Home // Original Content // Lists // The Very Best Dreamcast Titles – Dreamcast 15th Anniversary

The Very Best Dreamcast Titles – Dreamcast 15th Anniversary

DCBday - HeaderFifteen years ago today, a very special console was released in Japan. That console was the Sega Dreamcast, the console that would mark the end of Sega’s career as a hardware manufacturer in relation to videogames. It’s my personal favourite console of all time and there’s a lot of reasons for that. It started so many things we today take for granted with modern consoles, such as online console gaming and downloadable add-on content. But of course the most important factor of any console is the games, and the Dreamcast had many great games.

While the Dreamcast only stayed in production for three years before it was discontinued, games have been made in small scale as late as this very year and they’re still coming out. Below I’ve picked out fiftreen games that I personally found to be the very best titles that you can play on the system, in alphabetical order. While some are available on other platforms today, all of the games on this list started out as exclusive Dreamcast titles and will therefore be treated as such. Here we go!

DCBday - Chu Chu RocketChu Chu Rocket!
Developed by Sonic Team – Published by Sega
Released: November 11, 1999
Also available on: GameBoy Advance, Smartphones

Puzzle games are a hard sell sometimes, especially as full retail titles. Chu Chu Rocket! started off as a retail game that was fairly popular, but was made even more popular when it became the standard game bundled with the Dreamcast consoles. In Chu Chu Rocket! you’re guiding mice to rockets so they can escape orange alien cats. You do this by placing out directional pads that the mice will run over and effectively change direction on. It’s fairly simple, but gets really challenging and fun as the levels progress on. In many ways it’s a spiritual successor to Lemmings in which the danger is not the map itself, but a stalking monster.

There was also a well-made mulitplayer mode that had four players guiding their colour-specific mice to their colour-specific rockets that was playable locally as well as online. There was also a level-edtior that allowed players to create their own scenarios without any limits. Since the game was designed to show off how cool online play could be, European users who didn’t get a retail copy could order a free copy of the game by going on to Dreamarena, which was Europe’s online hub on the Dreamcast. The game lives on today on iOS and Android, but I do wish they would put it on the major consoles or Steam as well, as it deserves to be played by everyone.

DCBday - Dead or Alive 2Dead or Alive 2
Developed by Team Ninja – Published by Tecmo
Released: February 29, 2000
Also available on: PlayStation 2, Xbox

Say that the Dreamcast was the best console for fighting games and not a lot of people will fight you on it, no pun intended. While that will be made even more clearer as this list goes on, starting off with Dead or Alive 2 is a great example right off the bat. Up until the launch of Dead or Alive 5 last year there was no doubt in my mind that Dead or Alive 2 was the very best game in the series. The combat was fast-paced and technical in great ways, borrowing its gameplay style somewhat from Virtua Fighter 3tb, another Dreamcast game that started out in the Arcades. But, while Virtua Fighter is my favorite fighting game serise, Dead or Alive 2 was by far the superior title in this case.

14 characters that all felt varied and unique in their fighting style along with the beautiful visuals brought the Dead or Alive series to where it is today. While the first game wasn’t a dud or anything, it was the second title that launched it into popularity and the reason we now have five main games, volleyball spin-offs and that horrible horrible movie. The updated version, DOA2: Hardcore, was later ported to the PlayStation 2, though I remember having framerate issues when playing it on the system myself, which is a shame. After Dead or Alive went Xbox exclusive for a good number of years the game received a remake along with the Sega Saturn port of the first title in the collection Dead or Alive Ultimate, which is probably the easiest way to play the game today since it’s backwards compatible on the Xbox 360, though DOA2: Hardcore‘s PlayStation 2 port was put on the Japanese PlayStation Network as well.

DCBday - Ecco

Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future
Developed by Appaloosa Interactive – Published by Sega
Released: June 16, 2000
Also available on: PlayStation 2

The Ecco the Dolphin series was always a series I enjoyed as a child. While the original two games were great in their own right, it wasn’t until the 2000 reboot Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future that I really fell in love with it. Like with the previous games, you play as Ecco, a young dolphin with a special birthmark on his forehead that looks like a couple of stars. It’s also about aliens. The story was written by David Brin, a science-fiction writer with a special place in his heart for dolphins. While the story is goofy and impossible to take seriously, that’s part of the charm and why it works so well and it’s also narrated by Tom Baker. Yes, the fourth doctor narrates a story about a dolphin saving earth from a alien invastion.

