Dreamcast Generator Vol. 1: Playable Bits and Video Clips – OVERVIEW
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Release Date (NA): 1999 to 2000
Genre: Compilation, Demo
Reviewed by Nerdberry
There once was a time when you had to special order things over the phone or through mail. No, not email, y’all. I’m talkin’ about United State Postal Service mail. You would purchase a game, then fill out a specially made card from the instruction manual with all of your information, write a check made to the company, put all of that in an envelope, send it out, and wait weeks or months (this was the 1990s, it would show up when it was good and ready to show up) to receive your “swag bag,” magazine, collectible items, tips and tricks book, upcoming game sizzle reel (on a video cassette tape), game guide, or whatever else the publishers have cooked up. With the emergence of the disc-based gaming format in the mid 1990s, we would occasionally get lucky and snag a free demo disc hot-glued to the inside of a plastic-wrapped magazine. Needless to say, the days of downloading demos from the couch were so far away, we hadn’t even dreamed about it yet!
Many of you remember these days. Some of you might not. But no matter how you feel, I’m going to be reviewing the Sega Dreamcast’s pack-in demo disc in honor of Nerd Bacon’s 4th annual Retroary! You see, Retroary is a special month for Nerd Bacon. We celebrate games and gaming culture of yesteryear by reveling in its glory for the entire month of February.
What constitutes as “Retro” here at the Nerd Bacon office?
Essentially anything released before the year 2000! There are some exceptions, however. The Dreamcast catalog constitutes as a “Retro” system, as do some late-release titles for the N64 and PS1. But once you hit the GameCube and PS2, you’ve gone too far. Like Juvenile and the Hot Boy$ said, back dat azz up and keep it before the year 2000.
What Am I?
The Generator is also known as the Dreamcast Sampler. It is a pack-in disc bundled with all Dreamcast systems early in its life, before the second volume came packed in with the later systems. As far as I can tell, the first volume only saw life from 1999 to sometime in 2000, while volume 2 was packed in with the Dreamcast for the second half of its short life. From my research, it appears that the Generator Vol. 1 was released in North America only, but I cannot confirm the accuracy of that.
Just as the title on the disc says, it is a demo disc with “playable bits and video clips.” Defining its purpose would seem pointless right now, but for the sake of history and informing all of the entire world, here goes: The Generator‘s purpose was to inform Dreamcast owners of other purchasable games or upcoming games. By providing snippits, or “playable bits” from a variety of games in various genres, they can reach more potential buyers. This is SUPER fuggin’ important because as I noted in my overview of the Dreamcast system as a whole, which you can read right here, Sega actually LOST money with every system they sold. They really wanted their price-point to be low ($199.99 to be exact), so they aimed to make up for the profit loss on the console with online subscriptions, software sales, accessory sales, and more. The hope is that the Generator teases the gamers into wanting more!
Playable Demo Games
The Generator Vol. 1 includes the following playable demo games:
- Champ Car Racing: Flag to Flag
- House of the Dead 2
- Monaco Grand Prix
- Power Stone
- Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
- Sega Bass Fishing
- Sonic Adventure
As you can see, Sega wisely chose to cover a variety of genres to reach a broader audience. Racing, fighting, sports (boxing), platforming, shooting, and even fishing (for reel tho, Sega even made a fishing controller)!
For the playable demos, I will not be reviewing or rating the game as a game. I will be reviewing what all is included as part of this specific demo disc and discussing what options were included as a demo.
Car Champ Racing: Flag to Flag
Developer: Sega Sports
Flag to Flag is one of two F1 series style racers on this demo disc along with Monaco Grand Prix (see below). Despite being identical sports and styles, both games feature drastically different styles of play. Flag to Flag features a camera angle from the cockpit with sideview mirrors that actually show what’s happening behind you. Monaco Grand Prix is more of a third-person overhead/behind the car view. Both are serviceable and neither are terrible, but the cockpit view makes you rely heavily on the race map and upcoming-turn-indicators since you can’t see very far ahead of you.
