The Dreamcast Dozen

12 must-have classics.

The Dreamcast played host to scores of great games over its lifespan - that much is clear. Whether you were into it for the perfect arcade ports, the quirky exclusives or the excellent multi-format titles, it left an outstanding legacy of great titles behind. What follows is a list of what we consider to be the console's essential offerings; the titles we reckon stand tall among a long list of beloved games.

No doubt you will spy a number of interesting absentees. But fear not, because for we're following this list with another feature that takes into account all those Cult Classics that the format was renowned for.

Soul Calibur
SEGA/Namco

Still widely regarded as one of the greatest fighting games of all time, the Dreamcast's visual muscle made it the perfect console to tackle this blistering arcade conversion. Add in the official SEGA arcade joystick and you're in fighting game heaven. Thankfully, the joypad alternative was no slouch either. Take note, Mr Microsoft.

1

Bangai-O
Swing/Treasure

This multi-directional 2D shooter technically debuted on the Nintendo 64, but its production run was so small - just 10,000 copies - that the tweaked and improved Dreamcast port can lay claim to bringing the title to a wider audience. A typically loopy effort from developer Treasure, this saga of mech battles and fruit smuggling is hard to resist. The sequel, Bangai-O Spirits, was recently released on the DS.

Resident Evil Code: Veronica
Capcom

Persuading Capcom to release an all-new Resident Evil game exclusively on the Dreamcast was an absolutely humungous coup for the platform. The first 'next-gen' title in the series, this two GD-ROM epic was the first Resident Evil to dispense with pre-rendered backdrops, and garnered blanket critical acclaim. Later released on PS2 and GameCube, this remains an essential portion of the series' 'classic' era.

Jet Set Radio
SEGA/Smilebit

Jet Set Radio typified the correlation between critical acclaim and commercial indifference of Dreamcast games. With its funky cel-shaded style and offbeat mixture of skating, cartoon gangs and graffiti, this is another DC game that now feels very much ahead of its time. Incredibly fun and painfully stylish, it's a great example of the Dreamcast's ability to produce fresh new games. That the sequel, Jet Set Radio Future, also failed on Xbox is proof that there is no justice in the world.

2

Crazy Taxi/Crazy Taxi 2
SEGA/Hitmaker

The bastard offspring of GTA and OutRun, SEGA's citrus-bright free-roaming racer was ideal for the Dreamcast. Hurtle your fares around a city designed for maximum destruction and point-whoring. Incredibly simple, instantly appealing and precisely the sort of arcade buzz that the Dreamcast replicated so darn well. That the idea got implanted wholesale into GTAIII says an awful lot.

Virtua Tennis/Virtua Tennis 2
SEGA/Hitmaker

It's a little-known fact, but Virtua Tennis was one of the only Dreamcast titles (if not the only one) to hit the coveted All-Formats number one spot in the UK. Back in the summer of 2000, there was a brief period when it looked like the Dreamcast really could kick on and become a serious challenger to the PlayStation, and Hitmaker's perfect arcade conversion was not only incredibly gorgeous, but probably the most instantly playable sports title of all-time. Somehow, the 2001 sequel was even better, and remains arguably the purest tennis title ever released.

Ikaruga
Treasure

One of many arcade shoot-'em-ups to appear on the Dreamcast even after the console had been officially killed off, Treasure's bullet-switching vertical blaster is one of the best in its genre. Shoot white enemies with black bullets, black enemies with white bullets - a scathing indictment of racial tension, but mostly an ingenious way to inject strategy into the frantic shmup genre. You can get it right now on Xbox Live Arcade, but purists will want to seek out the Dreamcast version for the true retro sensation.

3

Metropolis Street Racer
SEGA/Bizarre Creations

The forerunner to Project Gotham Racing, it's pretty amazing how many impressive features Bizarre Creations packed into this evergreen Dreamcast racer. Detailed recreations of London, Tokyo and San Francisco. A whopping 262 tracks. The Kudos incentive system. Even realistic time-zones, which remain constant across the game's three cities. Throw in a Richard Jacques soundtrack and you've got a driving game that pushed the genre forwards just as much as Gran Turismo, if not more.

Phantasy Star Online/Phantasy Star Online ver.2
SEGA/Sonic Team

The first online console RPG, Phantasy Star Online was nothing if not ambitious. Envisioning a future where players from around the world could join up in the game, and communicate using simplified symbols, it never quite caught on with wary western players, but with private servers still accessible as recently as this year, PSO's place in the history books is assured.

Power Stone/Power Stone 2
Capcom

Usually you have to physically restrain Capcom to stop it releasing a stream of sequels, yet the sublime multiplayer melee brawler Power Stone stalled at Part Two and hasn't been seen since. You can pick up both games in a dinky package for the PSP, but you really need a telly and a bunch of joypads for the full delirious effect. Why this hasn't been revived for the online age is a mystery.

4

Shenmue/Shenmue II
SEGA/AM2

If ever a game summed up the Dreamcast, it would be Shenmue. Bold, ambitious and yet doomed to obscurity, Yu Suzuki's slow-burning saga of revenge and menial labour proved too ponderous and trivial for many gamers, but for fans its two entries represent some of the most engrossing and detailed adventures ever made. It also helped to introduce the concept of quick-time events, but let's not hold that against it.

House of the Dead 2
SEGA/Wow Entertainment

In the years before first-person shooters crossed the divide between PC and console, the lightgun was your only hope for immersive ultraviolence. Another arcade-perfect port, this Dreamcast version was just as stupidly cheesy as its coin-operated cousin, but there's just something in the purity of the concept - point gun at zombie, zombie head go splat - that still appeals. Sadly, getting the most out of it meant buying another gun for two-player fun, but it was worth every penny. The recent re-release of the game on Wii provides a somewhat cheaper means of enjoying one of the best rail shooters ever.

And now step away from the light for our Dreamcast Cult Classics.

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