The 30 best Dreamcast games

This is the third in my ’30 Best’ series of articles in which I discuss my favourite games ever on a system-by-system basis for the first time. In case you missed them, I’ve already covered the 30 best DS games and 30 best GameCube games.

As before, because this is my own personal list and not a collaborative effort for a magazine or website, there will be some glaring omissions of games I simply didn’t play or didn’t like. So yes, I know Legacy Of Kain isn’t on there: stop riding me, dawg.

If one of your favourites isn’t on the list, feel free to give it a shoutout in the comments below (politely though, mind) and tell everyone what it meant to you.

It wasn’t always just Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo competing in the video game hardware race, you know. I mean, obviously you know, I’m just saying that for effect.

Dreamcast-Console-SetBack in the day Sega was a major competitor too, with the Master System and Mega Drive / Genesis shifting in hefty numbers worldwide.

After its fourth standalone console – the overpriced Saturn – crumbled against the Nintendo 64 and newcomer Sony’s game-changing PlayStation, Sega’s next system would either make or break the company’s future.

Sadly, it would end up doing the latter.

It’s a shame, because the Dreamcast was miles ahead of its time: not just figuratively, but literally. Releasing in 1998 in Japan (and 1999 in the west), Sega’s console was the first of its generation by a clear year and a half (PS2 came in 2000, followed by Xbox and GameCube in 2001).

This meant Sega enjoyed offering vastly superior graphics to its competitors for nearly 18 months, something that the company assumed would help it get off to a massive head start over its rivals.

To be fair, with launch ads like this Sega wasn't really selling its features well
To be fair, with launch ads like this Sega wasn’t really selling its features too well

It wasn’t just a looker, though. The Dreamcast also had features that no other console did, like a built in 33.3kbps dial-up modem at a time when online gaming was the sole domain of rich people with big PC rigs.

Then there was the VMU, a memory card with a built-in LCD screen that could be used to play little mini-games on the move.

As for the games, Sega was riding high in the arcades with numerous brilliant coin-op titles, and the powerful Dreamcast quickly became the home of countless arcade-perfect home ports, all exclusive to Sega’s console.

Ultimately, despite all this, it still wasn’t enough. In events that would parallel those of the Wii U nearly a decade and a half later, it was clear many were simply happy to wait until Sony and Microsoft released their consoles. The next generation didn’t start until they said it did.

As a result, Sega officially discontinued the Dreamcast in March 2001, a mere 18 months after it had launched in the west, with 10.1 million hardware sales under its belt (even the famously ‘doomed’ GameCube shifted double that in its lifetime).

It must be magical or something: it's just a cupboard, so where did that guy come from?
Yes, the Mega CD was a failure too. I know, I know, it had Night Trap on it but it sold poorly despite this. It’s just one of life’s little mysteries

The Dreamcast was the final nail in a hardware coffin made up of recycled Mega CD, 32X and Saturn packaging, and Sega announced it was no longer making hardware.

Thankfully, it also committed to continue making games, instead releasing them on once-rival platforms (including Nintendo’s, leading to the bizarre ‘Sonic games on Nintendo’ situation that gamers from the late 80s and early 90s could never have seen happening).

I can happily state I bought (and continue to own) one of those 10.1 million Dreamcasts, and still play it regularly to this day, such was the timeless quality of many of Sega’s arcade ports.

You can find Dreamcasts fairly cheaply on eBay and the like so if you fancy catching up on a system with one of the greatest ‘good game – bad game’ ratios of all time, here are the 30 games I adored most of all and recommend above all else.


The obligatory annoying notes section mostly copied and pasted from last time

This list is in alphabetical order. Much like it’s pretty pointless deciding whether a game’s getting a score of 72% or 73%, it doesn’t really matter if Jet Set Radio is my 8th or 9th favourite Dreamcast game. Everything in this list was deemed good enough to make the cut, so I recommend them all with similar enthusiasm.

You will also note that the text for Ikaruga and Virtua Striker are very similar to those in my 30 best GameCube games feature. That’s because my views on them haven’t changed in the past week and this is over 5000 words long so cut me some slack OH GOD WHY WON’T YOU LOVE ME.

Also, where possible, I have included links to buy these on Amazon if you’re interested in a particular game. I won’t bullshit you: these are affiliate links.

Good luck finding a new UK copy of this though
Good luck finding a new UK copy of this though

This means if my list has tempted you to buy a game, if you do it through Amazon by clicking my link then I get a few pence (literally) of Amazon’s revenue for referring you to them. It doesn’t cost you any extra, so it’s a win-win situation. Be sure to check the New & Used sections after clicking the link though: often the main price shown is some indie store charging silly money. In the New & Used section you’ll often find it far cheaper.

The Dreamcast was famously easy to play import games on. Simply download and burn a boot disc ISO from the dodgy website of your choice, load it on the Dreamcast then swap discs when you’re prompted. Hey presto, American and Japanese games on your UK Dreamcast.

