The Dreamcast Sweet 20

Art by BachelorSoft.

Unlike other Dreamcast lists, this is being evaluated now in 2020. We like these games. We’d play these games right now, just try us. Grab your green goblin. Grasp your rod. Slunk your VMU. Fuck around and find out.

Sega Bass Fishing

What better way to start a Sweet 20 for a console than to tell you to go out and buy a proprietary piece of hardware for it. It took me (Rudie) 20 years to play SBF as it was meant to and it is a blast. Now in the future that is the present, you can probably get the Dreamcast Fishing Rod for pennies. Once your first hour of intense waggle fishing is done, you can try and play Soulcalibur with it like some fools.

Crazy Taxi

The Dreamcast was just the home version of Sega’s NAOMI arcade board meaning we got a lot of arcade ports. Sega’s arcade output at the time was pretty great. Sure, Crazy Taxi only has four songs, but they fit the pace and tone perfectly. This is probably one of the only driving games that I would tell someone is way better to play on a controller, because getting the various stunts to trigger is so much easier on a pad.

Tokyo Bus Guide

You’re a bus driver in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan.  You must follow the rules exactly to ensure your passengers safety and enjoyment.  This is either calming or a nightmare. Great for parties if you fall into the latter.  

Armada

Armada is probably a terrible game if I tried to play it now. I will not do that. Armada was a great game when I was like 20 and thought everything might need a little more RPG, and everything was better if a bud was playing next to me. Armada let me do both, playing a simplified Star Control flight game with some RPG levelling and getting bigger guns. It was in space. I had a great time. The people who made it thought it would become a big shared universe thing and also made a GBC racing game in that universe. Later somebody bought the rights and made a terrible MMO. I can definitely say this is the best game in that universe.

House of the Dead 2

One of the best lightguns ever on my home console?  With all these shooter things it comes down to feel.  This game feels beatable. The patterns reward both skill and experience.  I could say a bunch of other nonsense that any review of games of this genre has but here’s the important thing.  The experience is only half real with a controller. You’ll need a Dreamcast Lightgun. And probably a CRT. Look into it.

Typing of the Dead

From needing a lightgun now you need a Dreamcast keyboard!  Everything that makes House of the Dead 2 good is even more fun when you are just typing at enemies instead of trying to shoot them. I suck at typing. Rudie found that out when we tried to play a beat to shit Typing of the Dead arcade machine in a Kabukicho arcade in 2017. I got us killed. My backpack might be a Dreamcast in a video game, but in real life, if zombies need to get typed out of existence, I am done for.

SIDEBAR:
HELP MY FAMILY LEFT ME BECAUSE OF MY DREAMCAST ACCESSORIES

Well that’s why we left Samba De Amigo and Maraca controllers off the rest of the list.  The Dreamcast got a lot of arcade ports and arcades began to survive off proprietary hardware.  Look we aren’t even covering DDR or Pop N’ Music.  We’ve never even tried Dreamcast games with a racing wheel (It certainly is needed to make Daytona 2 even playable).  If you are going to bring the arcade experience home, you’re going to need some space.

Tech Romancer

Probably second only to Sega, Capcom loved putting stuff on the Dreamcast. Most of that stuff has shown up elsewhere by now, but not this one. A parody of various anime, Ultraman, and probably other stuff I (Chris) never watched, wrapped up in a silly fighting game. Beating the hell out of people as a giant robot/person/monster felt great and I definitely laughed at things I barely understood.

Pen Pen Triathalon

lol this sucks lol I love it

Cannon Spike

Again Capcom, but this time working with Psikyo as developers of this strange 3D shooter/brawler…thing. Psikyo’s 3D shooters are way different from their 2D efforts. Zero Gunner 2 is a better game (but also sorta available elsewhere). In terms of cast, it’s kinda a weird Capcom fan bag, including Mega Man, Charlie, Cammy, and Arthur. And some original characters nobody cares about. There’s lock ons, brawling, and some other Street Fighter characters showing up as enemies. Overall, real good arcade times.

