Thursday, December 9, 2021

Sega Superstars

Within weeks of Nicktoons Movin’, Sega released their own contribution to the EyeToy peripheral, Sega Superstars, the only other EyeToy game made by a third party to be released in the US. Much like Nicktoons Movin’, this was a game I had to actively seek out when trying to complete my EyeToy collection, resorting to eBay as I could not find it in a physical store. After getting to play Sega Superstars, I found it to be a vast improvement over Nicktoons Movin’ in just about every way, to where this is what that game should have been.

Much like Nicktoons Movin’, the gameplay is split across 12 minigames, though each is themed after a different Sega IP complete with their respective art styles, those being (in order of listing) Samba de Amigo, Sonic the Hedgehog, Virtua Fighter, Super Monkey Ball, Crazy Taxi, The House of the Dead, Space Channel 5, ChuChu Rocket, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, Virtua Striker, Puyo Pop Fever and NiGHTS into dreams…. Each of these minigames also tries to translate their respective series’ gameplay for use with motion controls, to varying degrees of success. Of these, Samba de Amigo is the most substantial, on the principle that it’s a rhythm game with six different remixed songs to choose from, taking cues from EyeToy: Groove. Other minigames I personally enjoyed were Virtua Striker, which plays like the Boxing Chump minigame from EyeToy: Play; and The House of the Dead, which manages to take the light gun gameplay of the original arcade games and translate them in a way that works perfectly without them, including a boss fight. Ones that I liked less were Crazy Taxi and Space Channel 5, if only because they’re the most difficult to get past even on Easy.

One thing I will give the game credit for is that it innovates on the EyeToy experience in ways not seen in the preceding games. For instance, while the EyeToy’s voice capabilities were previously used to make videos, the Crazy Taxi minigame actually incorporates this into gameplay, where you have to shout and wave your arms to get the driver’s attention. Puyo Pop Fever and NiGHTS also require an extra step to calibrate your position before play to prevent outside interference, which makes sense since these games are very particular about your arm position while you play.

A sampling of the minigames.

While I applaud the hit detection all around, I found the hit detection in Space Channel 5 and Billy Hatcher to be a little spotty, while Super Monkey Ball and NiGHTS are designed such that it’s possible to accidentally lose control over an icon you are supposed to keep your hands over, which can easily screw you up. Your arms will also naturally hurt after a while, though I especially felt this after minigames like Samba de Amigo and NiGHTS that require you to hold up your arms constantly.

After each minigame, you are awarded with Rings based on your performance. These Rings are for use in the Chao Garden mode, a Virtual Pet type thing carried over from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and can be spent on items for your Chao in the Black Market. Once you enter this mode, you can rub an egg to hatch the Chao, which you can then feed and play around with, plus the Chao is always present on loading screens. Presumably, this is an attempt to offer more of an incentive to continue playing, though your mileage may vary on this since the Chao Garden is completely optional.

Though not without missteps, Sega Superstars takes cues from EyeToy: Play and innovates in some interesting ways. This makes it a must-have for EyeToy owners, even those who aren’t familiar with all of the Sega IPs present in the game.

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