PS2 Previews: Sega Superstars Preview

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Sega Superstars Preview

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Scheduled release date:

November 2, 2004

This November, Sega plans to release a game compilation for the PlayStation 2 that will include 12 of their most loved hits -- Sonic the Hedgehog, Crazy Taxi, NiGHTS Into Dreams, Samba De Amigo, House of the Dead 3, Virtua Fighter, Billy Hatcher, Super Monkey Ball, Puyo Puyo, Virtua Striker, Space Channel 5, and Chu Chu Rocket.

Sort of.

Sega SuperStars won't include the original, full versions of these classics. Instead, what the company has done is use bits and pieces from these various games to put together a party game intended for use with the PS2's EyeToy camera peripheral.

In fact, those of you that own the EyeToy: Play disc that initially came packaged with the camera will find that you're already familiar with some of the mini-games included in Sega SuperStars. That's because a fair number of the included games are Sega-themed variations of the mini-games that are in EyeToy: Play.

For example -- the Virtua Fighter-inspired mini-game is setup like the Boxing Chump mini-game that's included in EyeToy: Play. Players stand sideways (in profile) in front of the camera and use their hands and feet to fight against the master of the stun palm of doom, Akira Yuki. Akira stands on the right side of the screen, while his opponent--YOU--stands on the left. When you swing your hand to punch or raise your feet to kick, the camera and software makes note of your body position relative to where the polygon Akira model is standing. If your hands or feet come in "contact" with Akira, he'll jerk back from your attack and take damage.

Each of the included "mini-games" takes advantage of the camera in a similar fashion.

In the Samba De Amigo-inspired game, which plays a lot like the Beat Freak and SlapStream games that are in EyeToy: Play, players are super-imposed behind a layout of six circular indicators and have to wave and tap their hands in front of the indicators when symbols pass through them. By following along with the visual cues and shaking and tapping with your hands, you'll re-create the guitar, drum, and maraca portions of a song using only your arms.

Likewise, the House of the Dead-inspired game that's included in Sega SuperStars also shares a lot in common with one of the games included with EyeToy: Play. If you already own the EyeToy camera and EyeToy: Play disc, then no doubt one of your favorite games on the disc is Kung Foo--a game where you use your fists to punch ninjas as they appear from different sides of the screen. Take away the ninjas and dojo and replace them with zombies and a factory, and you'll have a good idea of what the House of the Dead mini-game in Sega Superstars is all about. Players face the camera and can see themselves from the waist up. When a zombie appears on the screen, the goal is to wave your fist at it (which the game registers as a punch) and continue punching it until its head comes off or it falls down dead.

Copying concepts from EyeToy: Play doesn't exactly earn Sega points for originality, but considering the massively positive reception that Sony's pack-in disc received, it's probably not a bad move from a marketing standpoint. Also, to Sega's credit, not all of the mini-games in Sega SuperStars use EyeToy: Play as their blueprint.

Players can use their hands to tilt and turn the maze in the Super Monkey Ball mini-game, so that the ball holding the cranky chimp can roll its way to the exit.

In the Sonic the Hedgehog, Crazy Taxi, and NiGHTS Into Dreams-inspired mini-games, players use their hands to guide Sonic, Axel's taxi, or NiGHTS through short levels based upon areas from the original games.

The Sonic the Hedgehog game is called Sonic Super Speed Tube, and it's setup like one of the bonus stages from Sonic Heroes. The player, who is super-imposed behind the game background, has to help Sonic grab the rings that appear as he's running down a huge length of glass tube, but, instead of using the controller to guide Sonic's orbit around the tube, you need to use your hand to do it.

In the Crazy Taxi game, the taxi follows your hand while you guide it past obstacles and down the road in search of the fastest time and highest fare.

Similarly, in the NiGHTS game, your hand controls the NiGHTS character's flight path. The goal is to guide NiGHTS so that he ascends, descends, turns, and loop-de-loops his way through the sets of rings that appear throughout the constantly-spooling 3D course.

Despite the primitive nature of the EyeToy concept (games are limited to basic mini-games and the camera only reacts to gross movements), the peripheral has become a popular success because 1) it lets players see themselves interacting with the games, and 2) the games are basic enough that anyone can play them. This makes it easy for gamers to convince their non-gamer friends to play, which ultimately leads to a true party atmosphere where intelligent people are shoving each other out of the way to get another chance at looking goofy on the TV. While it's true that Sega SuperStars won't play much differently than the EyeToy discs that are already available, it does promise to up the ante considerably in one significant respect --> players will be able to look goofy surrounded by the backgrounds, characters, music, and sound effects from their favorite Sega games.

Sega Superstars will ship November 2nd for a suggested retail price of $29.99. The EyeToy camera must be purchased separately--with EyeToy: Play for $49.99, or with the upcoming EyeToy: AntiGrav (coming Nov. 9), also for $49.99.

9/20/2004 Frank Provo

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