Gaming Look back – Sega Dreamcast
The Dreamcast is a home video game console released by Sega on November 27, 1998 in Japan, September 9, 1999 in North America, and October 14, 1999 in Europe, sold in excess of 9.13m units worldwide.
It was the first in the sixth generation of video game consoles, preceding Sony’s PlayStation 2, Nintendo’s GameCube and Microsoft’s Xbox. The Dreamcast was Sega’s final home console, marking the end of the company’s 18 years in the console market.
The turn of the 21st century does, of course, belong to the PlayStation 2, but Sega’s final console was the first of that sixth-generation of home gaming systems, and to this day inspires unbelievable loyalty amongst its fanbase.
Hardware shortages, mediocre marketing, the lack of EA’s otherwise omnipresent sports games and Sega’s bad rep off the back of the preceding Saturn and 32X consoles meant it couldn’t compete with the PS2’s eventual blitzkrieg.
It was a pioneer of online gaming, however – the shining light of the modem age. Its MMO Phantasy Star Universe still runs to this day. It even had a web browser and supported keyboards (the latter was also memorably employed in bonkers spelling-shooter The Typing of the Dead).
The Dreamcast might be long off the shelves, but its scene continues to thrive – which is at least partly due to the crazy ease of running pirated and homebrew games on it.
Top 3 rated games.
- Soul Calibur
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.
- 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 Pizza Hut. Thanks to its deceptively deep control scheme and high-score replayability, it’s still a vibrant and exciting play experience today, many years after its iconic Tower Records storefronts faded to the wind.
- Sonic Adventure 2
It’s a widely held belief that Sega pretty much killed off its mascot when it made the jump to 3D, and it has to be said that many of the 3D Sonic games are pretty terrible. However, Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast was an exception to that rule.
The first Sonic Adventure may have been a little rough around the edges, but the second game managed to refine the formula greatly. It featured multiple characters, various game styles and some impressive presentation. It was a slick, 3D affair that was one of the few such Sonic games to recapture the feel of the originals whilst injecting something new.
The pseudo-adventure elements of the first game were stripped out, leaving, for the better, a much more traditional action-oriented game. It also made much better use of the DC’s VM units thanks to the improved Chao garden.
It wasn’t a perfect game, but it’s one of the last, great Sonic games released, and to some, the only 3D outing worth playing.
Did or do you own a Sega Dreamcast?
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