Dax J Martin-Cheeves
My TOP 10 favorite SEGA DREAMCAST games.
Updated: Jul 19, 2022
A countdown of games to one of the best consoles ever.
In lieu of the passing of Bernie Stolar who was one of the main figures behind the creation of the cult classic game console known to fans as the Sega Dreamcast, I have decided to share some of my favorite games ever played on that system. For those who don't know, Bernie's legacy not only includes his contributions to Sega but also Sony as he was also the vice president at Sony Entertainment America from 1993 to 1996 which was around the development time of the original PlayStation system. His time with Sony would be short lived as he departed from the company to work for Sega. It was there that they made a major decision to end the run of the Sega Saturn in place of a new and more innovative game console that would take the company (and the industry) to the next level of gaming.
The 128-bit Sega Dreamcast system truly was an evolutionary follow up to the Sega Saturn in many ways. The processing power allowed for cleaner polygon textures, animation for a full-fledged 3D experience, and an arcade line up of popular titles that are still talked about today. On top of that, the Dreamcast provided a little "Nintendo" style innovation in the form of the VMU (Visual Memory Unit) which was a memory card device with an LCD screen implemented into it allowing you to not only save data from game progress but also play mini games as an extension to the game you were playing on the system.
The Sega Dreamcast brought many game-changing features that we now see in today's market of game consoles including the ability to play with friends and compete with others online as they were the first to feature the ability to have internet connection playing classics like Phantasy Star Online which was the first ever MMO game and helped change the way we played games forever.
Although the Dreamcast was sadly short lived, its impact on the gaming industry is still felt today. The way we play and what genre of games that we play can all be traced back to this era and this system. Not only did Dreamcast provide revolutionary games and features, but it also provided one of the best line-ups of fighting games imaginable.
It is because of this that we celebrate the legacy of Bernie Stolar and everyone who worked on the system by talking about my TOP 10 favorite Sega Dreamcast games. NOTE: This was not an easy thing to do as there were 624 games that were released for the system, and I have the unenviable task of picking only ten that I genuinely enjoyed. There are some honorable mentions that will get nods from her but without further ado, let get this started!
This is just one of the first titles based on Hirohiko Araki's popular long running manga series which was made into one of Capcom's extremely popular fighting games during the 90's.
Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure was developed using the pixel power processor known as the "CPS III" which was most notably used to create Street Fighter III (as well as SF3 IMPACT, THIRD STRIKE. RED EARTH and other fighters). The processor allows for beautifully pixel animation and accurate character design to mimic the vision of the manga and anime. It should also be noted that the Dreamcast version was developed within by CyberConnect 2 (the development company that would later create anime-based games for Bandai/Namco which includes Dragon Ball, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, recent Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure titles and more.
The beauty of this version (as opposed to the PlayStation version) is that this and every fighter on the Dreamcast provided a direct-to-source arcade experience whereas versions of this and other fighters that appeared on the PlayStation or other consoles were limited in terms of processing power and memory space to give it the full arcade experience (NOTE: that is not to say that the other versions were bad in any case. The PlayStation version compensated in many ways. While lacking the amount of sprite animations and loading times that the Dreamcast and arcade version had, it made up for it by adding mini-games and an exclusive story mode based on the Stardust Chronicles)
What this game did for Capcom was add another solid fighting game to their already awesome and robust library. What it did for gamers and non-fans of anime was help them learn more about the crazy mind of Hirohiko Araki and help create an even bigger fanbase than before because of the success of this game. Since the release of this game many other games have followed as well as new anime series that continued the legacy of the original OVA series.
One of the most unique and beloved melee fighters comes in the form of Power Stone. A game developed by Capcom which was released just a month after the legendary melee hit game Super Smash Bros for the Nintendo 64.
Unlike the original Smash Bros (or most of the Smash Bros. series) Power Stone has a fun, yet familiar story set in the 19th century and involves world traveling adventures of many characters from around the world in their pursuit of the Power Stones for their own personal purpose.
