Silver Lining

Howdy. Thought it was about time I checked in with a proper post – it’s been about a month since I actually wrote anything of note for the Universe’s greatest Dreamcast site – The Dreamcast Junkyard (as seen in Retro Gamer Magazine). I almost coughed up a ventricle when I saw that we’d had a rather flattering mention (as documented by the Gagaman several posts ago), but seeing as I was onboard a flight to Turkey for a week in the sun, all I could do was sit there in silent awe – the DC-less cretins all around me oblivious to the fact that we were mentioned in the mainstream…well, niche press. Sigh. Anyhow, many thanks to the people at Retro Gamer.

I tried to keep my eyes peeled whilst in Turkey for the odd DC game, but to be honest I didn’t manage to find even the slightest reference to anything remotely connected to gaming, let alone our favourite deceased console. It appears that the Turkish economy relies solely on the sale of flip-flops, plastic footballs and fake Tag Heurs. On the plus side though, I did wear my Dreamcast shorts whilst swimming in the Aegean Sea. Just keeping it real, people.

Also, I’d like to congratulate Manchester United for winning the Premier League for the TENTH time, and also congratulate Middlesborough for putting EIGHT goals past Manchester City. Snigger.

This is just for you, FK

But that’s irrelevant. You’re here for DC shit, so without further ado, let’s delve into my most recent purchases…

I absolutely detest RPGs. I find them hideously boring and most of them are a patchwork of clichés involving ogres, orcs, wizards and ‘mana’ – all of which are things I have no interest in. There are a few exceptions for me – Ocarina of Time on the N64 and Shenmue held my attention to the end, but they’re more action/adventure games than traditional RPGs. Imagine my surprise then, when playing through Silver, I didn’t actually vomit and fall into a boredom induced coma. Viewed from a 3rd person, static camera perspective, Silver seemed at first to be everything I despise about the genre. It’s Final Fantasy-esque looks and antiquated mechanics looked like surefire ways to induce a sense of hatred from this gamer. But no – I actually quite enjoyed playing Silver. There is no shitty turn-based random combat and the voice acting is really quite good. The graphics are very basic but the backgrounds are nicely drawn, and the storyline – whilst simple (the evil emperor Silver has kidnapped all of the women in the land so he can choose which one he wants for a wife, and you have to gather up a motley crew of bad-asses to go and get you’re missus back. Fail, and its wanking-room only for the rest of your days, me old mucker), is quite original for the genre.

It’s far from perfect – the real time combat consists mainly of mashing the attack button until everyone’s dead; and the distance of the camera from the action in some areas is unbelievable – you might as well be looking through the Hubble Telescope in some instances. Those minor niggles aside, Silver is a perfect RPG for those who aren’t really fans of the genre due to the relative simplicity of the gameplay. Go here, speak to a person, go there, collect key, fight some monsters, get a new weapon etc etc etc. Might sound a bit basic to the average 45-year-old Warhammer geek who still lives at home with his mum, but for me, it’s sweet.

F1 Racing Championship
Hmmm. It’s another Dreamcast F1 game. Based on the Monaco GP engine, F1 Racing Championship betters its spiritual prequel by bringing in official drivers and track names, but in reality it’s got the same problems as EVERY other F1 game in existence: F1 is BORING. So, it’s got the SAME tracks as every other F1 game, has the SAME engine noises, the SAME championship…I could go on.

This is from the PC port, but you get the idea

And because it's based on the 2000 season, there's no Lewis Hamilton. What a shame. To be fair, the visuals are quite good (but not as good as F1WGP2’s), and the choice of either Arcade or Simulation modes adds something new…but again, I’m hardly a massive F1 fan so it’s hard or me to get excited. Bias? You bet your ass. As far as F1 games go on the DC, it’s probably joint second with the first F1WGP game, but as a general racer its several racing leagues below the fabulous Le Mans, F1WGP2 and even Vanishing Point. Ho hum.

Spec Ops: Omega Squad
Fuck me. What a load of shite. Omega Squad looked like it could be the game to finally put the epiliepsy-inducing ghost of DC Rainbow Six to bed, but in actuality its worse. Horrific, in fact. Things start off well, with you getting to choose your weaponry and mission etc – all fine and good. There are lots of missions to take and there is a frightening arsenal of guns, grenades and other pointy things to equip your soldier geezer with, but that’s all irrelevant because when the game actually starts it’ll take somewhere in the region of 9 seconds to realize that this really is a game you don’t want to play. The graphics, for a start are barely above PS1 standard – the character models look like something out of 1970s Doctor Who and the ‘animation’ they exhibit is akin to Pinocchio’s. Before he was a real boy, you understand. Add to this the general murkiness, the flat, drab textures and the pop-up (yes, pop-up in a first person shooter!) and you’ve got one ugly game.