This is a decent addition to the demo, but is mostly pointless. I wouldn’t expect Flag to Flag to be a top seller, but it is possible that it didn’t cost much to make, and selling a few hundred thousand units could generate enough profit. The classic Sega soundtrack is on full display, and the background visuals are absolutely stunning. If you’re a big fan of classic Sega racers (such as Daytona USA) and Sega Rally Championship, then you might be happier about this demo inclusion than I am.
The House of the Dead 2
The House of the Dead games were a smash hit in the arcades, and porting arcade games to the Dreamcast was a big thing for Sega (see Crazy Taxi, Soul Calibur). Without the light gun, it’s hard to imagine how one could enjoy House of the Dead 2, so I can honestly say that this is THE most surprising title on the Dreamcast Generator Vol. 1 disc. I mean, it’s a great game (really, it’s a super fun time), but how can we get the most out of it when we have to use the analog stick to move the cursor? Yes, the light gun accessory works on the demo disc, but isn’t the purpose of the demo disc to sell me games?
I have to assume that anyone who is playing The House of the Dead 2 on the demo disc does not own the game, and therefore likely does not own a light gun yet. Because afterall, people playing this disc probably JUST purchased their Dreamcast within the last month. So it’s an odd addition to the disc and probably would have been best served as a video demo instead of a playable one. Using your standard Dreamcast controller does no justice to the actual quality of this game. No lie, I “FAILED” in under ONE SECOND of the demo because it took me forever to get my cursor in the right spot. TRUE DAMN STORY!
Monaco Grand Prix
I cannot say that I have ever played the full version of Monaco Grand Prix, so I have no comparisons for this thing whatsoever. But I can tell you this, it actually seems like a pretty cool game, and I would argue that it’s a good showpiece for the Dreamcast’s technical capabilities. The sense of speed is very legit and the controls are super tight. This demo version limits you to one mode of play, one single race, one track (out of what appears to be maybe 20 total tracks), and one racer. Again, I understand why they limit the options. Visually the game rocks, and back in 9 teen 90 nine (as Fred Durst would spell it), I wasn’t above selling the farm just to have something pretty-looking on my TV.
I think they gave away JUST ENOUGH of the game to give you a sense and make you want more. I’ve never been convinced that anyone has ever shelled out hundreds of dollars just so they could play a racing simulator, but if they did, they would probably be pretty pleased with Monaco Grand Prix. As far as “teasing” and “enticing” gamers into buying the full version, they did a good job here.
Power Stone. Ahhh… What a classic, yet criminally forgotten fighting gem! Power Stone 2 easily outdoes the original, but where would the sequel be without its precursor? In summary, Power Stone is a 3D fighting game that utilizes environments and items to maximize your damage against your opponents! For this demo version, Falcon and Gunrock are the only playable fighters, and you always play in this courtyard somewhere (not sure where exactly). If I remember correctly, part of the game’s charm is the traveling aspect, and you play in public arenas across the globe.
It’s an excellent addition to the demo! As I mentioned before, Power Stone is criminally underrated and a truly remarkable fighting game. It’s not perfect, and purists of the 2D-single-plane fighting genre may not be completely sold here, but there’s a level of unbridled fun here, especially when you find yourself kicking a table across the screen at your opponent, then firing giant missiles at their head. Great addition to the Generator demo disc here, but I was disappointed with how they boot you right back to the main menu immediately following a fight. Buttholes.
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
Genre: Sports, Boxing
Ready 2 Rumble is a boxing game that walks a thin line between taking itself seriously or being partly goofy. To be honest, I’m not sure what side of the fence they wanted to be on, but I never was able to view this game as “real boxing” like Foes of Ali for 3DO or Fight Night for PS2. Included with the demo are 3 playable boxers and 1-player or 2-player mode!
