Last month, the bros lent their opinions on the best Super Nintendo games and our consensus list was unveiled in the inaugural gametimebro Hall of Fame class. We’ve done it again, this time for the short-lived but fondly remembered Sega Dreamcast. Though it lived for just a few years and was unable to amass a library the size of the PlayStation 2’s or the GameCube’s, it still put forth many games at the turn of the millennium worth remembering today. Here are ten such titles.
Comparisons to Resident Evil were a foregone inevitability for Carrier, a three-dimensional survival horror game that came out on the Dreamcast before any Resident Evil titles had done so. And why not? This was Resident Evil on a boat, more or less. The boat was an abandoned US naval carrier drifting through the Pacitic Ocean and your goal was – as so often is the case with this genre – simply to go in and investigate. It’s a quick game, lacking a few Resident Evil staples like backtracking, tough puzzles, and difficult boss fights. Instead, Carrier moves along at a brisk clip, trimming some of the fat from the standard Resident Evil proceedings. It’s no all-time classic, but it’s a decent game in its own right and it’s worthy of admission to our Hall of Fame.
There are really only two components required for a quality fighting game. The first is the gameplay itself. Does it strike the right balance of simplicity and nuance? Is it easy to learn but difficult to master? Are the mechanics broken for one or more characters in ways that make matches unfairly asymmetrical? The second essential ingredient for a good fighting game is the roster. How big is it, and how varied? How memorable are the characters? At any rate, what makes Marvel vs. Capcom 2 such a great game is that second component. That’s not to say that the gameplay is flawed in any way, but with a lineup featuring recognizable characters from Street Fighter, Spider-Man, Resident Evil, X-Men, Mega Man, Captain America, and The Incredible Hulk, it could have easily gotten away with being a sloppy game and still sold like gangbusters. What a roster!
Here, on the other hand, is a fighting game whose success rests entirely with its gameplay. In Power Stone 2 you could attack your opponent with whatever items and objects you could find. Along with standard weaponry like swords, guns, and flamethrowers, damage was dealt courtesy of chairs, tables, and even occasionally rocks in some stages. Those stages themselves were dynamic and changing, evolving as battles progressed. It isn’t hard to recall why Power Stone 2 was such a gem.
(2000, Visual Concepts)
NBA 2K1 was an impressive basketball game, and perhaps its biggest achievement was having fully functional online gameplay right from its release date. The game was better-reviewed than its EA Sports counterpart, NBA Live 2001, exclusive to the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. It was also one of the first NBA games to feature famous street courts like Rucker Park, Franklin Park, and the Cage. And hey, check out Allen Iverson on the cover. The 76ers made the NBA Finals in that 2000-01 season. Imagine that!
(2001, Visual Concepts)
By the time NFL 2K2 was released, the writing was already on the wall for the Sega Dreamcast; two months after coming out on the Dreamcast, the game was released on the PlayStation 2, and just two months after that, it was out on the Xbox – the very system that replaced the Dreamcast in the early millennial console wars. The NFL 2K franchise, finally on the same consoles as Madden NFL, would soon resort to marketing itself as a discounted bargain brand before folding entirely a few years later when EA Sports bought the exclusive rights to NFL licensing.
(2000, Visual Concepts)
The NFL 2K series peaked here with 2K1, one of the most highly-regarded football games ever made. Madden NFL 2001 was clearly inferior to this Dreamcast exclusive, and to this day there’s never been an experience quite like playing football on Sega’s last console. The VMU interface allowed players to call their plays in secret, even while sharing the TV screen with an in-room opponent. Of course, for the first time, opponents could come from other rooms all around the country; NFL 2K1 ushered in the online era long before Madden landed on that bandwagon.
There have been two fighting games on this list already, but Street Fighter topped them both in the Dreamcast wing of the gametimebro Hall of Fame. As was the case with Street Fighter II on the Super Nintendo, here we will allow the Street Fighter III umbrella to cover for all three versions of that game: New Generation, 2nd Impact, and 3rd Strike, all of which were released on the Dreamcast within a four month span. The first two came bundled together on a compilation disc called Double Impact, which is where the artwork above comes from.
Samba de Amigo was a really quirky game in which players had to shake maraca controller peripherals to the beat of various famous Latin songs on behalf of a bug-eyed monkey in a sombrero. It was quintessential Sega, and it was actually a lot of fun to play. Years before games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band made music simulators a viable genre, you could rattle along to the likes of Ricky Martin, Ritchie Valens, Chumawamba (yes, really), and – of course – the Macarena. And how’s this for a sign of the times? Samba de Amigo had no DLC, but it did come with several secret songs that could only be unlocked by connecting to the Internet from within the game.
Code: Veronica marked the first time the Resident Evil series strayed away from the Sony PlayStation, and it turned out to be a fantastic decision for Capcom to take advantage of the Dreamcast’s processing power instead of waiting around for the PS2. The series has always been absolutely terrifying, but the fully rendered 3D environments and state-of-the-art graphical capabilities provided by Sega’s ill-fated console allowed Code: Veronica to scare gamers at an entire new level. Like so many of the best titles on Dreamcast, this one was ported and remade all over the place once Sega threw in the towel on the console wars.
Part of what made Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater such an addicting game was that there really hadn’t been anything else like it when it came out. The late ’80s had seen a spate of extreme sports arcade games, and snowboarding broke through onto consoles during the ’90s, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater becoming such a smash success was almost entirely unprecedented. A multitude of skaters, courses, tricks, and game types gave the series incredible replay value. The series eventually grew stale and wore out its welcome, as all video game franchises that don’t innovate are bound to do, but there’s a certain generation of gamers out there who remember, to a man, the tension associated with trying to squeeze every last point out of a string of tricks long after the two-minute timer had expired, desperately trying to avoid a dreaded bail. Good times!
Hall of Fame Time Bro is a recurring multi-part feature in which the bros put their heads together to create a collaborative list of games that deserve canonical recognition as all-time greats.