Dragon Ball fans will find this storyline appealing as it takes shades from the story Akira Toriyama created which tells the tale of a power to those who can possess all the power stones will be granted great power.
As you play through the story mode you choose one of ten characters as you venture through stages leading up to the main bosses. Using the Castle Map, you can choose what direction you want which will determine how many stages you will play through to reach the end. Each stage provides many environmental elements that allow you to strategically weaponize to your advantage. During the battle of one-on-one and four-way melee you will come across the power stones which you will attempt to grab during battle. If you manage to grab all three power stones, you will become a new powerful form that can unleash a super deadly move that could take you out completely.
Your opponent can also take the stones from you before you collect them all, giving them the opportunity to gain momentum and take you out with the stones.
This was an all-out blast both in the arcades and at home on the Dreamcast. This was an instant cult classic and has resurfaced later with a collection series for the PlayStation Portable (PSP). With the release of the Capcom Fighting Game collection, many in the FGC are wanting Capcom to release this and many other great 3D fighters in their library. Some of which will be mentioned in this list.
The sequel to the immensely popular weapon-based 3D fighter that made major waves in both arcades and home consoles known as Soul Edge (or Soul Blade as it was titled in the PlayStation version) came in the form of the new and improved fighter called Soulcalibur. Soulcalibur was one of the exclusive flagship titles that helped bring attention to fighting game fans in the heat of the fighting game crazy during the 90's. One look at this game's revolutionary 3D design powered by Namco System 12 arcade board (especially compared to that of PS1 titles like Tekken, Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha, and even Battle Arena Toshinden), and you knew this was something you had to own and play.
The game continued the story that Soul Edge started where warriors from around the globe are in search of a powerful cursed weapon that could bring destruction to both those against it as well as for it.
You play as one of nineteen characters as you fight through eight epic stages. Each character playthrough comes with individual endings as we learn about their destinies upon defeating the cosmic being known as Inferno (or Nightmare).
The game became legend for both fighting games and the Sega Dreamcast which also led to five follow up games in the Soulcalibur series and a few spin-offs for the PS3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Gamecube and PSP.
The series would also be popular enough to gain special guest characters like Darth Vader, Yoda, Heihachi Mishima from Tekken, Kratos of God of War, Gerald of The Witcher series, and Samurai Showdown's Haomaru just to name a few.
The game would later resurface on more modern platforms like mobile operating systems Android and iOS which works using touch screen virtual controls and plays surprisingly well.
Soulcalibur will always be a series near and dear to many Dreamcast owners' hearts as if this were the one game that will always come to mind when you think of that cult classic game system.
It's safe to say that Soulcalibur delivered in many ways and made a major impact on the gaming industry by being introduced to the Sega Dreamcast.
Undeniably the most anticipated fighting game of the new millennium was based on a game that put two of the fighting game industry's most popular fighting game characters in a crossover tournament for the ages.
In these days crossover series are common. But thirty years ago, companies like Coke and Pepsi, Nike and Addidas, Sega and Nintendo, SNK and Capcom, WWF and NWA wrestling would never acknowledge their respective competition in fear of giving them more attention and admitting they are the better brand.
Capcom and SNK can be (arguably) credited for being the first companies to break that taboo by working together to create the ultimate main event between two fighting game titan companies. For years of playing legendary fighting game titles such as Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter Alpha, Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, King of Fighters have been dreaming of seeing these characters come together. There would be debates on who could beat who, fan fictions made with scenarios and plots on how fights between Ryu versus Terry Bogard or Andy Bogard vs Ken Masters, or Kyo vs anyone would go.
The news exploded in the gaming world when it was announced that the two companies would come together to make history and it will premiere officially on the Sega Dreamcast.
