Well, today is September 9, 2016 and the Dreamcast is one year away from voting age. Seventeen years ago Sega released its last home console, and to the chagrin of many, we watched it get utterly destroyed by Sony’s PlayStation 2. But let’s set aside the negative for now and wish Sega’s special console a happy birthday with this list of top 5 games.
5) Jet Grind Radio
I got my hands on this title before I ever played a Tony Hawk game, and perhaps this is the game that began my love for that series and other games like Sunset Overdrive. This was also the first time I had ever seen cell shading, and at 18 it reminded me of a comic book that had come to life. Now cell shading is everywhere and it isn’t as unique as it once was, but seeing this 17 years ago really shocked the gaming world. The visuals and the fast-paced controls and challenges really hooked me. I’m generally not a fan of graffiti, but man I enjoyed strapping on some skates and tagging up the cities. Many a night in my dorm room I spent ruining walls and mailboxes to gain more and more points. I’m a bad, bad man.
4) Skies of Arcadia
This fantastic JRPG never really took gamers on an imaginative journey like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest did, which is very unfortunate. In this game you get to play as a sky pirate—who doesn’t want to be a pirate who has a flying boat? My God, that’s like a dream come true. But seeing as how this franchise just vanished, I guess I’m the only one. I even hunted down the insanely hard to find port of this game on the GameCube because I enjoy it so much. The steampunk look, turn-based action and the great story made it hard not to like. I wish that Skies of Arcadia could get a mulligan, and Sega release a from-the-ground-up remake or a full fledged sequel for current gen systems. I think it would take off since Final Fantasy isn’t really exciting the JRPG fanbase anymore. Take a chance Sega, do what Nintendon’t!
Soulcalibur is one of the few franchises that began on the Dreamcast and remained successful to this day. Personally I’ve never been one who enjoys fighting games—I’m too impatient to learn the combos and I game by myself 98% of the time. Soulcalibur however was one of those amazing games that I tore through all by my lonesome. My buddies and I would come to my dorm room and we would challenge each other every now and then. sadly the N64 usually took precedence since I didn’t have four Dreamcast controllers and I had about three friends. Either way, this was one of the few fighting games that I put some time into and I don’t regret it one bit.
Shenmue was one of the most groundbreaking games ever released. At the time it was the most expensive game ever released and pretty much put the final nail in the coffin of Sega’s finances. The story is a simple one: Shenmue tells a tale of revenge seen through the eyes of Ryo Hazuki in 1986. After witnessing your father’s murder, you go on a quest to avenge him in the cities of Yokosuka, Hong Kong and Guilin. This is where many gamers, myself included, first experienced open worlds that would soon be adopted by many video games in the future. I remember wandering the streets of Yokosuka with absolutely no idea where to go or what to do, and that fascinated me. I found myself praying at temples, feeding stray cats and pumping money in to the capsule toy machines. When I finally got on the right track and had found some clues as to the murder of my father, I discovered even more new aspects of the game. I encountered my first real-time event, which I failed miserably at, and I was introduced to Virtua Fighter fighting. This game was so massive in scope that it’s really sad it didn’t reach any kind of financial success for the Dreamcast. Instead, it became a cult classic with a third installment in the works.
1) Resident Evil: Code Veronica
This is the sole reason I own a Dreamcast. I read one day that the next installment of the Resident Evil saga would be a Sega Dreamcast exclusive, and I knew that I couldn’t miss out on further adventures of Chris Redfield. I actually bought this game before I had the system—my friend in college loaned me their system so that I could play it. About halfway through the game, I got my own system and completed it in the cozy silence of my dorm room all in one night. Code Veronica was everything that I wanted it to be: a horrifying jaunt through the history of the Umbrella Corporation that brought back the main star of the series, before his bout with steroids. This was the final “tank controls” entry in the series, and that made me a little sad, but after playing Resident Evil 4 and seeing how great those controls were, I didn’t miss it too much. Capcom made sure that this game had a huge story as well, which is probably the reason it’s my favorite Resident Evil. The story took us through some of the sordid history of Umbrella, introduced us to perpetual-whiner Steve, and gave us our first cross-dressing villain. What’s not to love?
Did I miss any games that you may have enjoyed when the Dreamcast was in its prime? Do you have any plans for its special day? I plan to run around as Ryo for awhile in Hong Kong.