Just a couple of weeks ago before writing this column, it was the birthday for one of my favorite consoles of all time — the Sega Dreamcast. We’ve built so many great memories with each other and with the continued support from independent developers we continue to create more til this day. But for today, I want to look back on the games that hold a special place in my heart with my top ten favorite games on the machine.
Jet Set Radio
Back in the day, Sega had several development teams churning out games for their Naomi arcade board and the Dreamcast. One of those teams was Smilebit and they graced us with this unforgettable gem. Not only did this game include a stellar soundtrack, but it also introduced us to some unique gameplay which had the player controller one of many members of a rollerblading, graffiti-tagging gang from Tokyo-To known as the GGs. However, the most memorable aspect of the game was the cel-shading technique used for the overall art style. I remember seeing an article for this in the Official Dreamcast Magazine and being blown away by the visuals — blown away so much that I imported a copy from Japan. This is one game that I continue to play on the system today and have purchased multiple times on various systems, but it’ll always feel perfect on the Dreamcast.
Samba De Amigo
I absolutely love musical games and Samba De Amigo is one of those games that I continue to revisit till this day. The game utilized a set of maracas that you’d shake high and low and pose to an impressive soundtrack and it might have been one of the first games to include downloadable content. This was one of those special games that you describe to someone that would only confuse them and then you’d have to have them experience it for a better understanding.
Phantasy Star Online
Back in the day, I dabbled with MMORPGs, but none worked very well on my Compaq Presario computer back in the early 2000s. Luckily, Sonic Team released this amazing online MMORPG with an emphasis on dungeon crawling that forced my mom to get a second phone line for our house. I remember all the late nights staying up late, tapping on my keyboard, and fighting Dark Falz with a group of friends. That game was an unforgettable experience and I haven’t experienced another game like it since.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2
If there’s one thing I could tell you about Capcom, it could be that they definitely loved the Sega Dreamcast. It could possibly be because most of their 2D fighters were developed for the Naomi arcade board, but Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was the pinnacle moment of fighters on the system. I would have put Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, but Marvel vs. Capcom 2 left such an amazing impression on me that I can never forget it. Come on, it boasted over 50 characters with a three v. three tag-team system and it included one of the greatest jazz soundtracks for a fighting game. “I Wanna Take You For A Ride” should have been nominated for a Grammy award.
Skies of Arcadia
I love the Dreamcast, but one of my gripes with the system is that it didn’t have a lot of role playing games. Sure, we had a couple of them here and there, but outside of Grandia 2, most were completely mediocre — that is until Skies of Arcadia was released. You embarked on a wonderful journey with two sky pirates named Vyse and Aika on a wondrous journey to stop the Valuan Empire from resurrecting ancient weapons that could potentially destroy the world. If there is one series that deserves a sequel it’s this game. With an amazing cast, solid battle system, engaging story, and beautiful soundtrack, this game definitely deserves some of your time.
Sonic Adventure 2
When I was 16, I was extremely excited about this game and luckily, I got it super early because Media Play broke the release date and sold it four days before the release date. The first Sonic Adventure was good, but the sequel took it to all new heights. Eggman was now playable, you could choose which side you wanted to be on, and Shadow was shrouded in mystery. Not only that, but the graphics had improved, the gameplay was top-notch at the time, and best of all, there was no Big the Cat (outside of certain cutscenes). Sonic Adventure 2 always brings back great memories, so that’s why it definitely makes it onto my list.
When the Dreamcast was released, it had a handful of games and only a few were must haves for the system. Power Stone was one of those must-haves and it definitely did not disappoint. At the time, Power Stone provided something totally fresh to the fighting game genre by adding the ability to move through 3D environment and use weapons along with your fists. Not only that, but you had the ability to transform into a more powerful version of yourself by collecting the Power Stones, which added a ton of chaos to the battle. This was one game that kept my friends and I up late playing until the sun came up.
The Typing of the Dead
I’m just going to go ahead and assume that you’ve played The House of the Dead either on a home console or at a Dave and Busters. Well, The Typing of the Dead does exactly what the arcade hit does and adds a typing keyboard to the mix. At the time, it was unheard of and it definitely showed how unique Sega games were at the time. Not only were you taking down zombies, but you’re improving your words per minute with each shot that you took. It was definitely a fun and fresh spin on the arcade classic and it definitely deserves a play today.
Rez was something incredible that could hardly be described, but I’ll try my best to do it. It’s an on-rails shooter that builds music as you advance through the visually gorgeous minimalistic stages. As you fired off a shot, each explosion went off to the beat perfectly and had you vibing to the brilliance on the screen. It’s no surprise that Rez has been re-released on multiple consoles, including PlayStation VR. I don’t care how you obtain the game, whether it be the Dreamcast, Playstation 2, or even the Xbox 360, just get it, play it, and love it.
The Dreamcast died young, but it did get a treasure (see what I did there) trove of fantastic games from every genre, include vertical shoot em’ ups. You had Giga Wing 2, Mars Matrix, Trigger Heart Excelica, and more. However, the quintessential shmup on the console would have to be the Treasure developed Ikaruga. The great thing about Ikaruga is it tests your reflexes, memory, and strategic skills by constantly having you change the color of your shift to absorb bullets and increase your combos. It’s an intense game that take a lot of time to master, but in the end it’s definitely worth the time that you invest.