SIDEBAR:
HELP PEOPLE WANT TO PLAY OUR OLD GAME BUT WE DIDN’T SAVE THE ASSET

For some reason (Laziness? An inability to understand that people might someday like to play old games? The expense of hard drive storage space in the late 90s/early 2000s?) a lot of developers of games from this time just straight up lost the original assets used to make the game. Zero Gunner 2, for example, only got rereleased as Zero Gunner 2 –, which was basically rebuilt from the ground up because…the company that bought Psikyo had no idea where the original assets went. Remember how Square wouldn’t say shit about remastering FFVIII for years? Well, there was a reason.

F355 Challenge

Hinge Problems loves Shenmue. This is our cross to bear. So of course we gotta bring in the one other thing Yu Suzuki did for the DC. Did you know that this dude loves his car? Did you know he loves his car so much so as to make a ridiculously detailed game about only his car? Did you know that he loves the experience of driving that car so much that he made a mode where you could hook up 3 systems to 3 TVs with 3 copies of the game and get the full panoramic experience? All of that is true. Yu Suzuki made Outrun as a fantasy about wanting to drive a Ferrari across America with a girl riding shotgun. Then he bought a Ferrari and made this instead. There is no one riding shotgun. That should tell you a lot about owning that car.

Project Justice

Japanese teenage stereotypes beat the heck out of each other. A baseball player swings a giant bat. A gym teacher smacks kids around with a kendo stick. A swimmer just swims through the air to smack his opponents while wearing flippers. There’s a middle aged teacher who’s a Ryu clone. It’s anime as hell, but under the silliness is a slick fun Capcom fighter.

Illbleed

You’re gonna read some opinions on the internet about Illbleed. Here is the real one. It is near unplayable. The game consists of taking one step and then furiously hitting A in first person to identify traps that can kill you or raise your insanity meter (killing you.)  But outside of what it is like to actually play, it’s great. Uneven, absurdist Japan looking at US culture you know we love. You’ll meet Hell Sonic The Hellhog. It has the comedy that only Satan’s psychedelic theme park can provide.  Terrible to play; incredible to experience.

SIDEBAR:
PHANTASY STAR ONLINE

Rudie may have spent far too much of his time on PSO.  It’s value now in 2020 is almost impossible to gauge. The single player is boring and a slog.  The gamecube version allows you to do 4 player split-screen. There are fan servers for all versions.  There is almost certainly fun and nostalgia still buried in the game. It does not deserve a place on the main list however.

Seaman

A Virtual Pet Raising Sim narrated by Leonard Nimoy in which you talk to a human faced fish man to help him evolve that takes two real world weeks of your life.  A Virtual Pet Raising Sim narrated by Leonard Nimoy in which you talk to a human faced fish man to help him evolve that takes two real world weeks of your life. A Virtual Pet Raising Sim narrated by Leonard Nimoy in which you talk to a human faced fish man to help him evolve that takes two real world weeks of your life.

Sonic Adventure

Is Sonic Adventure Underated? Is It The Thinking Man’s Sonic Game? Sonic Adventure Better than Mario 64???? No. It is a bountiful game about the potential of the new Dreamcast hardware. It is a broken, crumbling-even-as-it-is-put-together mess.  You got a too deep boring virtual pet raising sim. You have half-broken fishing. You have levels constructed by carnies in the dead of night and not up to any safety or playtesting standards. Then in an open-world jungle you can safely run around. It runs smooth and the running feels wonderful. The dream Sonic game glimmers just for a moment.

Virtua Tennis

It’s good video game tennis. The whole game can be played by looking at the VMU.

