Dreamcast Cult Classics

21 games that deserved better.

As you may have noticed, we're big fans of Cult Classics here at Eurogamer. Over the years we've trawled the sobbing depths of the GameCube, Xbox and PS2's back catalogue to prise a seemingly unending procession of hidden gems from the yawning abyss of commercial indifference. And with the Dreamcast recently celebrating its tenth anniversary, what better than to check out what the ultimate cult console has to offer in that department?

Having compiled our definitive Dreamcast Dozen what follows is essentially The Best of the Rest, giving weight to games that were brought exclusively to the platform, rather than focusing too much on the large volume of excellent PC and PlayStation ports that also found it a comfortable home. In other words, creditable entries such as Quake III Arena, Hidden & Dangerous, Grand Theft Auto 2, Unreal Tournament, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation and Rainbow Six are out. For now, sit back and marvel at an already-eclectic selection of titles worth checking out.

Rez
SEGA/United Game Artists

Poor old Rez. It's almost so 'cult' now that getting people to appreciate its charms works in reverse. It's now seven long years since it first appeared, and people have hardly stopped banging on about it ever since, which, while well-meaning, seems to serve to put people's backs up about its so-called overlooked greatness. So let's bang on about it a little more, only with some clear-headed realism. As most of you know, it's a self-consciously clubby on-rails shooter - essentially a bit like Panzer Dragoon, but with minimalist vector graphics and a pounding trance soundtrack which responds directly to the action. As each of the five levels progress, the audio-visual tag-team gets ever more intense, and by the end of it you feel like someone's slipped you something naughty. A genuinely psychedelic freakout - Jeff Minter is probably still smarting that he didn't get there first. Check it out on Xbox Live Arcade if you want a somewhat easier means of experiencing this oddball shooter.

1

Cosmic Smash
SEGA/SEGA Rosso

Arriving too late in the day for SEGA to bother porting it to the West, this Japan-only release nevertheless gets the red carpet treatment on its way into the Cult Classic halls. Arriving in the latter portion of 2001, Cosmic Smash was like a late 1970s vision of what games would look like in the 21st Century, and all the more endearing as a result. Essentially a hybrid game of squash-meets-Breakout, the crisp, minimalist visuals and old-school gameplay gave it an obvious appeal with the hardcore, and its unavailability in the West has merely enhanced its enduring appeal. It's like a companion release to Rez, only about a hundred times harder to find. Discover at your pleasure.

Outtrigger
SEGA/AM2

Released to zero fanfare after SEGA had already decided to pull the plug on the console, Outtrigger is one of the true hidden gems among the first-party exclusives. Conceived as an arcade title, it's a rare Japanese take on first-person shooting, at a time when the genre had very little traction there. With an interesting emphasis on collectibles and power-ups, it held together surprisingly well, and even boasted slick 60fps visuals and a six-player online mode where each player had their own specialist weapon and abilities. While little more than a footnote to the Dreamcast's more glorious achievements, Outtrigger deserved a better fate.

Ooga Booga
SEGA/Visual Concepts

Curiously only ever released in the US, this multiplayer fighting game came from the same stable that developed all of SEGA's acclaimed US sports titles (generally only of interest to our cousins across the Atlantic, before you demand to know why they're absent from our Euro-centric list). Despite rave reviews in its home territories, it arrived just after SEGA had already swung the axe on the console, and thus stands tall as a particularly rare Cult Classic. Alongside Power Stone, this cartoony four-player brawler was regarded as an essential multiplayer title - made all the more interesting at the time for its online mode. Sadly there's no chance of getting that particular option going nowadays, but if you can find it, Ooga Booga is still a great couch-based multiplayer romp.

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Toy Commander
SEGA/No Cliche

The Dreamcast launch title you've completely forgotten about, this first-party effort didn't boast the wow factor demanded to truly excite upon its release, but looking back on its quirky appeal now, it's clear that it demands a re-evaluation this far down the line. The premise of this 3D shooter was simple: a bunch of neglected toys decide to rise up and rebel against Andy's new army-themed replacements. Set over various rooms of the house, your mission is to destroy each area's 'boss' general, via numerous playable vehicles including airplanes, tanks and racecars. It wasn't always that obvious what you were supposed to do, and perhaps the unfriendly learning curve contributed to its being overlooked, but persistence is rewarded in this curious shooter offspring.

Omikron: The Nomad Soul
Eidos/Quantic Dream

This cyberpunk adventure game was somewhat overlooked upon release, and garnered attention initially because it featured a David Bowie-penned soundtrack and some in-game appearances from the man himself. A cult following has steadily built up - not least thanks to the intense interest in Quantic Dream's subsequent project, Fahrenheit, and the current PS3 poster-child Heavy Rain. It's fair to say The Nomad Soul hasn't aged particularly well in technical terms, but if you look beyond the primitive voxel visuals it's an adventure with real substance. Unsurprisingly for a David Cage-designed game, it concerns a serial killer - only this time you're on the hunt for a demon who is pretending to be a police commander, and who happens to be luring human souls into a videogame. Sounds crazy, but there's nothing else quite like it.

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