While the NAOMI arcade version did debut on the Dreamcast (and arcades) it was not the first showing of the game as a year before that it debuted on the NEO GEO POCKET and entitled "The Match of the Millenium" and Card Fighter Clash (a card battle "Pokémon style" RPG starring SNK and Capcom favorites).
The Super deformed titles gave fighting game fans something to hold off while the development of the game was in the works.
When the game arrived on August 18, 2000, it was an instant hot seller and lived up to the hype fans wanted (except VS tag battles). The game played on SNK's elimination rule set seen in their popular title KOF (King of Fighters) series.
You choose a combined three-person team consisting of thirty-five characters from both SNK and Capcom world of fighters (two of which are boss characters you unlock and can only play as single player mode.)
You also have a "ratio system" which would allow you to choose the quantity of characters based not on their power ratings. EXAMPLE: If Ryu were a power player with a higher ratio and Kyo was a power player with a higher ratio, you would only be able to play using those two characters. If you chose characters with low ratios, you could add up to four low ratio characters in your team to equal the power ratio of others you face in the game. You had the choice of using a Groove system consisting of styles like Street Fighter Alpha and KOF styles helping you gain more energy to perform Super moves that would impact your opponents. The overall reception was well received for the Dreamcast version. The PlayStation version (much like Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure) was a limited version that didn't provide the same experience as the Dreamcast version and was met with mixed reviews due to its lack of processing power and its limitation in sprite animation. The game followed up with a sequel which provided more characters with a combined total of forty-eight characters consisting of twenty-four fan favorites from both the SNK and Capcom worlds. Changes to this game include the removal of the "ratio system" and settling for traditional set up of games.
CVS 2 was also introduced more characters from Street Fighter Alpha, Darkstalkers, and Samurai Showdown which in storylines may come off as odd considering some of the characters are not based in the prime universes like KOF or Street Fighter (Darkstalkers is based on a different universe while Samurai Showdown is based on an entirely different timeline.) Nonetheless, the game did not disappoint and was tons of fun for fans and tournament pro competitors of that era. The love for the Dreamcast can be set by fighting games like this one. Games that defined what the console was about. Action packed enjoyment.
The unexpected game series that helped bring in the idea of SNK vs CAPCOM was first done courtesy of the Marvel Universe was began when the super mutant team of the X-Men crossed over to the world of Street fighter in the first of many "VS tag series" of games by Capcom. Our first sighting of the X-Men started with their first standalone fighter called "Children of the Atom" in 1994 and had a huge popularity in the arcades (and on the Sega Saturn). The very first encounter between the two universes came when Akuma (Gouki) appeared as a secret character in the game making a connection to the universes that led to the first tag battle game. The success of X-Men vs. Street Fighter was followed up with Marvel's standalone fighter known as Marvel Superheroes which was a fighting game that was based around the Infinity Gauntlet and adding many of your favorite Marvel characters.
The momentum of these games all came together into one epic and wild experience that combined two major brands.
The first Marvel vs Capcom game put both brands against Marvel's biggest villain at the time ONSLAUGHT which was the psionic combination of Charles Xavier and Magneto who became one of the most powerful beings of the time. So much so that they were chosen to be MVC's final boss, and he lived up. No matter who you chose, Onslaught was a force to be reckoned with.
MARVEL vs CAPCOM 2 would follow and is widely considered to be the best in the series with face paced combo action and swift tag-based system making it one of the best tournament fighters of all time. With a roster of fifty-six characters (which was the biggest roster of any fighting game of that time) this was the fighter you wanted in your Dreamcast collection.
The only complaint I would make about this game is that it lacked the full presentation that you would expect for a fighting game in terms of providing endings for teams or individual characters to further the story's development. Instead, it just gave fans a generic credit scene ending with illustrations that showed you what happened after the epic final boss stage. Despite the lack of endings, the gameplay was so great it led to hours of replay value as you continue to learn every character's move set. The music and soundtrack for this game was also legendary with the main track repeating the words "Let me take you on a ride".............I think that's what that said. But it was catchy indeed.
