Folks who want a pet but can't handle real-life responsibility might want to check this out. Seaman is unlike any other video game I've ever played. In fact, it's hard to tell whether it's a game at all.
It's narrated by Leonard Nimoy, which makes it sound like an episode of In Search Of. The premise: you have discovered the diary of a French scientist who was obsessed with an ancient Egyptian creature known as Seaman -- half man, half fish, essentially. You follow his diary and create your own Seaman, beginning with an egg that grows into little tadpoles and eventually a full-blown Seaman.
This takes some work. Seaman needs to be cared for at least once a day. That involves feeding it, keeping the temperature at a proper level and making sure he has enough oxygen in his water. Forget about him and Seaman will die.
This doesn't sound like much more than an expensive Tamagochi. The real shocker is that it's interactive.
Through a microphone that you plug into your controller, you can talk to Seaman. Even more disturbing, it will talk back to you.
Seaman asks you questions and then remembers what you say, and eventually, full conversations with the fish man develop on your screen. It's like having a proper conversation with your cat rather than the childish gibberish you normally spew at it.
It isn't all nice and pleasant -- forget to feed him and Seaman will turn snarky and all but curse you out.
It is, however, oddly compelling. The game is ongoing, and only ends when you decide to pull the plug.
SEAMAN, for Sega Dreamcast, $70. Rating: NNN