Sega’s final console was a technological marvel that was far ahead of its time. The Dreamcast introduced many staples into today’s console landscape, such as online play, microphone attachments and the tantalizing visual memory unit (VMU), which acted as a second display and could be removed for portable play with some titles. Nintendo would draw inspiration from the VMU with their dual-screen Nintendo DS handheld. While these hardware innovations will always be fondly remembered, it’s the games the Dreamcast provided that will remain its strongest point. The following are the 25 best games released on Sega’s deep and timeless Dreamcast library.
25. Rayman 2: The Great Escape (2000)
Originally a Nintendo 64 hidden gem buried behind the likes of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, the Dreamcast version of Rayman 2 showcased how to properly enhance a game beyond the common port. The Dreamcast edition takes full advantage of the superior hardware running the game and changes the two-dimensional sprites into 3D models. It also fixes the camera angle by zooming out slightly, making some of the more perilous platforming feel a little less cheap with increased visibility. Finally, the Dreamcast version goes beyond aesthetic makeovers by also offering exclusive mini-games, a revamped world map and a remastered final battle. Rayman 2: The Great Escape is one of the best platforming games ever made. The game has since been released on countless platforms spanning multiple generations, but the Dreamcast version remains significant and mighty impressive. Despite being based on a game released on the previous generation’s hardware, players who have experienced Rayman 2’s captivating gameplay understand that it’s one of the best titles on the Dreamcast, and simply one of the best games ever made.
24. Samba De Amigo (2000)
Following in the footsteps of games like Beatmania, and PaRappa The Rapper, Samba De Amigo is a quirky music based rhythm game developed by Sonic Team for the arcade in 1999. Sega brought the game in to our living rooms with the 2000 release on the Sega Dreamcast. Samba De Amigo is essentially a maracas simulator, featuring some amazing songs with a mostly latin flavor. The game required the use of some expensive and completely necessary plastic maracas peripherals, as well as a dance pad. While we’re now used to the idea of our closets being filled with old Rockband guitars and drums, this was one of the first instances of instruments being used as controllers. With great music and beautiful visuals, Samba De Amigo stills holds up well and is a joy to play with friends, that’s if you can find a complete copy without breaking the bank.
23. Metropolis Street Racer (2000)
The Dreamcast was know for it’s lineup of excellent arcade racing games during it’s short lived existence but 2000’s Metropolis Street Racer is the system’s best. The game was developed by Bizarre Creations who would go on to create the critically acclaimed Project Gotham series of games for the Xbox and Xbox 360. MSR is the perfect mix of arcade and sim racing that finds middle ground between Ridge Racer and Gran Turismo. The game introduced the Kudos system which rewarded players for driving with skill and precision, as well as an excellent progression tree with upgrades, new cars, and tracks. MSR also featured some excellent graphics and sound that pushed the Dreamcast’s hardware to it’s limits. Metropolis Street Racer is a challenging game with a relatively steep learning curve but once you get used a car’s handling and learn the wide array of tracks you’ll find that it’s one of the best racers of the generation.
22. Seaman (2000)
Seaman is a virtual pet simulation that’s the video game equivalent to the Tomogatchi toys that were popular in the 90’s. Players are tasked with raising the Seaman from it’s early tadpole like stage through adulthood, and are required to check in on the creature everyday to keep their Seaman alive. The gameplay is relatively simple involving things like feeding Seaman, controlling temperatures in the tank, and most importantly providing Seaman with company. Seaman is essentially a fish with a eerily life like human face and made for some interesting interactions as the player communicates with Seaman through the use of the Dreamcast microphone that was included with the game. The little creature is voiced by Leonard Nimoy in the North American version of the game which really adds to Seaman’s character. This is absolutely one of the strangest video games that we have ever played and is a great example of Sega’s willingness to take chances on unique and often strange experiences for the Dreamcast. There’s something endearing about Seaman despite his off putting appearance and sometimes cold demeanour, and the experience is surprisingly enjoyable.