The gameplay of Defender of the Future remained very loyal to the original titles when moving the perspective into three dimensions, unlike many other 2D games of the 8-bit/16-bit era that made the jump into 3D. You swim around beautifully rendered under-water environments, sending out sonar waves to talk with other sea-life, jumping across the surface while doing tricks and punching sharks by running into their belly. You progress throughout the game by collecting various songs and power-ups and completing missions given to you by the creatures around you. It’s challenging, fun and a must-have for anyone’s Dreamcast collection.

Fun Dreamcast Facts!

Did you know that the Dreamcast was released with a blue logo in Europe, but a orange logo in Japan and North America? This was done because of the orange spiral being to similar to the logo of the german company Tivola, which was very similar to the logo Sega was using in Japan and North America.

DCBday - Grandia IIGrandia II
Developed by Game Arts – Published by Game Arts
Released: August 3, 2000
Also available on: PC, PlayStation 2

You know those games where people know the sequels far better than the original game? Games like Street Fighter II, Persona 4 and Ikaruga comes to mind as examples of this, and Grandia II could easily be added to the list as well. Grandia II is not only the best game in the Grandia series, it’s one of the best JRPG’s on the Dreamcast. The story follows Ryudo, a mercenary who’s received the mission of protecting a girl named Elena while she attempts to go through with a ritual to seal away a evil god. Things does, of course, not go to plan and Ryudo, Elena and the rest of the characters of the story find themselves on a grand adventure to stop Valmar, the devil of darkness.

Fans of the classic FINAL FANTASY ATB-system should be big fans of Grandia‘s approach to combat. Much like the ATB-system, it combines real-time tactis with turn-based orders. Where it differs however, is how more complex it is in execution. In Grandia your movement, attack and chance to interrupt the opponents attack is all part of your turn. By using Mana Eggs each characters can toss spells as well where as the more powerful the spell is, the longer it will take to charge, thus taking up more of the character’s turn. The game was ported both to PlayStation 2 and PC, both of which are pretty easy to get a hold of today. I highly recommend picking it up, it’s just a shame that the Grandia series is pretty much dead these days.

DCBday - Jet Set RadioJet Set Radio
Developed by Smilebit – Published by Sega
Released: June 29, 2000
Also available on: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, Smartphones

This is one of those games that basically defines the Dreamcast to a lot of people, Jet Set Radio, also known as Jet Grind Radio, was the first celshaded game released on a videogame console and it was quite a treat to look at when it first came out in 2000. The game itself was unique in concept as it was all about skating around on rollerblades and spraying graffiti to take over the city of Tokyo-to. You will also find yourself running away from police who will outright shoot you for spraying the wall with your spray-can. It’s insane, and so much fun.

The game hasn’t aged all that well in terms of visuals, but it’s still a lot of fun to play. The game was recently released in HD for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A handheld version was also made for PlayStation Vita, iOS and Android phones, so playing the game today is surprisingly easy if you don’t happen to own a Dreamcast. A sequel was developed for the original Xbox too and was actually one of the big launch games for the system in Japan and Europe, that game was called Jet Set Radio Future and is quite a good game on its own as well, unfortunately that game is not as easy to get a hold of as the Xbox 360 backwards compatibility never arrived in Europe and was only set-up for the original retail copy in North America.

DCBday - MvCMarvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
Developed and Published by Capcom
Released: March 30, 2000
Also available on: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Smartphones

I wanna’ take you for a ride! Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is one of my favourite Capcom-developed fighters of all time, sporting a roster of 56 total characters from all kinds of comics and videogames, if you ever wondered why so many people were disappointed in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 last generation, this game is why. Few games let you pair up Tron Bonne, Jill Valentine and Spider-man to fight against Gambit, Ken Masters and a green sombrero-wearing duck. It’s gloriously silly and fun in the very best ways.

Marvel vs. Capcom as a series plays in 3v3 tag-team battles, which separates it from other Capcom fighters that tend to be designed as 1v1 fighters. While there’s discussion to be had as to how balanced the game is and how many of the 56 characters are playable in serious tournaments, if all you’re looking for is to have a fun tiem with friends, you can not go wrong with Marvel vs. Capcom 2. The first Marvel vs. Capcom was also released on the Dreamcast, but it’s not nearly as fun, as for the second game, it was released on PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox and a few years ago it was released on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, as well as in a limited retail version for PlayStation 3.

