In 2005 I already wrote what I believe to be my own definitive “Dreamcast retrospective” detailing my personal experience with the console, and I’ve edited and reposted it multiple times since. Last year when the 20th anniversary of the console’s Japanese launch brought up some buzz I did another blog post mostly about its flagship games, the Shenmue remaster among them. Even still, this week, the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast’s famous “9/9/99” North American launch feels like the big one for a lot of people, myself included.
This year, even though I could’ve booted up Shenmue and Jet Set Radio on my PC or even installed Phantasy Star Online on it again, I decided to dust off my Dreamcast and hook it back up to my old CRT. Looking at it now, the big question that comes to me is “what are the best games that you can still only play on a Dreamcast?”
That games that defined the Dreamcast for many have pretty much all been ported to PC or some later console. Off the top of my head I think you can amass a pretty comprehensive library with a combination of a Steam account and an Xbox One with Xbox 360 backwards compatibility. The GameCube version of Skies of Arcadia — still one of my favorite RPGs, would be a gaping hole I guess, and it remains the one game I most want SEGA to port to PC and modern consoles.
What’s left are a bunch of niche hidden gems I don’t have the expertise to go into. I haven’t found any articles specifically getting into that category of Dreamcast games either, only ones listing those aforementioned flagships.
Other than loading up my old PSO save file (If I could get a Dreamcast broadband adapter I could still get into some homebrew servers with that version) the games I ended up revisiting on my physical Dreamcast this week were Crazy Taxi (this version remains my preferred one), Tennis 2k2, and Typing of the Dead.
Digging through more comprehensive Dreamcast game lists brings up arcade classics like Cannon Spike or Tech Romancer. Games like these and all the fighting games are reminders that the Dreamcast essentially represented the zenith of of the era when console gaming was an extension of arcade gaming. Games like Soul Calibur made it represent the first time console ports by and large surpassed the arcade originals in a $200 home console with a library largely built from arcade ports. I think Bangai-O is another one. When I asked around once about hidden Dreamcast-only games someone suggested Cosmic Smash, which would get me into playing import games with boot discs — a whole side of the Dreamcast experience I haven’t even touched yet.
Is it worth getting into the Shutokou Battle (Tokyo Xtreme Racer) series? The first one was one of the games I first got with my Dreamcast back in 99 and remained one of the games I played the most on it. I still consider its soundtrack to be sort of symbolic of the Dreamcast and Y2K era gaming itself. Is it worth my going after the sequel on Dreamcast, or even the following games on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360?
Basically, I think we’ve reached a point where any continuing Dreamcast owner who owns other modern gaming platforms needs to get into the real deep meat of the system.
- A recommended two-part documentary about the Dreamcast: https://youtu.be/eD7JYqty8aE
- Scientists discover new, even darker shade of black: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/3kxaky/this-material-is-blacker-than-anything-even-vantablack
- Plague Tale has a demo now: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2019/09/13/a-plague-tale-innocence-demo-released/
- IGN tried to investigate “National Video Game Day”: https://www.ign.com/articles/2019/09/12/is-it-actually-national-video-games-day
- Mass graves discovered from Mongol invasion of Russia. https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/09/archaeologists-unearth-mass-graves-from-mongol-invasion-of-russia/
- You can play the original PC version of the first Resident Evil on modern Windows now: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4660/