21. The House of the Dead 2 (1999)
The House of the Dead 2 is a fantastic first person, on-rails shooter that made use of the Dreamcast’s light gun peripheral. The game takes place four months after the events of the original, AMS agents James Taylor and Gary Stewart are off to Venice Italy to search for the missing agent “G’. Venice has been overrun by zombies and it’s up to you to blast you way through the historic setting and find out what happened to your missing associate. The game looked great for the time and was an excellent example of how well the Dreamcast was able to bring the arcade arcade experience to your living room. The House of the Dead 2 also includes multiple endings that would be triggered if various conditions were met, which adds to the games replayability. With fantastic controls and some hilariously terrible voice acting and dialog this game is a blast to play solo or with a friend.
20. ChuChu Rocket! (1999)
ChuChu Rocket! is an action puzzle game developed by Sonic Team and was the first Dreamcast game to support online multiplayer using the system’s built-in modem. The game’s core mechanic revolves around the player guiding mice, referred to as “ChuChus” into rockets while evading the capture of the cats, referred to as “KapuKapus”. The player can place up, down, left, and right arrows on the map redirecting ChuChus as the pass over the square. The gameplay can take a few matches to get used to as the mechanics result in absolute chaos in the best way possible. The game quickly evolves into an outright battle to not only collect as many mice as possible but trying to screw over your opponents by directing cats to their ships in order to lower their score. With up to four players being able to play simultaneously Rocket! is one of the best multiplayer experiences on the Sega Dreamcast.
19. Cosmic Smash (2001)
Originally released on the NAOMI arcade platform, this Japanese exclusive is a cross between REZ (which we’ll see later on this list) and Virtua Tennis (again, on this list). While more like a game of squash on acid, Cosmic Smash features the tight controls seen in the Dreamcast’s earlier tennis simulator with some added flare. The game features some excellent minimalist and futuristic visuals that are complimented by a wonderful soundtrack consisting of some great techno and house beats. Cosmic Smash is a very bare bones experience featuring no character selection screens, no career mode, no training mode, and limited options, opting for a simple “main game” mode. The games lack of modes and simplicity doesn’t hurt the experience, and you’ll find yourself being unable to put the controller down. Throughout the Dreamcast’s lifespan Sega showed that it had no problem releasing quirky Japanese games in North America and Europe (we’re looking at you PenPen TriIceLon) which makes it even more disappointing that this unique experience was never released outside Japan.
18. NFL 2K2 (2001)
The Dreamcast was home to some excellent arcade and simulation sports titles but the pinnacle of the genre on the system was NFL 2K2 by Sega Sports. During the Dreamcast’s lifespan Sega Sports released several iterations of their well received NBA, NFL, and NHL games which helped to ease the sting of the lack of EA Sports games being released on the system. Fortunately for Dreamcast owners, in the case of the NFL 2K games they ended up being as good or better than EA’s Madden Football games. The previous NFL 2K games introduced players to some groundbreaking visuals and animations that set itself apart from EA’s offering, but it all came to a head in NFL 2K2 which is easily the best in the series. Sega Sports NFL 2K2 is still considered to be one of the best football, and sports games ever released and absolutely deserves a spot on this list.
17. Hydro Thunder (1999)
This is the first Dreamcast launch title to make this list and it’s a game that’s still a ton of fun to play today. The Sega Dreamcast was known for it’s quality arcade ports and Hyrdo Thunder is no exception. The ability to play a full fledged arcade experience from the comfort of your couch and without having to blow your entire paycheque on quarters was one of the Dreamcast’s biggest selling points. Hydro Thunder was a gorgeous game for its time and was the type of game that you used to showcase the power of the system to your friends. With 13 tracks featuring unique locations and 9 boats to choose from, the game features some excellent variety and replayability for an arcade racer. Developer Midway has crafted some great levels that features everything from the arctic circle, to an amusement park in California, to a post disaster New York City which is our personal favorite. Hydro Thunder also saw a release on the N64 and PS1 but the Dreamcast version is easily the best as it’s a near perfect arcade port.