Another very stellar fighter added to the awesome collection of Dreamcast games.
I know what you are saying after reading about fighting games on the Dreamcast. "Did you only play fighters on the Dreamcast?" "Are all ten of your picks just fighters?!!!" I am happy to tell you that the answer is NO and to prove it my next pick is created by a man who changed the way we play and see video games today. When you mention the name of Yu Suzuki in the gaming industry you also hear words associated with legend, game changer, revolutionist, legacy. That is because Yu Suzuki is responsible for creating the very first 3D polygon arcade game in the form of Virtua Fighter which was a fighting game totally in 3D graphics and animated to create real-time frame by frame movement.
That game made history and when it was honored to be permanently displayed at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. for its revolutionary contributions to the gaming industry.
But Suzuki didn't stop there. With the premiere of the Sega Dreamcast, Suzuki had a plan to use the 3D concept even bigger and more cinematic with the first open world experience known as Shenmue. A game that takes the teen character Ryo Hazuki in an adventure and experience like nothing before it. For the first time ever, you were found roaming around a city where you can interact with NPCs and partake in mini games consisting of odd jobs and martial arts challenges. You are then facing enemies where you use a time-based combat system filled with RPG elements allowing you to learn more techniques along the way.
But the most game changing feature of the game is the revolution of the QTE system (quick time effect) mode which is a timed based feature that you play to advance through certain parts of the story development. This feature was first introduced in the 80's with a laser disc series called Dragon's Lair and later Space Ace. Yu Suzuki would later perfect it and implement it into the Shenmue series. Since this game's success we have played many other games that used this feature. Most famously by Santa Monico Studio's legendary game series God of War which perfected the feature even further making it the standard of any game before it. What also made the game so great for its time was the dramatic revenge story of Ryo wanting to seek vengeance on the man who killed his father. The man known as Lan Di.
The playing as Ryo takes you to many places many have not seen before and thanks to AM2's engine which recreated known places in Japan which takes him on the path to stopping Lan Di from collecting the sacred mirrors (A dragon and a phoenix mirror).
The follow-up to the first game Shenmue 2 (released in Japan in 2001) takes Ryo to Hong Kong in his continued pursuit of Lan Di. Ryo would meet some new characters along the way that would help him. One of the other great innovations of the Shenmue series allowed you to use your saved data of the first game and use the content for the second installment. Any money, items, and skills you learned in the first was immediately transferred to the second game to allow you to continue the experience and never miss a beat. Sadly, the sequel was never released in America and the only way to play it is by having the import version of the Dreamcast followed by purchasing the game wherever imports were sold. NOTE: the other "OTHER" way you can do it is by getting a burned copy followed by what was known as a "Swap disc" which would grant you the ability to play import games onto the US version of Dreamcast.
It wasn't until recently that both Shenmue 1 & 2 were released in the states. The third installment of the series was finally announced at Sony's E3 showcase in 2015 (the same showcase that announced Final Fantasy 7 Remake) which made that year one of the greatest moments in E3 history. The game would be released in 2019 to unfortunately mixed reviews due to its outdated features.
The success of the series would transition in the form of an anime series from Crunchyroll which told the infamous story to a new generation of fans. Regardless of the series path the first game brought more impact to the industry than many before it and led the way for many other of your favorite open world games that you enjoyed today.
Everything about the Sega Dreamcast was about being bigger and better than ever. And what better way to display that than to present their flagship title and character with a new and improved look that screamed next level. Sonic Adventure provided just that with a huge new 3D platform and presentation like never before. Sega and Sonic Team really brought the heat with this title complete with an unforgettable rock track that fans still talk about today when reminiscing over this game. The song even made a return in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as you can hear it in full in the soundtrack section.
Sonic Adventure for me was as enjoyable back then as Mario Odyssey was for the Switch. Just a game that displayed how powerful and awesome Sega was back then.
