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Armada (Dreamcast)

Hey all,

I'm gonna do a short review of one of my favorite Dreamcast games......

Yeah, the magazines weren't exactly adding this one to their must-have lists for the Dreamcast's first Christmas season. And yeah, it is powered by Windows CE, something that makes a lot of gamers I know itch. So what does this rather unassuming game have to offer a DC player who's expecting the next Soul Calibur or NFL2K? Actually, it offers a little bit of both ...
For starters, the gameplay is pretty good. The instructions don't document "exactly" how to turn your ship (you point the analog pad in the direction you want to go ... kinda like Time Pilot for you other old-schoolers out there), but once you're beyond that, you'll be navigating the universe in style. And what a universe it is! Lots of places to explore, two ways to win the game (one for war-mongers, one for explorers), and loads of random missions help take you to places you may not have been before. In other words, addicting gameplay and plenty of replay value keeps you coming back (like Soul Calibur).

And then there's multi-player. Drag in up to three of your buddies and take your best shot at the Armada onslaught. Its easy-to-learn controls (once you learn about the flying) and its retro-style play (there's another reference to Asteroids) gives Armada excellent party-game potential. More than, say, NFL2K, which may be pretty to look at, but it has a steeper learning curve than Armada.

Which is not to say Armada doesn't have its downsides. The biggest one I've found is its game save routine. The VMU file is copy-protected (colored in red when viewed on the DC's File Menu), so you can't transfer your save from one VMU to another. Even worse, if you load your game save into Armada then swap out VMUs in order to copy it to another one, the game completely freezes and will not restart until you restore the original VMU to its proper location. If you lose your game save, you've got to start *ALL* over!

Gripes about game-saves aside, Armada deserves more credit than it has gotten with its multiplayer mode, its engaging story and its retro appeal. Let's just hope Armada 2 (if there is one) adds in the final piece of the puzzle--online play

Keep it real.............
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