Fun Dreamcast Facts!

Did you know that during this year, more than seven games have released for the Dreamcast despite the console halting production 12 years ago. One of these games was the German developed Sturmwind that launched back in April. Few consoles can boast getting games so far after its death.

DCBday - Phantasy Star OnlinePhantasy Star Online
Developed by Sonic Team – Published by Sega
Released: December 21, 2000
Also available on: PC, Gamecube, Xbox

As anyone who follows me on twitter knows, Phantasy Star is one of my all-time favourite videogame franchises. In 2000 SEGA moved the series away from the Algo system and started out a new story with Phantasy Star Online, set on the planet Ragol. Hunters from the ship Pioneer II needs to investigate just what went wrong down on the surface when they were trying to colonize the planet and soon find themselves fighting a dark force causing negative effects all over the planet. Where as the original series was a turn-based JRPG, Phantasy Star Online took the series in a hack-and-slash MMO direction that drew inspiration directly from the original MUD’s of the 90′s. Players would create their own avatar, set to either the class of a Hunter, Ranger or Force.

To this date, Phantasy Star Online is one of the few successful console-based MMORPG’s, up there along with FINAL FANTASY XI as the only long-running ones of their kind. While Phantasy Star Online is no longer officially supported on any of the multiple systems it was released on, plenty of private-maintained servers exist to this day and the Free-2-Play sequel from last year, while still not localized outside of Japan, is going strong in every way. Phantasy Star Online did not only reinvent the franchise, it launched it into magnificent popularity and many games owe far more than they’ll admit to its success.

DCBday - Power StonePower Stone 2
Developed and Published by Capcom
Released: April 27, 2000
Also available on: PlayStation Portable

Did I mention fighting games and Capcom before? Well get used to it, because Capcom, fighting games and Dreamcast go together as bread, butter and… well, whatever you prefer on your sandwich I guess. Power Stone 2 is the sequel to Power Stone, as the name probably made obvious, and is a fan-favourite that people still ask for Capcom to bring back to this very day. Unlike most fighting games, Power Stone is a series that utilizes full 360 degrees 3D space for its fighting.

You’ll fight in open 3D arenas like in Ehrgeiz with up to four players participating in fun arcade battles. Similar to Super Smash Bros. you can find crates filled with random items and power ups that make the fights more interesting and crazy. I’m not sure why Capcom hasn’t done anything with Power Stone since the second game, it seems like a sure success to me. But both Power Stone 2 and the original game was ported to PlayStation Portable in 2006, so if you’re looking into getting a hold of it today, that’s probably the easiest way.

DCBday - Resident Evil CVResident Evil CODE: Veronica
Developed by Capcom – Published by Capcom
Released: December 21, 2000
Also available on: PlayStaton 2, Gamecube, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

One of the best games in one of my favourite series of all time. Resident Evil CODE: Veronica was meant to be the original Resident Evil 3 until Capcom struck a deal to make numbered Resident Evil games exclusive to Sony platforms, causing CODE: Veronica to unfortunately fall into obscurity for quite some time. The game follows up on both Claire and Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 2 and the original Resident Evil respectively, taking place on Rockfort Island in Europe where Umbrella has one of its major headquarters. The game also brought back fan-favourite villain Albert Wesker, setting him up as the big bad guy of Resident Evil 5 nine years later. It’s a brilliant game and probably the longest game in the entire series in terms of the amount of content available in the main campaign.

A improved version called Complete Edition was released for Dreamcast in Japan and was later ported to PlayStation 2 and Gamecube as Resident Evil CODE: Veronica X, it balanced out areas of the game and added new cutscenes and content to further expand the game slightly. Recently the game was also released in a great HD-port that’s available on PlayStation Network as well as through Xbox Live. If you for some reason have missed out of CODE: Veronica and is a fan of the classic Resident Evil games, fix that right now and grab any copy of the game that you can find.

Fun Dreamcast Facts!

Did you know that the Dreamcast actually ran on a Microsoft OS? Specifically, it ran on a customized Windows CE and actually utilized DirectX as its set of drivers. In many ways this makes the Dreamcast the original Xbox, as the name Xbox was derived from DirectX.