What I loved even more about the game is the addition of the VMU Chao mini game that is played as a "Tamagotchi" game where you will care for and raise Chao's. If you were successful, the data on the VMU would transfer the Chao into a place where other Chao lived. Depending on how you raised the Chao you will get a unique and different looking Chao. This experience helped prolong the fun you had and really had me thoroughly invested in Sonic's world. The one thing that I loved about Sonic Adventure that we didn't get with the likes of Mario 64 was better animation and framework thanks to the Dreamcast running at 128bits and full voice acting which was a rarity at the time.
And to top it all off we were rewarded with a final boss mode that could be compared to the Autobots facing Unicron in Transformers the movie. You as Super Sonic flying towards the giant Chao while the game's theme song playing was nothing short of epic. This made for one of my favorites (if not the best) Sonic games I have played still to this day. While I did like Sonic Adventure 2 which had the debut of Shadow, I didn't get that same vibe that I did with the first SA game. Something to me felt off about my play through but I will never forget how many times I played through the first. There have been many Sonic games that played better and provided presentation. But for something reason the Sonic Team has yet to recapture that magic that they had with this game. Here's hoping that we get the magic back when Sonic Frontier comes later this in 2022.
This unsuspected title from Capcom came out with many surprised at its development. This game is a Bonafide gem that puts you in control of one of the hottest comic book characters of the 90's. Todd McFarlane is widely considered one of the best comic book artists in the industries history as well as one of the most successful figures in comic book history thanks to his massive hit with the Spider-man series followed by his own creation Spawn which was a part of the image line-up that rivaled both Marvel and DC at the time.
With Capcom working with Marvel, no one suspected any working relationship with the rebel independent comic book company. But we did, and what we got was an awesome action packed third person arena shooter/melee game that lets you play as many of your favorite characters from the comic complete with a story mode where you fight through stages leading up to facing and defeating the devilish and evil incarnate being known as Ambrosia.
Each character had a different ending which added more replay value to it. On the surface the game wasn't anything of a game changer, but it was mindless and violent fun as you battle through many arenas blasting and taking apart your enemies. The Dreamcast version added more characters from the arcade version providing fans with much more to work with throughout their gameplay experience. A part of me wishes more games were made like this rather than FPS format. I tend to have more fun seeing my characters in action instead of seeing them from a one-point first person perspective. This may not have been everyone's cup of blood but as a comic book fan, a McFarlane fan, an Image fan, and a Capcom fan this was the game for me.
When you talk about the Dreamcast you mostly talk about the fighting library that Capcom provided. You may also say that Capcom dominated the Dreamcast to a point that one might asked why not change the system brand not to Capcom's Dreamcast?
But when you think of the system and its association with fighting games there is not one time where the conversation comes up about Project Justice.
This fighting game was the follow up to RIVAL SCHOOLS which first appeared on the Sony PlayStation one. The game consists of well...................Rivaling schools try to be the best but a major threat comes between the schools and a bigger plot is revealed. PROJECT JUSTICE (or RIVAL SCHOOLS 2 for the PS1) picked up a year later where the first game left off with seven characters representing new schools leading now up to twenty-seven characters in the game. The Dreamcast version also came with a new way to play. The first RIVAL SCHOOLS game provided a 2-man team play system letting you do team attacks and assist that will help you in battle. You would also be able to pull off double team super moves that will cause major damage to your opponents. In PROJECT JUSTICE, you now have a three-man team that can now do Party-Up moves which is a super move using all three characters.
