Volume 93, Issue 12
Wednesday, March 18, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The stuff dreams are made of
By Luke Rundle
It's official. The Sega Dreamcast is the newest home gaming system to obsess over. Combining ninja-fast speed with 15 times the processing power of the Sony PlayStation, the Dreamcast is a turbo-charged Ferrari in a field of Hondas.
Playing games on the Dreamcast is more like watching a movie than anything else. It's 3D images are liquid smooth, a feature attributed to the fact that it's NEC videologic power VR2DC chipset is capable of zipping three million polygons around the screen every second. It's 12x speed specialized Yamaha CD-ROM is capable of storing up to one gigabyte of information and combined with 16 megabytes of main system memory, this slick gaming unit is capable of some serious number crunching.
Factor in the Dreamcast's built-in, internet ready 56k modem (which makes multi-user on-line gaming a reality) and you're dealing with a truly bad mamma jamma.
For the benefit of all you non-techies out there, let's walk through the Dreamcast experience, facet by glorious facet. Your days of turning on the Sony Playstation and retreating to the kitchen to grab a cold drink, prepare a turkey with all the trimmings, complete your taxes and read Tolstoy's War and Peace only to still see the "loading" message are gone. Sega's Dreamcast boots up almost instantaneously, leaving the user barely enough time to blink.
Once in front of the screen, it's easy to become too mesmerized by the games' intro sequences to even press the start button. Boasting pulsating sound and DVD-quality picture, the preliminary action to most of Dreamcast's games far surpasses anything ever before seen in the home gaming industry.
The Dreamcast also promises to have strong staying power in the gaming market. Sega's future development strategy includes plans to make microphone packs for video phone systems, zip drives for enhanced storage capability and add-on DVD boxes for home theatre systems available to Dreamcast owners in the near future.
The most essential of all current peripherals is the Visual Memory Unit, a small, lightweight cartridge which slightly resembles a Nintendo Game Boy. The VMU not only allows the user to save games and transfer them to other consoles, but also enables them to organize data independent of the system.
In plainer terms, the owner of a VMU can pull characters from games and customize them for future play, as well as download a variety of mini-games from Dreamcast titles and play them as handhelds.
With it's additional clock and calendar features, the VMU can also function as a pocket organizer. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise to find out it could also dehydrate and decoratively slice vegetables before later vacuum-sealing them for refrigerator storage.
Of course, the Dreamcast has a few flaws, but most of them are of the minor variety. For example, the stereo-quality sound is partially obscured by the grunts and squeals made by the unit's CD-ROM section.
In addition, the gorgeous movies which take place at the outset and between levels of games grow tiresome after multiple viewings and many of them cannot be bypassed by the user.
However, complaining about such small details is not unlike griping about Heather Graham's ugly toes. All in all, the Sega Dreamcast is a remarkable unit which is well-poised to quickly become the end-all be-all of home gaming.
The traditional mascot of the Sega empire, this game requires the player to pilot His Hedgehoginess through 10 gorgeously rendered levels, including a breathtaking tropical beach, an eerie set of Aztec ruins and a futuristic highway. Despite its fast pace, however, it is relatively easy to spin and gyrate through the levels, making it the best choice for first-time users, but not those afflicted by motion sickness.
The first available adventure game, Stinger allows the user to explore a desolate asteroid-stricken island replete with mutant inhabitants from the perspective of a rescue team member or a boat captain. Taking into account modern society's need for convenience, characters can stop periodically at vending machines for food and beverages, as well as handguns and bazookas.
Sega Sports NFL 2K
Resembling a Fox football broadcast more than a typical sports game, 2K comes complete with all the dazzling graphics, licensed players and bells and whistles it can pack on a CD. Referees call penalties better than their real-life models, announcers call annoyance-free play-by-play and plays are drafted on the field. Throw in post-play celebrations and trash talking and 2K is more fun than one can shake a first down stick at.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999