Moving on, something occured to me last night while I was playing through Code Veronica: after the bit where you play as (the whining streak of piss) Steve and mow down the zombies in the Training Facility with the Uzis, you are returned to controlling boring Claire and must follow Steve through a stone corridor, into a lift and then out onto a balcony. Inevitably, the balcony collapses and you and Steve end up in a heap in the courtyard below. Then a zombie appears and Steve kills it with the Uzis (I won't reveal the storyline here just incase you ain't played it yet) and then the game continues. The thing is, in said Courtyard there is a broken down jeep that was probably being repaired before the zombies over-ran the base. The reason I bring this up is that the only exits from the Courtyard are doors that the jeep simply could not get through. HOW THE HELL DID IT GET THERE?!?!?
Here's a really poor quality pic to illustrate:
The jeep is on the left, the biggest door in the Courtyard infront of Claire. That jeep is not going through that door.
Not a game spoiling moment you'll agree, but one that puzzled me for some time. Maybe it was airlifted in there. Whatever the answer to the riddle, that's not the main focus of today's post. Oh no - today I want to talk visuals. Yep, the bit of a game you actually look at with your eyes. So, in a link that is possibly even weaker than the Xbox 360's launch line-up, here I present the Official Dreamcast Junkyard Top Ten Best Looking Dreamcast Games (TM):
From 10 down to 1 here we go!
10. Daytona USA 2001Stunning hi-res racing straight from the arcades, Daytona is amazing no matter how you look at it. Its a bit garish in places, as turquoise skies clash with emerald fields - infact you could almost be racing through Green Hill Zone sometimes - but that's the way Daytona has always been. The frame rate is always consistent and the amount of trackside detail is astounding (if you discount Desert City and National Park Speedway), as is the smoothness of the car models. It just looks great. Simple.
9. Aerowings 2: AirstrikeOK, so it's not the most exciting game ever, and the addition of missiles and guns makes it precisely zero percent more interesting than the first Aerowings game - but look at it! Rolling landscapes that stretch for miiiiiiiiles into the distance, and cities that actually have proper buildings rather than Shockwave Assault-style flat, painted on houses. The Planes are stunningly realistic too - check out the little reflections of the sun glinting off the cockpit in the chase cam view. Hmmm...nice.
8. 4 Wheel ThunderNot only one of the fastest and most furious arcade racing romps on the Dreamcast, 4 Wheel Thunder is also one of the best looking, too. Pop-up is practically non-existent thanks to some clever coding by Kalisto and the colour pallette is just right to create a totally convincing real world environment. There are loads of cool little effects in there too, like tumbleweeds blowing across desert tracks and leaves scattering across roads on the more rural circuits. In places, whole swathes of the track are laid out before your eyes as you descend down a hillside - at breakneck speeds - with not a hint of slowdown, zero glitching and razor sharp resolution.
7. Shenmue/Shenmue 2Some may argue that Ryo Hazuki's quest should be placed higher in this run down, but it stalls at 7 due to some hideous slowdown and shocking 'fading in' of NPCs when walking around the environments. However, even with these two problems (probably more down to the hardware capabilities rather than the game itself, granted), Shenmue gets in because it is one of the most detailed videogames in existence. Absolutley everything in these games - the people, the shops, the rubbish bins, the vehicles, the tables, the toys, the animals , the trees, the cupboards...it is all so realistically modelled it's unbelievable. Without the stupid glitching and sometimes slightly grainy appearance, Shenmue would surley have been nearer to the top.
6. Quake 3 ArenaSlick frame rate, amazing lighting effects, haunting architecture...Quake 3 has it all. But it doesn't stop there: look at the details built in to the walls - the gargoyles, the flashing lights, the computer panels...It's fucking stunning!!! Also, the fog swirling around the floor in some levels adds a new level of realism to chasing an eye on legs around a gothic palace with a rocket launcher.
5. Jet Set RadioThe game that looks like a playable cartoon and kick started an entire genre of pretenders, The Dreamcast Junkyard loves JSR. But it's not just the unique cell shaded characters we like - it's the variety in the stages presented and the individual feel the lighting effects give them - from the neon-lit night stages, to the sun drenched afternoon and sunset levels, JSR has a feel all of it's own even if you look past the gimmicky cell shading. The stages themselves are packed to the rafters with stuff to marvel at - people wandering about, kids playing, people shopping...it's a living, breathing Tokyo-To!
4. Sonic Adventure 2Sonic Adventure 1 wasn't exactly ugly, but it did feel a tad unfinished in places and the hideous cutscenes where Sonic and chums talk with rubberised faces are enough to make even the hardest 25-stone-of-pure-muscle gamer feel embarrased. SA 2 builds on the first game by introducing some lovely new stages that are packed with flora and fauna, as well as some well designed enemies. Again, it's the variety and vibrance of SA 2's worlds that get it so high in this list - the themes are really quite inventive (like Knuckles' Hallowe'en style stage and the Aztec style levels - total contrast). Plus, there are lots of nice touches like lens flares and the like. A great looking game. And that intro level...breathtaking.
3. Soul CaliburYes, the animation, lighting effects and backgrounds are brilliant...but ultimatly Soul Calibur has you fighting on a Virtua Fighter style pedistal...not in a true 3D environment. Of course, that would have changed the way the game plays completely...but we're talking graphics here. The pedistal thing aside, Soul Calibur still looks as god as anything on the Xbox or PS2 - have a gander at the character models in the Gallery mode. Good eh?! Miturugi's washboard stomach is almost as impressive as mine...
2. Ferrari F355 ChallengeOK, so as I may have mentioned in the past, I'm not a huge fan of F355...but even I can't argue that it's one of the best looking games ever made. From the single cockpit view it looks realistic enough, but the slightly washed out appearence makes everything seem that much more as if it's a TV replay rather than a game you're actually playing. The rival car models are practically flawless (that's if you can get close enough to look at them), but the visuals reveal their true class during the replays...honestly, it could fool your eyes into thinking you were watching a real race. The only problem is, the only Channel that would show something like a race between a load of Ferraris is Channel 5, and the reception is so shit - while F355 is so clear - that it simply couldn't be TV.
1. Dead Or Alive 2A game where asses are round, legs are perfect and boobs bounce. What else could make it to number 1? Seriously though, DOA2 is by far the best looking game on the DC - no other title looks so goddamned gorgeous. The interactive arenas where you can smash an opponent through a wall or off a cliff, go through said hole/over said cliff...and carry on fighting in a totally new area...is amazing. The sheer scope and ambition of DOA2's garphics really has to be seen in motion to do it justice - the animation is priceless. Punches and kics really look as if they connect, but more to the point - the character models and environments are superlative. Here - look:
Even though my word is generally final, I feel a special mention should go to one game in particular for showcasing what was possible on the Dreamcast hardware only a few weeks into it's life:
The Special Services to Dreamcast Award goes to:
Pen Pen TricelonPen Pen was a UK launch title and one of the first games I played on my new DC because it was all Blockbuster Video had to rent. It's a quite rare title these days, but it's graphically still very good. You play as one of a selection of wierd creatures and must run, swim and slide through various ice themed stages in a sort of triathlon (on ice, hence 'Tricelon'). It's a bit short lived and gets a bit dull after a while, but it really stood out at the time when the Dreamcast was up against the N64 and PSX. Pen Pen - The Dreamcast Junkyard salutes you!
Finally, found this locked in time Dreamcast preview page while browsing the net - have a look!