16. Tennis 2K2 (2001)
The follow up to the Dreamcast’s “smash” hit (pun intended) Virtua Tennis, the Sega Sports developed Tennis 2K2 took everything we loved about the first game and improved on it in multiple ways. The game introduced new characters (a roster of 16 pros), new modes, and a create a character mode which everyone used to create Anna Kournikova who was disappointingly not featured in the game. The Virtua Tennis series features some great traditional tennis with excellent graphics, animations, and physics but the real fun was with it wacky training modes. Tennis 2K2 doubles down on the arcade mini games that made Virtua Tennis a hit in the arcades, modes like Alien Force, Disc Shooter, and Pin Crasher add to the replayability of the game. Tennis 2K2 was able to do the impossible and make a tennis game that’s actually fun, and a great addition to the Sega Sports lineup on the Dreamcast.
15. Skies of Arcadia (2000)
Skies of Arcadia is a traditional Japanese role playing game that features an engaging battle system, compelling character progression, and some fantastic world exploration. The player take control of Vyse and his group of “Air Pirate” friends as they battle the Valuan Empire in order to save the world from its imminent demise. While the game starts out as typical JRPG fare, it quickly opens up to reveal one of the most unique role playing experiences available on the Dreamcast. The game features some incredibly detailed environments that add to both the exploration and battle segments of the game. The battle system, while relatively straight forward is still plenty of fun and the dungeons are well crafted and continue to impress to this day. Skies of Arcadia does a fantastic job of retaining the charm of a 16-bit era rpg while moving into a fully realized 3d environment. The Dreamcast wasn’t exactly known for having a wide variety of role-playing experiences but Skies of Arcadia is a gem that you definitely need to experience.
14. Crazy Taxi 2 (2001)
Crazy Taxi 2 takes the formula that was introduced in the previous title and amps things up to 11. The game is an upgrade over the original Crazy Taxi and introduces new characters, new levels and a game changing new move. The Crazy Taxi 2 gameplay loop involves driving around a fictional New Your City and picking up fares and trying to get them to their desired location as quick as possible. The player’s score is determined by how long they can keep their game going. When you start a level the timer begins the only way to extend it is to successfully complete fares. This leads to a real sense of urgency as you attempt to navigate through the city and are forced to choose fares wisely. Crazy Taxi 2 is notable for introducing the “crazy jump” mechanic in which players can launch their taxi into the air to avoid obstacles. The game was also notable for being one of the first instances of in-game product placement and features such brands as Burger King and HMV. The Crazy Taxi series has become synonymous with Sega Dreamcast and is one of the best experiences on the system.
13. Resident Evil Code: Veronica (2000)
Ideas for a Resident Evil game titled ‘Code: Veronica’ began shortly after the release of the original Resident Evil in 1996. Code: Veronica was originally intended to be the third title in the series, and to be released on the original PlayStation. However, plans for Resident Evil 3: Nemesis eventually took form and released in 1999. Code: Veronica then exited the main numbered line in the series but, as players realized after playing this fan favorite title, Resident Evil Code: Veronica fills a gap in the main storyline much moreso than the “real” Resident Evil 3 does. Originally a Dreamcast exclusive, Code: Veronica was ported to other major platforms but only offered subtle differences. Indeed, the Dreamcast version is so strong that the updated Code: Veronica X is largely similar. Code: Veronica would offer the final piece of traditional Resident Evil gameplay for a while, at least until 2012’s Resident Evil Revelations, which was a throwback to the horror roots of the series. Code: Veronica is undoubtedly a Resident Evil outing, which is much more than some of its numbered sequels can say. Code: Veronica is an amazing game and a must-own on the Dreamcast.
12. Grandia II (2000)
Grandia II was Sega’s answer to Final Fantasy, and was a thrilling RPG that featured real-time turn-based battles. The innovative twist in the combat system is that the game allows movement during battle. The result is that characters can move around, strike, and then retreat. Both playable characters, as well as enemies, can cancel one another’s move, neutralizing many threats and causing each battle to become very strategical and thoughtful. Grandia II eventually received a PlayStation 2 port as well as a Microsoft Windows port, but the Dreamcast version remains the definitive edition. The ports have been lazy offerings with inconsistent frame rates and downgraded textures. The best Japanese roleplaying game on the Dreamcast stands tall among the greatest JRPGs ever made. Grandia II, one of the best games of the generation, let alone on the console, is a title best experienced on the Dreamcast and one that has aged remarkably well.
