501 Button Fly Genes
This unique, innovative title has the worst graphics of all the Dreamcast imports we have tested, yet easily the most depth.
In the RPG-esque Seventh Cross, you begin as an amoeba in a prehistoric pond. Eat a few other things (without getting eaten in the process) and a couple of evolutionary steps later, you look a bit like a primitive fish. Now the fun begins . . . sort of.
By killing and eating other creatures, you build up reserves of calcium, protien, fiber and other necessities that you can use for more calculated evolution. Simply swim over to the monolith of evolution (thank you Stanley Kubrik) and play genetic lotto.
This may be the most fun part of the game. You are given a palette of six colors and a grid on which to draw. Depending on what sorts of patterns you draw, you are awarded a new body part - head, torso, arms, or legs. If you have enough calcium and other essential nutrients (don't forget to eat your Wheaties), you can 'equip' your new body parts and climb the evolutionary ladder.
What should you draw to get these parts? Well, they don't really tell you. Geometric patterns and mirrored images seem to work well, though you'll have to be very creative if you want to see all the thousands of anatomical options available.
These new parts may also allow you to do new and interesting things. A new set of legs, for example, may allow you to swim faster, or even walk right out of that primordial pond and explore new areas where you can play eat-or-be-eaten with even more powerful critters. So you better have a new set of arms if you want to fight back.
Like most RPGs, certain parts work better when paired together. Do 'laser horse' legs work well with 'blade crab' arms and an 'electric mullosk' head? You'll have to find out for yourself.
The combat is akin to the real time/turn based mish mash of Final Fantasy 7. You can attack with your arms or cast spells to wipe out your enemy, though the balance here is pretty weak. It is always immediately apparent whether you are going to be the victor or the lunch.
The graphics, unfortunately, are pretty bland. While your body parts look good and move smoothly no matter what Mr. Potato Head setup you've combined them in, the environments are really boring. There are an amazingly low number of textures for the earth and rocks, which is about all you'll ever see in this game. Also, this is the only game on the DC we've that had significant slowdown. Fight more than one opponent and get ready for some serious slo-mo. This is very surprising considering the power of the machine that they had to work with.
The other problem with Seventh Cross is that it gets boring fast. You really only do two things during the entire game: eat and evolve. Sure, you have to kill something first if you want to eat it, but this really isn't much fun and the battles are never very close.
There are some great ideas in Seventh Cross, and a startling amount of depth in how you can design your donkey-fish-lizard. It's a shame that the rest of the game doesn't really measure up. This one probably won't ever make it to the U.S. However, if there is ever a Seventh Cross 2 (Eighth Cross?), I would be very interested to try it out. This one almost made it out of the pond.