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Name: Seaman - Part 1
Type: SIM
Company: Vivarium
Release date: 2000
Reviewed by: KurenaiJiku

Whether you've heard of Seaman before or not, you're probably going to be somewhat interested in it one way or another after I'm done with this "pre-review". Since Seaman isn't really a game at all, I've made an exception upon writing an actual standardized review due to the uncharacteristic nature of it's genre. It's in nowhere near your typical game; it's exactly like Tamagotchi at first thought, and at first glance. Though it gets quite strange through the progress of the game. Although I have yet to reach anywhere near a mature Seaman, I can at least say Seaman has definitely got my attention.

Unlike most games, you don't have a goal in Seaman. Well maybe one, and that's to keep him alive but from what I've seen; it's pretty easy. When you first crack open a Seaman game package, you'll first notice that it comes with a microphone which plugs into your Dreamcast controller. It's pretty nifty as it looks like a big green nip of a thing strikingly resembling something similar of a clown nose. This jabs into the second slot of your first DC controller. So your first thought is that Seaman has something to do with sound and the input of sound; and that's exactly what Seaman is about. Throughout the progress of the "game" (we'll just call it that for the sake of this review), you'll see Seaman grow and mature into a grotesque fish/man hybrid that will probably scare the living crap out of you in your first encounter. During the maturation process, it's up to you to talk to seaman via the microphone. Of course, he won't be talking to you the instant he starts to grow.

When you load the game, you'll hear the infamous Star Trek Vulcan speaking; Leonard Nimoy, who will give his introduction of Seaman, and hints of how to start off. After that, an empty and very dirty aquarium appears on the screen. The guys at IGN weren't kidding when you first see this; you'll be wondering; "gee, this is boring." As told by Nimoy, you'll grab an egg from another screen and drop it into the tank; nothing happens as it sinks nearer to the bottom of the tank. So you wait for say a good hour or so, watching this egg bob up and down. Sooner or later, it'll burst open into a plentiful of tadpole like creatures. (hentai guys, don't get any ideas here) Then for an even longer time, you'll watch these things swim around the tank and...swim around the tank. As real life is, growing takes time. Thankfully, you can save your game and turn off your DC to go do something else. The game runs on the clock on the DC, so as time passes, so does the clock. Next time you load up your game, it will check the DC clock for progression of time and calculate what's the next thing on the menu to happen in Seaman.

Not spoiling too much; eventually, the tadpoles will change into little "gillmen" creatures which don't really do anything but spit out baby gurgle at you when you try to speak to them. It almost sounds like they are saying actual words but backwards. At this point of the game, I couldn't help but tickle them (yes you can tickle your Seaman) because the baby-ish voices were so darn cute. Uhm anyways, skipping ahead...

The gillmen will then start to develop very simple communication abilities. A lot like real babies, they'll spit out one word phrases and giving you hints of what they need or want. You'll either have to try to communicate with them with your own one word phrases or the what not. After this stage, they'll develop into more mature, sentence spitting gillmen which look a lot like salmon with ugly mugs slapped onto their faces. This is where some of the interaction pops in and is where I am currently in the game. Right now, the most I can communicate to them is "how are you doing", "what are you doing", "hungry?", "shut up", "laters", "bye", "what's up", and "playstation". (the gillmen do not know what playstation is or rather is avoiding the question) They don't respond to much of what I say. Heck, they don't even respond to "dreamcast", or anything more complex than what you would find on the first page of a Japanese translation dictionary.

Currently, I'm pretty unimpressed by the complexity of interaction with my gillmen or my Seaman game. I was expecting a lot more. But because he's only in the gillman stage, and I haven't been spending much time with him; I have yet to put my foot down on that opinion just yet. As heard and read before, the Seaman is capable of complex or somewhat indepth conversation. Right now, all I can do is say one word phrases to the game, and wait and see if it could respond to it. The most interaction right now is presented by the gillmen themselves. So far, I have given one of them a name (Diablo), he knows how old I am, what my occupation is, when my birthday is, whether I go to school or not, and a couple of other things as well.

The voice recognition isn't that great, nor is it that terrible. As I've tested the ability to recognize slurred words and some slang, it isn't that bad at all. Of course if you're talking rapper-style isn't not going to know what the heck you're talking about. The game does recommend that you talk to it in a slow and concise manner. But not so slow as "", but rather just a bit more clearer than what you would do with your friends. i.e. "how're ya doin'". I think as the game and your Seaman mature it will be able to recognize more slang and slurred words directed towards it. I'm still pretty early in my Seaman, so this review is more of my first impressions rather than my final opinionstic statement against it.

The graphics definitely are not something to look at, as they are pretty bland. However, Seaman is not about the graphics, but the interactivity with your Seaman. If you've read up to this point, you must be wondering how much interactivity can Seaman give you within one session. I would say it depends, but it usually averages at 10 minutes at any one time. Anymore than that amount of time, Seaman will either tell you to get lost (no really, he does that), ignore you, or you can't really do anything to progress the evolution of his intelligence anymore. Seaman isn't really one of those games where you sit down and play all nighters much like an engrossing story game, RPG, or insanely hard action game would. Seaman requires a little bit of time each day for him to progress and mature, kind of like a real pet. It doesn't really require a lot of time as mentioned before, it only takes about 10 to 20 minutes of your time each day. So if you can't wait for the second part of my review where I talk about more interaction and indepth relations (don't get funny ideas) with Seaman, then you can pick up Seaman and try it for yourself. That's if you've got the extra cash. If not, you can wait for my second part of the review.
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