Here’s an odd button bashing track and field sports game for the Dreamcast. Released in mid-2000 by Hitmaker—a now defunct division with Sega. It’s a weird one!
Virtua Athlete 2000
In Japan it’s called Virtua Athlete 2K (バーチャ アスリート 2K Bācha Asurīto 2K), but for the North American and European releases we got the “2000” bit. Nice.
On Sega’s failed Dreamcast (the Japanese company’s final console, at present) there were a lot of arcadey type games. Such as Crazy Taxi and whatnot.
As a button bashing type of game, it’s best saved for play with your mates.
The Dreamcast had four controller ports, so (hang on… just got to work out the maths there…) that’s… that means four people could play the game at once.
And when it’s like that, it’s good fun. You go across the usual sort of olympic events, such as running as fast as possible in a straight line.
It’s simple stuff. You pick your player and then take your crack at the seven events.
Yes, that’s a Dreamcast title with just seven bloody events! What the bloody hell was Hitmaker thinking? How did it get away with that?
Well, it didn’t—reviews were distinctly mediocre at the time. They highlighted the title’s short length and unrealistic nature. Some of the events are over in seconds!
So we can’t remember why we ended up with this thing for our Dreamcast.
Probably so we could enjoy the multiplayer options with our mates. As this is a button bashing extravanganza—gamers have different theories for what works, such as rubbing your thumb aggressively over the buttons.
But, whatever, Virtua Athlete is too short and poorly put together to regard as anything but a hodgepodge of a rushed project.
1,500 Metres “Race”
Each time you play everything builds up to the seventh and final event—the showstopper. Or what appears to be a borderline game breaker for Virtua Athlete 2K.
Seriously, the physics on this one are incredible. When Hitmaker was making this thing, they thought it was all fine and dandy. Fabulous state of mind!
In the 1,500 metres you go rushing ahead, but have to monitor your power meter. When that runs low the other athletes catch up with you.
If you collide with any of them, you’ll bounce around like you’re on a billiard table. Sometimes that’s beneficial as you bounce forward, saving you time.
You can also get a “slipsteam” type thing in you glue onto the back of another runner, which drags you along at speed for a decent advantage.
The rest of the game is clunky and odd, but the 1,500 is absurd. And rubbish. The only reason we remember it so much is down to the wonky physics.
For a sports game trying to come across as realistic, this is the ridiculous nadir of a woefully inadequate title.
Almost 20 years on, it looks hilarious in its inadequacies. But despite that we did get some enjoyment from the game in mutiplayer mode.
But otherwise Virtua Athelete 2K/2000 and its daft take on running 1,500 is a lazy old time of it.