Whatever Happened To? Part 11 – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

Sometimes during a console life cycle, you can expect to see dead cert games come to the format, especially if the franchise originator sells well enough to warrant a sequel, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was in it’s infancy back in 1999 and the Dreamcast was host to not only the first game, but also THPS2 – this particular port was absolutely brilliant and is really only rivaled by the Xbox classic version (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X) as the definitive way to play that game. naturally as 2001 started, Neversoft began work on the third entry in the series, now I know what you’re thinking; 2001 was the last year the DC was seen as viable for publishers to release their work and most pulled away to release their games on other formats, surely Activision would not risk releasing this game for the console?

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Well, let’s look at this logically Tony Hawk 3 was released in October of 2001, across most formats from PSone, PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, PC, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance and lastly, Nintendo 64 -that’s a whole load of ports, yet no Dreamcast? The first two games sold well, certainly in the USA at the very least. The game engine already playing ball with the hardware, it wouldn’t surprise me if all other ‘next gen’ versions were based on the DC build of the previous game anyway. Could it be that it was too late in the day? No, because Matt Hoffman BMX would release by Activision in September 2001, wouldn’t it have made more sense to pull that game and release something that would sell more units? Also, the Nintendo 64 of all things got a port of the third game….. in August 2002! I can’t fathom why this game never released for the Dreamcast, it seems like a natural fit since all the key ingredients were there already, all the ground work laid down, the hard work done. What a waste, the fact the game was never confirmed (or even mentioned I think…) for Dreamcast says a lot about how 3rd parties treated Sega during the time.

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So where can you play THPS3 today? Well, you don’t have to look hard, it’s available on every format of the time, and it’s cheap since it sold so well. Avoid the PSone and N64 versions as they are cutback and not really a true representation of the game, the PS2 version is the most likely candidate of what we would have played on our machine, although there isn’t much difference between this and the GC/XB versions. If you really, really need to play THPS 3 on the Dreamcast, you can Bleem the PSone version to see what it may have been like, just keep in mind that it won’t save – here’s hoping one day that Dreamcast build that I’m sure was created and stashed away makes it’s way into public domain.

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Whatever Happened To? Part 10 : Virtua Golf.

Back in late 2000, many projects came and went again for the Dreamcast, what was once a dead-cert that a Naomi based arcade game would see a DC conversion, became sadly hit and miss at best, often resources were pulled from a quick Dreamcast port, to a more involved other console conversion due to the audience fading away from Sega’s machine. What would also occur is some games would be planned for home release and then be later locked away to be forever just an arcade board, one such example is game number 10 in the series; Virtua Golf.

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Announced in the late part of 2000, it was Sega who were planning to bring this arcade board (and perhaps the last in the Virtua sports range?) home to their own hardware, this was to be a good turn for the Dreamcast as golf games had been sadly lacking with mostly Tee Off seen as the main gap filler there. Virtua Golf was a gorgeous looking title that shared many graphical cues from Virtua Tennis 2 and Sports Jam (which in itself had a golf mode), it was developed by Sega WOW who had developed Sega GT, Bass Fishing and Alien Front Online to name a few, this sports game could really have done well on the machine, as it stands, golf is a quite popular sport and EA had success with it’s Tiger Woods series of games.

Being known as Dynamic Golf in Japan, and already running on Dreamcast derived arcade hardware, the game was up to 4 players and featured a roller ball which could control your power whilst rolling toward the screen would take the shot, this is a departure from the tried amnd tested shot guage found in all golf games before Tiger Woods revolutionised the control method with analogue stick control. Surprisingly in-depth were the modes of play, which unlike other arcade games at the time, featured most of the modes expected of a home title, even a full 18 hole endurance mode.

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Typical Sega blue skies were found in this game, it looked great for a 2001 game, and seemed to have all the right mix for the home port treatment, so what went wrong? Well, to be honest I think Dreamcast Magazine were a bit premature in 2000, saying this was coming to the console – they later, in 2001 featured it on their missing games section, with that year coming to a close, and Sega seemingly less interested in persuing the Dreamcast, I’d be surprised if this made it past the ‘is it possible’ stage, which yes, it would have easily ported across but like many really impressive games from that era that were meant to be eyed with the Dreamcast in mind, it just wasn’t meant to be and this one is locked to the arcade without emulating the board. Such a shame.

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Whatever Happened To? : Part 9 – Planet Of The Apes

As 2001 started, Sega began to give out little yellow flyers In the boxes for their own published games which although littered with screenshots of the upcoming big hitters from the company, the rear cover was reserved for games planned later in the year, it was in this section that we got an insight into a few 3rd party games coming to the system, a few of which actually didn’t happen in the end, one such game was Planet of the Apes.

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Planet of the Apes was planned to be released in time for the movie featuring Mark Wahlberg which debuted in cinemas in July 2001, however, the game release didn’t actually happen until later in 2001 when the buzz around the film had come and gone, this was actually seen as an intentional delay as the game had little to do with the movie, not being a standard tie-in, the game opted for an action adventure stance much in the same play style as games like Tomb Raider.

