Skip to main content

25 brilliant Dreamcast games doomed from the start

Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness

As with Rayman, Maze Madness is a multiplatform release that performed best on Segas ailing console. Gameplay was simple as can be (run around Pac-Man mazes eating pellets and avoiding ghosts), but there was enough map diversity and charming music to make this feel like more than "Required Pac-Man Video Game Product #48."

As "serious" gamers, it's easy to ignore releases like this, as Pac appeal is so broad it may almost count as a, dare I say, casual title. Oh, it's worlds easier than half of the games on this list, but thats part of the draw - it's a laid back, just-for-fun trip when alone, and a remarkably addicting mainstay with another friend or two.

Floigan Brothers

Another bizarre gem from 2K Sports creators Visual Concepts, Floigan Brothers was heavily hyped well before the Dreamcast was even released, only to drop off the radar somewhere around the middle of the platform's life cycle. It then popped up again right at the end, reborn as an episodic adventure game that would never see any more episodes.

Centering around two junkyard-owning brothers, Hoigle and Moigle, Floigan Brothers was structured like an adventure game, but played more like a platformer. It also featured a trainable partner in the form of big brother Moigle, who could be taught to perform new tasks. It wasnt exactly fantastic, but theres never been anything else quite like it before or since.

Seaman

We've never been all that interested in caring for virtual pets, but nonetheless Seaman captured our hearts in his webbed fingers and never let go. Seaman tasked you with raising a bizarre fish/amphibian creature with the face of a gently smiling Japanese man. While you had to care for him, the real draw was the voice interaction via microphone.

Seaman would ask you questions, learning about you over time. Later on, hed ask questions relevant to what you told him, making it feel like he really "knew" you (the Dreamcast's ad slogan was "It's thinking" after all). At the end, he must go free, and it was the most heart-wrenching ending we've ever encountered in a game.

Zombie Revenge

Loosely based on House of the Dead, this brawler broke all the rules of zombie-themed anything by encouraging players to beat the shit out of zombies with their bare hands in addition to blasting them with found firearms (some of which, blasphemy of blasphemies, in the hands of zombies who were using them to shoot at you).

In spite of all the departures from accepted zombie formula, however, it was a respectably fun and cheesy (if tragically unpopular) reminder that slapping the word "zombie" onto a game's title didn't always result in great sales.

Project Justice

The sequel to the cult PSX hit Rival Schools, Project Justice was one of the more respectable fighters that Capcom brought to the Dreamcast party, immediately begging the question, "Why isnt Street Fighter EX this good?" Project Justice was a simplified, team-based Street Fighter spinoff that featured a high-school-themed storyline and awesome team-up attacks.

Of course, with words like "Rival" and "Schools" excised from its name to avoid terrifying jumpy parents, it carried almost none of the limited recognizability that the Rival Schools brand had built in the US. And it's a shame, because it was amazing at the time of its release, and still holds up remarkably well now.

The Typing of the Dead

You want a hard sell? "Light gun zombie typing game." We double-dog-dare any modern publisher to come up with something as brazenly bizarre as Typing of the Dead, a converted port of House of the Dead 2 that replaces light guns with keyboards. Eat your heart out, Mavis Beacon.

Each zombie has a word underneath its body you must type before it shambles up to you and strikes, so theres no aiming and no wild firing. Only typing. Cutscenes reveal your characters literally running around with Dreamcast consoles and keyboards strapped to their back. This was a console known for unique and off-the-wall efforts, and no game better fits both descriptors.

MDK2

Easily one of the best, fastest and weirdest action games on the Dreamcast, MDK2 featured a cast of three bizarre heroes - mad scientist Dr. Fluke Hawkins, his four-armed, gun-crazy dog Max and his janitor/stealth super-agent Kurt Hectic - who were tasked with freeing Earth from alien invaders. And you play through their adventure as all three: Max blasts everything in sight; Kurt uses a combination of shooting, sniping, and stealth; and Dr. Hawkins alternates between experimenting with random items and turning into a giant atomic monster.

If you need additional proof that the game was pure, unadulterated awesomeness, consider that it was developed by BioWare, the same studio behind Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect. Even so, we can see how the presence of a multi-limbed dog and a mustachioed old man on the cover might have failed to move units. Its worth noting that MDK2 got a second chance at life with PS2 and PC ports, neither of which did well enough to ensure the existence of a third Mission: Deliver Kindness.

Cannon Spike

For some publishers, the Dreamcast was a testing bed for weird new experiments that defied established genres, and few games embodied that better than Cannon Spike. A weird two-player blend of beat-'em-up and shoot-'em-up, Cannon Spike's menagerie of playable characters include Cammy and Charlie from Street Fighter, B.B. Hood from Darkstalkers, Arthur from Ghouls 'n' Ghosts and Mega Man.

Oh, and all the characters are wearing roller skates, giving them the freedom to move and maneuver extra-quickly as they battle waves of zombies and faceless goons. Betcha this one just flew off the shelves.

Wacky Races

No wait, dont run away! Underneath the barely tolerable Hanna-Barbera shell lies a damn decent Mario Kart clone, produced in a time when kart racer clones were merely annoying instead of irredeemably obnoxious. There's nothing overtly spectacular going on here, it's just a shockingly competent entry in a genre that repeatedly sees piles of garbage passed off as games.

Notable vehicle differences, varied power ups, super-smooth racing, all the key things that make a kart game a joy to play are handled respectfully, and when compared to its rivals (Looney Tunes Space Race, Disney's Magical Racing Tour, South Park Rally), Wacky Races may just be the systems best cartoony kart racer.

Outtrigger

A fast, slightly goofy arcade-style third-person shooter, Outtrigger was fun even in spite of the weirdly soulless vibe it shared with all of Sega studio AM2s games. Asking players to take down terrorists in online battles and quick, objective-based skirmishes, Outtrigger looked strange and dated next to two other, better games that had already made splashy debuts on the Dreamcast: Quake III: Arena and Unreal Tournament. But then again, neither of those games started you off with a rocket launcher as your default weapon.