11. Sonic Adventure 2 (2001)
Sonic games have historically been received negatively since making the transition to 3D, and this reputation has actually harmed the legacy of Sonic Adventure 2. The hedgehog’s initial foray into open space may not have been as smooth as Mario’s original venture into 3D, and the two-dimensional Sonic offerings that preceded Sonic Adventure were impossible to live up to, but it was still a great game. The title was simply fun to play, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Sonic Adventure 2 was an excellent sequel that successfully fixes many of the camera problems that plagued the original Sonic Adventure and provides one of the best presentations on the console. Featuring breathtaking graphics and a sense of speed that harkens back more toward the Genesis classics than the slow-paced Sonic Adventure 1, the sequel has become one of the more underrated games in the industry. Don’t allow the belief that all 3D Sonic games are terrible to sway you from the truth that Sonic Adventure 2 is an exceptional game that has stood the test of time. As a bonus, the game also contains the console’s best use of the VMU’s portability with the addictive and improved Chao garden, where players can raise virtual pets.
10. Cannon Spike (2000)
This Capcom classic is a bit of a hidden gem for the Dreamcast as most people missed it when it was initially released. Cannon Spike is a multi-directional arcade shooter that plays a lot like the more contemporary dual-stick shooters that are more common in recent years. The game is a near perfect arcade port that features classic Capcom characters such as Mega Man, Cammy, and Arthur from Ghosts n’ Goblins. The over the top arcade action is best experienced by two player simultaneously. Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot of content in this game as it’s simply a direct port from the arcade version and only features 10 short levels. The game can be completed in 20-30min and doesn’t have much replay value, thankfully this was released as a budget title for $29.99 when it hit stores which made the purchase more justifiable. Despite being a short experience, Cannon Spike is a lot of fun and is worth seeking out on the Dreamcast.
9. Ikaruga (2002)
Ikaruga is hands down one of the best arcade shooters of all-time. The Japan only Dreamcast release featured a clever mechanic in which the player could transform their ship from black to white depending on the situation. This transformation leads to the ship either absorbing enemy fire or being destroyed by it, depending on the color. This simple mechanic adds depth to the standard shmup formula and sets Ikaruga apart from the competition. Created by famed developer Treasure, Ikaruga is the spirtual successor to the critically acclaimed Radiant Silvergun released on the Sega Saturn a few years prior. Shoot em up fans in North America were able to finally play this fantastic game with the release on the Nintendo GameCube in 2003 but there were plenty of die hard fans who imported the game for the Dreamcast. The Sega Dreamcast library featured several excellent shooters but Ikaruga is the best of the bunch.
8. Street Fighter III: Third Strike (2000)
The third entry in the Street Fighter III series, Third Strike adds new characters and several new options that set itself apart from the fantastic Street Fighter III: Double Impact package released earlier that year. Third Strike features a roster of 13 fighters and a ton of options that allow the player to tweak gameplay setting to suit their play style. The game is breathtakingly beautiful featuring an excellent art style and unique character design. Paired with the Dreamcast’s arcade stick controller, Third Strike was a 1-1 translation of the historic fighter that was taking over the arcades in the early 2000’s. Street Fighter III: Third Strike is still consider to be one of the best in the series and was a vital edition to the Dreamcast lineup.
7. Phantasy Star Online (2001)
Phantasy Star Online brought the long-running Sega RPG series and turned it into a console MMORPG. Even today, there are very few MMOs on consoles, as the genre is generally reserved for the PC world. However, the Dreamcast contains one of the finest MMOs ever created in the form of Phantasy Star Online. The game was an absolute revelation in 2001, taking full advantage of the console’s built-in modem to bring groups of friends together. Phantasy Star Online has a large and dedicated loyal fan base that continues to keep the online RPG going today. The commitment to the unique game is staggering, but as the modifications and updated forms of the game continue, the online community shows how special this game is to remain as relevant today as it was when it was released. Phantasy Star Online is much more than nostalgia; it’s an addictive experience.
6. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2000)
It’s amazing how much quality content Sega was able to provide for the Dreamcast library in such a short span of time. One particularly impressive area is the fighting arena, where the Dreamcast offered a variety of different fighting games with varying engines that provided distinct entries able to stand on their own, despite all being released quite closely to each other. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was undeniable proof of the arcade experience that Sega was capable of providing with the Dreamcast. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 takes developer Capcom’s tag-team fighting game to new heights by allowing three characters to be tagged in or out during battles. With a roster of 56 characters from the Capcom and Marvel libraries, there’s a lot to experiment with in this insanely deep fighting game. Considered by many to be the best traditional 2D fighter of the generation, the over-the-top, fast-paced Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is easy proof of the Dreamcast’s greatness.
