Real Talk By: The Wizard
Ask any retro gamer, and all but the most hardcore Nintendo fanboy will agree, the Sega Dreamcast was a great system. A lot of people will claim the only reason the Dreamcast is so great is due to the fact that it is incredibly easy to burn and play illegal game discs and emulators on. Don’t fall victim to their lie! The Sega Dreamcast was a system with a very diverse genre of titles to choose from. It has great fighting games, platformers, RPG’s, SHMUPS, racing games, and so much more. It even has some very original titles that break the typical genre stereotypes, and set out to create genre of its own. The Dreamcast was also the first console to have DLC and online support, and let’s not forget about the memory cards. The VMU’s as they are called were the first, and only to my knowledge, memory cards to feature a built-in LCD screen to play games on. There were a lot of great games to play on the VMU’s if you took the time to discover them. All of these things add up to one pretty awesome box that still holds its own today.
So what better way to celebrate one of the best gaming consoles of all time than to do a top 10 Sega Dreamcast list! Before we get started it is first necessary to understand what goes into a top 10 list. There are certain guidelines I must follow.
First and foremost – This is my personal list. I’m not some dude who is going to sugar coat the console, and list all the great games that I think you want to see. There will be no titles picked solely for the reason of nostalgia. Being a retro gamer and collector, I take the utmost precautions to put those thoughts aside and seek out the best versions of a specific title of game. So don’t be surprised if your favorite isn’t on the list. This is my list, and I have taken great care and consideration choosing the titles I feel are the best.
Second – When dealing with a console like the Dreamcast that is getting older, you have to consider that a lot of the great titles have been remade and now have better versions. Some games you will not see on this list because there is a better remake, and some games may have a remake and they will be on the list. This is because I feel that the Dreamcast version is still king. I will provide a list at the end of the top 10 that would have made the list if not for awesome remakes, and a list of titles that came close to making the top 10. There is far too much great stuff on the Dreamcast to confine it to 10 great games. There are at least 30 in all reality.
Third – Regarding number 2. I cannot in my right mind recommend titles that have better remakes. The reason for this is that the majority of people who read this are retro gamers, and they are most likely looking to discover new titles and want the very best versions. I will not waste people’s time and money to hunt down some amazing title like Ikaruga, when there is a vastly superior HD Remake on Xbox 360 marketplace and on Steam on PC. I want you to reminisce some good ol’ exclusive Dreamcast goodness that deserves to be on the list, and discover some great games you may have missed. There should be no need for searching various ports of titles online to make sure the Dreamcast version is the best. The games I have selected on this top 10 that have other ports are widely considered by the retro gaming community to be the absolute best versions. If there is any question whether a title is the best, I will let you know so you can decide for yourself.
Fourth and Final – The games chosen must stand the test of time! Meaning they must still be as fun today as they were back in the day.
After that long-winded introduction, let’s get on with the list!
Our first title to make the top 10 is a bit of an oddity. Lack of Love for the Sega Dreamcast. This is one of those games that cannot be defined to a single genre. It is sort of a simulation about terraforming where you control an alien and use various abilities to form relationships with other aliens. There is no set path in this game, no HUD, and no Japanese required. In fact there is no text, which makes this a perfect candidate to import from Japan. So go pick this one up and go pee on some aliens to make friends!
9. Dynamite Cop
Good ol’ Dynamite Cop. This is one of the staples of every Dreamcast collection. If you are familiar with the awesome Sega Saturn Die Hard Arcade, then let it be known this is part 2. In fact the title of this game in Japan is Dynamite Deka 2. The Sega Saturn game was just a cheap ploy by someone to cash in on the Die Hard movie franchise. It was actually Dynamite Deka part 1. Dynamite Cop is a side scroll 3-D beat em’ up. There are a lot of fun weapons to pick up, fast paced action that never stops, and it is insanely fun with a friend in 2 player co-op. I highly recommend.
8. Border Down
Border Down makes number 8 on the list. It is a very fun horizontal SHMUP created by the awesome G. Rev who also made Under Defeat, and helped with 2 of my all-time favorites Ikaruga, and Gradius V. There’s really not much to say here except this game is boss. Odds are if you are a hard-core fan, you have played this one. If not you need to pick up this title because it is a must own for sure. You will be happy with this game. It’s awesome, and considered by many the best on the Dreamcast.
