Berserk Millennium Falcon Arc: Chapter of the Flowers of Oblivion (ベルセルク 千年帝国の鷹篇 喪失花の章)

The holidays seasons are upon us once again and our favourite white box of tricks has given us some great Christmas titles over the years, from the jolly decorations in Sonic Adventure to the festively decked out stages of Blue Stinger, but today I thought we'd take a look at another title that is less remembered as a Christmas title for the Dreamcast,  Berserk Millennium Falcon Arc: Chapter of the Flowers of Oblivion. 

The Japanese version of Beserk is one of the few games to come with a black case as standard

Berserk was developed by Yuke’s Co. Ltd and published in Japan by ASCII Corporation more known for their awesome Dreamcast peripherals than exemplary gaming experiences, way back on December 16, 1999. The December season is also a popular time for game releases in Japan, not necessarily due to Christmas, but because Japanese children receive presents and (mostly) cold hard cash from their relatives on New Years day to splurge on video games and Beserk was a hugely popular manga in its homeland.

For those of you not familiar with the background to this story, the main protagonist hilariously named "Guts",  has pretty much the worst childhood with his mum dying when he was young his stepfather pimping him out for sex, and the actual manga starts with poor old Guts getting raped by group of burly men! Talk about a tough upbringing.

The Japanese version also came with a limited edition sticker sheet

As the game begins, Guts saves a random group of travelling performers from some bizarre plants with monsters called "Mandragora". These monsters have a habit of possessing people and causing them to turn into zombies and attack their loved ones, and the lord of the town, the hilariously named Ballsack (or Balzack in English), approaches Guts with an offer to track down and seize the heart of the Mandragora, and in exchange he'll try to create a cure for our terminally ill-girlfriend, Casca.  So, off we go on our adventure. 

Ascii  gave the Dreamcast some quite stellar support

The game is a typical Hack-n-Slash title, chop the enemy to bits, and try not to get chopped up yourself. As such, considering fighting is the only thing you do in the entire game, you’d be forgiven for thinking that developer Yuke's would have at least made sure they got the foundations with the combat sorted. Sadly, it’s plagued with problems that lead to a lot of frustration. You’ll often find yourself surrounded by foes, and while it's fun to see huge pools of blood flying out from your enemies at first, cutting through them gets pretty boring after a while. A lock-on feature would have been appreciated here as often you find yourself slicing at thin-air, and the combat controls are not the best. A couple of the bosses show some degree of intelligence, with variable attack patterns making them tricky to read, but overall the gameplay revolves around repeatedly basing of the action button. 

Visually the game still looks solid with chunk graphics

You also have a limited supply of items that you can access by pressing the right trigger button and any of the corresponding four collared controller buttons. The items you can use are grenades, a small gun, health refills, and throwing knives. While these items are extremely limited, you can find them in the many boxes and barrels placed around the game environments. The game also offers some branching paths depending on how you perform during some of the game's QTEs, but overall, I felt that compared to other Dreamcast titles of the same genre that Beserk seems to lack any kind of uniqueness or redeeming elements. Dynamite Cop had its slap-stick and over the top gameplay, Zombie Revenge had HOTD 2 references and of course, "BOOOLETTS", and Fighting Force 2 had.....no actually that game was pretty average too.

Enemies crouch around every corner for endless beatings

Playing Beserk again after all these years it was clear that it was no great loss to the overall gaming community that the game never saw life beyond its Dreamcast release. It’s extremely short, highly basic and offers little more than an hour’s worth of jabbing the action button. It's rudimentary stuff and it came at a time when games had started to evolve at great speed, and countless other superior titles of the time serve to highlight just how poorly this title utilised the Dreamcast hardware.

Despite its fantastic Japanese title which would win you a game of scrabble five times over (Berserk Millennium Falcon Arc: Chapter of the Flowers of Oblivion), this title isn't really one I can recommend unless you're really into the manga; overall a bit of a turkey.

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