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So, what went wrong here? Well, firstly Fox Interactive decided they wanted to out source the publishing duties for the game, which eventually Ubi Soft picked up the rights to distribute the game, this made the production of the game, which was around the Dreamcast’s era of 2000, to the very end of the lifecycle at the end of 2001 and 2002 (For Europe PS-One version) which would of course not be seen as a worthwhile venture, this wasn’t the first time that Fox had done this, Buffy was also due for Dreamcast and instead was outsourced to Dreamcast haters, EA to which it only came to the Xbox. What was also seen as a factor was advertising, Fox had already marketed the title in 2000, with a year passing by, did Dreamcast gamers care about what would be perceived as a straight PS-One port by this point? Fox didn’t think so, which is a shame as the developers went on record to state in 2000 that the Dreamcast version was using some impressive lighting and shadowing techniques not present in the 32- Bit incarnation. Sadly the game was badly reviewed, none of the actual released version gained a decent Metacritic score so again, cancelling the DC version perhaps seemed the best thing to do between Fox Interactive’s deal with Ubi Soft (who actually supported the Dreamcast quite well).

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So what can you play Planet of the Apes on today? You can give the PS-One version a try if you really feel like giving it a go, or perhaps the PC version would stand up more to what the Dreamcast version may have looked like, sadly no DC builds have been leaked as of yet.

 

Whatever Happened To? Part 8 : Black & White

In this installment of our alternative reality look back, we pick a game which is almost never discussed. Set your minds back, it’s 2001, arguably the Dreamcast is set to have it’s most interesting year for PC based ports. Rather than the lazy PS-one conversions that gamers had become accustomed to, we were looming on more carefully planned out releases to compete with the other systems from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. One such game was Lionhead’s Black & White, this game was to be released on the Dreamcast in 2001 shortly after a proposed PS-One version of the game, with 2001 coming and going, neither of the games materialised, why is this?

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We can’t comment on the PS-One release, perhaps that was to do with the PS2 being the console to own by then, taking away the buzz from Sony’s aging hardware. The Dreamcast version most likely was canceled due to Sega’s decision to pull out of hardware manufacture in January 2001 and the development of the game taking too long according to Peter Molyneux, let’s not forget that for its day, this was a massively ambitious game to port to consoles, it’s worth noting that PS2 and Xbox versions of the game were canceled too after 2002.

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So how far did we get to getting this once promising title on the console? Well, not very to be honest. I would expect that aside from porting over some assets, Lionhead probably didn’t pursue the idea of a Sega version for long, no actual evidence of the game running on the system has ever been shown, and should it exist in any form, we’ll bet it is locked away safely where it’ll never been seen again, curiously enough, the game was mentioned in a retail point of sale hand out alongside Half-Life which one would presume is where the pack shot for both games came from.

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Unlike Half-Life though, Black & White was later removed from the 2001 games flyer found in first party software, as seen, there are notable canceled games on the list already so perhaps Sega already knew that progress wasn’t commencing on Black & White.

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Where can you play the game today?

Well, as we mentioned above, only a PC release actually happened in the end, so that is the only way to play this game, as is often the case, the game play mechanic is perhaps a little basic by the standards of today, but to serve as a what could have been, check it out.

Whatever Happened To? Part 7 : Max Payne.

In this instalment of ‘Whatever Happened To? ‘ we look at a man with nothing to lose, Max Payne, this game was in development in 1998-99 and was initially announced for the PC with a DC version to follow, Remedy and Take 2 were quite enthusiastic about working on the Dreamcast but multiple delays and push backs meant that with the Dreamcast business losing steam and the looming PlayStation 2 release, it was soon time to put the idea of a conversion to Sega’s console to bed.

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It’s widely acknowledged that the game wasn’t seen running on Dreamcast hardware according to one of the developers at Remedy, however, we reckon there is a playable version out there, somewhere and one day – maybe, just maybe we will see it’s release in some form, from the early demo videos of the game (most likely running on PC hardware) we reckon the Dreamcast could have run the game without sweating too much, the lack of a second analogue stick may very well have been an issue though,

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Where can you play the game today? Well, the smartest choice is naturally the PC, but should you have a PlayStation 2 or even better, an Xbox Classic, these serve up as a good reminder (albeit, graphically more enhanced) of what could have been on Sega’s poor, neglected box of tricks.

What Ever Happened To? Part 5 : Agartha

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Okay, let’s return to our ‘what ever happen to’ segment and have ourselves a little look at Agartha. What’s Agartha you’re wondering? Well, back in 2000/2001 survival horror games were pretty big business, everyone wanted a little slice of the Silent Hill and Resident Evil pie, the Dreamcast itself had it’s fair share, Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, Evil Dead, Carrier, D2 and others graced the machine. Regardless of this, Sega and No Cliché decided to get their heads together and make their own take. Agartha was based around a small village in Romania, the year would be 1929. You would play Kirk, an adventurer who would discover a subterranean village which is called Agartha, from here you’d have to face off against undead beasties treading a good or bad moral path whilst interacting with other villagers.