7. Grandia II
Grandia II makes number 7 on the list and for good reason. It is a great RPG. It looks great on the Dreamcast, especially if you are playing with a VGA box. Don’t let the part II fool you, this isn’t really a direct sequel. This is still a worthy pick up if you never played part one on the Sony PS1. There is also a PS2 version, but the DC version is far superior in every way. Don’t even bother with it.
6. Sonic Adventure
This obviously needs no introduction. Sonic Adventure sold Dreamcast systems. It is easily in my opinion, the best game the series. I remember being blown away the first time I played this and the giant whale jumped behind me. The gameplay is fast and fun, and the music is pretty awesome. There is also DLC for this game which most people do not even know about. You can still pick up the DLC without tracking down the expensive Broadband adapter via Blue Swirl. A fan made disc containing hundreds of save files for Dreamcast games. If for whatever reason you missed this game the first time around you need to get this game. It has been remade on several other online distribution services like Steam, so there is no reason you should not pick this game up.
5. Marvel vs Capcom Series
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was, and still is a lot of people’s favorite fighter of all time, but it makes number 5 on my list. I personally prefer part one, but they are both great fighting games. This was the De-Facto tournament fighter along with Street Fighter 3rd Strike until MvC 3, and Street Fighter IV were released a few years ago. I remember going to fighting game tournaments and watching people play this on 60 inch LCD televisions. People literally had to be held back to keep fights from breaking out. People are serious about their MvC! There are so many ports of this game, and I still like the Dreamcast version the best, but this is good because the game is now affordable once again. The only downside to MvC 2 is that there is a lot of stuff on the screen at one time, so if that bothers you, this may not be for you, but if this sounds good, then you must own this game.
4. Street Fighter 3rd Strike
If you are a fighting game fan Street Fighter 3rd Strike never gets old. That’s why it makes number 4 on the list. The game has great control, is balanced for the most part, and has great music. The reason this gets bumped ahead of MvC 2 is that I prefer the slower pace. This is the technical man’s fighting game. It takes precise skill and timing to totally embarrass you competitor. It doesn’t have quite the lineup that MvC 2 has, or as much stuff all over the screen, but what this game does, it does near perfectly. If you consider yourself a fighting game fan, and do not own this game, then you are not a fighting game fan. Go get it!
3. Power Stone Series
It’s hard to say Power Stone series is better than 3rd Strike or MvC, but hear me out. If you are solely looking for a competitive fighter then 3rd Strike and MvC 2 are your go to games. But if you are searching for something that is just fun, then Power Stone is it. There are not many characters to choose from, but everyone is a blast to use. There are a ton of weapons to unlock, and that feeling you get when you are down to the final seconds of a match, so close to winning, and your opponent grabs the damn shield while you whaling on him with the stone power is just epic. What makes this game great is that anyone can pick it up and be good after a few tries. There are no hard combos to learn, or fluid D-Pad motions. This is just a pick up and play game that is hard to beat. There were 2 Power Stone games released on the Dreamcast. Both are a mandatory pickup because they are quite different. Power Stone 1 is more of an arena fighter, and Power Stone 2 has way more complex levels that change as the fight goes on.
2. Zombie Revenge
Number 2 on the list will probably come as a surprise. Zombie Revenge makes 2 on the list because it was cool before Zombies were cool. It is very similar in gameplay to Dynamite Cop but with a zombie theme. This is a straight up arcade beat em’ up packed full of zombie slaying action. If you played Zombie Revenge then you know why it makes number 2 on the list. It’s just on a whole other level compared to Dynamite Cop. There are a lot more moves, every character has a gun, and Busujima is a straight up pimp right out of the movie Black Dynamite. Zombie Revenge has cool enemies, epic boss battles, and the difficulty is just right. You likely will play this game a lot before you can manage to beat it. You will need a lot of skill, an understanding of the combat system, and a bit of luck to stop the zombie apocalypse. This game takes you back to the days when games were made to just be fun, like so many other titles did on the Dreamcast.
1. Skies of Arcadia
Number 1 will not come as a surprise to the RPG fans out there. Skies of Arcadia is one of the greatest non Square Enix RPG’s of all time. In a time when RPG’s were filled with young 16-year-old boys, that look like girls was the standard, Skies of Arcadia brought it to the table with a fresh original story set in a steam punk universe. The combat is fun, the story is epic, and the humor is there and actually done right! There is only one bad thing I can say about Skies of Arcadia, and that is too many random encounters. Other than that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this game. Skies of Arcadia was also ported to the Nintendo GameCube, and there is much debate over which version is better. Honestly the GCN version offered an almost non-existent graphical upgrade, less random encounters, some shorter loading times, the DLC is included, and a few other very small details like more money from combat.
