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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Street Fighter Alpha 3 Review

Release dates:
North America: May 31, 2000
Japan: July 8, 1999 (Street Fighter Zero 3 Saikyo Dojo, later re-released in a For Matching Service Version)
Europe: September 29, 2000

Game details:
1-3 Players
Standard controller
Arcade stick
VMU compatible
Jump Pack compatible

I would describe Street Fighter Alpha 3 as the black sheep in the Street Fighter series. But in a good way. It features a completely new combo system and different character designs. I think Capcom were doing their best to keep the Street Fighter games interesting for the fans, by releasing Alpha 3. Did it work? You'll find out soon.

After playing the game for a while, whenever I think about it, I think about the huge amount of game modes there are for this game. To keep it as simple as possible, I'll try to cover all of them separated. First out is the arcade mode.

Arcade mode is what it sounds like, the arcade style of the game. The way it's meant to be played.
Nothing complicated here, just choose your character and fight! A second player can drop in at any time and join the fight. You can kill a lot of time by only playing this game mode, but wait until you try the other modes.

Next is the World Tour mode. It's sort of a career mode. I was surprised to see a game mode like this in a Street Fighter. But it wasn't what I expected it to be. I thought it was going to be like Yakuza or something. You walk around and fight people. But the World Tour is practically the arcade mode but with some added features. You see a map where you choose who to fight. You can also choose different fighting styles. I didn't play around with it much though as I didn't understand a thing. I did change the “X-ism” and “A-ism” styles but I didn't experience any difference. I guess that's because I'm not a hardcore Street Fighter fan. I'm sure the more serious players do.

Survival mode is also what it sounds like. You fight as many characters as you can.

My favorite game mode has to be Dramatic Battle. It's like Co-op where you and a friend can fight against the computer. Of course the computer is a bit harder than usual and you and your friend share the health bar. That's a mode I've always wanted in a Street Fighter game. There's also VS Dramatic Battle which is a three player-only mode.

In the Team Battle mode, you and a friend (or an enemy) choose teams and fight each other!

There's a Final Battle mode where you can fight the final boss. That is if you're too lazy to play through the World Tour mode.

The last two modes are Training mode (which pretty much explains itself) and the classic VS. mode.

I didn't include the online mode as it doesn't work today, obviously.

The character roster is pretty big and won't make you bored in a while.
So, if you're going to play this game from inside to outside, you have a long road ahead of you!

There is a storyline in this Street Fighter game actually. In between fights, there are “cutscenes”, you could call them, that tells the story. The story depends on which character you choose. So for instance, Ryu is on a journey to become the best fighter of them all!

The graphics are what you would expect from a Street Fighter game at the time. The character animations are fluid and look great. The stage backgrounds are well detailed too.
The characters look different from the other Street Fighter games. Apparently, they were designed with “Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie” in mind.

All of the Street Fighter games I've played have had great music, and this isn't an exception. The music is great and really catchy. I was actually trying to find a jukebox in the game because of the music. If you're a fan of good music and Street Fighter games, it won't disappoint you.

With awesome music and renewed gameplay I can still say with a good conscience that it's too similar to the other Street Fighter games. Sure, it has a lot of game modes which makes it playable for a long time but it doesn't feel any different. It's not a game I would pick up and play by myself but it's a great party game! But, I'm just a novice Street Fighter player so the real Street Fighter fans will enjoy this game for sure.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ReviveDC Project's Month of Street Fighter

It's time to formally announce ReviveDC's month of Street Fighter event.

Over the next month, we'll be releasing 8 Street Fighter games, a few of which haven't been done before. They're all at the level of quality you'd expect from us by now, meaning no downsampling, dummied files, sorttxt files, optimization where necessary, high resolution cover artwork and reviews. If you're a Street Fighter fan, you're going to be in heaven and I know that it's the reason a lot of people keep a Dreamcast around.

If you haven't subscribed to the newsletter yet, you should. Subscribers will get early access to some of the games. The first game will be available to those already subscribed tomorrow; if you're not in on it yet, send an email to requesting to be subscribed by 12:01 AM PST, October 1st to get the game early.

For now, we'll announce the first two weeks. They aren't particularly exciting, but we're not too concerned; the good stuff takes a bit more time to work on. The rest of the games will likely be announced in a week's time.

