Shin Force | Sega Dreamcast Review
Shin Force
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Shin Force ~ Dreamcast ~
 TrickStyle
Senpi
Reviewed
02.15.2000
Publisher
Acclaim
Developer
Criterion
Format
GD
Origin
Domestic
Available
TBA (Japan)
Sep 5, 1999 (USA)
Exclusive
Yes
Difficulty
Hard
Dimensions
3D
View
3rd Person
Genre
Racer/Hoverboard
Players
1-2
Options
Backup 5+7
VMS/VMU
Requires
**VMU
Importable
n/a
INTRO:
         > TrickStyle is a game attempting many things. It is a racer, taking place in the future of Earth with hover-boarders as the competitors. It is a stunter, with  plenty of tricks to combo into one another, a scoring system, and several Challenges and Tracks requiring high stunt skill. It is a game aimed for the mass market, with balancing factors that seem unrealistic but are in place so the game is approachable for the most people possible. And above all it is a game of style, taking the underground hip-hop/rave scene and making it the foundation for such an awesome future. All of these factors cannot be taken individually, analysis does no justice for the value of this game. Separately each of these attempted objectives cannot be held as benchmarks, they would be solid but not outstanding. But that is not how this game should be approached, it is not a game of mini games . This game is a fusion of many parts, and so the whole should be judged  on the presentation of this synthesis. But for the sake of understanding I'll go through the basics.
GRAPHICS: 
         > They are breathtaking, literally! The graphics are crisp and the movement of the characters are very fluid and human-like. The designs of the costumes, building, courses and landscape are all inspired. They pay respect to the Ďpast inspirationí (being the 1980's-1990's world of urban life and culture) while linking with the vision of a sleeker future drastically effected by the hover technology. The end result of such a remarkable interpretation of our future is conveyed graphically into nothing less than a, pardon for repeating myself, breathtaking experience.
CONTROL/OPTIONS: 
         > Controls are easily adjusted to one's taste, thought the starting layout is already sufficient. Analog control for direction and acceleration are very useful additions for the little nuances one desires for stunts and racing. **The VMU is an absolute must for this game, though. Without it most of the moves (and tracks) would not be experienced, and with that most of the fun would go with it. The VMU mini game is available from the onset of the game. The controls use what seems to be a recording feature reminiscent of Killer Instinct's instead of animation-clipping, so button mashing won't pull off that extra move. This breaking of a bad habit leads to some aggravation, but this listing into memory technique is logical and just as flexible. You can punch in the combo quite rapidly or space it out just enough to suite your needs (be they aesthetic or gravitational).  The design team was able to develop a solid play mechanics architecture. This game isn't bogged down with options over minutiae which have been in vogue for some years now, but most expected options are fulfilled.
SOUND:
         > The musical score is fantastic. There are a few average sound tracks, but in whole the background music easily outshines most contemporary competition.  An excellent collection of electronic beats ranging from down tempo, to drum and bass, and trance. The variety holds something for everybody and the quality has you turning up the volume.  In this game the courses  have a musical track that matches the graphical experience, be it the rough world of New York with tough breakbeats and thumpiní drum and bass, to Londonís ambient and down tempo amidst its parks and classic architecture, to Tokyo (or should I say Neo-Tokyo?) trance beats spinning while you race down some crazy tracks. This isnít top 40, nor does it have the lineup some games are now getting, but the soul is definitely there. Sound effect wise everything is there, I delight hearing the other surfers trash-talk all the way with you during the race. Great stuff, leaves me wanting more.
ISSUES: 
     > Why does the AI behave so; the "waiting" and sudden lead stealing? My interpretation is that this is another of the mass market ideas. Honestly, this game is hard and you will restart many times. To help with the difficulty the AI "waits" to give you a chance, otherwise one would restart 20 times instead of 5. Lead stealing points out the value of certain stunts (like riding higher, straighter areas that are accessed only by tricks) or tricks (such as speedluge to the finish line on a straight-away ) that you will need to learn for future success. Could the AI be better, perhaps, but this way you have a tutor showing the value of certain moves as well as being patient while you try to incorporate them. Why arenít all the moves, tracks, and boards available at the beginning of the game? Because one would be hard pressed to appreciate it all and put it into meaningful practice. Why arenít the minutiae in place so I can endlessly configure my surfer, their board, the tracks, etc? Because that is better left for a sequel. Why arenít the statistics more pronounced in their effects of the game? The board stats do have a significant effect on the game, the surfer stats less so. Honestly, introducing such complexity so early would marginalize this game, this is something also better left for a sequel. Why are all the moves the same for all the surfers? Yes, this is bothersome. I feel different animations should be offered for the surfers, along with more signature moves. This is an absolutely mandatory improvement for a sequel. The characters start to feel like fashion statements more than individuals because of this. Why is Japan race 5 so bloody hard? To prove awesome tracks can be made requiring all your skill just to reach the finish line. I hope they introduce more of these for a possible sequel. Mind-boggling difficult, but I welcome the challenge.
