It's somewhat amazing what publishers are trying to get people to do with their consoles these days. First we had Eyetoy from Sony and more recently Donkey Konga from Nintendo, and both of these peripherals have actually managed to buck the trend of console additions not being a successful market. Until now however, it has been up to Sony to keep the Eyetoy going in terms of popularity but other publishers are beginning to jump on board including SEGA. Their first Eyetoy only game is Sega Superstars, a culmination of all their famous gaming characters thrown together to put together some truly fun and interesting mini games to play.
The game is made up of twelve mini games, the same number as the recently released Eyetoy Play 2 from Sony. As mentioned before the mini games are based around former SEGA titles and what Sonic Team have tried to do is move the gameplay from those games directly in to a format which can be controlled by the human body. In some games it works well, in others it can be a little frustrating, but overall the package is quite good. Below you will find a list of the games and our thoughts on each one then an overall conclusion to the game.
Sonic The Hedgehog
You can't have a game containing the superstars of SEGA's gaming stable without their stalemate character who really put them on the map. Sonic's appearance in this game uses an engine much like the Sonic Heroes one and basically the game's goals remains the same as the previous versions, collect the coins and the chaos emeralds in the fastest time possible. Where the game changes is how you control sonic, obviously with your hands. To control where sonic is running, you make an arc with your arms to guide him to rings, emeralds and to avoid the hazards on the course.
This is probably the least intuitive mini game available. Basically you have to jump up and down waving your arms to hail the taxi featured in the game but it seems to be quite hard to do so in comparison to the other games. This is one of the games that does not translate very well to being controlled by the body.
Nights Into Dreams
This mini game very much mimics the Super Monkey Ball mini game on offer but adds the challenge of altitude to controlling the character. In this game you have to fly through enough rings to defeat the boss who is holding your palace hostage. To do this you make various arcs with your hands together; both up is gain altitude, left up, right down and vice versa controls direction and both down is lower altitude. You can also make Nights speed up by holding arms directly up. There are visual indicators in the game to help you with this. Initially this game is quite tough, but once you get the hang of the movement its definitely one of the better games on offer in the package.
This mini game works quite well and manages to capture the Virtua Fighter world quite well. To play this, you have to block and punch three famous Virtua fighter characters. The game gives you prompts then a limited amount of time to block an attack or attack the enemy character. This game is relatively short however with only three characters (two notables; Sarah and Akira) to play before you are crowned the winner.
Samba De Amigo
Definitely one of the top two mini games featured on the disc. This is a rhythm game in the style of something like Dance Dance Revolution except with your hands. On the screen different buttons are featured and when balls pass through them you have to hit them with your hands in tune with the music. What really makes this game is the somewhat licensed tunes on offer such as La Bamba and Samba giving the game a real authentic edge in comparison to the other games on offer.
Super Monkey Ball
The Eyetoy continues the great tradition of this series being absolutely superb. This is truly a great version of Monkey ball and despite the fact it only contains three boards to complete, it shows great potential for what SEGA could do if they made a Monkey Ball game purely for the Eyetoy, something we'd like to see. Super Monkey Ball has converted to the human movement control almost perfectly and is by far the best game in this collection.
The House of the Dead
This is another great example of a game moving from controller to hand control well. The structure of the console games has allowed the developers to basically replace the gun with your hands and it works incredibly well. The game even contains boss fights towards the end of the level featured and this along with Monkey Ball shows that traditionally controlled games, could make a game for Eyetoy only and have a successful control scheme.
Space Channel 5
This game also works really well, but considering it was originally a rhythm game anyway that was to be expected. This works like the Samba De Amigo game except you have to replicate what the alien characters do first, to free some humans with Ulala the franchises main character. Again this shows a full Space Channel 5 Eyetoy game could work very well and is one of the better mini games on offer.
Chu Chu Rocket
This game is a disappointment given the quality of the rest of the game because its so basic. You have to get mice to a rocket so they can escape but really all your interaction consists of is waving your hand to keep a bridge open, and stopping to drop an enemy to its death.
Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg
Billy Hatcher is the most recent franchise featured in this game and is a bit of a disappointment as well. You move the egg left and right with your hands and have to defeat a number of enemies in a time limit before escaping through the goal gate. Not a highlight of the package.
Puyo Pop Fever
What we assume to be Puyo's fall from the ceiling of the screen and with any part of your body, you must guide them into one of four holes, depending on their colour. To add to the challenge, bombs often drop and lower your score if you guide one into a hole. The aim is to get the most Puyo's safely into their holes and right colour within a time limit. This one is fairly fun to play as it uses the whole body rather than just the hands.
It's unfortunate that SEGA has released this around the same time as Eyetoy Play 2, because it shows just how lacking in execution this particular mini game is. In the Eyetoy Play 2 soccer game you have different situations to take part in, Virtua Soccer drops a ball and tasks you to head it into the balloons for various points. You could of course use your hands, but then, that would be a red card, right mr referee? This game survives with a yellow card (warning), not the worst on the disc but by far not the best.
As well as these mini games, the Chao Garden is also included. Those who have played the Sonic games on GBA will have already encountered the Chao, which are SEGA's version of a tamagotchi. Once the Chao hatches in the game after rubbing the egg, you can buy him gifts to use with coins won in the various mini games and can play with him, and interact via the Eyetoy.
SEGA Superstars like other Eyetoy games is best played in a party situation or occasionally in a single player scenario. The inclusion of familiar characters is no doubt a bonus to the game and the way the developers have tried to move the gameplay from those games to a new medium was very ambitious and in some cases did not come off, but others like Samba De Amigo and Space Channel 5 can very easily be ported to a new control system. This is worth buying if you already have the Eyetoy, probably not if you haven't picked one up as yet.