October 4th
Street Fighter Alpha 3 (sorttxt, data/data mode, nothing downsampled)

October 11th
Super Street Fighter II X English Translation (Using toodles' translation, sorttxt from Atreyu's GDI)
Super Street Fighter II X Blood on the Asphalt (Using toodles' translation, sorttxt from Atreyu's GDI)

October 18th
2 games

October 25th
3 games

The games will be available at Dreamcast-Talk, SegaHub, SNESORAMA, and the ISO Zone.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Metal Slug 2 (NEO4ALL) Review

Original release:

Game details:
1-2 players
Standard controller
VGA box

The following game was not officially released for Sega Dreamcast. It is emulated using NEO4ALL developed by chui. This is an evaluation of the emulation of the game as well as the game itself.

Using Team RDC's release you can play this game as though it is a commercial game with only a brief loading screen.

Let's get one thing straight right away; Metal Slug 2 runs like shit. It has always ran like shit. That's why Metal Slug X was created. Metal Slug X is even more unplayable on the Dreamcast though since it was not released for Neo Geo CD. RDC's version of Metal Slug 2 is overclocked in an attempt to make it more playable. This is largely a success. It runs well when there's not a large amount of action on the screen. Some levels run better than others. It's dependent on a lot of things; some levels have a lot of background animation, others have an obscene amount of bullets flying around. The game severely slows down in places, but the heavy slowdown usually ends when you clear out a few of the enemies. Understand that this game ran like shit even in the arcade. This is the best it's going to run until NEO4ALL is further developed; if you expect perfection and find it less than that then please don't bitch to us about it. We warned you.

Metal Slug 2 hasn't changed much from its predecessor. You'll find a few new weapons which only pop up once or twice as well as new vehicle options. The new weapons and vehicles are generally only placed in places where they'll be usable in a specific set piece, so they don't change the core game at all. In addition to the weapons, you can also be turned into a mummy and if you eat too much food, a fat person. Fat mode is annoying as it's typically unavoidable since there are several parts in the game where food pick ups are all over the screen. There are also new enemies in places which definitely adds to the depth of the game. One new enemy fires a rifle, and will take cover between shots which makes you actually stop and take cover instead of charging ahead guns blazing. Boss battles are a noticeable step down from Metal Slug; they're very tedious and very easy. They end up taking far more time than they should.

You'll also run into some situations where there's definitely no escape from death. They clearly weren't intentional as they were in later games in the series, but they're no less of a headache. It had been a while since I'd played a Metal Slug other than one, and there's a definite jump in difficulty here. It makes me wonder if it was really necessary. The game is much less enjoyable than the first Metal Slug because of it. You also get two more characters who change nothing unless playing as a female makes it a better game.

Happy Days meets American History X.

The graphics are a step up; this is good. The step up in graphics is why the game runs like shit; this is bad. Animations are definitely smoother than in Metal Slug and far more effort has been put into the backgrounds. The first level is a great example of the background efforts with all of the rippling awnings on buildings. There's a great tribute to John Woo in one of the levels; I'll let the Woo fans find it, though. This section has to be a negative overall, though. The Neo Geo hardware just couldn't handle this game.

There's a lot of recycled music here, which is another disappointment. There are a few new pieces, but nothing remarkable. Meh.

Metal Slug 2 clearly has lofty ambitions. The only problem is that the developers aimed too high. Set pieces replace straight ahead action segments, the larger scale bosses are much less interesting, the different Metal Slugs offer nothing new and the graphics were too much for the hardware. The game reaches and falls drastically short. Out of all of the Metal Slug games, this one is my personal least favorite.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shock Troopers (AES4ALL) Review

Original release:

Game details:
1-2 Players
Standard controller
VGA box

The following game was not officially released for Sega Dreamcast. It is emulated using AES4ALL developed by chui. This is an evaluation of the emulation of the game as well as the game itself.

Using Team RDC's release you can play this game as though it is a commercial game with only a brief loading screen.

This game is kind of a strange one on the emulation front. The speed of the game itself is fine; it plays just as it should with occasional (and in incredibly brief bursts) slowdown while loading. The music is an entirely different story though. The music has this strange stutter to it. It isn't really skipping, but it's as though the entire thing is being played with a drummer who can't keep a steady beat. It's not a huge deal; you can either tough it out or mute it.

Since there's some music issues with the emulation of this game on Dreamcast, Shock Troopers needs some good gameplay to make up for it, which it does with ease. Maybe it was just the fact that I hadn't played a game like this for so long, but I had a great time with it. Shock Troopers is an 8-direction shooter; a genre that died along with the arcades and hasn't been seen since. Not even on XBLA or PSN, really. The game plays like some kind of a cross between a shmup and Metal Slug, meaning if you're a Neo Geo fan this is right up your alley. All that being said, there's nothing truly standout about this game. It does what it set out to do and it does it well enough. If you missed out on the arcade days, then I definitely recommend this game. It's a good time capsule of what a generic arcade game was like.

