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Retro Review – Seaman…?!

 

The Sega Dreamcast is heralded by many as one of the greatest gaming consoles ever, with brilliant titles such as the Sonic Adventure franchise, Crazy Taxi games, and of course, Chu Chu Rocket and Sega Bass Fishing – However, one such mythical game for the Dreamcast has been forgotten by many, loved by few, and has become a sort of running joke of the system for years now…

…That game, is Seaman.

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Released on August 9th, 2000 in North America and Europe, Seaman is essentially a pet-simulator, where players must regulate the needs and survival capabilities of various frogspawn within an aquarium, slowly growing and maturing them to become Seamen (Yes…It’s as dirty as it sounds…); feeding your Seamen and providing ample living conditions is key to growing them into larger forms, where they can even begin to learn speech patterns.

The biggest pull of the game is its’ voice-recognition capabilities, especially since the game came pre-bundled with the Dreamcast Microphone attachment – This allows players to speak to their Seaman in a similar way to “Hey You Pikachu!” on the N64; however, instead of simply following commands like Pikachu, Seaman learns, grows, and even holds debates with you at some points! Seaman can be sassy, philosophical, snarky, and even downright rude and insulting at times, adding to his boystrous personality – If I had to single out one quote from this beautiful simulator, it would be when Seaman decides to insult you, stating: “You may not find me attractive, but your mother will *Sexual growl* “.

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This is what you can expect from this wonderful game. Note that Seaman is, by no means at all, a short game, the game can take months to complete the lifecycle of a single Seaman due to how the game runs off of real time – Checking in on Seaman for around 20 minutes each day for around a month would be enough to complete this masterpiece, however. One point that I personally think this game nails is the evolution of life, ageing, and growing up and becoming more independent – Growing a Seaman from just an egg, to an infant tadpole (Fit with baby noises), through to a child, teenager, then finally adult is something that few other games can offer, especially so accurately. It is, however, a little bit of a shame that it takes so darn long to develop, however you could pin this down to the developers wanting a realistic edge on their game.

Now, I’m going to be blunt, this and the humour are all that save Seaman from a depressing, short-lived life; the gameplay is brand and repetitive, offers no difficulty, no reward or merit, no unlockables either…But in a bizarre way…That’s alright, see Seaman isn’t the sort of game to go hardcore on, or to marathon, 100% or even speedrun…It’s moreso a way to sit down after a hard day, unwind, and chuckle whilst a talking fish named after a bodily substance insults you and your mother.

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Now, Seaman does have one, small addition that helps to beef up the game’s humour and…Unpredictability…This being a celebrity cameo! Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh god, what washed up, B-List actor did they pull into this shlop?”. Well, my friend, that would be no other than the legendary Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame, whom also voiced Master Xehanort, the main antagonist of Kingdom Hearts; I have no idea how much money Seaman’s designers, Yoot Saiho, or Sega paid Mr Nimoy to act as the overall narrator of Seaman, but hearing such a famous, well-known and respected actor play a major role in a game like this is…Well…I have to say…

…It’s simply magical.

As I said previously, however, it simply isn’t enough to save such a niche, and admittedly terrible game. The gameplay is still as entertaining as a pile of rocks, the graphics look severely outdated to other games releasing at the time, and, once you’ve seen one playthrough, you’ve basically seen them all…

…But in the end of the day, isn’t that why we love Seaman?

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A sequel for this lovely game DID release on the Playstation 2 in Japan a few years later, however even worse gameplay, bad humour and a lack of any english localisation killed what could’ve been a reoccuring trendsetter in the franchise. Such a shame too…It would be interesting to see this sort of game remade for today’s hardware, especially given the advances in VR technology, however the chance of getting something like this ever again is slim to none, unfortunately. Rest well Seaman, you may be missed.

If you wish to see more of this wonderful, wonderful game, I would have to direct you to AVGN’s look into the game, since, in my eyes, it provides you with a full tour of what you can expect going in…

…Enjoy.

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