SIDEBAR:
PIRACY IS REAL

Two things need to be said about the Dreamcast and piracy:

1. It totally hurt software sales.
2. It totally helped the Dreamcast’s legacy.

Yes, everyone pirated lots of stuff for the Dreamcast. People were getting broadband internet access and CD burners in 2000, and the DC’s copy protection did nothing. But because of this, the relatively unique library of the DC lived on, because people weren’t willing to shell out 50 bucks to play this stuff, but the time it took to burn the game? Sure. Sometimes the burns were terrible, and you got to play Virtua Tennis with Wimbledon’s court as a facial texture, and every player was named Philippoussis, but that only made it more of an adventure. 

Twinkle Star Sprites

It’s mostly a straight port of Twinkle Star Sprites, the candy shooting versus NeoGeo game that lives in all our hearts.  We’d need to point it out on any Sweet 20 that you can get it on for /reasons/. Also use the opportunity to say there are plenty of NeoGeo Ports on the system.  This was during the time SNK was in full meltdown. The games will have bonus mini-games or 3D stages or arranged soundtracks. We’re not quite the site to track down those differences and sort them out. We can recommend TSS without reservation though. Unless you can’t find a friend to play with, then maybe just stick with the ROM.

Sega GaGa

Okay first learn Japanese, or wait 10 years from this article. I’m sure by the time there will finally be a fan-translation of this extremely meta love letter to Sega by Sega made for almost no money. It’s filled with programmer art. It has digressions about how “moe” is changing the state of nerd culture forever (it did). You’re not a true Sega fan (that’s why you are reading this Sweet 20) but if you were, you would cry upon seeing the ending.

Mars Matrix Hyper Solid Shooting

Plays Mars Matrix. Play Ikaruga. Be an iconoclast and play Gigawing 2 instead! Be a snob and play Border Down. Get tough and play Under Defeat. Or the list writers (hi us, Hinge Problems) will tell you to play all of them because you’re not paying the stupid prices any of these games now command. You’ll find one you’ll love.

(It’s Ikaruga.)

(No it’s Mars Matrix.)

(Shut up.)

(No you.)

L.O.L. Lack of Love

Editor’s note: Hinge Problems have decided to shut up and let Consolevania explain Lack of Love:

Chu Chu Rocket

Set arrow keys to collect mice for your spaceship.  Use those same arrow keys to disrupt the paths of evil cats and your friends’ own rat-collection fantasies.  One to Four Players. Rated E for everyone.

Gunlord

It’s Turrican, on your Dreamcast (and Neo Geo and the Switch).  I never played Turrican so this is the lense I see the world through.  NGDev’s other games (Fast Striker, Last Hope: Pink Bullets, Neo XYX) are also worth your time for B-level derivative arcade action.

Shenmue

First you could listen here. The hivemind won’t do here, we’ll split and give our own Shenmue thoughts.  As of right now Shenmue 2 and 3 are only supplementals to us grabbing you by the collar and saying play Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka.

Rudie:
Shenmue’s simulacrum of suburban Japan tore into me until I lived in suburban Japan.  Now as an older man, I can only see it as the folly of youth. An idiot teen rejects the only life they’ve known to protect it so he can go die.  The player exists in the world that Ryo continually denies.

Chris:
Shenmue flew right over 20 Year Old Me’s head and stayed there until 38 Year Old Me played it. Look less for mistakes and more for strange but intentional choices. Deeply buried in the whole thing are some intense feelings that are never said out loud. A love letter to existing as a part of a whole, starring a kid who fights against that at every turn.

D2

Kenji Ino’s magnum opus has left indents in our minds for 20 years.  Lost in the Alaskan wilderness, you must fight JRPG battles as light gun shooters to fill your Survival Gauge.  Each transition punctuated by your Dreamcast screaming. The ending has D2 turning towards the player and asking how we, humanity, fill our own Survival Gauge.

Special Note: All art for this article was provided by the amazing Bachelor, @BachelorSoft on Twitter or over at bachelorsoft.com. Commissions are always welcome. They might have some things to say about D2 as well.

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