The Dreamcast will always hold a soft spot in my heart. It just had some of the most bat-shit crazy games I had ever seen. I mean, Seaman alone was at least ten times more bizarre than anything I had ever witnessed in a game before. It was also the first console that really delivered a workable online gaming experience. It also featured some of the best arcade ports on consoles we had ever seen, as well as some great exclusives.
With the Dreamcast’s 10th birthday coming up (birthday, not anniversary. Remember, it’s thinking), I thought I would feature its awesome and sometimes absurd game library on the second Obligatory Top Arbitrary Number List. The thing is, I’m terrified to proclaim any of these better than another. I also don’t want people yelling at me if I accidentally got my personal list of favorite games wrong.
Don’t worry, I’m not copping out. I’ll still number the games. I’m just going to use a coded numerical system, using periods and dashes. The order which the games appear on this list have nothing to do with their actual order in the list. With all that said, here are my top 7 Dreamcast games.
Number ..–: Sonic Adventure
I know that Sonic has taken a turn for the worse lately, but his first 3D venture into gaming was pretty awesome, unless you count Sonic 3D Blast as his first 3D venture into gaming. Sonic Adventure had visuals that were stunning at the time, and fast paced gameplay that always ran at 60 frames per second.
If the game had just had you blazing through all of the awesome Sonic levels, it would have been a classic. Of course, we also had to suffer through fishing levels with a mentally handicapped purple cat. Perhaps that should have been our first sign that there was trouble in Sonic’s future. I mean, there was a freaking fishing campaign in the game.
At the time I thought it was the coolest game ever. It doesn’t really hold up as well now, thanks in part to boring character campaigns that weren’t Sonic, the awkward world hub, and the fact that subsequent 3D Sonic games have left a bad taste for the whole thing in everyone’s mouths.
Number .-.: Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Now that this game is easily available to download, it’s sort of hard to appreciate how good the Dreamcast port of the game was. It was a great port of a great 2D fighter. MvC2 is the epitome of over-the-top fighting game action. Balance means nothing, and 200 hit combos are only a couple button clicks away.
It also had a ridiculous amount of characters. I mean, really, what fighting game needs 56 characters? MvC2 does, because it’s that awesome. Even then, they didn’t include Thor. How can you make a Marvel fighting game and not include Thor? You get Omega Red and Thanos in there, but not Thor? Boo!
That’s pretty much my only complaint. Besides that, MvC2 reeked of greatness. I still played it sporadically on my Dreamcast up to the game’s recent rerelease.
Number —: Phantasy Star Online
While not technically an MMO, Phantasy Star Online is still the closest I’ve come to having an enjoyable MMO experience on a console. It was essentially a Diablo style hack-and-slash, which allowed players to make a group of four adventures, who then fought all sort of evil baby chicks.
Going through the same campaigns multiple times in hopes of getting a sweet item drop was a large part of the appeal. I remember I had a double sided laser sword, Darth Maul style. There were also those adorable MAGs, which hovered behind your character, just waiting to unleash devastating dolphin attacks on your foes.
My character was a robot, and robots weren’t allowed to use magic in the game. One less thing to worry about, you know? I’m not sure exactly why robots aren’t allowed to use magic. They must still have robot segregation issues in PSO magic schools.
Number -.-.: Samba De Amigo
Remember when music games used to be quirky and silly? As much fun as Rock Band is, I kind of miss the old days of music games, back when they were made in Japan and featured way too many colors. Samba De Amigo was always my favorite.
My favorite songs were the wacky Sega songs you were able to download, which included the theme songs from Saturn games like Burning Rangers, NiGHTS, and Sonic R. I’m probably in a minority, but I love those weird poppy songs that Sega used to include in every game they made.
Number …: Rayman 2: The Great Escape
One of the best 3D platformers that doesn’t have the word Mario in it. Rayman 2 was a beautiful game, filled with a lot of fun characters and incredibly well designed platforming action. The game came out on a lot of different platforms, but I always considered the Dreamcast version to be the best. I mean, would you rather play a game on the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, or Dreamcast?
I miss Rayman. It’s kind of sad that he’s been kicked out of his own franchise. I’d love for a new 3D Rayman platforming game in the style of The Great Escape. Just stick with Rayman 2’s awesome gibberish speech.
Probably the finest 3D fighting game ever made. It’s so good, that the series today still pretty much plays like this 1999 classic. The game was noticeably easier to play than other 3D fighters, which meant I was actually able to get some of my non-gaming friends to play this one.
This game was also gorgeous. It was the one Dreamcast launch title that, better than any other, really showed what was not only possible with that system, but what that whole console generation was going to look like.
Also, Sophitia had boobies that jiggled.
Number .-.–: Jet Grind Radio
This game came out when the Tony Hawk franchise was incredibly hot, so it would have been easy to churn out another THPS clone. Instead, Jet Grind Radio was a bizarre game where your main objective was spraying graffiti and avoiding the oppressing cops. It was also one of the first cell shaded games, so the game looked unlike anything we had seen before.
This is really more of a platforming game than sports game. You jump from grind to grind, trying to get to some of the more out-of-reach tag spots. You were also able to design your own graffiti, which meant you were able to spray penises all over the game.
So that’s my list. I bet you were all shocked to see what was number one. It was a hard decision, but I stand by it. Now, please rush to the comments and tell me which games I forgot.
-Mike Minotti (still jobless, and I know I didn’t put Skies of Arcadia on the list)
See this post and more on my site: Give Mike Minotti A Gaming Journalism Job.