DCBday - SeamanSeaman
Developed by Vivarium – Published by Sega
Released: June 29, 1999
Also available on: PlayStation 2

There is no way I’ll do Seaman justice by trying to explain it to you right here. Unlike every other game on the list, you have to experience Seaman to understand Seaman. But I’ll try, I’ll try for you dear readers. Seaman is a game in which a sea-creature with a human face is being really judgemental of you and find you really annoying in various ways. It’s like if a Tamagotchi was about raising a thing that just doesn’t really like you all that much, except somehow it’s really fascinating. I mean, look a that image above… just what is that!?

The game is also narrated by Leonard Nimoy, yes, both Spock and The Doctor are narrators in Dreamcast games, why don’t you play more Dreamcast games yet? The game itself was controlled through the official Dreamcast microphone and was, as far as I know, the only game that used that microphone. The game was eventually ported to PlayStation 2 and received a sequel seven years later on that platform as well, neither of these ever saw localization. However, recently, rumour has it that Sega and Nintendo are working on bringing back Seaman. That would certainly be interesting.

DCBday - ShenmueShenmue I & II
Developed by AM2 – Published by Sega
Released: December 29, 1999 / September 6, 2001
Also available on: Xbox (Shenmue II)

Shenmue and Shenmue II are my favourite games of all time. They’re games that to this date are completely unique in genre and playstyle with no game coming close to mimicking what these games tried doing, possibly because of how bad of a financial failure the games ended up being. In Shenmue you play as Ryo Hazuki who wants revenge for the murder of his father. As he explore the town of Yokosuka in 1986′s Japan as well as Hong-Kong in 1987 in Shenmue II, he finds out secrets about the people involved and slowly finds himself in more trouble than he had anticipated, dealing with the chines mafia and possibly artefacts of supposed supernatural power. The story is simple in set-up, but rich in detail and characters.

Gameplay wise, the game is basically a classic adventure game in which you find items and use them in other places to advance the story, but it mixes things up by having a surprisingly deep combat system based largely on the Virua Fighter series, though implemented in full 3D. The game, contrary to popular belief, did not invent the Quick Time Event, but it did name it and make it what it is known as today, a way to push gameplay into a in-game cutscene. Where Shenmue is different from modern games with its QTE’s however, is how often the game will allow you to fail without giving you a direct game over, often instead causing alternative outcomes or offering you to retry in various ways. While people like to laugh at the game today for its wonky and slow dubbing and somewhat inadequate controls, I can’t find myself loving any game more than these two games.

DCBday - Skies of ArcadiaSkies of Arcadia
Developed by Overworks – Published by Sega
Released: October 5, 2000
Also available on: Gamecube

Did I mention Grandia II being one of the best JRPG’s on the console? Well, here’s the best JRPG on the console. Skies of Arcadia was a brand new IP that Sega was proud to put out in 2000. The game was inspired by the works of Jules Verne and told the story of Vyse, Aika and Fina. Vyse and Aika are members of the Blue Rogues, a band of Air Pirates that are battling the Valuan Armada. The Valuan Armada is trying to reawaken ancient dangerous weapons that could potentially destroy the world.

Skies of Arcadia uses a classic turn-based combat system, but makes it interesting by adding the element of ship combat. You’ll be using your ship to take on other ships as well as the giant Gigas enemies that you’ll encounter throughout the story. It’s really cool and made the game feel unique even in systems where it was fairly derivative of other games. The game also had Pinta Quest, a VMU RPG mini-game. In 2002 the game was ported to Gamecube with the name Skies of Arcadia: Legends, a port was planned for PC and PlayStation 2 as well, but they were both cancelled. Unfortunatly it seems Sega has mostly forgotten about Skies of Arcadia these days, even though a sequel would be amazing.

Fun Dreamcast Facts!

Did you know that the VMU had over fourteen unique software titles that you could access through different games. From Pinta Quest to Chao Adventure. VMU stands for Visual Memory Unit, which was only the name of the memory card in North America. In Japan, it was called the Visual Memory System in and in Europe it was simply titled Visual Memory with no third word to its name.

DCBday - Sonic AdventureSonic Adventure 1 & 2
Developed by Sonic Team / Sonic Team USA – Published by Sega
Released: December 23, 1998 / June 18, 2001
Also available on: PC, Gamecube, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

You either love it or hate, and I am part of the former. The two Sonic Adventure games were very different from each other, but they were both great in their own way. The first game was a great way to show all the things that Dreamcast was capable of. High-speed linear stages, open-ended exploration, bonus-quests, power-ups and so many things that have never been seen in a Sonic game.  The graphics were colourful and detailed and the game ran great as well. The sequel refined some of the aspects of the first game, made it a bit more linear and focused which was good in its own way, but also hurt some of the strong points of the first title, such as the open level-design.