A Lego gun! That'll keep the baddies at bay

Of course, beauty I only skin deep, but Omega Squad doesn’t even play well. The controls are far too complex for a joypad, but even with a keyboard they stink. The view can be switched to a 3rd person one, but all that does is show you how horrendous your Spec Op-ist looks, especially when you kneel down or go prone and sink into the floor. Want more? How about being able to shoot through walls because collision detection is out to lunch? Or shooting a ‘baddie’ in the head at point blank range and the hit not being registered? Absolutely pathetic.

Pen Pen
One of the weirdest games you’re ever likely to play, Pen Pen was a launch title for the DC and one of my earliest Blockbuster rents back in the day. I didn’t really appreciate it’s charm back then, but now I have my wiser head on I can see it’s appeal. Possibly spawned from the depths of an opium den, the idea behind Pen Pen is that these brightly coloured penguin-type things from some far off planet like nothing better than to race around acid-trip worlds by sliding on their guts, swimming and running. Like you do. So, you pick your Pen Pen, get out onto the track and then try to beat all of the other contenders by rythimcally tapping the various controls in order to build up speed. Sliding is a bit like the luge from the winter Olympics, whilst swimming and running are self explanatory.

Graphically quite impressive and aurally quite sickening (in a sweet way, you understand), Pen Pen is very original and features some nice ideas – such as winning races to buy new clothes and hats for the various characters. There are some bizarre aspects, such as putting your Pen Pen to bed - but it comes with the territory I suppose. It kind of reminds me of that old N64 game Snowboard Kids, albeit with massively improved graphics and more abstract weirdness. There are only 4 courses to race but they’re all suitably long and the idea of collecting all of the clothes adds longevity. If you like that sort of thing. Still, Pen Pen is a unique title and worth picking up if you see it going cheap.

Wild Metal
Quite why Rockstar removed the word ‘Country’ from the title of this PC to DC conversion is beyond me, but they did. If you ever played the PC version of Wild Metal (Country), you’ll feel right at home with the DC port – it’s exactly the same. You drive a little tank around a rather barren and foggy landscape with the intention of destroying all of the other tanks and flying meanies roaming about. There is a slightly contrived story about how machines have taken over man’s galactic empire but its bollocks really. All you need to know is that there are enemy units bopping about and they have to be stamped out like the goddamned vermin they are. You do this by correctly aligning your turret and tuning your trajectory from afar and then letting them have it, in a sort of 3D Death Tank kind of way.

There’s little else to it than that to be quite frank. Once you’ve killed everything in a level, you move on to the next where it’s more of the same. Hardly the most complex or involving title on the Dreamcast, but the inoffensive nature of the proceedings makes for quite a relaxing experience. Graphics are very basic and sound almost non-existent, but the gameplay can be quite satisfying – the tanks handle very well and lining up shots with the turret is quite good fun. It’s not Alien Front, but it’s still a decent little shooter.

Finally, I appear to have lost my copy of Buggy Heat. How? I have no fucking idea. How do you lose a game? BAH!

Next up: Freestyle Scooter. Oh yeah baby!


NebachadnezzaR said...

I told you Spec Ops was shite, I could barely stand 5 minutes of that "thing"...

Pen Pen on the other hand looks like fun! Got to give it a try sometime. And Silver too, if even a RPG-hater like you finds it fun, I should have a blast with it :)

Caleb said...

I just hate the "squad based" gaming that goes on in most old school games like Spec Ops and Rainbow 6.

I did play Silver awhile back and I was somewhat pleased with it. It's a hack and slasher.

Caleb said...

ANd crap Pen-Pen get's a better score than Wild Metal?!?!?!?!

Maybe I better find a copy of that game...

Anonymous said...

If spec ops is worse than Rainbow 6 on Dreamcast, I might just have to throw up now...

Tom Charnock said...

Yeah, Spec Ops stinks big time. Although, I forgot to mention that the developers removed the 'squad based' aspects from the PC version so you just get to control one lone operative. It's cack. And yeah, Pen Pen is definitely worth checking out if only for the total weirdness of it all.

fatherkrishna said...

"Also, I’d like to congratulate Manchester United for winning the Premier League for the TENTH time, and also congratulate Middlesborough for putting EIGHT goals past Manchester City. Snigger"

I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about...

On the Dreamcast front I'll have to give Silver a go having had it for an age but never even put it in the Dreamcast!