NOTE: The PS1 version known as RIVAL SCHOOL 2 (also known as Nekketsu Seisyun Nikki 2") was a diluted version of PROJECT JUSTICE. The contrast between the two lies in the processing power which didn't allow RS2 to have that three-team system the Dreamcast had along with the faster loading time. Much like the previous Capcom games mentioned on this list of favorites the company managed to compensate the two by adding a deep and immersed story mode to the PS1 version which played much like the first game but with sort of a dating simulation mechanic to it along with mini games to test your skills throughout the game. This is something that I wish was added to PROJECT JUSTICE and there is no reason as to why it was never added. The other thing it added to make up for the power the PS1 lacked was the ability to create your own character complete with customizable move sets and your choice of what school you wanted to represent. Sadly, this game never made it to the US as the game only released in Japan. Despite the deep gameplay experience of the PS1/PSX version the sequel provided the power and graphic presentation that helped make this a very memorable game that fans of the series still beg for in some form or fashion. Again, here's hoping we get a Capcom Fighting Library Vol. 2. Capcom has done us justice before bringing back some of our favorite titles. It's only a matter of time before school is in session again.
To no one who ever owned a Sega Dreamcast's surprise. This list started with fighting games, and it damn sure will end with fighting games. The reason I chose this game as my number one out of the many "many" great titles in the SDC library is because of the significance of this game and the presentation that Capcom provided. Tech Romancer was not only a cult favorite for those who ever owned a Dreamcast, but it was a treasure for anime fans (Mecha anime fans especially) who wanted to experience a game that made you feel like you were a part of an anime or manga adventure. The same type of adventure you would see watching box-sets anime series and OVA (Original Video Animation) series. Tech Romancer gave you just that. Here, you have a unique and innovative fighting game with a presentation that plays out like an episodic old school anime series (think Tetsuo Atom aka Astro Boy, or Gigantor, or Giant Robo for example) complete with fully cinematic anime intro with the credits rolling and each character with their own opening theme songs and commercial break sequence.
This game was unlike any fighting game I've played before it. This was also the type of game that normally would never become exposed here in the U.S. and to many surprises it had a U.S. release complete with full English voice cast. The game did not disappoint and provided a lot of replay value as you play through the characters episodic story modes that somehow intertwined with each other. What made it also special was that each character with their own Mecha robot paid homage to a popular anime series fans were familiar with like Ultraman, Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion. The story mode puts you in a future Earth setting where humans live in a more advanced and peaceful civilization until an evil alien threat known as "Goldibus" invades the planet with his legion who seeks to conquer the planet. It is up to a group of Mecha robot operating pilots to stop this major threat from taking over the Earth. While Tech Romancer didn't have any depth in game modes like other Capcom fighters it made up for it in its story mode. A lot of hours of dialogue and cinematic scenes before and after each match left gamers satisfied and in awe.
And because this is a Mecha Fighting game from Capcom, they took the liberty of adding everyone's favorite Marvel vs Capcom character "Jin Saotome" from the Cybernots Mecha fighting game along with his Mecha "Bloodia II"
Tech Romancer is just one of many great treasures that made gamers fall completely in love with the entire Dreamcast experience. Although this is a cult favorite among those who had the pleasure of playing it, the game is very much talked about whenever the conversations about fighting games on the Dreamcast. This was a game for the hardest of hardcore fighting game fans. There have been other games that tried to play own this same anime episodic format, but aside from other than another Capcom gem known as Asura's Wrath I have yet to see anything that came close. I would love for this game to see its way into a remake or a part of a collection series (along with Asura's Wrath which is just sitting on the shelf collecting dust) because there is a mountain of gamers out there that may have never played this game and would really enjoy this classic experience. As of late Capcom has released a bunch of their classic games into a collection series and it feels like only a matter of time before we see the return of this and other cult favorites.
SDC HONORABLE MENTIONS
Making a TOP 10 list wasn't easy to do. There are so many great games that graced the beloved console that it was a challenge to list them all. So, I will at least give a few games I thought deserved mentioning. (NOTE: Games that are available to play on modern game consoles will have a "*" next to them.
IKURAGA * (One of the greatest shooters ever)
WHAT'S YOUR TOP 10 SEGA DREAMCAST GAMES?
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