However, the actual tragedy of the Sonic Adventure games comes with the ports of which there are many. The first game was ported to Gamecube and PC in a version that was far more broken and filled with glitches than the original version, which was already far from perfect. This port also added new visuals which, quite frankly, I think made the game look far worse and sported a new art-style that clashed with a lot of the environment. This version was fixed up somewhat and ported to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 as well as PC again a few years ago, but it’s still fairly broken. Sonic Adventure 2 was far better off with its ports, with the Gamecube port being very well-made, even if it removed and changed some content, this version was also ported to the HD consoles and PC later on. But I really recommend playing the Dreamcast versions of both the games if you can.

DCBday - Soul CaliburSoulCalibur
Developed by Namco – Published by Namco Bandai
Released: August 5, 1999
Also available on: Xbox 360, Smartphones

The Legend Will Never Die! More fighting games here, this time a game so good that many have called it one of the best fighting games of all time. SoulCalibur, the sequel to Soul Blade, introduced many to the now popular franchise. Sporting a roster of 19 characters where more than half was new to the series. The game was fast and fun in the best ways and innovated the genre as a whole by introducing the eight-way run into the mix. There was also a neat mission mode where you would play through specific missions to unlock artwork, weapons and costumes.

The graphics are to date some of the prettiest on the console and was actually far more good looking than the original arcade release, which was rare for a console game to be. The game received a HD port in 2008 to Xbox 360, and if you thought the HD port of SoulCalibur II was disappointing, this one didn’t even feature all of the modes that the original Dreamcast release had. Last year the game was also released on iOS with a Android phone port having been released as recently as this year.

DCBday - SF3Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future
Developed and Published by Capcom
Released: June 29, 2000
Also available on: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

What’s the best Street Fighter game? …Oh, Street Fighter II? What’s the second best then? …Street Fighter IV, huh? Okay, well, that might be the public opinion, but if you ask the hardcore tournament cats that know all about the Street Fighter, far so more than I do, they would say Street Fighter III 3rd Strike. Or they wouldn’t and I just made myself look like a fool, what do I know? Street Fighter III 3rd Strike was the the third and definite version of Street Fighter III, which for a long while was the last Street Fighter game I found enjoyable.

This was when it was clear that Capcom wanted the Dreamcast to be the big fighting game system, when the sequel to the biggest fighting game of all time ends up exclusive to the system, you realize just how much faith Capcom had put into it. Ironic, perhaps, with how the Dreamcast eventually went out, but it shows that some publishers felt it was doing something right. Street Fighter III 3rd Strike eventually found its way onto PlayStation 2 and Xbox, with a online version recently ending up on the HD consoles. There were plenty of more fighting games on Dreamcast I could have gone on about, but I think this is the best one to end it on.

Fun Dreamcast Facts!

Did you know that despite the Dreamcast being a failure in terms of sales, it did sell a total of 10.6 million units to this date, with Sega’s previous console, the Saturn, only selling 9.5 million units to date despite both consoles selling out their entire production line. Despite selling better than the Saturn, it was still abysmal to the Mega Drive/Genesis which sold over 40 million units.

DCBday - endAnd with that, I’ve talked about fifteen amazing Dreamcast games. While most are available in some regard outside of the system, the Dreamcast is where these titles originally belonged and where they called home. Happy 15th Dreamcast, you’ll never be a failure in my eyes.

Posted in Lists, Original Content, Sticky and tagged as , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • Thomas Avantas

    I would also like to toss in a recommendation for Rez, Under Defeat, Mars Matrix, and Project Justice.

    • Tobiichi Karlsson

      Oh for certain, there are a lot of more titles I could have added.

      Sega Rally
      Daytona 2001
      Virtua Fighter 3tb
      Ikaruga
      Zero Gunner 2
      Mortal Kombat Gold
      Evolution 1&2
      Fighting Vipers 2
      House of the Dead 2 (Typing of the Dead)
      Space Channel 5

      But I had to restrict it to 15, so these were the ones I picked. :D

%d bloggers like this: