On September 9, 2014, the Sega Dreamcast hit the 15th anniversary of its US launch. In case you weren't paying attention in 1999, the situation for the system wasn't ideal. Coming off of the disastrous Saturn boondoggle, the Dreamcast seemed like a beacon of hope--Sega's preemptive strike on the next generation, with gloriously crisp-looking graphics and a bevy of exciting early releases. And it was great, with the console playing host to some of Sega's most creative games of all time, not to mention stellar third-party exclusives.
Yet, while the games were fantastic, the Dreamcast itself didn't catch on as quickly as Sega needed, and the release of the PlayStation 2 sapped a lot of momentum from the little white console. Sega pulled the plug on active Dreamcast support in March 2001, with the last officially licensed games coming out within a year's time. Devastating as that decision was, the Dreamcast still served as home to scads of amazingly memorable games during its short shelf life, and we're counting down the top 50 essential experiences on the console. What topped our definitive list? Read on to find out!
50. Sega Bass Fishing
The Dreamcast’s lifespan proved to be unfeasibly fruitful for fans of weird games about fish, which might sound like the sort of thing people just say to be funny, if not for the fact that this was a major international gaming console for which a complicated “fishing rod” peripheral was widely available, so yes, really.
And you can’t (or shouldn’t) talk about the Dreamcast without talking about this lovingly realized simulation of high-tech Old Uncle sports. A succession of tournaments offer plenty of variety in the places you’ll go in your search for the ultimate catch. And enough of you want to do that that this game is widely available on a variety of platforms, even an HD port a couple years back?
49. MDK 2
BioWare took over development duties on this sequel from Shiny Entertainment, whose 1997 original seemed to exist primarily to push third-person shooters past all limits of credibility. So of course BioWare took the whole thing even further, offering you the reasonable choice of playing as the original’s gun-headed supersoldier, a six-legged cyborg dog, or a puzzle-obsessed scientist hooked on self-invented performance enhancers.
An HD remake on Steam reintroduced the world to MDK 2’s demented charm in 2011, so if you lack the requisite Dreamcast, that’s a good replacement..
48. Fighting Vipers 2
Virtua Fighter is well and good, but it’s a bit stuffy next to its illegitimate back-alley sibling-in-law, the Fighting Vipers line of one-on-one arena brawlers. They pitted a radical crew of ‘90s extreme-sports fanatics against one another and then threw in an assortment of assassins, wrestlers, gangsters, rockstars, and the like for a poorly justified series of championship punch-ups.
Destructible environments and smashable character armor add to the greasy arcade smash-’em-up feel, which went as far as offering a double-win KO if you pulled off the correct move at the correct time. Yes, winning the entire match in one hit.
A thriving fan community continues to support this feature-rich, reality-ambivalent RC racing sim from Acclaim/Probe. A huge lineup of decreasingly plausible remote-controlled vehicles thrash it out over 13 tracks, which serves as an engaging diversion while you get to grips with the game’s true heart: a comprehensive track editor from which players continue to pump out setups for multiplayer matchups.
The game stands up surprisingly well in single-player, too, especially when you get to grips with the weapons. Coming from an N64 background, ReVolt is a somewhat understated racer, certainly, but one that controls superbly and offers plenty of challenge. Definitely worth checking out.
46. Virtua Fighter 3tb
Originally slated for a Saturn release, Sega held the third installment of its popular Virtua Fighter series back after realizing that it would only ever be an approximation of the arcade game's majesty on the 32-bit machine. This restraint would reward Dreamcast players with an as-near-as-dammit perfect conversion of the arcade version’s impressive visuals.
The “tb” of the title refers to the game’s new Team Battle option, augmenting the traditional Virtua Fighter one-on-one matchups with team-play such as was all the vogue at the time of its 2000 release. Its controversial 'evade' button may not have been retained in future installments, but its inclusion--and the arenas' uneven floors--make for a refreshingly different take on the familiar formula.
45. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was immediately revolutionary upon its 1999 release, simulating skateboarding in full 3D with a trick-based score system that rewarded dexterity and daring in equal measures. But it’s this sequel, released just a year later by Activision/Neversoft, which is commonly regarded as the series’ high point. Indeed, THPS2 can be found near the top end of many best-game-ever lists.
What makes this one so special? The original’s varied, trick-centric gameplay sees an overhaul here with a greater breadth of moves, areas, and characters, as well as a comprehensive skater-creator mode. The levels are naturalistic and the tricks based on reality--much more so than the subsequent ever-more-crazy sequels--meaning this game actually inspired people to take up real skateboarding. True fact.
Seaman is a difficult experience to explain. Not only has the title fueled millions of easy jokes over the years, but this microphone-required game also still stands as one of the absolutely strangest games to ever exist, much less make it stateside.
In the game--which is narrated by Leonard Nimoy--you'll raise the titular creature, which begins as a fish with a human face and reacts to your commands, learning and evolving over time to hopefully one day become a frog-like being (but still with a human face). Equal parts virtual life simulator, curiosity, and creep show, Seaman is one of those system-defining oddities that's completely unforgettable.
43. The Typing of the Dead
Of all the totally out-there ideas that amazingly became Dreamcast games, The Typing of the Dead is easily the most laughable--and as such, one of the most spectacular of them all. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to convert The House of the Dead 2--a light gun game--into a game where you kill zombies by speedily typing in words or phrases, but the reality is pure genius.
Mixing educational gameplay with tongue-in-cheek sights and sounds (like special agents with keyboards strapped in front of them), you'll pound out letters to stay alive in an undead-infested city and have a blast doing it. Who said edutainment is lame?
42. WWF Royal Rumble
WrestleMania may be the premier event on WWE fans’ calendars, but the Royal Rumble is where sports entertainment’s unbridled chaos truly shines. Yuke’s, which’d go on to head development of Sega’s high-profile WWE 2K series, showed it could be trusted with Mr. McMahon’s brand when this 2000 NAOMI brawler injected new life into a franchise that had risked stagnation on the PlayStation and N64.
Besides the 30-man Royal Rumble proper, the game offers a season’s worth of Exhibition matches, offering play for one to four humans or an inventive NPC partner mode for solo rasslers. And it's still an absolute blast in four-player mode.
41. 18 Wheeler
With all the high-profile focus on licensing ever-flashier sports cars for use in racing titles, you might think gamers want nothing from racing except a chance to glimpse impossibly high-performing vehicles. But as demonstrated by this cult racer, the genre has a lot more to offer than mere aspiration-fodder.
The decidedly more utilitarian skill of piloting heavily loaded big-rigs across open roads throughout America is dramatized here, with greater rewards available to drivers willing to stake their skills on larger, heavier cargos. Despite the truck's massive turning circle, you'll still be accelerating pretty much constantly. Mainly because not even a pier can stand in the way of your massive inertia. Hehehe.
40. San Francisco Rush 2049
Aside from a couple of spotty ports, it's tough to have a bad time playing one of the classic San Francisco Rush games, and the Dreamcast version of San Francisco Rush 2049 definitely falls into that worthwhile category. Though it swaps to a lightly futuristic aesthetic with sleeker cars that spread wings and float in mid-air, it's still a Rush game at heart--which means high speeds and tracks filled with an insane number of high-flying shortcuts.
Seriously, check out some of the best runs on YouTube! It's amazing how many hidden ramps and side paths are in there. But even for a quick round with friends, this fast and loose arcade racer entertains.
39. Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
Curiously for a sport revolving entirely around punching grown men in the face, boxing hasn’t yielded any great wealth of AAA video game titles. Nintendo’s aging Punch-Out!! remains something of a benchmark, and it’s this series from which Ready 2 Rumble takes its cues. R2R expands the gameplay in a number of areas, all of them leaning firmly toward arcade fun over the realism of series such as EA’s Fight Night.
These boxers move fast, throw hard signature punches, and become delightfully maimed as fights progress (and revealing missing teeth when they smile for the victory cam), so you know they’re working hard for your amusement. Released across platforms of the day, the Dreamcast version exposed the gulf in power between it and its PlayStation and N64 rivals in impressive style. And it still looks great.
38. Sonic Adventure 2
Despite trailing off significantly in recent years, the 3D side of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise had a surprisingly stellar start on the Dreamcast with the Sonic Adventure entries, and the 2001 sequel really ramped up the action while working on some of the issues from the original launch game.
Sonic Adventure 2 introduced Shadow the Hedgehog to the world (even though he clearly gets blown up at the end of the game), while various two-player bonus stages let you loop in a friend for a little quick competition. Much of the multi-character content is filler, but Sonic's action stages remain both spectacular and thrilling.
37. Space Channel 5
The Dreamcast is home to some of Sega's most daring and beloved franchise attempts, and Space Channel 5 is an absolutely prime example. Starring a galactic TV reporter named Ulala, you'll dance through colorful space stations in an effort to defeat aliens and rescue hostages. It really is as bizarre as it sounds, but that's a large part of its appeal--the game even features a cameo from Michael Jackson, who holds a larger part in sequel Space Channel 5: Part 2.
Like many of the games created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi (of Rez fame), it's a one-of-a-kind affair (well, OK, two) with stellar mechanics, colorful aesthetics, and a soul all its own. Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!
36. Zombie Revenge
House of the Dead completists owe it to themselves to seek out this side episode, which expands on the universe and backstory of the more famous franchise--going so far as to feature the original’s Curien Mansion as a playable episode, complete with audio from the original zombie rail-shooter.
In gameplay terms, though, proceedings are closer in tone to something between Die Hard Arcade, with a focus on hand-to-hand combat augmented by the obligatory complement of zombie-bashing weapons. The production quality is superb, with 60fps action and slick effects, which include one of the greatest flame-throwers in any game ever. The same can't be said for the awful cut-scenes, but hey--it all adds to the charm.
35. Test Drive: Le Mans / Le Mans 24 Hours
Released in Europe as Le Mans 24 Hours, this showcase of the Dreamcast’s abilities is one of the finest racers on the platform and a must for players wanting to see what the system was capable of. Impressive weather effects, realistically-rendered supercars designed with the assistance of real Le Mans teams--25 of which appear in-game for you to join or defeat--and a wealth of options let you play the way you want to.
Of course, all this builds toward the game’s piece de resistance, the option to race the actual Le Mans 24 Hours over 24 actual hours. Looking back, it was years ahead of its time. And no matter what you do to try and make the frame rate fall from its impressive 30fps, it just doesn't budge.
34. Grandia 2
Grandia 2 was hailed as a champ upon its initial Dreamcast release in 2000, serving up one of the top single-player RPG experiences on the platform. Building off of the success of the Saturn and PSOne original, the sequel featured a turn-based system that let you move around a bit during battle, while the fantastic visuals and presentation made good use of the system's hardware.
By the time inferior ports were released for PlayStation 2 and PC, it had been greatly overshadowed by Final Fantasy X and other cinematic genre heavyweights. But for Dreamcast diehards, it was one of the best games of its kind and a great experience on its own merits.
33. Power Stone 2
One of the saddest omissions from Capcom's post-Dreamcast repertoire is the Power Stone franchise, which took the fighting genre in a fresh direction with true 3D environments. Like the original, Power Stone 2 is an absolute gem of a multiplayer experience, but it ups the player count from two to four. Cue carnage.
With a colorful, cartoonish aesthetic and highly distinct fighters (including a small boy named Pete... for no obvious reason), each match proves a whirlwind of fists, feet, and found items. It also adds environmental hazards to the mix, like a frantic dash away from a giant rolling stone ball and a rising fire, not to mention massive bosses. Both titles were ported to PSP, but a true revival is long, long overdue.
32. Chu Chu Rocket
Much like the name on the front of the box, ChuChu Rocket! is absolutely beguiling at first glance. Hailing from Sonic Team, the comical puzzler features simplistic art design, but it's put to good use in an approach best described as 'controlled chaos'. The goal in each stage is to guide a mess of blue and white mice to your rocket, but with holes and hazards (like dawdling orange cats), you'll need to drop navigational arrows on the board to guide your minions to safety.
It's an absolutely insane four-player experience, with scads of arrows and mice scattered about the screen, and it was also the first online Dreamcast game, giving it an extra-special place in history.
31. Virtua Striker 2
Released outside America with the more cumbersome name of Virtua Striker 2 Ver. 2000.1, this is a tweaked version of the arcade classic. Restricted to international teams only, the game is clearly an arcade conversion as opposed to an exhaustive, sprawling home console simulation of football. But therein lies its genius.
The production is classic Sega, with an over-excited announcer proclaiming your rainbow-trailed replay 'Today's best goal!' and assigning style points to your strikes for the ball going in off the bar or being scored via bicycle kick. Sadly, several elements of the game are just plain broken, with players inexplicably running away from loose balls and slowing their pace when in possession. But learn to cope with its numerous flaws and there's no denying the moments of absolute arcade magic that pepper every attempt at winning the glorious international cup. One more time... 'Wonderful goal!'
30. Samba de Amigo
Many years before Rock Band made it seem totally normal to buy a whole box full of plastic instruments, Samba de Amigo unexpectedly pushed boundaries by selling expensive sets of plastic maracas--and it was well worth the cash. This Latin-tinged maraca-shaking game is still an absolute blast today, not to mention wickedly tough in parts.
You'll shake the plastic maracas up, down, and to the sides to match the onscreen indicators, with a slick soundtrack that even made Ricky Martin songs seem palatable. The Dreamcast sequel never saw release outside Japan, and the later Wii version lost the beat a bit, but the original still reigns supreme.
29. Rippin’ Riders Snowboarding / Snow Surfers
Released in Europe as Snow Surfers, 1999’s Rippin’ Riders Snowboarding joined the lengthy list of snowboarding titles available in the late 1990s, such as 1080° and Cool Boarders--which, due to title-licensing shenanigans, had served as UEP Systems’ own unspoken predecessor to this title.
Offering an initial six downhill courses, with an additional two unlockable secret levels, Rippin’ Riders displayed an x-treme focus on high-flying tricks and stunts that predated EA’s genre-defining SSX line. The game’s solid physics engine shines in the practice half-pipe, while championship play offers a steady procession of attractive high-altitude settings.
28. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
While essentially an enhanced port of a six-month-old PlayStation game, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver made a strong impact on Dreamcast gamers, thanks to hugely improved visuals found on top of the same awesome original release. Swapping between spectral and material versions of the game world, you'll guide Raziel--a badass wraith--through a hack-and-slash quest to take down the titular Kain.
Soul Reaver is considered one of the best original adventures of its time, despite its abrupt ending, and the Dreamcast release stands tall thanks to the added horsepower helping the gothic world of Nosgoth come to life in an impressive manner.
27. Hydro Thunder
The Dreamcast version of Hydro Thunder came closest of all the home conversions to capturing the speed and spectacle of the arcade cabinet version. Available for the DC's launch, Hydro Thunder was passed up by many because it wasn't Sonic, Sega Rally or Soul Calibur. But there's no reason you can't revisit it now, because it's aged remarkably well.
The game's best feature is its boost system, which enables you to knock rival boats clean out of the water and even to jump up to catch bonuses bloating above the track... or leap into shortcuts concealed in the scenery. With impressive water effects, massive jumps and an absolutely crazy final level set inside an Egyptian pyramid, Hydro Thunder is one of those games that doesn't look like much on the surface, but ends up being one of your all-time faves.
26. Sega Rally 2
The original Sega Rally was a benchmark racer on the Saturn during the previous generation, so a lot of expectation was placed on Sega Rally 2, which enjoyed success in arcades before receiving its home conversion for the launch of Dreamcast. The result may be slightly imperfect in terms of frame rate dips and unusual car handling, but enough of the magic made the leap to make this worthy of a place in your Dreamcast collection.
All four of the 1998 arcade version’s tracks are here, together with an additional seven tracks; this generosity extends to the roster of available vehicles, which has been extended from the initial eight with an additional 11 rally vehicles. The '10 year Championship' series of the single-player has more length, depth and car set-up options than the original, making for a substantial challenge. If only it ran at 60fps all the time, it would undoubtedly be higher up this list.
25. NFL 2K
Visual Concepts' NFL 2K series helped push video game football toward a more modern, broadcast-style approach while also holding its own against Madden--and NFL 2K2 was its Dreamcast swan song before expanding to other platforms. Annual sports iterations tend not to age well, true, but when it launched, 2K2 felt like a tremendous recreation of the sport.
Excellent player models and animations help anchor the action in reality, while the improved running game is noticeable, and the franchise and online play options offered plenty of lingering depth. It's testament to the game's quality that it still looks and feels so solid. At the time, it was nothing short of revolutionary.
24. NBA 2K
With Electronic Arts’ NBA Live series enjoying unchallenged supremacy in the field of virtual hoops for some time, Sega’s challenger--developed by 2K mainstay Visual Concepts--had a lot to prove. How’d it go? Well, put it this way, there’s been a new NBA title from the studio every year since.
Full 1999-2000 rosters are present in this unparalleled effort at realistic, fast-action full-court play, which offers a range of play modes as well as an inventive player editor to put the “Face in the Game” feature debuted by EA in the same year to shame. Player AI is sharp enough to reward single-player marathons, and while later entries in the series would add crucial features such as online play, the original NBA 2K still looks and feels just like basketball. And the commentary is astonishing. No other Dreamcast game is as technically impressive as this. No wonder the series is so good now.
23. Rayman 2: The Great Escape
It's so easy for one botched element--be it a wonky camera or spotty controls--to completely ruin a 3D platformer, so there's a good reason why the best of them are lavished with such glowing praise. Rayman 2: The Great Escape is frequently still considered one of the top games in its genre more than a dozen years after release, thanks to its fabulous art design and stellar fundamentals found throughout, all of which conspired to create a memorable platform experience that holds up impressively well today.
An enhanced version of the Dreamcast release is available on Nintendo 3DS as Rayman 3D, although there's something special about the assuredness of Dreamcast's texture rendering that makes this the most solid and believable version of this inventive and fun-filled game world.
22. Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future
Considered a hard reboot of the Ecco series with no concrete ties to the earlier Genesis and Sega CD titles, Defender of the Future was written by Hugo Award-winning sci-fi author David Brin and narrated by fourth Doctor Who Tom Baker. This level of talent should offer some hint of the game’s production values, resulting in one of the best-looking and most unique titles on the platform.
The story may see Ecco travelling to Atlantis and taking in several taxing puzzles along the way, but the game's greatest achievement is the realisation of a naturalistic dolphin. Indeed, toggle the camera onto its looser setting and Ecco's movement is so realistic, you could be fooled into thinking you're watching a nature documentary. Serene and supreme, Ecco is a Dreamcast masterpiece.
21. Metropolis Street Racer
Bizarre Creations, which would go on to create Project Gotham Racing as well as time-trial shooter The Club, was hand-picked by Sega in the late ‘90s to create a Dreamcast answer to PlayStation killer app Gran Turismo. Intended to launch alongside the console in English-language territories, the game’s painstaking development saw it remain under wraps until late in the ill-fated console’s history.
That’s a shame, because this game is huge. Dozens of realistically simulated vehicles, over 250 courses, and innovative features such as the Kudos skill-meter and in-game conditions affected by real-world time of day make it a Dreamcast racer without peer. And you could add in your own fail comments, meaning when you crashed, the game could tell you to 'stay on the road, fool!' like Mr T.
20. Dead or Alive 2
Crafted by Team Ninja, Dead or Alive's first sequel used separate graphics engines for its fighting and cut-scenes, allowing for unprecedented graphical fidelity. The Dreamcast's technical grunt allows for a wildly ambitious sequel, which adds tag-team fighting and multi-tiered stages, complete with cinematic transition animations as fighters smash through stained glass windows and fall into courtyards below... where they stand up and continue the fight. Amazing.
And hey! We’ve managed to make it through multiple sentences before mentioning the most infamous aspect of the title, Tecmo’s bespoke physics engine for rendering the heroines’ breasts! Oh, damn...
19. Sonic Adventure
Sonic’s highs and lows are a well-documented matter on this website and elsewhere, but we came to praise Sonic, not to bury him, so let’s just say that with the release of this high-speed 1999 masterwork, we had every reason to hope that Sonic’s future forays into the third dimension would be every bit as acclaimed as his 2D origins. Having largely sat out the Saturn era, this was something of a rebirth for Sonic.
The game's greatest triumph is the variety of its gameplay, offering everything from pinball tables and bumper car racing sections to a fishing simulation and shooting stages. Sonic's levels steal the show, of course, and levels like Speed Highway and Emerald Coast contain some of Dreamcast's finest moments. You can't own a Dreamcast and not own this.
18. Resident Evil: Code Veronica
Code: Veronica was a daring move for the Resident Evil franchise, finally debuting a core series entry on a platform other than the PlayStation, but it panned out spectacularly as the advanced hardware emboldened the survival horror affair. Splitting the quest between Claire and Chris Redfield, the adventure maintained many of the core elements of the beloved franchise while ditching the pre-rendered backdrops of past games for a more cohesive, real-time 3D aesthetic.
The game did eventually make it to a PlayStation platform as Code: Veronica X for PS2, but Dreamcast series fans got a huge head start on this excellent entry back in 2000. It's aged very well too, so if you miss 'old Resi' and haven't played this, you're in for a treat.
As with its spiritual predecessor Radiant Silvergun on Saturn, Ikaruga became the default much-loved, totally-impossible-to-obtain shoot-'em-up for Dreamcast--and it was only released on the console in Japan (a GameCube version came out worldwide).
What makes Ikaruga such a defining genre entry is its unique focus on bullet polarity, in which you need to swap weapons to take out certain enemies, while risking your own tail in the process. It's a beautiful shooter, and thankfully, due to an HD remake on Xbox Live Arcade, more and more people can experience it at a reasonable price. But it's still worth seeking out on Dreamcast to see what the console can do in Treasure's incredibly capable hands.
16. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
Throw a stone and you’ll hit a home conversion of Street Fighter II, but the epochal fighter’s sequel mainly stuck to the arcades--except for two Dreamcast conversions, of which this is by far the better pick. As well as the full roster of SF3’s 10 characters (eight of them new to the series) and the new entrants added for the 2nd Impact installment, 3rd Strike adds five new characters including fan-favorite Chun-li, bringing the initial playable total to 19 (villain Gill is also unlockable).
The title also features new gameplay modes and remixed versions of each character’s theme on top of the original tracks, making it a holy grail for Street Fighter completists. It's true that it isn't as well known as its predecessor or its successor (some people actually asked 'there was a SFIII?' when SFIV was announced), but in terms of hardcore, technical fighting, this is undoubtedly the pinnacle of the series and demands your full attention.
15. House of the Dead 2
It's already appeared once on this list with its typing spin-off, but the game's original light gun shooter incarnation is one of Dreamcast's finest hours. Building upon Sega's long history of arcade shooters, it launched alongside the Dreamcast in 1999, delivering a zombie-blasting co-op experience that did a slick job of recreating the coin-op version.
Though notable for its impressively hokey dialogue and voice acting ("suffer, like G did?"), The House of the Dead 2 earns its place on this list with intense, precise shooting gameplay and detailed gore. It certainly doesn't hurt that Sega's own light gun for the console looks like a rad futuristic pistol, though you'll need to hunt down a pair of them to get the most out of this horror shooter.
14. Phantasy Star Online
What began as a traditional JRPG on the Master System and Genesis was radically transformed into Phantasy Star Online, which itself proved a pioneer in bringing online adventuring to consoles. While playable solo, Phantasy Star Online really comes alive when you pair up with three online pals, empowering teams to conquer common foes and massive bosses in search of loot and improved levels and gear.
Though limited compared to traditional PC MMOs, PSO opened up online gaming on consoles to a much wider audience thanks to its automatic language translation of set phrases to anyone in your party regardless of language spoken, and its accessible hack-and-slash combat and still-gorgeous visuals make it hugely appealing. Oh, the hours spent in this wonderful game...
While Space Channel 5 explores a sillier side of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's rhythm-gaming genius, Rez delves into much trippier territory, with a music game that blends Panzer Dragoon-esque shooting with thumping electronic beats and wireframe visuals. By creating sounds via actions that build the music tracks in the game, Rez attempts to simulate the sensation of synesthesia.
Sadly, the Dreamcast version of Rez never reached the States (though it did hit Europe), but we've been lucky enough to experience it on PlayStation 2 and Xbox Live Arcade since.
12. Daytona USA 2001
It’s testament to Sega AM2’s standard-setting work on Daytona USA that the game stubbornly refused to leave arcades in the years following its release--and despite the unveiling of innumerable competitors and Sega’s own sequel, somehow the 1993 original never managed to look dated. This Dreamcast version slaps a fresh sheen on the timeless favorite, offering a host of customization options and some new courses that make the most of the Dreamcast's techincal grunt with some impressively large draw-distances.
There are also loads of new vehicles to unlock, including one called the Pywacket Barchetta. The less said about that one, the better. Still, occasional madness aside, this is the best Daytona USA game that isn't the HD remake of the arcade original. That said, there's something special about playing Daytona on a Dreamcast. If only Daytona 2 had been converted too...
11. Mr Driller
Initially intended as a third title in Namco’s vintage Dig Dug series, the Tetris-influenced gameplay of this spin-off soon impressed executives enough to give Mr. Driller his own spin-off. Multicolored blocks have blanketed Mr. Driller’s world (sure, okay) and the only way to save himself from asphyxiation is to take up his signature large-torque boring tool and get to tunneling.
Mr. Driller’s genius is in the behavior and deceptively nuanced layout of the blocks themselves: Drill correctly and you’ll be rewarded with colored matchups resulting in the clearance of those blocks from the playfield, but tunnel haphazardly and you’ll soon be frantically drilling to outrun an avalanche of accrued pieces. One slip can cost all your progress--giving this one plenty of just-one-more-try appeal.
10. Ferrari 355 Challenge
Shenmue auteur, star Sega developer and passionate Ferrari enthusiast Yu Suzuki oversaw this love letter to the Italian car manufacturer’s F355 Challenge, which is both a vehicle manufactured by the company and a vehicle-testing event then being held by Ferrari itself.
Driven by a desire for the most realistic Ferrari simulation possible, Suzuki drew on his own motoring experience to craft a sim that’s as deep as it is fast. The deluxe NAOMI arcade model was quickly ported to Dreamcast, adding five new circuits to the original’s six courses, including a realistic model of Ferrari’s own legendary Fiorano Circuit. A sim of comparable quality to the amazing Gran Turismo 3, this was way ahead of its time and still plays brilliantly.
9. Quake 3 Arena
In 2000, first-person gaming had progressed from the claustrophobic hellscapes of Doom and Quake into multiplayer tournament play to test the limits of LAN play and the burgeoning Internet. Quake III Arena spearheaded the drive toward FPS gaming as a hyper-violent cybersport, and the Dreamcast version quickly gained a reputation as one of the most solid computer ports ever to hit consoles.
Boasting fast, smooth play--crucially even during pitched matchups--and an easily accessible online mode, the Dreamcast version of Quake III is the one that many superfans remember most fondly. Such is the game’s continuing popularity that fan-servers continue to cater to ongoing public demand.
8. Skies of Arcadia
Skies of Arcadia is a single-player RPG in which skyfaring pirates do battle in floating ships, and your 17-year-old hero, Vyse--armed with dual cutlasses--is a uniquely positive protagonist in a genre full of mopey leads.
The battles prove impressive both on the ground and in the air against other ships and monstrous beasts, making for a long and satisfying quest that pops on every level. A lightly revised port came to GameCube a bit later on, while the leads made cameos in Valkyria Chronicles for PS3, but otherwise this series sits sadly dormant, aside from getting its own themed track in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. So maybe it hasn't been completely forgotten...
Originally in development for the Sega Saturn, Shenmue was thankfully held over for the Dreamcast, giving the platform one hugely epic exclusive. Set in Yokosuka, Japan in the 1980s, Shenmue tells the story of Ryo Hazuki, a young man who sees his father killed by a mysterious warrior.
That event kicks off a lengthy and deliberate tale of revenge across the open-world setting, with the adventure filled with hand-to-hand fights, quick-time events, and plenty of time spent gathering clues as you explore the environments. The immersive world design makes it a difficult game to put down, but while a sequel was released on Dreamcast and Xbox (only the latter reached the States), a true ending to the series remains sadly unresolved.
6. Virtua Tennis
We have Virtua Tennis to thank for finally making the ball-lobbing sport viable as a fun and accessible video game. What this pioneering entry did that previous tennis titles couldn't was make it not only easy to hop in and take a swing, but also make it an absolute blast, whether playing solo or with/against a friend.
