The Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever! Sega Dreamcast Edition

This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series Console Lists

When I think of Sega. My beloved Sega…A console manufacturer which I hold very dear to my heart, I often think of the following quote.

Look, I don’t know why the tooth fairy’s being so cool to me. Maybe she’s hot for me. I don’t know, but if we all chip in with teeth, then I can hide them under my pillow and we could get enough money to buy a Sega Dreamcast!
– Eric Cartman

No. That’s funny, but that’s not the quote I’m thinking of. Here you go.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
– Thomas Edison

Although that might be a bit harsh because the truth of the matter is that they DID find a way that worked extremely well.

Once.

The rest of the time was spent making surprisingly awesome consoles that didn’t catch on. This is especially true of the console we’ll be reviewing today. The very final nail in the Sega Console coffin and the reason behind the argument I once had with my regional manager when I worked at KB Toys. (I told him that while the initial launch was amazing, I had doubts that the fun would last more than one year. He thought I was an idiot. Sega Fanboys. Am I right?) Anyway, here’s the Dreamcast.

It’s thinking

Sega Dreamcast
Released: 1999
Generation of Home Consoles: Sixth
Graphics: 100 MHz PowerVR2
Rating: WAY ahead of its time. Unfortunately.

“It’s thinking” is the slogan? Weird. Moving on.

Sega had come off of a tremendous high with the Genesis and then sort of came crashing down with everything they tried to do afterwards. The Saturn in particular was a huge failure and Sega was looking to turn things around. The memories of their heyday weren’t that old and with enough grit and determination, they felt they could go back to the amazing highs they had with the Genesis.

Trying to avoid their earlier mistakes with the Saturn, Sega decided to reduce their unit build cost by adding “off the shelf” components. That probably would have worked but Sega went all Sega and just would. Not. Stop. Adding. Shit. Which drove the unit build cost right back up.

The crazy and ultimately unfortunate part is that the things they added made the Dreamcast one of the best consoles which had ever been released. By all accounts, Sega actually did almost everything right. They knew that online gaming was around the corner and added a built in modem. They knew that people wanted new ways to interact with games and put an LCD screen in the controller. They made the system super powerful. More powerful than a lot of arcade games in fact. They then released the console at a very reasonable price, but for some reason the system just never caught on any sort of zeitgeist. The world was apparently turning into a Sony vs. Nintendo world and Sega didn’t fit into the equation. Which is too bad because the games were outstanding and gorgeous and bright and fun.

The system actually had a pretty good launch and after the first holiday rush had made a good impression on everyone. However, internal struggles at Sega ultimately hurt the console. In 2000, Sega put a new president into place who had long been advocating that Sega abandon the console market and focus strictly on game development.

Declining sales after the first holiday season was enough to prove to the new president that changing his strategies was the right call and Sega opted to cut their losses and run. In no time at all, Sega began slashing the system price to clear out inventory. By 2001, the thing was selling for $50. (That’s actually when I bought my Dreamcast and pretty much every game appearing on the list as well as a bunch of others. I had a complete library and new console for like $150! It was awesome for me. Less awesome for Sega.)

At the end of its run the Dreamcast had sold just over 9 million units around the world making it the worst selling home console the company had released. This was due to a number of factors including the lack of support from big third party developers like EA and Square along with hype building around the upcoming Playstation 2. Those hurt the console, although the primary problem remained all of those internal arguments at corporate. It was all too much for the Dreamcast and so with a whisper, one of the biggest video game console manufacturers to exist up that point was gone, leaving only software and the tears of my regional manager of KB Toys in its wake.

Way of the world I guess. What are you gonna do? There’s not much TO do other than call it a shame, note for the umpteenth time that Sega gotta Sega, and then get into the top ten list of games for the thing! Games which, I feel I must add, were freaking amazeballs.

So for the last time and with gusto, I give one final Sega Scream Salute.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the games deemed worthy of the Totes Mathematically Top Ten Games list for the Sega Dreamcast!