FUN:
         > The game is highly challenging but approachable. There is no real long term competitive goal, the personal challenge element is heavy in this game. The overall theme emphasizes earning skill by experimentation, and rewards you with more tricks with which to experiment. True accomplishment in sport and aesthetics is something earned, and in this game thatís what it is all about, earning your place. Everything, graphics, sound, control/options, and overall gameplay came together to make a great game which leaves me wanting to earn every bit and more.
BOTTOM LINE:
     > An excellent value for oneís money; everyone should at least try this game. **A VMU save is an absolute must to get the most out of it though! High points: graphics amazing, art design an inspired fusion of hip-hop/rave underground and futuristic vision, sound effects good with trash-talking a plus, excellent electronic score, 15 tracks and almost 20 challenges (ranging from racing to stunting to fused mix of both), challenging track design with secrets throughout and floating AI difficulty (not a plus for everyone), fun practice area, and an approachable system for stunt combos integrated into racing. Improvements expected for next game: additional moves and differing animations of moves, more signature moves, more insane tracks (but preferably as secrets), statistics between surfers meaning more, a 2 player mode with DC-to-DC link connection, and network capacity with online arenas and tracks.  Best suited for "hardcore gamers" (those who like self-challenges), those who appreciate stylish stunting, candy kids (you know who you are), and "female gamers" (likes games with personal goals over plain competition, not necessarily have to be female). This attempt of fusing such diverse elements results in a very cohesive and fun game.
Overall: 9.4 | Graphics: 9.4 | Control: 9.1 | Sound: 9.3 | Fun: 9.6
~ Senpi ~

Shin Force ~ Dreamcast ~
 TrickStyle
Shinobi
Reviewed
09.25.1999
Publisher
Acclaim
Developer
Criterion
Format
GD
Origin
Domestic
Available
TBA (Japan)
Sep 5, 1999 (USA)
Exclusive
Yes
Difficulty
Hard
Dimensions
3D
View
3rd Person
Genre
Racer/Hoverboard
Players
1-2
Options
Backup 5+7
VMS/VMU
Requires
n/a
Importable
99%
INTRO:
         > In the future, the year 2099 to be exact, people are bored out of their minds.  As a result, the The TrickStyle Pro-Tournament is born.  The main objective is to place first in the various races while making the check points in a timely manner and doing tricks to score points.  You'll race against 5 opponents on hoverboards through the streets of future Earth...
GRAPHICS: 
         > In a word... breathtaking!  Criterion has a nice mixture of effects, detail, color, frame-rate and speed.  Ideally, I would have preferred a little more speed though but this is, after all, a first round title.  There are three cities you'll race in: Manhattan, London and Tokyo -- each with multiple rounds and a "boss" round.  The practice area consists of the Earthpit, Halfpipe and Stuntbowl.
         > The tracks in TrickStyle are highly detailed with buildings, ramps, trees, vehicles, short-cuts, tunnels and much, much more.  It's just amazing the new benchmarks which are being set by Sega's Dreamcast console.  The coolest effect is the stream of light that trails your hoverboard throughout the game.  The sense of 3D space is surely unparalleled as well.
CONTROL: 
         > TrickStyle has realistic control.  Since you're on a hoverboard, don't expect to be able to just pick this game up and win it all within five minutes.  The controls are stunt stall, left/right turn, 360 spin, boogie drill, speed luge, accel, power-up and ollie.  Unfortunately, the TRICK part of TrickStyle is not nearly as important as the objective to win.  It's kind of like Road Rash (Genesis, Sega CD, Saturn)... where winning is emphasized over beating the heck out of your rivals.  Tricks do come into play in the "boss" rounds though.
         > One cool thing you'll come across is the Magnorails -- these are rails that you can luge on which take you directly along the track in the shortest time.  You'll also come across these items: Speedpads temporarily increase your speed; Speedhoops are like Speedpads except they're on Magnorails; Time Pickups increase your time remaining to complete the course; and Velocity Move Powerups give you speed and increase your stunt score while you grab some air.
SOUND:
         > The music sounds great, but that's only good if you like techno-pop.  At least there's a sound volume adjustment in the Options menu.
         > The sound effects are decent, although sparse at times.  They mainly consist of various cues hoverboard noises, and an obnoxious rap-like commentator.
FUN:
         > There's no doubt, TrickStyle will take you a while to master.  For some, the fact that you have to place first to advance will frustrate.  However, don't give up because I've been in last place nearly the whole way through a course and still managed to gain the lead near the end. 
         > You can choose from 9 individual characters that are rated on speed, strength, skill and thrust.  There are 4 different boards, but you have to earn them all except for the Standard one.  You can compete in Practice, Challenge and Race (Manhattan, London and Tokyo) modes.  TrickStyle will definitely challenge most gamers for the long haul.
BOTTOM LINE:
     > Unbelievable graphics with realistic control, techno-pop music and challenging gameplay make for a great first round effort by Criterion.  For me, the load time is long and the frustration level is above normal (partly because of the realistic control).  However, if you put the time in, you'll surely reap the rewards you seek...
Overall: 8.4 | Graphics: 9.7 | Control: 8.5 | Sound: 7.5 | Fun: 8.0
~ Shinobi ~