Simple controls offer simply ground shots or lobbed shots, offering advanced control for those who seek it through court positioning and charged angles instead of offering separate buttons that would needlessly complicate the formula.
The minigames are just as enjoyable as the main game itself, offering silly challenges with bowling pins and targets to hit as you level up your character in order to progress through a World Tour. It's that pure arcade essence that makes the original Virtua Tennis such a wonderful game and although its first sequel is also on Dreamcast and just as appealing, nothing can match the purity of this first iteration.
5. Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
Despite its short shelf life, the Dreamcast--like the Saturn before it--became known as the best home for certain arcade fighting games, including the original Marvel vs. Capcom (which was butchered on PlayStation) and its sequel, which was less-expertly ported to other systems further down the line.
On Dreamcast, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 maintains every inch of chaos from the arcade release, with 56 fighters available for you to create three-person squads for hectic tag-team showdowns. The fantastic 2D animations and rock-solid frame-rate look superb on Sega's console, and have aged superbly. Power it up now and it still feels new, fresh and just as spectacular as ever. HULK SMASH!
4. Power Stone
Power Stone was developed by Capcom for Sega’s new NAOMI arcade board, which meant it could be quickly ported to the company’s new Dreamcast console--on which the NAOMI hardware was based. The 3D brawler quickly put rivals like Capcom/Arika’s own Street Fighter EX to shame, with arena-based matchups closer in tone to Square’s Ehrgeiz than the likes of Tekken or Soulcalibur. This is true 3D fighting.
Weapons and the eponymous Power Stones litter arenas, taking the focus from persistent head-to-head into contests of spatial dominance akin to a fast-paced, super-powered wrestling matchup. Turning into your powered-up alternate form and annihilating your opponent with screen-filling pyrotechnics while the announcer shouts 'K.O.!' is one of gaming's most fulfilling moments. Power Stone is better than its 'bigger' sequel because the gameplay is less cluttered and less confusing. And it's the perfect showcase for Dreamcast if you ever want to show someone what the console represents.
3. Jet Grind Radio/Jet Set Radio
Another wildly innovative Dreamcast original, Jet Grind Radio (that's Jet Set Radio outside of the States) stars a young gang of rollerblading graffiti artists, who fight to express themselves in the police state of Tokyo-to. Blading around the three areas of the city, you'll spray paint tags all over buses and walls while evading the cops, all as a fantastically diverse soundtrack blares in the backdrop.
Jet Grind Radio is perhaps best known for popularizing cel-shaded visuals, but the game earned (and still deserves) love for more than just looking good. It's probably the coolest game ever made. Pleasantly, there is now an excellent HD conversion on most consoles, which adds in second-stick camera control, but the Dreamcast original is a riot on its home platform and needs to be sampled as it was originally intended to be played.
2. Crazy Taxi
This very nearly topped our list, so consider this a very close runner-up to the winner. Crazy Taxi gives you a simple goal: Use the limited time available to transport as many passengers as possible across the city, picking up time bonuses for speedy trips.
And so begins a chaotic spin through crowded streets and impromptu shortcuts, wherein you'll rock out to The Offspring and Bad Religion while chauffeuring screaming passengers to the Pizza Hut. Thanks to its deceptively deep control scheme and high-score replayability, it's still such a vibrant and exciting play experience today, many years after its iconic Tower Records storefronts faded to the wind.
It's hard to imagine a fighting game today making the kind of impact of Soulcalibur, but Namco's Dreamcast launch title was boldly revolutionary, completely raising the bar for how a 3D console fighter could look and play. On the surface, the game remains remarkably polished, with hugely enhanced visuals over the arcade release that remain among the best in Dreamcast's library.
But as the visual impact begins to fade with time (though not much, it has to be said) the weapons-based combat remains exemplary, striking a remarkable balance between accessibility and depth. The lengthy mission mode remains a perfect example of how to augment a quick-play arcade game for weeks of home console play sessions. But even without that, the standard one-on-one versus game would still top our list. The 8-way run, ultra-precise parrying system and sheer wealth of useful and beautiful fight moves make Soulcalibur one of the best fighting games of all time. And it's the absolute best Dreamcast game, period. The legend will never die.