Sega’s bizarre virtual pet goes portable
Coming out of Andriasang (via Nikkei News) is word that Nintendo is looking to bring Sega’s Dreamcast virtual pet “Seaman” to the Nintendo 3DS. According to the report, Seaman kicks off a larger effort of Nintendo’s to bring other publisher’s games to the 3DS in order to broaden the appeal of the handheld.
Seaman, if you don’t remember, was an… unorthodox virtual pet released for the Sega Dreamcast. The game came with a special microphone attachment that slotted in to a VMU port on the controller, allowing you to speak directly to your Seaman, and in some cases, hold rudimentary conversations. Seaman’s responses were often dry and sardonic, as he seemed to harbor some kind of instinctive lack of respect for human beings. The technology behind Seaman‘s speech system was actually fairly impressive for its time, as Seaman would frequently remember things it had been told and would reference them in future conversations. Like any virtual pet, Seaman had to be fed, his fish tank had to be maintained (both in temperature and cleanliness) and all actions happened in real-time – whenever the player would come back, Leonard Nimoy would summarize to the player what Seaman had been doing while the game was turned off.
If you’ve never seen Seaman in action, the easiest way to get a feel for what it was like is probably Maxwell Adams’ “Let’s Play” of the game with the Freelance Astronauts:
Though keep in mind that those videos contain some… “adult” language, so if you’re at work or school, or are otherwise sensitive to that kind of material, you’ve been warned.
Seaman seems like it would be a pretty good fit for the Nintendo 3DS, given the Dreamcast version was practically begging for some kind of mouse/pointer interface. The real question is whether or not Nintendo of America will see fit to bring the game overseas; despite its relative popularity in Japan, it struggled to catch on in America, and the Playstation 2-exclusive sequel, “Seaman 2: The Peking Man Rearing Kit” never saw release outside of the land of the rising sun. And, given that this port of Seaman is being developed at a newly-established Nintendo Japan studio, it’s not hard to imagine that the same American branch that neglected Mother 3 and initially ignored Xenoblade would turn a blind eye to translating this 3DS version of Seaman.
We’ll keep you posted should that change, however.