It's been a slow month for games. In a desperate effort to entertain
myself without having to move around too much or talk to anyone, I bought Seaman for the
Sega Dreamcast. Seaman is the newest entry in the proud Japanese tradition of
software that simulates having a friend. It's kind of a sad testament to something
that the rich fantasy lives of gamers have devolved from pretending to be Conan to
desperately pretending that someone likes you. The tricky part of Seaman is that
Seaman doesn't even like you. At one point I realized that I was sitting in the
dark, alone, in my underwear, speaking into my Dreamcast controller and pleading with the
television to be my friend. This is what Alcoholics Anonymous calls the "Moment
of Clarity": If I've ever sunk any lower, I luckily can't remember it.
As the Simon Wiesenthal Center has said about the movie Cannibal
Holocaust, "Never Again". I decided that none of our readers should have
to pay Sega for the privilege of talking to their televisions. It took me about
twenty minutes to steal some Seaman screenshots and a copy of Eliza, and then use them to create my own
completely adequate Seaman simulator, which I call Virtua Seaman. The real game is
narrated by "Three Men and a Baby" director Leonard Nimoy. I've
hand-programmed in assembly language a substitute narrator called Counselor Virtua Leonard
Nimoy. As with the counselor character that appears in all of my previous games, you might not
always understand what Counselor Virtua Leonard Nimoy is saying, but think harder!
He knows a lot about the eerie undersea outer-space world of Virtua Seaman.
Other than that, Virtua Seaman pretty much captures the full Seaman
experience. I cut out the real game's boring "egg-raising" phase, so that
you can jump right in to the relatively exciting "talking to Virtua Seaman"
phase. Tell Virtua Seaman about your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your family -
anything that's important to you. Make sure you tell him your name.
The game does have a goal, which will be revealed at a later date by a famous
Internet celebrity. If you become frightened by Virtua Seaman, you can turn up the
temperature in the tank and kill him.
experience in our Virtua Seaman forum