10. Phantasy Star Online. 2001. (Sonic Team)
Starting off the list we have Sonic Team’s Phantasy Star Online. Sega realized that online gaming was going to become huge and wanted to get in on the ground floor. The game itself was your basic role playing game. You could choose between a few different classes, (Fighter, mage, ranger) and a few different races (Human, cyborg, or robot.) (Those weren’t the names in the game, but for all intents and purposes those were the choices.) The game featured an offline mode where you could level up and get gear and such, as well as an online mode where you could team up for four person raids. It was fun and WAY ahead of its time, being one of the first real and true online RPGs on a console. This game comes up a lot of all time best video game lists and with good cause.

9. Marvel Vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes. 2000. (Capcom)
Coming in the ninth spot is a great fighter from Capcom. Released in the arcades and then ported over to a bunch of consoles, New Age of Heroes was a sequel of the popular “Tag Team” fighting franchise which pitted a bunch of Capcom video game characters and characters from the Marvel comic books against each other. Upon release it was extremely well received in the arcades and the Dreamcast port also received enthusiastic reviews. Game play was your basic Capcom/Street Fighter 2D style but they amped up the frantic nature of the originals. The colors were bright and crisp, there were a TON of characters to choose from, and the combo system added some new strategy options. Ultimately the game has ended up on a number of lists of the best fighting games of all time and is fondly remembered by all who played it.

8. Skies of Arcadia. 2000. (Overworks)
Thousands of years ago, six kingdoms were peacefully floating around on their various sky islands, as kingdoms do. But unfortunately one of the kingdoms called forth a devastating rain of meteors and sort of destroyed all that biz. It took a long time, but civilization finally sort of got back going again and that’s the point in time where we begin this RPG. You play a guy named Vyse and you and your party of four go out into the many kingdoms of the sky and try to save the world from an evil empire. The story was a fairly by the books RPG but the visuals and writing were top notch. The game was very well received and highly regarded by those who played it. Unfortunately very few people actually did so. Despite its high marks, the low sales made the game drop down to the number seven spot. (Which is still very respectable!)

7. Jet Set Radio. 2000. (Smilebit)
For something that came out in 2000, this is one of the most nineties video games that ever ninetied. You control a gang of kids who run around Tokyo on rollerblades while spray painting your tag everywhere and avoiding cops. Because following rules is bullshit and graffiti is an awesome way to show those authority figures that they too are bullshit. Also, there was a character named Gum who I liked because she wore a babydoll dress and I liked those types of dresses at the time. The game played a bit like the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. Graphically, the designers went with the “cel shading” style which gave the game a very pleasing, bright, and cartoony look. It was silly and lots of fun.

6. Shenmue. 1999. (Sega)
An early open world adventure game which wasn’t exactly a sandbox, but definitely laid down some foundation for what console sand boxes could be. Different events would occur depending on the ever changing time of day, NPCs would keep specific schedules and to move the game forward, you legit had to pay attention to a LOT of those schedules. Plot wise, you’re Shenmue. A martial artist out for revenge against the Japanese mafia, on account of they killed his pa. The game was graphically robust and featured a killer soundtrack. Unfortunately for Shenmue, the industry hadn’t quite refined the open world concept and some mistakes were made. Of particular note was the oftentimes slow pace. Waiting until six o clock or whenever to go meet a fisherman isn’t the most exciting thing one can do. Like the Dreamcast itself, Shenmue may have been too ambitious for its time and didn’t sell very well. Shame, really, because the game was aces.

5. Crazy Taxi. 1999. (Hitmaker)
Coming in at number five on the TMTTGL is Crazy Taxi. A weird but superb arcade game which was ported into a weird but amazing console game. The premise of the game is simple. You are a taxi driver and you pick up customers and drive them to their destination. Just like how real taxis work! Unlike real taxi driving, however, there are all manner of crazy stunts you could perform to get extra money and road rules were at best suggestions. The game was praised by critics when it was released in the arcades and the Dreamcast version was particularly acclaimed. So much so that the port ended up being one of the highest selling games for the console. The soundtrack was also pretty marvelous and featured a bunch of popular punk bands which complemented the madness of the game extremely well. If you never played it, I’d suggest giving it a whirl as the game remains a solid addition to any library.

