Top 10 Dreamcast Games
By Zach Patterson Saturday, 12 Sep 2009

In part four of our Dreamcast feature, we polled 5 of our biggest Dreamcast fans to come up with Good-Evil’s top 10 Dreamcast games. Read on for our list, with comments by Andrew, Zach, Skip, Chris, and Chuck.

#1: Soul Calibur

Why it’s #1: Soul Calibur did a lot for the Dreamcast. Right out of the gate, it was a tremendous looking game with great control and lots of depth. Soul Calibur is, in my opinion, the best 3D fighter series. The sequels, while all living up to the expectation of quality, have struggled to really be as mind blowing as the original. It’s amazing that this game was a launch title for the Dreamcast in the US, and still looks better than most PS2 games. The game has a low barrier to entry, but has a deep combo system that rewards skilled players. Button mashers always have a chance to win, as was proven in the legendary battle: Raub vs. Hohman’s drunken foot.

– Andrew

#2: Rez

Why It’s #2: Rez, at the very core of its gameplay, isn’t terribly different from another Sega series, Panzer Dragoon. You float along a 3D linear plane, destroying enemies that come your way, and fight some big, interesting bosses. However, if that’s all Rez was, it likely would not be #2. What makes this a classic game is the synergy of music, action, and dazzling graphics. Mixing a superb blend of underground electronic artists with gameplay that pulses along to the music according to your movements on screen, Rez truly is mesmerizing to play. As you level up and advance through levels your character becomes more defined and beams you fire become different tones to shoot along to the beat. Then there is the graphics, which to this day are some of the most creative ever in a game. You start out in a level that could best be described as a vector graphics tribute, but as you progress, the world becomes more detailed and intricate, leading up to the finale level where the game takes you through the birth of life on earth on up through the cosmos. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the most creative boss fights ever. Battling monster electronic octopus creatures from outside and within and taking down hard charging monolithic block-golems are just some trippy stuff you will find. Every gamer should give Rez a chance.

– Zach

#3: Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes

Why It’s #3: The culmination of Capcom’s years of developing non-technical, high energy fighting games, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 took the best elements of games like Marvel Super Heroes, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, and (naturally) Marvel vs. Capcom and took it to another level. Tag teams became three-man groups, the character list takes an enormous leap up to 56, backgrounds were rendered in 3D (as contrasted to the 2D sprite based characters), and the soundtrack…well, that actually went to a weird place, infusing these incredible, action packed battles with smooth jazz. It was a love it or hate it move that I adored, as anyone that has played this game with any regularity now has “I’m gonna take you for a riiiiiide” burned into their heads. It was an arcade perfect port with unlockables and replay value galore. There is a reason Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is one of the most demanded games that may never happen, and that is because MvC2 did such an amazing job of bringing a rich experience to the fighting genre.

– Skip

#4: Crazy Taxi

Why It’s #4: HEY HEY HEY! IT’S TIME TO MAKE SOME KER-RAZY MONEY! ARE YA READY! HERE! WE! GO! *YEA YEA YEA YEA YEA!* (insane driving, with hilarious guests, driving up and down a recreation of San Fran, trying to come damn near hitting nearby cars and earning outrageous amounts of money, follows)

– Skip

While it’s not incredibly diverse, the game is just too fun to put down. Going for high scores, clearing challenges and learning the shortcuts for every course would lead to some late nights and fun experiences to share with friends. Who would ever think that racing through crowded streets trying to get a fat man to a baseball game in time while blasting The Offspring would make for one of the best experiences on the Dreamcast?

– Chris

#5: Grandia II

Why It’s #5: Grandia II is not only one of the best RPGs on the Dreamcast, it’s one of the best RPGs I have ever played. The combat in Grandia II is awesome. It has more depth than other time based RPG fighting systems, with distance to your enemies being a factor, as well as which enemy will attack next. It allowed the player to develop strategies for each individual fight, rather than using the same moves over and over to defeat your enemies. The music in Grandia II is some of the best in video game history. Rarely would I characterize video game music as beautiful but Grandia II is an exception. Fight songs are energetic, evil enemies are introduced with an ominous tone, suspenseful songs add to the excitement of exploring a new area or encountering something new and unknown. It is one of the best and most complete soundtracks available for any video game. Add this feature to a game with great environments and engaging characters and you have one hell of an immersing game. Check out some songs here, here, here, and here.

Even with all these highlights, the best part of Grandia II is the story. The story in Grandia II starts off as a typical good versus evil type of story. However, towards the end of the game, an amazing twist unfolds that no other RPG has explored. The progression of events is linear (this being the only downside to this game) but everywhere this adventure takes you feels unique. I remember loving the towns and dungeons because each was distinct and fresh. So many RPGs fail to create an interesting story. I’m glad Grandia II chose a more creative path. Overall the level of originality in Grandia II is superb, and the attention to detail will not go unnoticed.

– Chuck

#6: Power Stone 2

Why it’s #6: Power Stone 2 was simply the best choice out there for more than 2 players to get in on. Colorful characters and incredibly interactive stages that often morphed or changed locations along with tons of items made the crazy action fun and accessible for anyone to enjoy. Before Smash Bros. broke out and never looked back with Melee, Power Stone 2 was the party fighter at the top of the heap.

– Chris

#7: Dead Or Alive 2

Why it’s #7: Up until the time I played Dead or Alive 2 on the Dreamcast, I was losing the desire to play a fighting game. There was nothing new and exciting happening circa 1999 to energize the genre. Enter Dead or Alive 2. This game brought with it two innovative features. First, the stages were more than just a fighting arena. There were many stages where you could throw your opponent off a roof, through a wall, or down a high structure onto a lower one. It made knowing where you were on a stage a matter of dignity. You didn’t want to be the player that was kicked off a building. Being knocked off a platform and getting a “ring out” defeat sucked but it never felt the same as watching your character fall several stories down a building. Second, this game has a deep counter system that a player needs to get familiar with and know if you want to succeed. You can counter high moves, low moves, even throws. I remember playing against my friends and countering every move they made in order to defeat them. I never had to throw a punch. It was very rewarding looking at them with a shit eating grin afterwards.