The Russian terror Boris Knoximon, the big bad and terrifying Butcher Brown, and the game’s cover-art hero Afro Thunder lead the charge as you duke it out versus a friend or against the computer. It has been a while since I’ve played the full game, but as far as I can tell, all of the punches, jabs, and maneuvers from the full game are intact here, and the only real thing missing are extra boxers, more arenas, and probably a few options. Overall, this might be the closest thing to the full version out of all of the demos. Because, really, what more do I need in this boxing demo? Do I need to spend $50 to get more characters? It ain’t that good.
Sega Bass Fishing
Genre: Sport, Fishing
I was never lucky enough to own a bass fishing controller! But that never stopped me from enjoying this game on the Generator. It’s a pretty cool little piece, even without a fishing controller. But playing it WITH the fishing controller truly adds to the excitement (my neighbor had one). Honestly, the odds of someone owning the specialty fishing controller without owning the fishing game is slim, so Sega wisely made the game very playable without it.
On this demo, you only get access to one fishing location (the Lodge area) and a handful of lures. While limited to one location, the gameplay is on full display here and truly leaves you wanting more. As an arcade-style game, you get 2 minutes to catch as many fish as possible. Casting is simple and so is reeling the line in, but the true challenge lies in how to catch the right fish, reeling them in without breaking the line, and being aware of the ticking clock. While shortlived on the demo, this is a great addition to the Dreamcast Generator Vol. 1 disc as it showcases Sega’s true creativity in taking a slow and seemingly boring sport and making it exciting and fun, even without the fishing controller!
Developer: Sonic Team
When it comes to demos, the one for Sonic Adventure is easily the smartest of all time! Why? Because this particular demo allows the player to play through the first stage AND it includes the game’s opening introduction with the “Open Your Heart” tune. Why is this important? Because the introduction is arguably one of the best game intro scenes of all time. It showcases the Dreamcast’s graphical and audio capabilities flawlessly while the first stage shows off a brand new way to play a Sonic game while still maintaining the fierce speed he is famous for! If it weren’t for these 2 moments in gaming history, Sonic might have died with the Dreamcast. But alas, they’ve given us a great demo! And c’mon… The killer whale chase scene? Who wasn’t blown away by that in 1999?
The Generator Vol. 1 includes the following video demos (non-playable games):
- Hydro Thunder
- NBA 2K
- NFL 2K
- NFL Blitz 2000
And you can see here that they’re less interested in trying to win you over with their “movies,” as they are called on the main menu. They’ve included two pro football games, one pro basketball game, and a speed boat racing game. At first, I’m sitting here thinking how odd the selection is, but with more consideration, NBA 2K, NFL 2K, and Hydro Thunder were considered some of the most visually impressive titles for the Dreamcast at the turn of the century.
Each clip is approximately 1 minute long, give or take, and it is really just one big mash-up of random game clips, from cinematics to in-game footage, and more. Hydro Thunder probably takes the cake for demo videos, while the 2Ks and NFL Blitz round it out as what feels like filler.
There’s really nothing here that wows me. Not in 2017 anyway. But in 1999, when I first got my Dreamcast and only owned two games (Sonic Adventure and Hydro Thunder), something like this was amazing! It wasn’t unprecedented, but it absolutely added excitement to the already hyped-up white box. As a young teenager, I remember my parents not wanting to spend money buying me more games and me actually playing this demo disc repeatedly. The cool thing was that we could actually do multiplayer!
Overall, it’s a very cool addition to the Dreamcast system! I’m sure that disc space was limited, but I’m also pretty sure that they could have found room for a few other games, video clips, and the like. But it’s also possible that this demo disc was made long before other titles were completed, so maybe they didn’t have access to quality playable titles. Regardless, in 1999, I was pleased with this. My only big complaint then is the same as now: I wish there were more games AND/OR that the included games were longer and had more playable options. But that’s just a silly wish!
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