4. Resident Evil. Code:Veronica. 2000. (Capcom)
The first resident Evil game for the Dreamcast and the fourth game in the Resident Evil series was Code Veronica. As with all games in the series, you play a character who finds themselves in the midst of a bit of a zombie outbreak and must solve puzzles and survive hordes of undead monsters who seek to end your pitiful existence. The Umbrella corporation is up to their one trick of trying to make a bio weapon and failing spectacularly. Critics and players alike loved it and a number of Resident Evil aficionados have called it the greatest Resident Evil game released. While the series has gotten a bit bogged down lately, Code:Veronica was right about when they were at their zenith of radness.

3. NFL 2K1. 2000. (Visual Concepts)
When the Dreamcast was announced and the specs were shopped to third party developers, EA Sports opted the hell out. It costs a lot to make a game for a new system, and they’d been pretty well burned by Sega of late. Sports games had always been an anchor on the Sega consoles, so to accommodate the people who liked the genre, Sega Sports and Visual Concepts developed the 2K series of games. They did a remarkable job with the 2K series and the games were one of the big selling points of the Dreamcast at launch. The games were so good that the 2K series became EA’s biggest competitor in the field, even after the Dreamcast was discontinued and Sega moved to developer status only. The games actually forced EA to put some effort into their yearly releases. EA of course hates effort and ingenuity, so to bypass the competitive process, they signed an exclusivity deal with the NFL in 2005 and effectively killed 2Ks brand. NFL 2K1 was the second in the series and was an exceptional football game.

2. Sonic Adventure. 1998. (Sonic Team / Sega)
Coming in a close second on the list is quite possibly the last great game of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and what many consider the only good 3D entry in the series. The Sonic franchise had killed it on the Genesis but had run into a wall. (Or a spike trap I guess.) The 2D games were awesome, but were all effectively the same game. When Sega did try to innovate with games like Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic Spinball they had difficulty capturing the spirit of the what made Sonic and his friends such a success to begin with. Rather than simply release another 2D runner, Sega opted to take Sonic into the 3D world again. Unlike 3D Blast, the game worked tremendously well. The plot was standard Sonic fare. Dr. Robotnik wants to take over the world, you have to stop him and collect some chaos emeralds, etc. The game was fun and very fast paced (Natch) and by far the best selling game on the system for good reason.

And that’s the top nine! So what fantastic competitor managed to bump Sega’s mascot off of the top spot? It’s the second fighter on the list and one of the greatest of all time. I speak of course of the one. The only…

1. Soulcalibur. 1998. (Project Soul / Namco)

It’s Soulcalibur, Y’all!

A sequel of sorts to the incredibly popular arcade game Soul Edge. Although sequel isn’t exactly right. Soulcalibur was essentially a port of the original with improved graphics. It was a launch title for the Dreamcast and certainly one of the most hyped games released on the system. Soulcalibur, along with the 2K games, was a big reason the console had such good launch. It was developed with a lot of the guys who made Tekken, and introduced an innovative weapons system to the genre. It was also one of the first fighting games to really take advantage of the fact that everyone was operating in a 3D system. The game was one of the first times a port of an arcade game saw a big leap in graphics over the original and this is thanks to how powerful the Dreamcast was.

It was the second best selling game on the console behind Sonic Adventure, and was released to universal acclaim, including being only the second game to receive a perfect score from Famitsu magazine. (the first being The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which should go to show you how good the game was and how crazy people went for the thing.) In virtually every list about the Dreamcast and by almost every metric, this game comes out on top and many people have lauded it as one of the finest console games ever released, regardless of genre. It is certainly an amazing piece of work and rightfully wound up in the number one slot of the Totes Mathematical list.

So that’s the Dreamcast list everyone! Upset that House of the Dead 2 got edged out by NBA 2K, which in turn was edged out by Phantasy Star online? Let me know in the comments below and at @whentheicebreak on twitter. Then hop on ebay and buy a Dreamcast and these games. The sun is horrible and video games are great so stay inside and play!

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Philippe L.

About Philippe L.

When not out exploring the stars with his good friend Hotblack Desiato, he makes his living here on Earth keeping other people's money safe from the hands of thieves and spinning the occasional yarn. He enjoys beer and coffee very much, but unfortunately he can't eat shellfish or tomatoes.

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