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In many ways the Dreamcast is the forgotten console in video games history. It didn’t sell well, it didn’t stick around long, and it never quite lived up to its early promise. However, those who owned one at the time it was on the market invariably loved it, and hold it in high regard even today. I owned a Dreamcast at the time, and still own one now.
The Dreamcast was the last home games console from Sega: its failure to appeal to the mainstream forcing the company to get out of the hardware business. Released in 1998 in Japan, and in other territories a year later, the Dreamcast preceded the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. The PS2 in particular killed the Dreamcast before its time.
However, during its short life the Dreamcast played host to some fine games. Some haven’t stood the test of time, either looking shoddy this many years on, or being succeeded by better sequels, but some have in no uncertain terms. What follows are six Dreamcast games that I still play today, and which I urge all those interested in video games to seek out and play too.
Jet Set Radio
Jet Set Radio was originally released in the year 2000, and coupled awesome visuals with great gameplay. You pull stunts on inline skates, spraying graffiti while avoiding the attention of the Tokyo police. The game has since been released in digital form on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.
A Decade On: The cel-shaded graphics mean Jet Set Radio still looks good, having aged much better than games that employ other visual styles. It still plays well too, with the combination of skating stunts and quirky Japanese styling meaning it remains fun a decade on.
Modern Equivalent: Jet Set Radio (Digital)
Skies Of Arcadia
Skies Of Arcadia was originally released in 1999, and it shows. It looks dated, but no more than any other classic role-playing game. You play the part of a pirate who fights enemies both in dungeons and in the air in an overall effort to defeat an evil empire. In other words, the same as every other Japanese RPG. But don’t let that put you off.
A Decade On: RPGs aren’t affected by age as much as other genres, which is why people still happily play the old Final Fantasy games. Skies Of Arcadia offers a strong storyline and compelling gameplay, neither of which have been tempered by the decade that has passed since release.
Modern Equivalent: Star Ocean: The Last Hope International
Power Stone 2
Power Stone 2 was originally released in the year 2000, following hot on the heels of its predecessor. This is a 3D arena fighting game that sees you attempting to knock out your opponents using weapons, throws, and the scenery. The original Power Stone is also well worth checking out, but its sequel is marginally better.
A Decade On: Power Stone 2 is one of the most fun games ever made. Thankfully fun doesn’t recede with age. To be fair Power Stone 2 also looks great, with fun visuals that move at lightning pace.
Modern Equivalent: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
Samba De Amigo
Samba De Amigo was originally released in the year 2000, very shortly after it debuted in arcades. This game, which sees the player shaking maracas in time to the music, came at a time when rhythm-action games weren’t anywhere near as popular as they are now. The maracas peripheral makes Samba De Amigo a rare (and expensive) find these days.
A Decade On: Once again the fun factor saves Samba De Amigo from being outdated. Put this game on, place the maracas in someone’s hands, and not only will they instantly know how to play, they’ll have a huge smile on their face. Until the difficulty ramps up.
Modern Equivalent: Dance Central 3
Metropolis Street Racer
Metropolis Street Racer was originally released in the year 2000, like so many others on this list. This is a driving game with a difference, as you race around tracks modeled on real cities, seeking to gain kudos rather than merely come in first. This game later evolved into the Project Gotham Racing series on the Xbox and Xbox 360.
A Decade On: Racing games do date, and badly. Just look at the difference between the original Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo 5. However, Metropolis Street Racer relies on fun rather than visuals to please players. And building kudos still rocks.
Modern Equivalent: Project Gotham Racing 4
Shenmue was originally released in 1999, with its sequel following in 2001. You play the part of Ryo Hazuki, a Japanese teenager who unravels a mystery surrounding the death of his father. Beyond that everything happens in real-time, and you can wander around the open world just doing ordinary, everyday things. Including working as a forklift driver at the docks.
A Decade On: Shenmue is still a must-play game. In fact, it’s an experience rather than a mere game. With a living, breathing world and strong characterization you’ll find yourself drawn in in a way most modern games fail to accomplish.
Modern Equivalent: Sleeping Dogs
The Dreamcast is the only games console I have kept long after it was discontinued. In fact, I even acquired a second one just in case my original ever breaks. All of the games highlighted above are in my collection and staying there. That’s despite me owning several of the consoles released since, including those of the current generation.
Did you ever own a Dreamcast or was it one of those consoles that slipped by unnoticed? Are you too young to even know what a Dreamcast is? If you’re fan then let me know if you agree with my choices, or alternatively tell me which Dreamcast games you think have stood the test of time better than those mentioned.
Image Credit: Ian Muttoo