It never goes wrong. Every time we write about an upcoming mini console, readers appear in the comments section who wish for a Dreamcast Mini. And when we had a Friday question the other week about which mini console you wanted the most, it was of course the Dreamcast that took home everything, thus beating giants like the Nintendo 64 and Playstation 2.
From this we get two things to take with us. On the one hand, Gamereactor’s readers have exquisite taste, and on the other hand, it’s high time to actually speculate a little about what games would be included in such a release. Because after all, a mini console should have a decent mix of fun games for good variety, and far from everything that was released for the Dreamcast is enjoyable today.
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The fact is, however, that the Dreamcast in particular has fared significantly better than many other previous 3D-oriented consoles. The reason is that it supported VGA graphics, which nevertheless provide a helpfully good image quality compared to the Scart/RGB variants that were otherwise common in the past. Additionally, Sega was known for its arcade games and brought the experiences to the home console. This means fast-paced and enjoyable titles that you get hooked on immediately and that can withstand being played over and over again.
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But Sega was crazy at this time. The Dreamcast sold less than ten million units, but even so it had accessories (from Sega, if we include third parties it becomes even more) such as a keyboard, light gun, maracas, fishing rod, arcade joysticks, mouse, broadband adapter, webcam, microphone and of course the small memory card VMU which was essentially a portable gaming device. Of course, releasing everything like this to a Dreamcast Mini would be unrealistically expensive. Thus, most titles that require such have to be scaled out or solved in some other way.
What I have done now is to list ten must-haves that would have to be included in a Dreamcast Mini, where I still brought an accessory, and also washed out five bubbles that may not be considered must-haves for the console – but which I still think are games which add variety and which are also titles I think many have completely missed. All without ranking, by the way.
Ten must-have Dreamcast Mini games:
• Crazy Taxi – One of Sega’s biggest hits during the Dreamcast era was Crazy Taxi. It dominated the arcades and sold like seventeen even for home use, which is actually quite strange considering that it is quite monotonous and not very big either. But the concept was downright genius and the fact is that it holds up almost shockingly well even today. Just make sure to bring all the licenses again, from restaurants to music.
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• Jet Set Radio – When this game was shown, many people could hardly believe their eyes. Cell shading was brand new and nowhere was it done better than here. Apart from an initially slightly clunky game control, this is a wonderful gamer that I can play for hours even today in pursuit of a really nice high score and adrenaline rush to absolutely lovely game music.
• Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001 – Capcom and SNK doing something together felt as surreal as Microsoft and Sony doing it today. They had been competing in arcades for so long, but in Capcom vs. SNK 2 they managed to add everything that makes each company so unique in one and the same title combined with absolutely lovely pixel graphics in one of the best 2D fighting games I know to this day. Include support for USB joysticks and you’re set.
• Shenmue – I wasn’t really sure about this one, but picked up my Dreamcast, plugged it in, and played around a bit. But yeah, sure, this technical masterpiece has aged a lot, but hanging out in the arcade, collecting capsule figures, driving forklift races, looking for sailors and fighting wildly is still fun. It certainly wasn’t for everyone even when it was released and probably even less so today, but sure as hell Shenmue should be included.
• Skies of Arcadia – The lack of Japanese RPGs (Western RPGs only became a console thing with the Xbox a few years later) was often cited as something that hampered the Dreamcast’s appeal, along with the lack of sports games from EA. But there were actually some role-playing games, and Skies of Arcadia is so good that it sometimes appears on lists of the best of all time. In short, an adventure that I think many missed and which still holds up surprisingly well today.
• Sonic Adventure – Sonic the Hedgehog was so popular on the Mega Drive that he beat Mario himself. But Sega never got him in three dimensions, and during the entire Saturn era, not a single new regular game with the cone was released. We got that instead at the Dreamcast launch, and it still stands today as his best 3D adventure with so many cool sequences (and some really pissed off friends, but let’s not pretend about them now).
• Soul Calibur – A serious candidate to be called the best fighting game of all time. And the fact is that it’s still a little incomprehensibly good. The game control is so tight, the battle system so well thought out and the environments so fabulously beautiful. Bandai Namco (or just Namco at this time) had not yet crammed the game with gimmicks and a bunch of super meters, but what was offered was stripped-down fighting that never felt dated.
• The House of the Dead 2 – Yep, an accessory Sega will have to release for a Dreamcast Mini, after all. There were so many, and a record light gun is a must for all of us who missed this type of action. My suggestion is that one comes along and that a second one can be bought separately for those who want, then we can clear around this masterpiece of a zombie classic. Also… if a light gun is included, Sega can also throw in Confidential Mission…
• Virtua Athlete 2K – While it certainly wasn’t the same instant classic as Athlete Kings for the Saturn, Virtua Athlete 2K was the last really good classic athletics game I played. Here it’s about hammering buttons to the point of cursing and really pushing yourself to the limit. Everything is incredibly easy to do, but still requires enormous skill for great results, and since you can also have up to four competing at a time, this feels like a perfectly given addition. For my own part, definitely one of the three Dreamcast games I spent the most time with.
• Virtua Tennis 2 – I have called for good tennis games in the blog on several occasions. For some unknown reason, everything has to be simulated today, but that’s what Sega respectfully did when they released Virtua Tennis 2, where it goes crazy after every other ball and duels lasting several minutes are not uncommon. An absolutely delightful tennis game that puts gameplay and entertainment value first and offers the best doubles matches to be found.
Of course there are more good games than this and of course there should be more than ten games included in a mini console, but these are my main must haves. And with that said, we are then at the three bubbles. Games that may have been missed by many, but which stand up well and which I think would elevate the console.
Five Dreamcast Mini games that should also be included:
• Cannon Spike – Capcom supported the Dreamcast more than anyone other than Sega themselves. Their last game was Cannon Spike where they let some of their most beloved characters such as Arthur, Cammy and Mega Man take on bosses in a Smash TV flavored action game. It has several unique elements and is the kind of game that relies so heavily on gameplay that it basically feels timeless. Also, very few have ever played it, and thus have something new to discover.
• Chu Chu Rocket – Today when local multiplayer is popular again, often with slightly simpler graphics, Sega should of course include Chu Chu Rocket. It was launched to promote the Dreamcast’s online capabilities, but was actually even more fun offline. A busier game hasn’t been made every before or since and it’s just as good now as it was then.
• Grandia II – As I said, there were relatively few Japanese RPGs for the Dreamcast, but Grandia II was one of them, and it was also really good. We are talking about an ultra-classic game in the genre with turn-based battles, wonderful music and beautiful graphics. An adventure that undoubtedly still stands today and reminds of bygone times before all role-playing games were promptly action-based.
• Ikaruga – Admittedly, this has been released to practically anything that even resembles a console at all if you squint in the backlight, and perhaps that’s why it also starts to feel a little done. But crappy. Ikaruga is still absolutely brilliant and one of those games that will stand the test of time forever.
• Power Stone – This was one of the first games for the Dreamcast and a real highlight where Capcom, known for two-dimensional fighting games, showed the way with three real dimensions in a title that easily us fighting across an open surface. It wasn’t very rich in content, but unique and still holds up today. Few have played it and even though I already listed two fighting games, this should still be included because it really represents the console so well.
Finally… here are three games that I completely sonic chose to remove because I don’t think they should be included, despite being as phenomenal as they are important to the Dreamcast. Let me justify why.
The classics Sega should scrap (but include as a virtual museum):
• Phantasy Star Online – Let me start by stating that this is one of my favorite games of all time. I would honestly say that it is one of the world’s ten best games. But of course it doesn’t work without online support, and for online to work you need a sensible keyboard and a nice community. It feels like it’s too much work and the risk is obvious that we’ll end up with a tarnished version of what was once so magical, which would spoil more than it adds. Just close your eyes and listen the music of the intro sequence instead and dream your way back to what once was, that is to do Phantasy Star Online justice.
• Samba de Amigo – Even though Sega’s maracas honestly didn’t work that well, I loved Samba de Amigo and even have a song from it in my Spotify playlist. Should Sega add it, maracas are needed and it’s something we can forget, partly because it would jeopardize the console as a project and partly because it would never be possible to replicate the feeling. Today, motion-sensitive gaming is nothing new and music games have been released that make everything so much better.
• Seaman – As I said, Sega had a lot of crazy ideas for the Dreamcast, with one of the craziest being Seaman. With the help of a microphone, you would talk to fish that had a human face and Leonard Nimoy’s voice, in order to get to know this alien a little better. It was of course totally unique at the time, and is probably quite bizarre even today. But as a game, the stories about Seaman are funnier than Seaman, which today mostly feels old, despite its subtle humor.
Now of course I want to know what exactly you think. What do you agree and disagree with, and do you have any Dreamcast must-haves?
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