Left in Japan: The Dreamcast Chronicles Feature - The Next Level

Left in Japan: The Dreamcast Chronicles

Dead to the West, but not to the East.

Article by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
August 4th 2004, 05:00AM

Frame Gride

From Software, already well known for their Armored Core series, decided to get medieval when they produced this hard-hitting, metal-crunching, mecha action game for the Dreamcast. The story is little more than a series of challenges for your custom made knightly mech and his robotic squires, but in Japan this game was actually playable online, allowing for furious feudal duels between would be warriors from all over the country.

Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2

Columns was Sega's answer to the all mighty Tetris, though like the Dreamcast itself many people just didn't buy it. I wasn't a fan myself, but sticking in the cast of Sakura Taisen was enough to get me interested. They didn't stop there though, and went on to make every selectable character unique and provide over a half dozen playing styles that keep the game fresh and interesting, even after playing through the story mode with every character, needed to unlock all of the game's extras. Adding in the near hundred puzzles to solve in puzzle mode and two player support is enough for anyone to forget other falling block games even exist.

Napple Tale

With a story loosely based on Alice in Wonderland, Sega produced a bright and cheerful platformer RPG, set against the haunting melodies of Yokko Kanno, known for her music in numerous anime such as Cowboy Bebop. Not a difficult game by any means, but it has a charm that pervades every aspect, from the way the main character stretches before every run to psyche herself up to her homemade pets bobbing in the air behind her, which make every journey through this magical world a smile-inducing experience.

Rival Schools 2

This is a special inclusion since while this game did come to the U.S. under the name of "Project Justice", though in localizing it lazy Capcom USA cut out a major portion of the experience by removing the boardgame. Play against the game's AI or round up three of your friends to go back to school, though in this case the goal is to make your own fighting character and beat the snot out of your rivals at the tournament at the end of the game. These custom made characters can later be used in the game's arcade and tournament modes, letting you find out just how silly it is for a guy to use Tiffany's breast smothering attack.

Sakura Taisen 3

Ever wanted to experience what it's like to assume the role of an anime character? Well, the Sakura Taisen series is your chance, where you play out the trials and tribulations of Ogami, male leader of an all female fighting force equipped with the most advanced steam powered mecha the 1920's can provide. The third game in the series takes him to Paris and introduces a whole new cast of women to add to his personal harem, that is if he can survive being near the accident prone Erica or keep the short tempered Glycine from making him about a head shorter with the giant axe she takes with her wherever she goes. The characters are charming, the story is richly detailed, the combat is mildly challenging and always fun, and the mini-games are numerous, especially Casino Wars that has the best version of video poker ever. All of this adds up to one of my favorite games of all time.

Treasure Strike

Another online game that never made it out of Japan, though at least it can be played offline with up to three friends, each constructing their own personalized character from dozens of options, not to mention dozens of possible weapon combinations, and all trying to grab the hidden treasure, whether by hook or by crook. The single player mode pits you against rivals in a series of challenges, though the basic gameplay remains the same. A number of treasure chests are scattered throughout these multi-area levels, though only one contains the prize needed to win. As another wrinkle, each chest requires two keys to unlock, though blasting an opponent is a sure way of snatching their key. The result is an experience that is as frantic as it is fun.

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