Google Cache doesn't lie. US game retailer GameStop listed an Xbox 360 title called 'Dreamcast Collection', slated for release on February 15, 2011. And then took it down sharpish. What does that mean? More likely than not, a disc-based compilation of the games that have appeared on XBLA so far in the 'Dreamcast Returns' series. But judging by the games released so far, Dreamcast seems to play a very small role in proceedings. Will this disc fare any better?
Above: The Google Cache page that clearly shows the listing and its release date
What might find its way onto the disc? To date, we've had Sonic Adventure and Crazy Taxi (the latter of which is hitting XBLA in the next week) from the Dreamcast back catalogue, which are marketed as being Dreamcast games remade in HD. There are also the recently-announced Sega Bass Fishing and Space Channel 5 Part 2, which are headed for the big consoles' download services in the coming months, so they might end up on here too. Jet Set Radio is also rumoured to have been spotted on industry Xboxes... something so awesome I dare not comtemplate it. That would be a damn fine disc of Dreamcast games to kick things off. But that's where we hit a problem.
This is supposed to be 'Dreamcast returns'. As in, Dreamcast games returning in HD. A wonderful concept in theory... but I'm not convinced that's what we're getting. Look:
Good though the XBLA remake still is, this is clearly a port of Sonic Adventure DX - the Gamecube and PC version that contained different character models, only without the extra content (which is, of course, available to download at extra cost). There was also no Chao minigame (not even an emulated VMU on the screen) - just RPG-like stats that changed when animals were crossed with your Chao in the garden. I'm certain the Dreamcast original featured widescreen support, but there isn't even a full-screen mode in the XBL version, as the game limits you to a 4:3 ratio and black side borders, much like the Soul Calibur HD remake. Observe:
If the game is indeed meant to be a souped up, remastered veresion of the classic original, the bugs and glitches should have been ironed out. As it is, they're all still there. The original was rushed out to meet the launch of Dreamcast. More than ten years later, it shouldn't still feel rushed.
I love Crazy Taxi. You may remember I called it the best game ever made earlier this year. I stand by that - the Dreamcast version is near perfect. But again, this new iteration isn't the Dreamcast version. The voices have all been re-recorded, the licensed destinations like KFC, Tower Records and Pizza Hut are all gone, replaced with look-alike generic stores... and the soundtrack is sorely missing The Offspring and Bad Religion. I know the four songs repeated too quickly - but I want my 'Ya ya ya ya ya's, dammit!
The PSP version had these omissions too, so they were obviously going to be apparent in the new game too. Licenses run out, that's just the nature of the business. But if these are being sold as Dreamcast games, we should be getting the Dreamcast version. It should be exempt from licenses. And whatever the source of the conversion, we should be getting a deluxe version of the game. The scenery pop in is familiar (authentic but unnecessy with today's technology), the occasional vanishing traffic at the edges of the screen is not.
Likewise, with the sound effects overpowering the voices, whisper-quiet title announcer and the final line cutting the 'Taxi' off the end of 'Crazy Taxi', it doesn't feel like the port has quite been given the care and attention the game deserves. I'm still happy to have Achievements, that timeless sunshine city and what remains one of the best scoring systems ever committed to disc coming out of my HD TV at glorious 60fps. But it isn't the Dreamcast version.
So coming back to the Dreamcast Collection disc that's almost certainly going to come out next year at some point, I hope it's shown a little more love than these two big hitters. There are plenty more Dreamcast games that are deserving of re-release HD treatment, but they need to be done right. These re-runs are surely games for retro enthusiasts - if you're not giving them an HD version of the actual game they used to play, the whole exercise is pointless.
"Come by and show it to us again sometime right here on Crazy ."
18 Nov, 2010