Sega's gone insane... and I like it - Review By Mad Carl
Perhaps the oddest thing about Seaman is that he is 1) a right bastard and 2) incredibly likable. I was able to name one of the little critters, and talked to him for close to an hour one night. Then, quite suddenly, after a long bout of verbal abuse aimed squarely at me, my little gillman was brutally murdered. Now, the little bugger was a jerk with a capital JERK. He insulted me. He abused me verbally. He called me names like Furry and Air Sucker. But when he died, I was really depressed (or, at least as depressed as one can get about the passing of a digital fish).
There's something odd about that bug.
Seaman is also a great way to draw a crowd. Everyone gathered around to see what was going on, and to shout suggestions of either things to do or to say to Seaman. There were howls of laughter and shock and dismay, depending on what was happening at the moment. Thus, Seaman has proven himself great for parties, and for generally reducing office productivity.
Every so often, you suddenly understand all of the technology at work, and the illusion of Seaman is shattered. For example, the speech recognition is sometimes off by a few degrees. Asking Seaman if he is hungry will often result in him telling you that he isn't angry about anything at all. This only becomes a real problem during conversations with him when he asks you for a specific answer. For example, he asked me what other game systems I owned. When I told him I also owned a Nintendo, he thought I told him "not right now" and swam off in a huff. This happened on several occasions, with several different questions or commands, no matter how well I enunciated. Another time you pick up on the tricks of Seaman's programming is when the Dreamcast disc drive can be heard accessing the next audio clip. You'll start to listen for the noisy click and whir to see if you're going to get a response or not, when your eyes and ears should always be focused on Seaman himself.
The graphics aren't all that great considering the fact that all there is to render is a fish tank on a black backdrop and a fish with a pretty limited number of animations. I really wish Seaman's world had been made a bit flashier. Since the titular creature is so amazing, it really just makes the rest of his world seem tame by comparison. In addition, the frame rate sometimes takes a dive south of the 20's, chunking along for a few seconds before getting back up to speed. That's kind of disappointing, considering the limited nature of the game's graphics.
As they get older, they tend to get grumpier.
I don't know, maybe I'm just getting old and a messy house is finally starting to bother me, but I now have a microphone peripheral for my Dreamcast that will never be used with another game, short of Seaman 2, which will probably come with a microphone of its own. Thus, some more clutter has been added to my video game collection to go along with the N64 transfer pack that came with Pokemon Stadium and the countless light guns, joysticks, special driving controllers and rumble packs I have amassed from decades of video gaming.
Finally, some people just won't have the attention span or mindset to properly enjoy Seaman. In a world where our ability to focus on anything for longer than three seconds has been selectively bred out, Seaman's total lack of heart-pounding action will cause a few people to give up before the show has even started. This is a shame, as sticking with Seaman for the long haul can be really rewarding. Still, this experience is definitely not for everyone.
The Final Word
Seaman is the single most original title to ever appear on the Dreamcast. While it may seem like there isn't much going on, you simply need to keep giving Seaman a few minutes of your time each day, and you'll be rewarded with a freak show the likes of which you've never seen. Sure, sometimes you can see the man behind the curtain, pulling levers and spinning dials to make the Great and Powerful Oz do his thing. Other times, however, you'll forget that Seaman isn't a real animal at all. That's when you know the game has succeeded.
Highs: Groundbreaking concept and execution, Nimoy is wonderful, a new discovery each day.
Lows: Not for everyone, so-so graphics, speech recognition a bit shaky.
Other: 1 player, VMU Required (64 Blocks), VGA Cord compatible, Microphone included.
Gameplay 1 (MPEG) - He thinks I'm 90. [Big (9.6M)] - [Med (5.1M)] - [Small (1.1M)]
Gameplay 2 (MPEG) - Seaman reveals a new facet of the gameplay (minor spoiler). [Big (8.5M)] - [Med (4.6M)] - [Small (998K)]
Gameplay 3 (MPEG) - Seaman gets a name (Spanky). [Big (12.5M)] - [Med (6.7M)] - [Small (1.4M)]
(out of a possible 10)
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