Also – and I’m not going to get into detail here – the Dreamcast is also infamous for having the worst copy protection in console history. Sega assumed its proprietary GD-ROMs (special CDs that held around a gigabyte instead of the usual 700MB) would make it difficult to pirate but that ended up being a massive mistake. As a result – and again, you’ll need to look up the details yourself – these days there’s a procedure that allows practically any Dreamcast game to be burned to a standard CD-ROM and played on an unmodified console with ease.

Anyway, legally dubious stuff aside, onto the list.


The list (wooooo yeah etc)

1) Cannon Spike

Cannon SpikeWhat it is: A criminally underrated beat ’em up with guest appearances from a number of Capcom characters.

Why it was chosen: I’m a sucker for Streets Of Rage and Final Fight style beat ’em ups so even if Cannon Spike had only been half-decent I’d probably remember it fondly.

But Capcom’s brawler is a brilliant arcade-style effort in which you get to play as the likes of Cammy and Charlie from Street Fighter, Arthur from Ghouls N Ghosts and even Mega Man.

Yes, it’s a game in which Cammy and Mega Man team up to kick the shit out of people. If you weren’t aware of it before, you’re welcome.

Buy it: Cannon Spike (extremely rare and expensive)


2) Crazy Taxi 1 & 2

Crazy Taxi 2What it is: Proof that The Offspring were once relevant.

Why it was chosen: The great thing about the Dreamcast was that most of Sega’s arcade output at the time ended up on its console before any other (or indeed at all in many cases).

As a result, Crazy Taxi was a Dreamcast exclusive for a while, giving the system a genuinely brilliant arcade racer that actually had a surprising amount of depth.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the name should say it all: sat behind the wheel of a taxi (or a rickshaw once you unlock it), you have to pick up all manner of weird and wonderful passengers and take them to the likes of the football stadium, the police station or even licensed shops like KFC, Pizza Hut or Tower Records.

It was also well loved for its soundtrack, which fit the game like a glove. Despite only consisting of two Offspring songs and two Bad Religion ones, anyone who had a Dreamcast still spontaneously thinks “YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH” as soon as they think about Crazy Taxi.

Initially designed for quick 5-minute bursts, spend countless hours with it like I did and you’ll slowly be able to make each game last upwards of 45 minutes, memorising where all the customers are and figuring out the optimum order in which to pick them up and drop them off.

Look, I didn’t get out much.

Buy it: Crazy Taxi and Crazy Taxi 2


3) Dead Or Alive 2

Dead Or Alive 2What it is: The second in Tecmo’s fighting series, from a time when jiggly boobs in video games were a gigglesome novelty and not the slightly creepy central focus of the game.

Why it was chosen: I’m an unashamed fan of the Dead Or Alive games, but not for the reason players half my age probably are.

Back when Dead Or Alive 2 was released, the focus was still on the brilliant fighting engine, which combined a simple block and reversal mechanic with spectacular moves that were easy to pull off.

The result was a game that made you feel like you were in a Jackie Chan film with very little effort: while Street Fighter evolved to become ever more technical, Dead Or Alive was just about having fun and looking cool as fuck doing it.

Over the years the series has sadly switched its focus to what was once a minor feature: the fact that the female fighters’ breasts jiggled in a ‘realistic’ (i.e. exaggerated) manner when they moved.

The recently released Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate still retains its magnificent fighting engine, but these days playing it feels a bit like reading Playboy for the articles. Dead Or Alive 2, then, is a reminder of (slightly) more innocent times.

Buy it: Dead Or Alive 2


4) Dynamite Cop

Dynamite CopWhat it is: A fuzz-themed beat ’em up in which, at one point, you beat someone to death with an enormous fish.

Why it was chosen: Back in the day Sega released Die Hard Arcade, a coin-op beat ’em up based on the much-loved Bruce Willis movie.

The game was such a massive success that a sequel was inevitable, but by then Sega no longer had the Die Hard licence. Hmmm, what to do.

The solution: Dynamite Cop (or Dynamite Deka 2, as it was known in Japan), which was basically the same game but with Bruce Willis replaced with Bruno Delinger, a similarly meatheaded chap with a little more hair than good old Bruce.

Here’s what I love about Dynamite Cop: it’s properly mental. Throughout its short campaign you’ll fire a rocket at a giant octopus, swing a harpoon around your head like a maniac and batter a chef with, yes, a giant fish.

Since it’s based on an arcade game it’s frustratingly short – you can finish it in about 30-45 minutes – but its branching storyline means there are a few completely different paths you can take, each with its own daft stages and enemies.

Buy it: Dynamite Cop


5) Evil Dead: Hail To The King

Evil Dead Hail To The KingWhat it is: A Resident Evil clone based on the ultimate survival horror movie

Why it was chosen: THQ released three Evil Dead games throughout the early 2000s, but while the more action-focused A Fistful Of Boomstick and Regeneration were widely regarded to be better, I always preferred this first offering. Besides, it’s the only one that was on Dreamcast.

