sod asks you are very varied, from the simple ("How old are you?"), to the personal ("Do you like yourself?") to the Sega-indorsed ("What is your favourite Dreamcast game?"). It's quite some time before the fishes start to evolve, but after a while (about a month), they start to grow legs, and once that stage of their evolution is sorted, one of them will ask you to help him push a big rock in the corner of the tank. getting him to do this makes the tanks water sink down into a small area, and turns the tank into a beach of some sort.

This Seaman you twat.
I won't spoil the rest of the game for you, as FatherKrsihna appaers to be playing through the game as well, but after almost 3 months of five minute or so sittings, there is an ending to this game, in which you dion't have to look after him anymore. You can, however, still go back to the file and check up on him, and see if he has evolved some more. It may not sound all to eventful, but trust me when I say this is one of the most bizarre yet interesting experiences I have had on the Dreamcast, and the only virtual pet game I've played with a real award to it. Who needs Nintendogs when you can have a real dog? Well, where can you get a real talking fish or frog? No where. Well worth the patience of playing it at the start to get to the later parts.

1: Sega Marine Fishing
Yes, the most played game of the summer for me was a fishing game. Don't look at me like that! I've actually had this game for a long while from where I picked it up while in America, but didn't really want to play it until I got my mitts on a fishing controller, which I did just this year for 3 squid in a Gamestation. Playing this along side Sega Bass Fishing, I've come to the conclusion that this game is at least 10 times better than that one was. For starters, you have more than 1 type of fish to catch: you have around 20, including sharks, stingrays (No comment.) and all sorts of tropical type fishes. Also, while Bass Fishing was a port of a crusty old Model 3 game from 1997, Sega Marine Fishing was the latest from Sega's Naomi arcade line up and looks the bees knees.

Now I'm not in the slightest bit interested in fishing, but this game is a big exception. Instead of sitting around waiting for the miserable sods to bite, in this game you quite often have multiple fish fighting over your lure, and catching the buggers, thanks to the fishing controller, as always hella fun. The real reason I've been playing this game for the last few months almost religiously is because of the Original Mode. Here you get he choice of the Mini-Games, where you gain items, Free Fishing where you have no time limit and must catch fish to win these gained items, and the Aquarium where a lot of the items go, such as fish, ruins, submarines and even a UFO! Other items you can gain include more specialist lures to catch certain fish, new clothes for your crew (of very bad taste, I might add) and even a Labrador to bark away at the fish you catch. You can even eventually swap your boat for a raft, a wobbly plank of wood which appears to have nothing to move it with.

I've almost got to the end of this very long game now, as I've now gained all 266 items and now just need to win about 30 of them. The only problem is as you go along through the game you end up with less and less fish to catch: once you've caught a particular fish a few times, catching it again wins you nothing. It's now starting to get to he point where almost everything I catch I've already caught, and yet they still insist on biting, sometimes the same fish a few times in a row. Still, my Aquarium is almost full now (just one type of fish to go, I have everything else), so playing through this game is well worth the time. Completing the Arcade mode about 4 or 5 times also unlocks more levels to catch the last items on, such as Hammer-head Sharks. Judging from the reviews this game got, this is a real under rated gem in my opinion, and miles ahead of that rusty old Bass Fishing.

Bonus! This summer my dad has been mostly playing...
Virtua Striker 2
My dad is completely hooked on this game. Whenever he gets a spare half-hour his there, playing as England and trashing his way through the arcade mode, and often getting frustrated with the fact that he always hits the goal post or misses the goal miles because you can actually see it when you kick it from a distance. His technique seems to involve knocking over everyone in sight and walking the ball into the goal, and he never uses the formation button. Most matches he plays end up going into penalties, in which he finally wins. He did actually manage to get Team Sega to pop up once (you have to beat arcade mode with no continues to play against them). That dreaded "GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!" sound now is permanently drilled into my skull thanks to all those penalties he has taken, and often I hear it when his not even playing the game.


fatherkrishna said...

Gagaman! Crikey! Mentioning the Stingray in the Marine Fishing review...
How could you? (Choke! Sniff!) That murdering fucking flounder is boycotted forever from my list of acceptable fish. God bless you Steve in that great big reptile house in the sky...

Tom Charnock said...

This Seaman thing has got me mighty intrigued, as has your old man's obsession with Virtua Striker 2! It's a stunning looking game, but I find it virtually impossible to play due to the appalling camera work.

Unknown said...

I thought Seaman was pretty cool.. I played it for along time and even found myself leaving the tv and dreamcast on all day sometimes! I would come home from work and he would be complaining cause he was hungry... oops!
I would like to see a next-gen game like this in HD... I think they could make it look totally realistic with alot more t'boot..!

Animated AF said...

I'm surprised Sega haven't attempted to get Seaman ported to the Nintendo DS. It only makes sense: Virtual pet games are huge on the DS, it has a touch screen which could be the hand, you could have the tank on one screen and the food storage creatures on the other, and you could talk to them with the built in mic.

fatherkrishna said...

Yeah Gagaman I totally agree. I own a DS as does my youngest boy. Seeing him put afro-wigs on his Nintendogs does not actually make me think this console is really being used to its fullest potential!
Now conversing with a man faced fish on the other hand...