Ah, the Dreamcast: Sega’s final console. It never quite generated a big enough buzz to stay afloat as the PlayStation 2 conquered the market. However, being released 16 months before that, and a whole three years before the Xbox and GameCube, it has the honor of being ahead of its time, and a game changer for the industry. It may be a given now, but it was the first console to feature Internet support for online play, which was huge.
Along with this underdog console comes of plethora of games, many of which are absolute gems, cemented in gaming history. Read on for the best of the bunch.
10 Jet Set Radio
A classic action game, Jet Set Radio follows a ‘rudie’ (a kid who roams the streets with graffiti) named Beat and his crew as they skate around Tokyo, spraying the cities and outrunning the law. Kids, eh? In each level you must tag the assigned graffiti spots before the timer runs out, while avoiding getting caught.
The game was praised for its unique visuals, as one of the earliest games to use cel-shaded graphics. The music is an indisputably catchy mixture of funk, electronic, hip hop, and J-pop. It’s good fun, with an enjoyable rebellious feel.
9 Crazy Taxi
Originally an arcade game in 1999, Crazy Taxi was ported to the Dreamcast a year later. You play as a taxi driver, challenged to see how much money you can earn while delivering passengers as quickly as possible. You get bonus points for performing stunts before the time limit is reached.
The map is much bigger than the arcade version, allowing that great sense of exploration. There’s also “Arcade Rules”, where a one-minute timer which can only be extended from time bonuses if you get the passenger to their spot early. It’s pretty frenzied, and makes for a wild ride.
Shooting and music: it’s a bizarre mix, but one that works well in Rez. Your polygon-esque character, Hacker, floats through the space of a futuristic “supernetwork”, shooting viruses and firewalls that prevent you from doing your task: reaching the AI, Eden, and rebooting her to prevent a catastrophic shutdown.
As you target foes and destroy them, they explode with electronic music sounds, making awesome music as you play. Not quite the zany feel of Rhythm Heaven, and not quite the gritty shooting experience of Halo, it’s a weird and wonderful in-between that’s a lot of fun.
7 Samba De Amigo
Another arcade game that got a Dreamcast release, Samba de Amigo is a Sonic Team favorite. It’s a classic rhythm game with a twist; you shake maracas to the beat, moving them into high and low spots, and shaking what your mama gave ya.
The Dreamcast version also has 14 bonus tracks and a Survival mode, where you beat as many songs in a row as you can. There’s a monkey wearing a sombrero, Latin music you can’t help but move to, and maracas – what more do you need in a game?
6 Resident Evil: Code Veronica
Resident Evil: Code Veronica is the fourth installment in the main Resident Evil series. The story centers on Claire Redfield as she continues her search for her brother, Chris, who has gone missing. The game was praised for its cinematic story and seamless switches between cutscenes and gameplay, giving the player just the right amount of agency in deciding Claire’s fate. It also has fantastic graphics for a Dreamcast game, with newly 3D surroundings, and a camera that follows you better than ever before as you explore the environment. Some fans even consider it the best entry in the series.
5 Sonic Adventure 2
The bigger and better sequel to Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2 was the final Sonic game to be released on the Dreamcast. There are two storylines: the “Hero” and the “Dark” story, which can be played whenever you feel like switching between them. It’s got three different play styles: the speedy, reach-the-end style stages of Sonic and Shadow, the shooting-based stages of Tails and Eggman, and the exploration-based stages of Knuckles and Rouge.
It may have slightly iffy voice-acting, but with hours of gameplay and many different modes (the Chao Garden is fondly remembered) it’s a staple Dreamcast game.
4 Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
Crossover games are always great fun, and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is no exception. You can pit Captain America against Chun-Li, or the Hulk against Ryu. It’s that kind of wild cross-series madness that makes these games so likeable. It’s loved by fans for providing more of the same greatness from previous installments, but also building on it; there was new possibility for 3-on-3 matches rather than 2-on-2, a simpler control scheme (making combos way easier), and a new character assist system.
The new changes made the series even better than before, making this game a solid choice.
With complex and engaging character backstories, and great 3D visuals, Soulcalibur is considered a must-have for owners of the Dreamcast. Many players rate it as the best fighting game in arcades, and for some, the best fighting game they’ve ever experienced at all. It has numerous impressive weapons – both in appearance and performance – and a ton of gameplay options like Survival, Time Attack and Mission mode. The controls are super smooth, allowing you to move around and circle your enemy with ease. Combine all that with loads of magnificent unlockable art, and you’ve got a winning game.
Following Ryo Hazuki’s quest to avenge his father’s death, Shenmue is game hailed by fans as a masterpiece. As Ryo, you search the five environments for items, talk to other characters and gather clues to track down the killer. QTEs (Quick Timer Events) appear in the form of enemies randomly attacking you: exciting, if sometimes an unwanted interruption. There can be some waiting around for the in-game clock to reach the times for certain locations to open or characters to appear. Still, with minigames and endless bonus content, there’s lots of stuff to do. Featuring a gripping storyline and outstanding soundtrack to match, this game feels amazing.
1 Skies of Arcadia
Skies of Arcadia is a classic RPG, with traditional turn-based battles and experience-based progression. It centers on an air pirate called Vyse, as he and his friends fight to stop the Valuan Empire from destroying the world. Fans love it for the brilliantly written storyline and characters. It’s known for being addictive; when the story gets going you’re likely to sink countless hours into this game. It looks beautiful and features innovative gameplay, from battles in ships in the sky, to experiencing your characters’ growth.
Ticking all the boxes, Skies of Arcadia is a Dreamcast must-have.