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SEEMAN4-01.jpg (2421 bytes)

Due Summer 2000 for Dreamcast.

SEEMAN10-01.jpg (2748 bytes)Oooh, oooh, oooh! Upon seeing Seaman at E3 in 1999, I was reduced to such a gutteral response. Yes, this game looks amazingly cool, in fact, almost too cool to hit US shores. With over three times as many games released in Japan as in the US, just in general across all platforms, it was incredibly unlikely that such a quirky title like Seaman would make it here. Plus, last year Seaman spoke Japanese, which created something of a barrier for me and my limited vocabulary. Now, Seaman not only speaks English, but he’s getting ready to make a big splash in the States.

SEEMAN3-01.jpg (2236 bytes)Seaman is a virtual creature. I would say "virtual pet" but that isn’t entirely accurate. Upon loading the game for the first time, you are presented with an aquarium. You must get your light, temperature, and salt levels all set just right, and then a little egg will release some spores. Tap on the glass, and the spores will swim right to you. Lead them over to an innocent mollusk sharing the aquarium, and he’ll eat them. At this point, you may think you’ve lost the game, but au contraire, mon frere, you’ve just started the lifecycle of the Seaman. Within a short time, the mollusk will begin convulsing because it is being eaten away from inside by the little Seamen. Eventually several of the little buggers will burst forth, ready to start their new lives.

SEEMAN4-01.jpg (2421 bytes)Seaman comes with a microphone peripheral that plugs into the Dreamcast controller. The goal of the game is to raise the Seaman, hopefully getting him to evolve legs and take to land. Along the way he will chat with you via the microphone, and how well, or how poorly, you take care of him affects his development. With a vocabulary of over 10,000 words, Seaman can really hold conversations with you, and will even remember important dates like your mother’s birthday.

If raising a talking fish/man/thing doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, realize that Seaman has been culturally located for the US by Jellyvision, that wacky house that brings us the inimitable You Don’t Know Jack series. Now, it won’t be your virtual gameshow putting you down and making you feel stupid; it will be your virtual fish/man/thing making you wish you had a snappier comeback. The success of Seaman depends on how entertaining he can be, and the news that Sega has gone to Jellyvision is strong evidence that Seaman will be funny as hell. Plus, he sounds a lot like George Takai. Way cool.

Keep an eye out for Seaman to hit US Shores, sputtering and wailing, this summer.

 --Shawn Rider