Monday, September 9, 2019

Top Ten Dreamcast Games

Twenty years ago on one of the best release dates for anything ever--9/9/99--the Sega Dreamcast launched. While Sega exited the hardware market shortly after, in just two brief years, the Dreamcast managed to amass a library that consoles that have been on the market much longer can only dream about. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sega Dreamcast, SuperPhillip Central takes a look at some of the best games to ever grace the system and--since many of these have been ported elsewhere--other systems as well (though that just shows how strong the legacy of the Dreamcast really is!).

After you've checked out, SPC's picks, which Sega Dreamcast games are your favorites?

10) Power Stone 

Capcom showed a competent amount of support for Sega and its Dreamcast, and one of its most beloved titles on Sega's final home console was Power Stone. This arena brawler was less of a traditional fighter and more of a game where you beat your opponents senseless with character attacks, objects strewn about the 3D arena environments, and items that occasionally dropped in to the playing field. Collecting the fabled "Power Stones" in battle meant your character charged up immensely, ready and able to deliver some devastating damage to your opponent's or opponents' life bars. A sequel would release, bringing more of the same to the series and Sega's system, but I have a soft spot for the original Power Stone.

9) Hydro Thunder

A launch title for the Dreamcast--and later ported to the original PlayStation and Nintendo 64 down the road, though the Dreamcast original remained the best way to play it on a home console back then--Hydro Thunder was a high-speed, high-octane aquatic racer where you piloted futuristic speedboats across rocky waters in a bevy of exhilarating locations. Carving a path through the waters with your speedboat felt so fantastic, and the speeds at which you did so was nothing short of jaw-dropping. Hydro Thunder packed a lot of entertainment within its courses, its boosting-based gameplay, and phenomenal tracks.

8) Crazy Taxi

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, YEAH!" Any fan of Crazy Taxi has those initial lyrics and notes engrained deep in their virtual taxi-driving brains. Having roots in arcades, Sega created and ported a lot of its arcade hits to its home consoles, and that tradition continued with the Dreamcast. Such a defining example of a proven arcade hit and putting it on the system was Crazy Taxi, a game where you drove your yellow, checkered limousine and chauffeured passengers to their desired destinations around a closed-in city setting. Performing--ahem--crazy stunts and tricks while getting your passengers to their destinations in quick fashion awarded more in tips during your timed sessions racing around town.

7) Jet Grind Radio

Paint the town up with graffiti as you skate, jump, and grind your way through colorful, cel-shaded, open environments in Jet Grind Radio (future releases would establish the brand of the game and series as Jet Set Radio, in line with the international releases). As a fierce fighter to anyone who would degrade the cel-shaded art style, due to his heavy love for it, Jet Grind Radio brought with it the goal of tagging specific spots on maps before the game's timer ran out. Of course, the MAN (aka the authorities) would just have to make this mission of your inline-skating, graffiti-tagging gang member more challenging. The controls, favoring simple button presses as opposed to something slightly more complex like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, allowed for a level of accessibility for beginners while also granting a great deal of depth for masters of the game to unleash some killer moves and nail insane shortcuts in the game.

6) Sonic Adventure 2

It was a bit of a struggle to pick between Sonic Adventure or Sonic Adventure 2 to be the representative of Sonic the Hedgehog's Dreamcast debuts, but in the end, I had to go with the game that trimmed a lot of the fat that the original Sonic Adventure possess--that being the hub worlds and plodding extraneous gameplay types like Amy Rose, Gamma, and of course, Big the Cat. While there are some lesser parts to Sonic Adventure 2, the more streamlined approach, excellent Sonic and Shadow levels, okay to good Tails and Dr. Eggman vehicle levels, and passable Knuckles and Rouge emerald fetch quests made for one of Sonic's most memorable adventures to this day.

5) Shenmue

After almost two decades of waiting, the next chapter and the third installment in Ryo Hazuki's adventure, Shenmue III, will finally be available later this year to fans who have been with Ryo since the very beginning. And that beginning was on none other than the Dreamcast and from the mind of Yu Suzuki. Combining small open world areas, fighting segments, quick-time events, and an insanely obsessive amount of detail in the actual game world, Shenmue is a fantastic quest that showed just how ambitious Sega was during its final generation as a console manufacturer.

4) Marvel vs. Capcom 2

Capcom took players for a ride not just with the Power Stone series, but also with Marvel vs. Capcom 2, which the Dreamcast version is deemed one of, if not the best of the versions of the game. This second ultimate crossover between the superheroes and supervillains of Marvel Comics and the video game star power of Capcom brought accessible 2D fighting game action to the Dreamcast with its simple to pick up and play combat, flashy visuals, gorgeous colors, and supersized cast of characters. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 remains a fantastic fighting game that fans of one or both companies come back to on a regular basis, even if it's not the most balanced fighter out there.

3) Phantasy Star Online

During its time as a console manufacturer, Sega brought so many important innovations into the gaming sphere, and one of the most notable of these was bringing about and helping to popularize online play on home consoles, a sector of gaming that the PC had a hard monopoly on. With the release of Phantasy Star Online, Dreamcast owners had the ability to step foot on the planet of Ragol, explore its wondrous world, and do battle with its dangerous creatures with a party of up to four players online. It's something we of course take for granted nowadays, but even still, the Phantasy Star Online series remains popular, with part of the big news from Xbox's E3 2019 showing being that Phantasy Star Online 2 was coming to Xbox One. We can thank the original Phantasy Star Online for its mark on gaming, and just for remaining a solid and addicting game today.

2) Skies of Arcadia 

Dreamcast owners had no shortage of excellent RPGs to play on their system, and my pick for the absolute greatest of the bunch comes from Sega's now defunct Overworks team. It's none other than Skies of Arcadia. So many RPGs coming out of Japan have similar medieval settings or futuristic locations, but none are as original as Skies of Arcadia's literal skies... of Arcadia! From taking your starting small fry airship and exploring floating islands, featuring cities and dungeons to explore, to eventually earning a massive vessel to face off against other ships in aerial battles, Skies of Arcadia made a mark on this JRPG fan when it originally released. While the GameCube re-release brought with it many sizable and notable improvements, the original Skies of Arcadia still remains an impressive feather in the Dreamcast's cap.

1) Soul Calibur

We take the Soul Calibur franchise for granted nowadays (after all, the sixth numbered installment seems to have come and gone already without too much fanfare), but it can't be understated just how awesome and amazing an arena fighter Soul Calibur was. No doubt Soul Calibur fans know of the series's arcade roots with Soul Edge, but the arrival of Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast brought with it an immense following from fighting game fans and just lovers of weapon-based battles. Whether beating your opponent to the pulp with the blade your character wielded or knocking your foe out of bounds for a ring out, the soul burned strong for this excellent and exquisite Dreamcast launch title.

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