This was on Neo Geo hardware and is an arcade only release. That about sums it up, I believe.

These are on par with the gameplay summary; they do what they set out to do and they do it well enough. The graphics are lightyears ahead of Shit Pilots, but considering that this is the same year Street Fighter III: New Generation came out, they're not impressive either.

If I had played this in the arcades or had time to snag it for MAME, I'd give word, but for the Dreamcast version you'll probably want to mute this. As for the sound effects, they're standard fare.

This is not a bad game at all; the sound emulation will probably turn some away from this, but for those who realize your TV has a volume button, you'll have a great time with it.


Friday, September 9, 2011

The Dreamcast's 12th (US) Birthday

There's a reason that all of us still hang around Dreamcast sites, hoping for new content, maybe creating new content or just discussing the good old days. It's different for everyone, but I think all of us have those specific old nostalgic memories about the Dreamcast; the ones where you can smell the room you're in and you know just how the weather is outside. I didn't get a Dreamcast until they were discontinued and dirt cheap, but I had a friend that did, and so did the Sears store at the mall. The Dreamcast came out at an exciting time in almost anyone's life; it was the eve of the new millennium and the world was running full steam ahead. The economy was strong, and it seemed like everything had the potential to become a mammoth franchise. A new Star Wars saga began earlier in the year, Pokemon was at the height of its dominance, the boy band fad was at the tail end of its existence and Eminem was beginning to make parents everywhere terrified.

My first experience with the Dreamcast was at a friend's birthday party. He had gotten a Dreamcast with Sonic Adventure, Ready 2 Rumble, Hydro Thunder, Trick Style and NFL Blitz 2000. The console had such an impact on me that I remember what my friend got for his birthday; he didn't even remember when I asked him a few years ago if he still had the system. I was as blown away with Sonic Adventure as I was when I saw Super Mario 64; this was the beginning of a new era. The graphics were well ahead of the N64 and PSX and the game was fast. Of course no one is ever going to feel that way about Sonic Adventure again; even if it's moderately enjoyable now. To my young self though, this was the greatest thing that could happen. Sega had come along and kicked everyone in the ass.

A month later I remember reading an article in GamePro a month later that the Dreamcast launch was the biggest day in entertainment history; even bigger than Star Wars Episode I. I was overjoyed; Sega was back, and so was Sonic. My friend's parents bought him new games often, so I was able to keep up on the new releases coming out for the Dreamcast. Some of my favorite memories of childhood are of playing Dreamcast in that musty basement (ironically he was never a real good friend of mine). I would play the Dreamcast in stores and at my friend's house as much as I could. Being younger, I didn't seek out games like Shenmue, but I did get to play some of the Dreamcast's quirkier action games. My favorite game was certainly Resident Evil Code: Veronica. My friend and I played through the first disc several times; he didn't have a VMU, so we could only wonder at what happened during the second disc.

The Dreamcast was always an exciting thing for us kids. We weren't interested in the business aspect of things; we always thought the Dreamcast would be right there running up against the PlayStation 2. I even remember being at school sitting on a bench when a friend told me Sega was discontinuing the Dreamcast. I was sure he was lying, but I used our dial up internet to see if it was true, and it was. I wasn't too saddened by this at first; I was excited by the prospect, because Sonic would be showing up elsewhere. But even being young, I soon realized that there was a huge gap left in the gaming market with Sega's absence. There was always something special about their hardware, and I sorely missed what they brought to the table. The summer of 2002 I was old enough to start picking strawberries at a local farm, and I bought a Dreamcast.

At first I made sure to buy all of the games I used to play with my friend since those had been a lot of fun. Then as I searched for Dreamcast information, I found out there were several message boards with people continuing to love their Dreamcasts and develop homebrew for them. I found out about all of the Dreamcast games I had never known about, the quirky creative games that only Sega could make and then I had another selection of games to play. I downloaded one of the homebrew programs to play .avi files, and the Dreamcast was now my own personal media center, introducing me to things like Cowboy Bebop and Seinfeld.

I grew up with the console that could, doing so many different things. All of them made by an incredible community. Maybe these are all things that new consoles can do, but they're forced upon you by some big faceless company. Sega always had personality, and the community stepped up to fill in what they left behind. There's no real way to end this because the Dreamcast is still going. It's still something to explore and find new things for, and I'm sure it will continue to be for a long time. If you have your own Dreamcast memories, please share them, I think everyone would like to read them.

Happy birthday, Dreamcast