E3 2000 Wrap-Up
A look at Sega's showing at E3 - By BenT and Fragmaster
Army Men: Sarge's Heroes
Think Tomb Raider with more shooting and a little plastic guy. I was very underwhelmed by this game. In the mission I played the goal was to rescue a fellow toy soldier and escort him to a pickup point. It sounded easy enough, but then the pain started. First, considering how bad the graphics are, the framerate is really poor, which pretty much screams "BAD PSX PORT!!!" to me. The control is kind of touch and go, and didn't feel good at all. Combat was annoying; human-like blobs in the distance would occasionally start shooting, and I just sort of wagged my machine gun in their general direction until they went down. After rescuing the ally, we then had to traverse a minefield. Only problem is, I had no idea how to tell where the mines were! Needless to say, my military career soon ended, and so did any chance of this game getting a positive writeup. Maybe they'll fix it up before release, but I doubt it. The ball's in your court, 3DO.
Ferrari F355 Challenge
As you might already know, Yu Suzuki's infamous racer is headed to the US from an unexpected source: Acclaim! This is due to Acclaim holding the worldwide rights to the Ferrari brand name, so they have now acquired publishing rights for Sega's title in the US. The arcade game was Naomi-based, so you can expect a near-perfect translation to the Dreamcast (minus the arcade version's three screens, of course!). The Dreamcast version we saw at the show was looking great, running at 60 fps with nary a hint of slowdown. Two player will be accomplished with a split screen -- it's unknown if the game will support online play, but unlikely.
Taito's Puzzle Bobble games are some of the most popular puzzlers to ever hit arcades, and their home incarnations do pretty well too. Bust-A-Move 4 is the Dreamcast port of the game's fourth incarnation, and was released eons ago for the Playstation. What's new here? The main difference is the high-res graphics -- now the bubbles are rendered in 640x480 goodness. This extra sharpness looks wonderful, but does have one disturbing problem: there's SLOWDOWN! Granted, it's only during large chain reactions, but really... what the heck?! I mean, they're just bubbles. It looks like 640x480 2D is more taxing on a console than I may have thought. Guess we won't have any high-res vertical shooters in the near future. Anyway, besides that one flaw, this is classic Puzzle Bobble. Either you like it or you don't, and odds are, you do.
An 85 percent complete version of Fur Fighters was showing at E3, and I must say I'm impressed. This third person action/shooter has been in the works for a while, but I'd subconciously written it off because of its cute theme and western origin. Quite the mistake, it turns out. Running around filling furry critters with lead is a blast, and the carnage is supported by excellent control and superb graphics. In fact, this was one of the best looking Dreamcast titles at E3. The multiple characters each have different abilities, which adds a bit of thought to the carnage. Throw in four player splitscreen deathmatch and I think Acclaim has a winner on its hands. Good stuff!
Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000
We thought this game really stood out. Reader Jehremy Foster thought so, too:
"The Sega booth at E3 was indeed the best of the show. There were so many great games. I don't think I have to even mention them after seeing all the great reviews from the media. But, what many didn't mention is the worst game of the show. Maybe they should have a trophy with rubber dog sh*t for this honor. What is most surprising about this game was that it was actually found in the Sega booth. This game stuck out like a sore thumb with the likes of Quake III, NBA2k1, NFL2k1, Jet Set Radio and I could go on. This piece of crap on GD-ROM was none other than Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 from Acclaim. I don't think I can even convey how bad this game is. Horrible gameplay, terrible graphics, bad sound and pathetic game physics all add up to the worst game I have ever seen on the DC. Granted, I haven't seen them all, but if there is a game that is worse than this one, I would like to see it. It was like a bad train wreck, I knew I should
have just moved on, but I had to stand there starring. After Acclaim's other attempts on the DC (QB Club 2k for one), I have to wonder who they think is going to buy this garbage? Truly a tale of irony, the best booth of E3 (Sega) has the worst game of E3 (JMSX2000). Congratulations Acclaim, maybe you can make it a three-peat next year."
Jehremy isn't too far off the mark. Not surprisingly, there was no one lined up to play this game and I could only stomach playing it for a few minutes before turning away in disgust. This game shouldn't have been put on display. At this point, the game seems to be in a pre-Alpha state, with tons of bugs, horrible control, AI racers who don't move, and pathetic graphics. Acclaim has this scheduled for a July release, only two short months away, so they've got really got their work cut out for them.
NFL Quarterback Club 2001
Acclaim's follow-up to their pathetic first Dreamcast attempt looks to be somewhat improved, but not drastically so. Perhaps they can mold this into a competent game, but NFL2k1 has nothing to worry about.
South Park Rally
My first thought was "Oh god, not another South Park title!", but the reality turned out to be better than I expected. Could this actually turn out to be a decent game? Well, I can't say for sure until the final lands on my desk, but I daresay things are looking up for this game. The race is rendered at a pleasant 60 fps, and I didn't observe any slowdown while playing. The course was beautiful, a wonderful rendition of the town of South Park. Of course, this isn't your typical racing game. A school bus tends to veer into your path as you drive around, and you'll likely see other racers firing Kyle's mom at you. :) I've seen some complaints about the controls elsewhere, but I honestly had no problems. We'll keep an eye on this one, quite possibly the only good video game to ever be spawned by South Park.
Acclaim's Vanishing Point took me by surprise. Why? One, it's by Acclaim, a company that's not exactly known for the quality of its original software. Two, it's a PSX port... that's always forboding. Lastly, it's a driving game on a system that has dozens of drivers, either released or in the works. How can a racing game from Acclaim hope to stand out? By exceling, it turns out. (Duh, that was easy.) Vanishing Point is shaping up to be one cool little racer. The framerate just rips, it's colorful as hell, and it's even got nice curvy arches in the trackside architecture. The feeling of speed is great, and control is fine. While the polygon count could stand to be increased a bit, and the textures kinda suck, this is otherwise a fine looking racer. Vanishing Point will debut in August.
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
Another mascot-based 3D platformer. Decent environments, frequent slowdown, boring gameplay. Next.
Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram
Ah, now this is more like it. It's about time someone came to their senses and brought Sega's VO:OT to the US. If you've never played Virtual On before, it's a one on one third person mech fighting game. Fast and fluid, VO:OT has unprecedented depth and playability. The only real problem here is that Activision has elected not to release the special Twin Stick controller in the US. The Twin Stick is essential to serious Virtual On play, but the Japanese version of the peripheral is almost impossible to obtain. There is also no longer an online play option -- two player splitscreen will have to suffice. That's too bad, but at least we're finally getting the game. Virtual On should be hitting US Dreamcasts this summer.