The game sounded and looked like a great addition to the Dreamcast’s library of games and it’s such a shame that it never saw the light of day, No Cliché sadly closed shop in 2001, around the time Sega pulled out of the hardware business.

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Where can you play this game today? Well, with No Cliché going out of business, and no other format announced aside Dreamcast – it looked as if Agartha was lost in time forever. However, as of August 2017,  The Dreamcast Junkyard recently got the scoop that there is actually a playable build of the game which has recently been cast over the public eye, sadly the game’s development was evidently quite far away from completion but all the same, it’s great to see the game ‘exist’ in some form of playability, maybe, just maybe there is a chance we’ll see this game in our consoles one day.

What Ever Happened to? Part 4 : Legacy Of Kain Soul Reaver 2

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When looking back to casualties of Sega’s software only approach of 2001, you’d be hard pushed to remember a dormant series like Legacy of Kain, this was a series of titles released originally starting with Blood Omen on PlayStation and eventually concentrating on Raziel in Soul Reaver which found it’s way on to the PlayStation, PC and Dreamcast – it was this game that kicked started the popularity of the Legacy of Kain series which would spawn a few more games on Xbox and PlayStation 2 before being mostly put to bed in 2003.

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Legacy of Kain : Soul Reaver 2 is perhaps the most interesting prospect in this universe of games because it was the first entry solely developed with 128 bit consoles in mind, the Dreamcast version was in development first with the PlayStation 2 version in development slightly after when PS One support was shifted, this was an exciting franchise that was a killer app for the Dreamcast back in 2001, it’s often debated how much work went into this particular version before development shifted again to just the PS2, some images across the Internet show the game with what looks like Dreamcast control schemes but sadly we won’t properly know. Is there a beta sat in someone’s collection? Probably. Will it ever get leaked? Not likely.

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It’s a massive shame that this game didn’t make it’s release, the Dreamcast was crying out for these sort of story-driven titles to bolster out Sega’s arcade output, and we think that this game would have sold well on the console and perhaps would have exceeded the PS2 version in terms of visual output as many early dual releases did.

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You can play Soul Reaver 2 today on the PlayStation 2 and PC these versions released between September – October 2001 with a Steam version released in 2012.

Whatever Happened To? Part 3 : Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

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Back in 2001, the Dreamcast was awash with mixed tidings, the console had just been discontinued but considering how easy the machine was to program for, plenty of support was still in the pipeline for the console.

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As the months came and went, it became painfully clear that really, only Sega were producing games worthy of purchase for the console as support was slowly being striped away, one such title was Fox Interactive’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer. By all accounts, the game was meant to be with us in Summer 2001 but all went quite and well, it never happened. To this day, no beta or even alpha game play has been seen and apart from two screenshots shared in Dreamcast Magazine in mid-2001 it’s unclear if any work even happened on the Dreamcast version of the game. What we can see in the screenshots is that the HUD is different to the Xbox version released in 2002 plus the graphics appear closer the multi-platform released Chaos Bleeds rather than the aforementioned Xbox exclusive.

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So what’s the real reason behind the games demise? Sure the announcement of Sega’s hardware discontinuation didn’t help matters but probably considering the power that the Xbox could provide to the game in addition to the buzz of exclusive IP making or breaking a console back then could prove to be the reason, of course, if this is indeed the reworked Dreamcast game then Electronic Arts picking up distribution rights most likely sealed the deal.

What’s your views?

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN PART 2 : Spider-Man 2 : Enter Electro

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Well, what happened here? Spider-Man 2 : Enter Electro was Activision’s second attempt to ‘bottle lightning’ having such massive success with the first entry which saw a release on a magnitude of formats in 2000/01 including PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and our very own Dreamcast you be forgiven for thinking that the second entry would be a sure-fire release for the Dreamcast, right….?

Wrong, in fact, so wrong that Activision only saw fir to release the game for the PlayStation, that’s right, just PlayStation. Not even the Nintendo 64 got any love this time around – unlike Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3.

So, what happened? Well, it’s hard to say really what was the deciding factor for this madness but some could cite the demise of the Dreamcast in early 2001 as a major point given that this title would release on October 19th 2001 meaning financial outlay could have stalled the project before it even got off the ground. Another possible explanation could be that during development, there were sections that either featured or referenced the World Trade Center which was subject to a mass terrorist attack on September 11th of that year, it could be a possibility that if a Dreamcast or Nintendo 64 version was in development, it wouldn’t have been a viable option to hang these versions back to re-code and alter whilst maintaining a reasonable release window. Worth noting is the Dreamcast version of the first game didn’t release until 2001.