The Dreamcast turns 20 in North America today - yes, 9/9/99 was now two decades ago - and in honour of the occasion we're republishing this article from last November when the console reached the same milestone in its homeland. Enjoy!
The Sega Dreamcast turns 20 today – it launched on November 27th, 1998 in Japan – and if you, like us, grew up with this remarkable machine, this particular anniversary will make you feel very old indeed. While many retro systems feel like relics, Sega's console somehow still feels like the future, even after all this time.
It's incredible to think that at the start of the '90s we were still playing on NES consoles, yet as the decade drew to a close we had a machine as adept in the art of 3D visuals as the Dreamcast. Sega's system – which came only four years after the launch of its previous console, the Saturn, and was considered to be the final chance for the firm in the increasingly competitive hardware arena – may have ultimately faltered in the face of the unrelenting hype surrounding the upcoming PlayStation 2, but was one hell of a way for the Japanese veteran to bow out of the console market.
This 128-bit powerhouse not only offered online play and superb local multiplayer potential thanks to its four controller ports (thanks, N64!), it also hosted a staggering selection of arcade-perfect ports of popular coin-ops of the period. Capcom, Namco, SNK and – of course – Sega itself showered Dreamcast owners with a seemingly endless procession of arcade titles, but the machine wasn't short of exclusive games, either, with Skies of Arcadia, Metropolis Street Racer and Shenmue being three notable examples.
Given that Sega's AGES range is now in full swing – and taking into account the fact that Dreamcast games are almost certain to be part of the library – we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to pick out 20 Dreamcast games (these aren't in any particular order, before you ask) we'd love to see come to the Switch eShop in the fullness of time.
Crazy Taxi 2
We were sorely tempted to include the original game in this list, but seeing as that has been ported to pretty much every device under the sun – including the GameCube, PSP and, more recently, smartphones – we instead opted for the less well-known sequel. Placing the action in a location not entirely unlike New York City, this Dreamcast home exclusive (it was later ported to the PSP alongside the original in Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars) is very much more of the same, although the ability to carry multiple passengers gave things a tactical edge as you tried to find the best route for dropping them all off. You could also hop over obstacles in this game, which gave you even more options.
Jet Set Radio
When this cel-shaded masterpiece arrived on the Dreamcast, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Effortlessly cool and wonderfully playable, the passage of time hasn't dented its coolness one bit. While the Xbox-exclusive sequel Jet Set Radio Future is seen by many as a superior game, you simply cannot beat the original when it comes to impact, and it's easy to see JSR's influence on games like Splatoon and its sequel. And that soundtrack? We still listen to it in the Nintendo Life office today, almost 20 years later.
Skies of Arcadia
When the Dreamcast hit stores shelves, the humble JRPG was perhaps one of the most popular genres on the face of the planet, thanks in no small part to the amazing commercial and critical success of Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation. It was clear that the Dreamcast would need a similarly epic adventure if it were to win the hearts and minds of the gaming world, and Skies of Arcadia was arguably the best to grace the platform. An awe-inspiring journey to a world of floating islands, lost technology and good-willed pirates, Skies of Arcadia gave Sega fans everything they could possibly want from such a game; the subsequent GameCube port added more content but we'd be more than happy with the Dreamcast original on our Switch.
Power Stone 2
Capcom pledged its support to the Dreamcast early on, having enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Sega during the Saturn era (at least in Japan). Power Stone was a launch title which delivered a fantastic two-player combat experience, but its sequel would up the ante in every possible way, allowing four players to duke it out in ever-changing arenas. It's amazing to think that in all these years, nobody has really bettered this classic brawler; it would be the perfect fit for Switch, too, thanks to the fact that in local multiplayer, it really comes alive. It would also give the game a much-deserved second (third if you count the PSP collection) chance at commercial success; according to Capcom, neither the original nor this sequel sold particularly well at the time of release.
Space Channel 5
Tetsuya Mizuguchi is something of a living legend with certain gamers, and Space Channel 5 perhaps embodies his love of experimentation and off-the-wall concepts. What other game can you name that allows you to step into the role of a funky news reporter who is tasked with dancing an alien invasion force into submission? Oh, and let's not forget the appearance of Space Michael, a character based on the late Michael Jackson, who was himself a massive Sega fan.
Shenmue 1 & 2
We've cheated a little here, but it seems wrong to mention one Shenmue game without also referring to the other. Billed as one of the most expensive games of all time when it was eventually released, the original Shenmue was an epic undertaking that Sega couldn't possibly hope to recoup its investment on (at least not initially – we imagine the recent update has balanced the books somewhat), but it had all the hallmarks of a classic. The immersive world, the incredible realism, the willingness to take risks – despite its pedestrian pacing, this was a game that sucked you into its world and the more action-packed sequel was just as enjoyable. While PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners have the aforementioned remaster to keep them busy, we'd be happy to see the Dreamcast originals as part of the Sega AGES line-up.
Daytona USA 2001
While there are many who still take issue with the rather sensitive analog controls of this Dreamcast racer, we still think it's one of the best arcade driving games of its era. Rather than adapt Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge, Sega teamed up with Japanese studio Genki to totally overhaul the original arcade classic, updating the visuals and adding in new content. The result is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous speed-fest which, control problems aside, serves as a fine example of how to update an existing arcade smash-hit for a home format.
Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000
Few could believe what they were seeing when news about Capcom vs. SNK filtered in from Japan at the turn of the millennium – two of the most famous companies operating in the one-on-one fighting game genre were joining forces to create the ultimate brawler; it seemed almost inconceivable, given the rivalry between these two giants. However, it was very much true, and the resultant crossover – while inferior to the subsequent sequel – remains an important historical artefact that we'd love to experience again on Switch. We'd also love to see the superior second game too of course, but given that it has previously been available on the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube, we opted for the more obscure original.
Ferrari F355 Challenge
Yu Suzuki may be famous for creating the breezy Ferrari-based action of Out Run, but he's also responsible for this insanely demanding racing simulator which focused on the Italian marque's (then) most popular car, the F355. The arcade original boasted a massive three monitor setup which naturally could not be recreated in the home, yet in every other respect, this was an arcade perfect port. One of the best racers on the Dreamcast, but not one for genre novices.
House of the Dead 2
Sega's zombie-zapping light gun series is perhaps one of the best to ever grace an arcade, and this second outing is viewed by many fans as the zenith of the franchise. Gruesome visuals, tight pacing and superb gameplay make this an easy recommendation – as long as Sega can find some way of replicating the functionality of the light gun peripheral via the Joy-Con, that is. Failing that, we'll settle for a port of The Typing of the Dead instead.