Top 10 Dreamcast games (terms and conditions apply)

You may have caught my previous top ten Saturn games list; this is very much along the same lines, just for Sega’s little 128bit white box of tricks. Hopefully you’ll find something in the following list that interests you or if nothing else gives you something to shout at me about on Twitter!
As usual I’ve given myself a set of three rules to (mostly*) stick to:
  1. The game must be an original Dreamcast game. It doesn’t matter where it ended up, but it must have started life on the Dreamcast.
  2. Only games I’ve owned are eligible. It’s very easy to gush over legendary £200+ rarities you can only dream of having but I’d feel a bit insincere doing so.
  3. Nothing too obvious. If you’re wondering why <your favourite game here> isn’t on the list then this might be why. Anyway, the reason for this rule is to hopefully stop the list filling up with games you’ve already played to death when the space could otherwise be used to show something that’s a little more interesting.
*For this post I’m going to be stretching the rules here and there or else we’d never get any quality titles on the list: the Dreamcast was a haven for ports from both the arcade as well as PC/PS1; great for gamers, not so great for this blog post! So while you’ll still not see the likes of Mars Matrix or Jet Set Radio on here you will probably come across a few names you do recognise and a smattering of arcade ports, sorry about that.
Oh and one more apology before we start – GD-ROMs being what they are means that getting screenshots for these games isn’t simply a case of slapping the disc into my laptop and hitting PrtSc a few times, so in order to get this post out before the heat death of the known universe you’ll have to make do with box art pilfered from GameFAQs instead.

Cosmic Smash
This is the only game on the list that I didn’t pick up when it was new, but after many years of hearing a good friend go on and on and on about it I finally found myself in a situation where I had the wherewithal to actually go and buy a copy – and I’m very glad I did. This is Dreamcast-era Sega at their most “pure”; teaming up incredible artistic design with arcade gameplay that is simultaneously very simple and incredibly deep. Also, as with almost any game I really respect, I’m absolutely terrible at it.

Dream Studio
Ever wanted to make your own RPG? Never heard of RPG Maker? Then this is the game for you! It’s not actually good enough that you’d really want to sit down and make a full-blown game with it, but nevertheless I did still spend a lot of time messing around with this “game” filling a little low-poly village with NPCs and giving them all daft dialogue.

Fire Pro Wrestling D
There’s pretty much nothing I like about wrestling, either as a sport or as an entertainment medium. So I was more surprised than anyone to find myself really enjoying this one and getting stuck into the impressive character editor just so I could elbow-drop onto people with style. I’m still not in love with the genre and I wouldn’t consider buying a non-Fire Pro wrestling game, but I did like D enough to buy the PS2 sequel and I do pop it on from time to time.

Hundred Swords
Sega’s fantasy RTS is notable not only for being a fun game but also for featuring nightmare-inducing cat ladies: most designers, when tasked with melding the female form with felines, go for cute and/or sexy - I can cope with that. The character designer for Hundred Swords decided that butch lion-women with four breasts down their torso was a fresh angle. Please, please don’t Google that. Oh, this also had an official English release too! It came out on PC in the UK for no apparent reason, and with absolutely no marketing whatsoever.

Phantasy Star Online
So you’ve almost certainly heard of this one, and you’ve probably played it too. But I don’t really care – Phantasy Star Online was so mind-bogglingly revolutionary for the time and I love it so much that I’d even include it on a list titled “Top ten Dreamcast games that aren’t Phantasy Star Online”. Being practical about it the DC releases are the worst ones to go for seeing as they feature the sort of grinding and rare drop rates that’d make a hardcore Korean MMO blush, but if any single game really encapsulates everything Sega wanted the Dreamcast to stand for then PSO is absolutely it.

There are rhythm games, and then there’s Rez. The only reason I was able to get hold of the European version at the time was because I worked in a game store and opened the delivery box that had both (yep, that was it) of our store’s copies in it. Thankfully the HD release is now easily available to just about everyone (even if it’s not on PC, grumblegrumble) there’s no real need to track this version down, but whatever format you play it on make sure you play stage 4 and turn the music up as loud as it’ll go!

Sakura Taisen 3
As you might have noticed in my Saturn top ten I’m a huge fan of Sakura Taisen – in fact so much so that I crinkled up my nose in disgust at Sega tossing out Sakura and co. for Erica and all her new European-ish friends for this Dreamcast sequel. As with so many things I was wrong to do so because as it turns out the dancers of Les Chattes Noires have a fantastic adventure and the game also introduced a slew of improvements to the basic formula that really made for a better game all round. So err, bad Kimimi, great game.

Samba de Amigo
I remember reading the review of this one in one of the UK magazines at the time (Official Dreamcast Magazine? I forget) and thinking that I just had to have it. So, one month’s wages later (hey, I was young!) I carried Samba de Amigo’s giant yellow box home on the bus (much to the amusement of the driver) and once I started playing I literally only stopped because my arms refused to work any more. I was aching for a week, and I regret nothing!

What do you do when your company’s in such financial dire straits that they’re seriously looking at bowing out of hardware design for good? You turn your plight into a parody RPG of course! I still can’t decide if Segagaga is plain silly, incredibly knowing or genuinely sad – but it’s definitely Sega.

Typing of the Dead
The main thing to remember about Typing of the Dead is:
a) Somebody working at Sega said “You know our super-popular zombie lightgun game? Let’s replace the shooting part with… a typing tutor program!”
b) Somebody else at Sega said “That’s a fantastic idea! Let’s strap keyboards onto our NAOMI cabinets and get to work!”
There is nothing about Typing of the Dead that makes it sound like a good idea – but somehow it’s an absolute riot that only enhances The House of the Dead 2’s already wonderful zombie/camp/Engrish fusion…thing.