The main reason I prefer the Dreamcast version is simple. This game easily has one of the best soundtracks of all time. In order to save space the GameCube version has more compressed audio, thus it is of lower quality. That alone sold me on the Dreamcast version. Do you want a few extras that are not considered to even be good, or do you want superior audio quality? To me that is a no brainer. Music in a RPG is a large part of what makes them great. It is also worth mentioning that the DC version has a fun little RPG game on the VMU, that you can play when you can’t be around your Dreamcast. You could earn extra money and transfer to your game.
It is the little differences that are missing from a port that take away from the enjoyment of the way the game was originally meant to be played. I want to enjoy the game the way the developers wanted it to be enjoyed, and that is with the VMU game, and high quality audio. If you are worried about the not being able to access the DLC on the Dreamcast version, again you can get a copy of Blue Swirl and get those extra weapons. Skies of Arcadia is a RPG that is not to be missed. It still stands the test of time, and is one of the best RPG’s ever.
Now that the top 10 is over, it is time to explain why some games are missing.
Surely a lot of people are upset that Phantasy Star Online, and Resident Evil didn’t make the cut. So if you are considering some of the great games that should have made the top 10 and didn’t, then read on. This list would have been a lot different if it wasn’t for remakes and technical hardware setbacks.
Ikaruga – This would have made number one on my top 10 if didn’t have superior ports on Xbox Live Arcade and Steam. It’s not hard to deny, at least in my opinion that the HD remakes are far superior in every way. I highly recommend if you plan on getting Ikaruga to pick it up digitally.
Rez – Same as Ikarga, there is a better HD remake on Xbox Live Arcade.
Under Defeat – Under Defeat was another G. Rev game, and it had an Amazon Exclusive remake exclusively for the PS3. The Dreamcast version fetches over $100.00 on eBay, and the PS3 version can still be had for under $20.00. Get this game while you still can for a decent price.
Resident Evil Series – This was a tough one. All the Resident Evil games were remade on the GameCube, and the ports are pretty darn good. I decided to leave these games off because it’s nice having them all on one console, and everyone knows Resident Evil is awesome. I wanted to put some stuff on the list that not everyone and their grandmother has heard of. You should research on your own whether you want the Dreamcast or GameCube versions. The online debates are heated regarding this with no clear answer, but from my personal experience you can’t go wrong either way.
Phantasy Star Online – One of the greatest DC games didn’t make the cut due to hardware limitations. This game is pretty much unplayable on the Dreamcast because the servers have been down for years. You can still get this on the GameCube and connect to the private servers if you want to enjoy this game the way it was meant to be played. I could not honestly recommend a game that is unplayable to an extent. Phantasy Star Online is meant to be played with other people and just isn’t the same without a server to connect to. If you are interested in picking up the GameCube version and connecting to the private servers check out this link.
Other great games that came close to making this list. I had a really hard time bumping some of these off.
- Giga Wing 1 and 2
- Jet Grind Radio
- Sword of the Berserk: Guts Rage
- Evolution 1 and 2
- Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream – Japan only release. Notable for being developed by a team consisting solely of women. This is a really fun game.
- Crazy Taxi 1 and 2
- Industrial Spy Operation Espionage – This is like nothing you have ever played. Most people will not take well to this game, but for those that have a pretty open mind it could be just what you’ve been looking for.
- Shenmue 1 and 2 – Obviously these games defined the Dreamcast. I especially recommend the European exclusive for part 2, it has Japanese voice acting with English Subs. The voice acting on the original Xbox version is horrid.
- Mars Matrix – Awesome SHMUP
- EGG: Elemental Gimmick Gear – A very original RPG that deserves to be played. This is getting rare and expensive. Get it while you can still find it.
- Bust a Move 4 – This is a lot of fun with friends if you like frantic puzzle action.
- Garou: Mark of the Wolves – This has a better port on the Neo Geo, but if you can’t afford Neo Geo collecting and enjoy fighting games, get this game.
- Last Blade 2: Heart of the Samurai – Same as Mark of the Wolves. This game is probably my favorite fighting game on the Dreamcast.
- Project Justice – Another great fighter, but didn’t quite make the cut.