One of the reasons that older gamers mourned the loss of the Dreamcast was that it signaled the demise of arcade gaming culture … Sega’s console gave hope that things were not about to change for the worse and that the tenets of fast fun and bright, attractive graphics were not about to sink into a brown and green bog of realistic war games.
-1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die, Duncan Harris
Hello, NPCs! Today’s list is the stuff that dreams are made of.
I recall quite vividly that there were a few consoles on our list of 30 that I simply could not find participants for. Among these was the Sega Dreamcast. In fact, it was the second to last console to find a taker and I was beginning to think about swapping it out for something else, despite being loath to do so due to the system’s importance, impact, and fanbase.
Fortune eventually smiled upon me, as it has my entire life, in the form of a new friend: Edwin Velez of Player2Reviews.com and @EdSaysBaby! I don’t know much about Edwin beyond a sampling of writing, but I do know that being enthused to help and following through on commitments are great character virtues. It is therefore my delight to welcome this writer’s top 7 best Dreamcast games to TWRM! Voila~
-The Well-Red Mage
One Last Hoorah
Sega’s grand finale in the console market was none other than the beloved Dreamcast. A personal favorite of mine, the Dreamcast launched on 9/9/99, with tons of hype swirling around it. After the misfire that was the Sega Saturn, this was a big gamble for Sega as a whole. Sadly, after low sales troubled the company, largely in part to the massive success of the PS2, Sega’s footing in the console market was given up just two years into the Dreamcast’s life.
Okay enough of that sad, sad story. The Dreamcast is a damn fine piece of technology, one that features an odd but unique memory card, a whole slew of classic titles, and all the charisma of Sega as a whole crammed into a clean but modern looking console. As part of The Well-Red Mage’s efforts to deliver results on the best 7 games for 30 different consoles in June, I am here to take you on my nostalgia filled trip through memory lane. Be warned though, you may see some notable absences! Trust me, I know there is a lot to pick from, and there are games I have never gotten around to, but these are MY top 7, ones that stick out so fondly that it feels like a punch to the gut when I remember that they are all from a time before I was even a teen (and carried through those years too).
#7. Evolution – The World of Sacred Device
Every generation has at least one luke-warmly received title that I can’t get enough of. This is coming from someone who genuinely enjoyed the Splatterhouse reboot on Xbox 360. On the Dreamcast, this title was Evolution – The World of Sacred Device, though at the time I had no idea about its critical reception. I played it years later, when I bought my own Dreamcast out of longing for the one that stayed with my dad down in Florida year round. It came bundled with Shenmue and Evolution, and I more than got my monies worth on both accounts. At the time, I hadn’t had much experience with dungeon crawlers, and this was a great way to get my feet wet so to speak. I have yet to beat it, but that does not take away from the great times I had grinding it out fight after fight. Though it may not be the best RPG of all time, it was a great stepping stone that lead to me trying out titles like Wild Arms and Final Fantasy X-2 on my PS2, and for that, I am grateful.
#6. Virtua Fighter 3
Every good collection has a fighting game or two. While the market has increasingly diverse competition, around the early 2000’s the key fighters in my vocabulary were Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Virtua Fighter. Coming up primarily playing on Sega Consoles, Virtua Fighter was a must have series. Jacky is and always will be my primary fighter, but I loved the entire cast of fighters. Whether it was heavy hitters like Wolf and Jeffry, speedsters like Kage and Pai, or classics like Sarah and Akira, there was a well-rounded choice of fighters in the third entry. And as always, the ever intimidating and mysterious Dural waited for you at the end of every arcade attempt waiting to pummel you. But Lion, Lion can suck it. Anyways, it was a huge graphical update for the console entries on the series, making the original on Sega Saturn look decades old. It played well, and was always a great option for some multiplayer action. The series has yet to make a return on current gen, and with everything from Dead or Alive, Street Fighter, MK, and Soul Caliber doing so, I for one am still ever hopeful for VF to make an eccentric comeback.
