Unique Games: Dot Stream

In the final days of the GameBoy Advance in 2006, a collection of contemporary games were released in Japan called the Bit Generations Series. It was a set of seven games sold individually at a budget price, are were packaged in a unique box that were smaller than the standard Japanese GBA game boxes. Out of the seven games, one really stands out, it’s called Dotstream; if you’re a retro game fan, you’ll easily notice how it has a similarity to the likes of the Tron light cycles, or Intellivision’s Snafu, but this game is different, it’s actually a racing game!

So, how does a game like Tron and Snafu become a racing game? Well, I’ll tell you. The idea of Dot Stream is that you play as a coloured dot that constantly moves forwards and can shift up and down to change lanes. You don’t actually control the acceleration of your dot using the buttons, to get faster you have to get close to the colour line that’s in first place to increase your dot’s speed. No dot can have the same space, it’s hard to describe, but there’s lanes, you just don’t see them in the pictures, but when you play the game you’ll know what I mean by this. Unlike Tron or Snafu, Dots and lines can cross, but as mentioned before, a dot can’t be in the same “lane” that’s been occupied by another line, your dot just gets automatically moved to the next nearest “lane”. As you climb your way up to first place, you have to take advantage of zippers, avoid obstacles and pay attention to any dots that are speeding up behind you from your trail. You have 3 lives in each race, or “Drawing” as it’s called in this game, as your dot draws a line of course, if you lose all 3 lives in a track, you forfeit your chance to earn any points in the Grand Prix.

In later levels you can pick up items in similar vein to Super Mario Kart, you pick them up and can activate them using the A button. There are three items, a Star, a playback symbol, and a diamond. The Star when activated will darken the playfield that makes a higher chance of you opponent racers to crash into walls and obstacles. Activating the playback symbol causes the screen to go inverted and pauses your fellow racers as you continue to move for an extra 3 seconds to reach first place. The Diamond adds a booster shown in the bottom left hand corner of the screen, these boosters can then be used by pressing the R Button, they act just like the mushroom in Mario Kart.

The Dotted area shown here will slow you down if you touch it
You must avoid these obstacles, or you will lose a life

There are a total of 5 Grand Prix’s. When you come first in any of the Grand Prix’s, you unlock a “Formation” game. This isn’t so much of a racing game, but more of an “Avoid-em-up”. The first Formation game you unlock is where you collect pink orbs to increase a power bar at the bottom of the screen and avoid any in coming obstacles. The power bar is made up of squares, and filling up a square will earn you a new dot and line. This is where it gets tricky because you’ll be game over if the new dot hits an obstacle. You can control the new line by holding the A button and pressing up and down on the Dpad, however the first dot will move too. So it turns into a a juggling act as you try to manage to pick up more orbs to collect new dots, but try not to hit anything at the same time either. It gets very tough once you get 4 dots on the screen at once!

Dot Stream on the GBA didn’t get a Western release, nor did the other Bit Generation games, although there was a trademark made by Nintendo of America called “Digiluxe” that was rumoured to be the Western version of the Bit Generations games. However with the demise of the GBA, the Bit Generation series did get it’s way onto the DSi and the Wii with the “Art Style” name. In-fact Dot Stream got it’s own “Art Style” game called “Light Trax” on WiiWare. Light Trax pretty much is the sequel to the GBA Dot Stream game, and incorporates different directions, 3D camera angles, and a “Cruise” mode whereby you “drive” your dot on a highway, and drive through exits to unlock new Grand Prix’s.

That’s not all though, there are clones of Dot Stream on Xbox Indie games, there’s Stream Line (Above) and Bit Stream (Below). These two games play A LOT like Dot Stream and Light Trax.

Nintendo Power-esque TIP!

There’s a pit stop in each level of the game, stop at one and you’ll receive 9 boosts! Just be aware that you’ll be stopped until you fill up with all 9 boosts.