5. Jet Grind Radio (2000)
Jet Grind Radio, known as Jet Set Radio in every territory outside of North America, was a showcase for what Sega’s internal studios could offer, and a hint at the overall potential that the ill-fated Dreamcast console could have provided. Jet Grind Radio has a huge cult following to this day, as the gorgeous cell-shaded graphics and funky soundtrack have aged remarkably well, even if they’re not as revolutionary as when the game initially released. Featuring rollerblading gameplay reminiscent of Tony Hawk Pro Skater, along with graffiti-spraying, Jet Grind Radio offers a fine blend of genres with loveable comic book style visuals.
4. Rez (2001)
Another Japan only release, Rez is an on-rails futuristic shooter that features some great visuals, fantastic music, and unique gameplay. The games development team featured several members of the team that created the Panzer Dragoon series for the Sega Saturn. Rez takes place inside a computer infected by a virus and the player is essentially a hacker who is tasked with eliminating the virus and returning the status back to normal. As you float through the environment at predetermined speeds you’ll have the ability to select targets with your reticle and then initiate the shooting sequence. Shooting the targets results in audio feedback that adds to the games soundtrack giving the player the sensation of helping to produce the musical track. Rez is an audio/visual experience like no other and it’s an absolute shame that is wasn’t released to a wider audience.
3. Power Stone 2 (2000)
The Dreamcast was (and remains) the king of fighters, as the console had a variety of fighting games, all incorporating different mechanics to make each of them feel unique and appealing. The Power Stone series represented exceptional 3D combat on the console, as the four-player battles played very similar to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. The battles are free-roaming, arena-based fighting, which heightens the freedom tremendously compared to fighting on a simple 2D plane. The original Power Stone was a successful launch title for the Dreamcast, but Power Stone 2 blows it away and becomes a must-own. By introducing four-player battles and balancing out the characters, the sequel easily tops its predecessor. The Power Stone series is a franchise that needs to make a return on current-gen consoles, as one can only imagine what developer Capcom would be able to accomplish for the series with today’s hardware.
2. Soul Calibur (1999)
The majority of critically acclaimed fighting games tend to cater toward the hardcore crowd, but Soul Calibur bucks that trend by providing a uniquely accessible but effectively deep fighting game. The game has relatively loose timing requirements. This means expert timing isn’t required to pull off a quick succession of moves. However, the game still appeals toward seasoned fighting veterans with the advanced techniques permitted in Soul Calibur, such as offensive block maneuvers that allow attacks to be redirected. The title was a successful representation by Sega that the Dreamcast console would provide arcade entertainment in the comfort of a home, while having superior presentation. Soul Calibur was released as one of the 19 launch titles for the Dreamcast in North America, yet the gorgeous title looks like a late-generation GameCube or Xbox title. Outpacing Dreamcast competitors by miles in the graphics department, Soul Calibur flexes one of its many muscles and shows the overall quality of the game. Soul Calibur, like the Dreamcast console itself, was so far ahead of its time and represents the pinnacle of fighting games.
1. Shenmue 2 (2001)
It’s so difficult to choose between the two Shenmue titles released on the Dreamcast, but regardless of which game players choose to be the slightly superior one, a Shenmue title certainly tops the list of the best Dreamcast titles ever released. The nod here goes to Shenmue 2, which manages enough improvements in terms of gameplay mechanics, graphics, and presentation to outweigh the nostalgia and sense of epic adventure associated with the original game. Shenmue 2 offers a much larger world and improved dialogue but without a doubt, both titles need to be experienced by every gamer. Shenmue 1 acts as an introduction to the gameplay style of the series and Shenmue 2 shifts the location for a grander experience. The titles complement each other perfectly and players who play both titles will appreciate the sequel more. It’s safe to say that Shenmue 3, set to finally be released during December 2017 on PC and PS4, has been placed with some lofty expectations.