#5. Sega Marine Fishing
Fishing games, well the arcade style ones anyways, have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. On Dreamcast, you could either go with Sega Bass Fishing or Sega Marine Fishing for the first party side of things. While both are great, the latter has my heart. While the base gameplay, including locations, modes, and fish types, was varied and fun, this particular title ramped it up a notch by making the experience one finely tuned for the collective types. Players had their own aquariums where, upon earning a sort of “trading card”, you could house different fish that you caught, decorations, and more. The game even included legendary fish that you could catch in the open, and tout in your aquarium. Dad, if you read this, I will never forgive you for deleting my file with the metallic swordfish that I caught.
#4. Crazy Taxi
Who knew maintaining a job could be so damn fun? Crazy Taxi is a simple premise, one that desperately needs a budget-friendly revival. Pick from a small cast of wacky, every-day earners that have one goal in mind: get as many fares in a limited amount of time. Though simple in scope, the game is a pure rush each and every time. Challenge yourself or others and you are bound to have a good time chasing fares, plowing through traffic, and flying through the sky. The more dangerously and quickly you drive, the more you earn. On Dreamcast, this was yet another fantastic way to bring the arcade into your home.
#3. House of the Dead 2
The original House of the Dead was a huge staple in my gaming experiences at the arcade, as well as on my Sega Saturn. Naturally, its follow up would become a staple as well, with improved graphics, new bosses, setting, and characters following suit. With a variety of routes on each level, high scores to be earned, boss attacks, light guns, and of course two player action, House of the Dead 2 offered a lot to do for a seemingly repetitive structure. While hard to beat in my opinion, it just added to the overall package. Making it even close to the end was a reward in itself, and playing with the light guns made the arcade experience come home. Aim for the head, or you too will wind up dead.
#2. Sonic Adventure
Ah, Sonic. He is iconic in my, and many other eyes, for a variety of reasons. Though in recent years his titles have stuttered (not talking Mania, which is great), that was not always the case. Once Sega left the console market, the titles seemed to slowly grow more tired. In my opinion, Sonic Adventure is one of the best titles to ever come out of the series. While it may not have aged well, not many games from the era have. Translating Sonic’s recognizable gameplay into a 3D open world was no easy, or easily controlling feat, but it was done. With an open world to explore and travel, many familiar characters, and a brooding apocalyptic event, this aimed to be the biggest and boldest entry to date. And it was. The game featured MULTIPLE story lines that allowed you to play as other characters outside of Sonic, each with their own unique stories and gameplay styles. This meant its value climbed for kids like me who wanted to play the heck out of it. To top it off, the game took amazing advantage of the Dreamcast’s unique memory card, allowing you to carry a Chao (a creature in the game you would raise and care for) with you on your memory card and play a Tamagotchi style game on the go. With tons to do and all the Sonic style you could want, Sonic Adventure was one of the best in the blue blur’s historic career.
It’s hard NOT to consider Shenmue for this list, or any “Best Games of All Time” list. It is solidified as one of the most innovative titles of all time, and for good reason. It has a great story, one that can be expressively played at your own pace. Players take control of Ryo, who is on the hunt to determine who killed his father and why. Though that matter does sound pressing, Shenmue is one of the finest examples of how to give players freedom through side activities and mini-games. While your main quest is always on the forefront of Ryo’s mind, there are other things to engage in like work, talking to the community, and of course hitting the local arcade. These side games consumed so much of my time, and I was amazing how it was handled. Each day granted Ryo a limited amount of time to explore, with night time forcing you to head home. But each morning, you were granted an allowance, which was used to buy collectible toys, food for the local stray cat, and play those arcade games. If you ran out of funds you could always play on your Sega Saturn at home. Though the fighting was hard to learn, it was all part of the experience, and Ryo learned as you did. This game is a moving experience, one that has sat well with me for a long time. When the credits rolled, I was stunned that I could not turn back and keep on living day to day. If you have not played this absolute classic yet, and are currently on PS4 or Xbox One, I implore you to do so come its re-release.
Well there you have it. Trust me, I know some pretty damn popular titles are missing from my list, but sadly that means they were most likely missing from my childhood too. This did not stop the Dreamcast from being one of the most beloved aspects of my gaming life, and I still had loads and loads of fun with both first and third party titles on the system. Thanks for taking the time to check out my list, and I hope you enjoy everything before and after my entry for TWRM’s month-long console challenge!