On a system that has so many great fighters, DOA2 gets lost in the mix sometimes. This game looks just as good as Soul Calibur 2 and plays just as smooth. The sound quality and music are highly underrated and there are many different match types. At the time of its release DOA2 did more to evolve the fighting game than most fighters since Street Fighter 2 debuted. Because of this, it is one of the best DC games.

– Chuck

#8: Street Fighter III: Third Strike

Why it’s #8: On a system littered with fighting games, it takes a lot to stand out. Soul Calibur’s allure was in the technical aspects of the game. DOA2 had fairly unique and refined hand-to-hand combat. What did Street Fighter III have? Subtle but important improvements over its predecessors. Fluid 2D graphics a very balanced and tight fighting system, and a parry system that brought in expert players all helped make Street Fighter III a successful sequel.

– Andrew

#9: Virtua Tennis

Why It’s #9: Virtua Tennis, like many of the other titles on this top ten list, began as an arcade game. At its core, it is a more advanced version of Pong, where your intent is to simply return the ball back to the opponent and hope he messes up. But Virtua Tennis takes that basic gameplay and expounds upon it greatly, adding in a world tour mode where the player starts out ranked 300th in the world and, through training and playing tournaments, works his way up to #1. Each player had their own strengths and weaknesses, which forced a change in strategy with each game. And as difficulty ramped up, it wasn’t a simple “computer player hits impossible shots” improvement in challenge, but rather the computer would employ the most difficult strategy for that player’s noted strength. The sequel, Tennis 2K2 in America, added in women players, expanded the world tour and training modes, but the core gameplay remained the same, as it should. Virtua Tennis took what is a pretty boring game to watch and injected it with excitement and strategy that most gamers had not previously considered while watching tennis on television.

– Skip

#10: Resident Evil: Code Veronica

Why It’s #10: One of the last entries before the series went to over the shoulder 3rd person shooter, Resident Evil: Code Veronica was the proper sequel to the previous best entry, RE2, and continued all of what made the series great. Cheesy voice acting? Check. Awesome scares? Check. Ridiculous puzzles and scary ass bad guys? Check. Creepy villains? Check. It just did what REs do best, and

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did it with a sheen and polish that the previous games could not accomplish (ie. it didn’t look like a jaggy piece of shit). I am still, to this day, awaiting the story of Chris and Claire taking down Umbrella…

– Skip

Top Ten Thoughts:

It’s rather interesting that so many of us agreed that 5 different fighting games could crack the top 10 games for the system, but in a way, that epitomizes what the Dreamcast was; a classic arcade experience. Even Crazy Taxi and Virtua Tennis were great arcade games that really made a name for themselves on the Dreamcast. Our list also has an action/shooter game, an RPG, and a survival horror adventure game, proving that the DC’s best was an interesting mix of genres. Also, the 5 fighting games aren’t just there because there were no better options; they are probably 5 of the best fighting games ever made. One thing to remember is that while this is the “essential” list, there’s a litany of other great experiences available for the system, from obscurities like the shooter Bangai-O to underrated gems like the beat’emup Cannon Spike.. Below is a couple honorable mentions that were on many of our top lists, but just missed the top 10.

Honorable Mentions:

Game Title: Jet Grind Radio

Why Honorable?: One of the first games to help usher in the cel-shaded era of graphics, Jet Grind Radio was a wonderful display of unique gameplay mixed with a funky fresh soundtrack. It was a complete package of coolness.

– Chris

Game Title: Mars Matrix

Why Honorable?: A fun gameplay mechanic of collecting gold while shooting the shit out of aliens, Mars Matrix was hard as hell. The only way to get through the game? Keep collecting gold, buy more lives and continues, then keep buyingthings as you go through the game over and over, trying to fully unlock every item. I still need to get that BGM option…

– Skip

Game Title: NFL2K1

Why Honorable?: First console sports game to truly go online, I took part in the beta of this online portion. Online competition, a franchise mode that could keep one playing for months, fast action, great graphics and animation. This one had it all .Visual Concepts created the most important football game until they one-upped themselves with NFL2K5, their last hurrah.

– Skip

Game Title: Samba de Amigo

Why Honorable?: This could have been a mainstream hit if Sega could have gotten the maraca costs down so more people could experience it. However, it’s legacy, as one of America’s first peripheral based music games and frankly just being a charming, easy-to-learn game with acid-drenched cutesy monkey visuals and an eclectic soundtrack, remains secure.

– Zach

Game Title: Skies of Arcadia

Why Honorable?: Skies of Arcadia was one of the few RPG gems the system had. A fun and original battle system and embellishment of Final Fantasy’s airship tradition made this game a great adventure.

– Andrew

Game Title: Sonic Adventure

Why Honorable?: Sonic Adventure successfully and beautifully took Sonic into 3D after basically being ignored on the Saturn. Sonic became relevant again.

– Andrew

2 Responses to “Top 10 Dreamcast Games”

  1. Eric Kennedy Says:

    WTF you blockheads, Virtua Tennis should be #1!!!!!!

    Great article. =) Now I’ve got a “what to get” list for my DC.

  2. Zach Patterson Says:

    haha, well, if it matters, Virtua Tennis was probably my #1 party game when people came over, though Power Stone 2 probably eclipsed that eventually.

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