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|Programmer(s)||Arka Roy |
Microsoft Windows (cancelled)
Nintendo 3DS (cancelled)
The game was released multiple times including a limited edition version titled Christmas Seaman that was released in Japan in 1999, alongside a limited edition red Dreamcast and a PlayStation 2 version in 2001, titled Seaman: Kindan no Pet - Gaze Hakushi no Jikken Shima the first edition of which came with a microphone. A PC version for Microsoft Windows was planned, with the Seaman being able to interact with the user's applications. No release date was specified, and it was later canceled.
A sequel called Seaman 2 was released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 in 2007.
The "Seaman" is a form of freshwater fish (the color and shape of the fins suggest that it is a Carp) with a very lifelike human face. It possesses human mannerisms and behavior with which the player interacts.
Seaman is considered a unique video game in that it presents limited action. The player's role is to feed and care for Seaman while providing him with the company that he needs. In fact, the player is required to check on the Seaman every day of real-time, or he could die. A portion of Seaman's knowledge is random trivia. When he asks what the player's birthday is (and the player responds via the microphone input), Seaman will then share significant events that happened on that date.
The player is provided with an unhatched Seaman egg at the beginning of the game and through various terms of development and conditions develops and interacts with it. By using various buttons on the Dreamcast controller, the player controls all of the machinery and physical contact with the mysterious creature. The player is also provided with multiple Seamen for breeding and interaction purposes. Over the course of the game, it is required of the player to evolve their Seaman to different stages in its life cycle, eventually transforming into a frog-like creature outlined on the Disc's cover.
In the Seaman's first days of life, it begins as a Mushroomer, a form consisting of a well-developed optic organ and a flagellum, lacking a face or any verbal means of communication. In this form, it is essentially a parasite, which overruns a host Nautilus via being eaten and consumes it from the inside out for nourishment. Mushroomers tend to stick to one side of the tank by the ends of their flagellum if left alone. In this stage, the player's interaction is somewhat minimal and plays similar to a tutorial, allowing the player to learn to control the heat in the fish tank, direct the Mushroomers, and clean out any filthy water that has accumulated over time. In the fish tank, a cephalopod which is a nautilus swims around and eats the mushroomers. Later in the game, the nautilus began squirting ink and takes off its shell. Then it squirms in agonizing pain. In the end, the seaman pops out of the nautilus and it dies.
After emerging from the deceased body of the Nautilus, the organism enters a stage called the Gillman, which features a humanoid face and small, fish-like body. During this stage, the Seaman becomes capable of speech but can only speak in gibberish copying and reiterating comments through microphone input. At this stage, the player will begin the communication process and continue facilitating the aquarium as the Gillman grows larger, developing scales and a larger vocabulary. Just as the Gillman matured and can speak a little bit, they soon kill one another until only two remain. Their genders are indeterminate, however. When they get to a certain point, you can name one of them, and it will change its color and gender.
In this stage, the Seaman is still fish-like in appearance and is similar to that of the Gillman but has frog-like legs. After mating, the male Podfish dies.
The aquarium is also transformed into a terrarium, being drained of most of the water and introducing land and oxygen to breathe, the female then lays eggs on the shore. Shortly after the deposit of the eggs, the female also dies, leaving the player with the hatching of a new evolutionary stage.
Instead of the introduction of new, Mushroomers like the player began the game with, the player is provided with a new form called Tadmen. They look like the baby Gillman but they have tadpole tails, tadpole bodies, but they still have a deep voice from their parents. When they get older their bodies get bigger and small legs and arms begin to form. The Tadmen's diet consists of feeding upon their fellow siblings until the number is reduced to two. When this happens, the siblings will climb ashore and walk on land became known as the frogman.
This is the Seaman's final stage of its maturity process. It has now become an amphibious creature, with its humanoid face and a frog's body. Now able to co-exist between the habitats of water and dry land, the Frogman is now capable of powerful leaps and the consumption of insectoid organisms; however, like the real-world frog, the creature still requires the moisture of water to stay alive and the player is now provided with a sprinkler system to achieve this. It is also at this stage where the player releases the seaman into the wild. While anything concerning metamorphosis and reproduction is left to speculation while the Frogmen are in the wild, it can be assumed the Seaman will eventually lay Mushroomer eggs and start the cycle over.
Development and release
Seaman is one of the few Dreamcast games to take advantage of the microphone attachment. The narration is voiced by Toshiyuki Hosokawa in the original Japanese-language version and by Leonard Nimoy in the English-language version. The face of the Seaman creature is modeled after game's producer, Yoot Saito.
Seaman was developed by Vivarium. It was conceived and designed by Yoot Saito. Saito originally came up with the concept of a joke when one of his coworkers was creating a tropical fish simulator. When Saito informed the concept to his wife, she supported the idea despite considering it gross and strange. Saito also shared the concept with Shigeru Miyamoto who also liked the concept and was credited as someone important to the development of the game. Seaman was intended to be developed for the Nintendo 64DD, but was instead made for the Dreamcast. The decision to develop the game for the Dreamcast was when he was introduced to the vice president of Sega, Shoichiro Irimajiri and thought it was interesting to become a market leader for the console. The prototype was initially developed on a Mac computer and spent a year and a half converting it into a Dreamcast game. Near completion of the game, test players attempted to use long sentences to play the game. This caused the Seaman creature to say "Can you say that again?" repeatedly. To fix the issue, Yoot Saito changed the phrasing to say, "You talk too long, I don’t understand" in order to inform players they need to use shorter and simpler sentences to interact with the Seaman creature.
Localization was handled by Sega of America and spent a total of nine months, where multiple changes to comments were made regarding sex, politics, and slang based on cultural differences. In the Japanese version, the in-game Seaman creature would make comments based on the player's content saved on their memory card but this feature was removed in the English version due to privacy concerns. The creature's personality was different from the English version being more casual and negative.
A limited-edition titled Christmas Seaman was released in Japan on December 16, 1999 alongside an exclusive red Dreamcast. In 2001, Seaman was re-released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 as Seaman: Kindan no Pet - Gaze Hakushi no Jikken Shima[b], the first edition of which came with a microphone. A PC version for Microsoft Windows was planned, with the Seaman being able to interact with the user's applications. No release date was specified, and it was later canceled.
In Japan, the Dreamcast version of Seaman sold 399,342 copies as of February 1, 2004, making it the third best-selling Dreamcast game in the region at the time. The PlayStation 2 version of the game sold 305,632 in Japan as of November 2, 2008. It received an Excellence Award for Interactive Art at the 1999 Japan Media Arts Festival and received the Original Game Character of the Year award at GDC 2002. In 2008, Game Informer named the game one of the top ten weirdest of all time.
Greg Orlando reviewed the Dreamcast version of the game for Next Generation praised the game stating, "The gentle art of conversation meets Resident Evil - and the Dreamcast gets its most bizarre title ever."
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