We love a good retro compilation. Is Dreamcast Collection, the latest release from Sega, a worthy addition to your game library? We’ll get to that later. The disc includes four games: Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi, Space Channel 5 Part 2 and Sega Bass Fishing. We’ve been vexed for a while here about the selection of these games, as we haven’t found one person to whom both Sega Bass Fishing and Space Channel 5 Part 2 are appealing.
For the uninitiated, Sonic Adventure is a Dreamcast launch title and Sonic’s 3D debut. An answer to Super Mario 64, the game features different types of levels for Sonic, Tails and others, and also features a fairly robust Tamagotchi-like Chao raising mode. Crazy Taxi is an arcade driving title where you pick up and drop off people at various destinations for fares, earning extra money for jumps and dangerous driving. Both of these titles are available in an identical form on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.
They’re joined on the disc by two titles releasing individually soon. Space Channel 5 Part 2 is a rhythm game that plays a little like Simon and is technically about saving the planet by having dance battles with aliens, and that’s about as well as we can explain it. (The sequel never appeared on Dreamcast in the U.S., but saw release in a PS2 series compilation.) Sega Bass Fishing is, well, a bass fishing game, and was known for being used with the Dreamcast’s special fishing rod controller. (In this collection, there is no such option.)
So those are the games. How well are they ported? Well the quality varies. Sonic is simply letterboxed vertically, and the only visual changes come from a higher resolution of polygonal items. The Chao mode is limited without access to the original’s visual memory units, and otherwise that game is identical. Crazy Taxi is simply stretched to widescreen, and the signature Offspring music has been replaced by similar-sounding but less iconic fare. Bass Fishing is given a similar treatment visually, and the controls are a bit finicky in that port. Space Channel 5 seems to have gotten the most love, as menus and gameplay alike seem to have been optimized for the system. Many games have online leaderboards, and each game has its own set of achievements (like they would if bought a la carte).
Unfortunately, that’s all there is. There are no art galleries or videos or soundtracks or special books or anything. The entirety of the “collection” is a simple low-res menu screen letting you select which game to launch, and you have to reset to switch to something else. Given that Sega has produced wonderful compilations in the past (including Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, which everyone should own), it’s disappointing. The Dreamcast has a loyal following, and even a little nod to the collectors would have been a good thing.
Ultimately, though the games still have undeniable charm, a purchasing decision boils down to this: the game’s $30, the cost of three of the games online, so you really have to want all four. The collection’s just not that cohesive, so it’s unlikely to be the case. Not only that, but there are many wonderful games that could have easily been included instead, and we hope that a Dreamcast Collection 2 will include them. (If you’re reading, Sega, some suggested games that would make everyone happy: ChuChu Rocket!, Jet Grind Radio, Shenmue, Skies of Arcadia, Sonic Adventure 2.) It’s certainly one to watch for price drops and deals, but we just can’t recommend the disc option as it is.