All week we’ve been wallowing in Sega-soaked self pity, lamenting the Dreamcast’s tragically short lifespan. From 1999 to 2001 it managed to go from “Sega’s big comeback” to “whoops, out of business” despite a strong, diverse lineup of first and third party titles. With only so much cash to dump onto a system that had mere months to live, thousands of gamers were forced to pass on anything but clear-cut system-sellers like Sonic, Soul Calibur and 2K Sports.
Naturally this led to dozens of “also ran” titles that cried out for your attention, only to be sentenced to mass bargain bin graves the likes of which we wouldn’t see again until Rock Revolution. Collected here are 22 of the very best Dreamcast games that met such undignified ends.
Contributing editors: Brett Elston, Henry Gilbert, Matt Keast, Joe Newman, Mikel Reparaz
Alien Front Online
Packing online play and a goofy 1950s B-movie vibe, Alien Front Online enabled players to wage war as either tanks or giant, crab-like alien walkers. But its real draw was that it was the only online game to really utilize the Dreamcast’s microphone, enabling static-filled voice chats with screaming children on the other side of the globe years before we hated it on Xbox Live.
Current value: Ebay has listings that start at $1 and peak at $5 with zero bids, so anyone in the know can swoop in and start a rather powerful Dreamcast library, starting with Alien Front Online.
Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage
Pretty, gruesome and based on a fairly obscure anime, Sword of the Berserk was a medieval-fantasy adventure about a large man (named Gatsu or “Guts”) with an even larger sword, which he used to chop shambling plant-monsters in half.
Focusing on Guts’ ham-fisted efforts to free a kingdom from a strange, zombifying virus, Berserk mixed exploration with gory, brawler-style sword combat years before Devil May Cry or God of War were household names. To this day, we’re not entirely sure why it didn’t do better – although the unwieldy name might have had something to do with it.
Current value: The general price seems to be around $10, and one guy’s pushing a sealed copy for $75. Never gonna happen.
Rayman 2: The Great Escape
It’s hard to consider Rayman 2 a “missed” title, as it was one of the most highly regarded platformers of its day and backed by a reasonably large marketing push. Out of all the various releases, the Dreamcast’s stood at the top, with at-the-time gorgeous visuals, smooth gameplay and genuinely inventive level design.
So why did it die? Even though the Dreamcast was selling quite well, thousands weren’t sure if it was the right choice just yet. The impending PS2 cast a long shadow over Sega’s entire operation, so even strong reviews and word of mouth can’t sell a game to people who don’t own the machine it plays on. The best version of Rayman’s best game, sadly destined to slip away.
Current value: As of this writing, there are absolutely zero auctions for a DC copy of Rayman 2. All we could find are several “Buy It Now” options that range from $8 (well worth it) to $50 (you’ve got to be kidding).
Super Magnetic Neo
Pao Pao Park is under attack by the evil baby Pinki and her gang of pink-jumpsuit-wearing misfits, and it’s up to Neo - a robot with the power of magnetism – to stop them. The ability to propel yourself through the environment using similar or opposite polarities adds a nifty puzzle element to the platforming, and the colorful graphics still hold up nicely today.
Be warned, though – beneath Neo’s cartoony exterior is one of the most unrelentingly hardcore games on the Dreamcast, which consequently makes a well-executed speed run a thing of beauty.
Current value: One auction is sitting at $1 (as of this writing), the rest are complete copies that peak at $35. Strange, considering we recall piles of this filling bins in retailers across the country.
Strange though it may seem, the minds behind the 2K Sports series had a creative side. A really creative side, one that wanted to make oddball games about masked witch doctors pelting each other with shrunken heads on tiny deserted islands while a mellow surf-rock soundtrack blared.
Ooga Booga – so named for the volcano goddess for whom the witch doctors, or Kahunas, battled – was an online-enabled, four-player party-combat game (something you don’t see so much these days) that encouraged players to take on the guises of Fatty, Twitchy, Hottie and Hoodoo and ride wild boars, hurl fireballs and generally smack their friends around for points. It was simple, it was silly and it was a lot more fun than its dismal sales imply.
Current value: For an allegedly “rare” title, Booga doesn’t command much in the aftermarket. Good news for you though, as $5 for a sealed copy is too grand to pass up.
Much of the Dreamcast’s lineup was delightfully niche, but we felt no shame enjoying this Capcom classic slathered in love for mecha and anime. Sure, the giant robots in this fighter technically weren’t Gundams, Escaflownes or Mazinger Zs, but fans could tell that nearly all the fighters were loving homages to those iconic Japanese heroes. Even the finishers matched stylistically to the series they were referencing.
Romancer also embodies Capcom’s general stance towards the platform – rather than port over established series, it tested new idea after new idea, none of which (save maybe Power Stone) caught on. It didn’t help that Capcom was competing with itself on Dreamcast, as a game called “Tech Romancer” couldn’t hope to stand up against several Street Fighters, Project Justice and either Marvel vs Capcom.
Current value: One intrepid eBayer is attempting to charge $208.59 for a sealed copy, which could have paid for an entire Dreamcast console at launch. More sensible sellers are ready to part with a copy for $15.