Hail To The King is set eight years after the events of Army of Darkness, and sees Ash (voiced by Bruce Campbell, who played him in the movies) returning to the cabin from The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 to face his demons once and for all.

Is it better than Resident Evil? No. But it’s packed with brilliant fan service for Evil Dead devotees (of which I am one) and since this is my list and I spent countless hours fawning over it, I’m including it. Come at me.

Buy it: Evil Dead: Hail To The King


6) F355 Challenge

F355 ChallengeWhat it is: Sega’s attempt at the most realistic Ferrari simulator ever.

Why it was chosen: Someone at Sega clearly had a car boner for Ferrari. Not only did Out Run and its sequels feature Ferrari cars (first unofficially, then licensed), the publisher’s AM2 studio also developed this ‘definitive’ Ferrari game.

As the name suggests, F355 Challenge features a grand total of one single car: the Ferrari F355. But at the time it was the most accurate video game version of a car ever made.

Sadly, the Dreamcast version didn’t feature the amazing three-screen mode seen in the arcade version (which stuck three TVs side-by-side to expand your viewpoint), but an extra five courses – including the Nurburgring and Laguna Seca – were added as compensation.

Buy it: F355 Challenge


7) Fire Pro Wrestling D

Fire Pro Wrestling DWhat it is: The Dreamcast instalment in Human Entertainment and Spike’s superb wrestling series.

Why it was chosen: There are wrestling game fans, and then there are Fire Pro fans. Only released in Japan for the most part (a GBA version came to Europe, and let’s pretend the Xbox Live Arcade one didn’t exist), Fire Pro is regarded by some as the finest wrestling series.

I should stress: I still think WWF No Mercy is the greatest wrestling game ever made. But Fire Pro remained consistently brilliant from its early PC Engine Super Famicom days all the way through to 2005’s Fire Pro Wrestling Returns on PS2.

This Dreamcast version features an insane 220 wrestlers from 16 organisations around the world (including unofficial WWF and WCW fighters) and includes such features as barbed wire deathmatches, exploding cage matches and up to eight wrestlers on-screen at the same time.

Buy it: Fire Pro Wrestling D


8) Grand Theft Auto 2

Grand Theft Auto 2What it is: The second Grand Theft Auto game. Obviously. Well, the third if you count GTA London 1969. And the fourth if you also count GTA London 1961.

Why it was chosen: You kids today, with your third dimension. Lording it around because your Grand Theft Auto games have a Z-axis.

Back in my day, Grand Theft Auto was top-down. It was doing Hotline Miami when Hotline Miami was still swimming around in its old man’s baws.

Grand Theft Auto 2 (aka The Last One Before It Went Third-Person) has you wandering around Anywhere USA, juggling your services between three rival gangs and trying to keep them all happy.

To this day nothing in the series has made me feel more tense than when I would wander into Zaibatsu territory, having recently done jobs for the Yakuza and knowing I wasn’t welcome.

Buy it: Grand Theft Auto 2


9) Hydro Thunder

Hydro ThunderWhat it is: You know Wave Race? Well, imagine that if it had been an arcade game.

Why it was chosen: For a period in the late ’90s Midway was the king of the hi-octane arcade racer.

Games like Off Road Thunder and San Francisco Rush delivered coin-operated spectacle on a consistent basis, and Hyrdo Thunder was no different.

At its core it’s a simple racing game, albeit one featuring speedboats instead of cars. But with ridiculous jumps, plenty of shortcuts and generous helpings of turbo boost included, it’s an immensely fun one.

Buy it: Hydro Thunder


10) Ikaruga

IkarugaWhat it is: A clever shoot ‘em up by genre masters Treasure.

Why it was chosen: Ikaruga is your typical Japanese bullet hell game in which the screen fills with bullets and the aim is as much to dodge between the gaps as it is to destroy your enemies.

What makes it interesting is its colour-changing mechanic. Each enemy is either black or white, as are their bullets, and you have the ability to change your ship’s colour whenever you like.

If your ship is the same colour as an enemy’s bullet it can absorb it and build up a special weapon meter. However, your own shots are also weak against same-coloured enemies, so you need to keep alternating between absorbing their bullets and switching to the opposite colour to take them out more effectively.

It adds a clever layer of strategy to the shoot ‘em up genre and makes it a must-play.

Buy it: Ikaruga


11) Jet Set Radio

Jet Set RadioWhat it is: If you don’t like cel-shading, here’s the game to blame.

Why it was chosen: It’s hard to belive but there was a time when Jet Set Radio (or Jet Grind Radio if you’re from Americaville) looked refreshingly different.

This was a time when cel-shading was a new concept, and people instantly fell in love with its clean, comic book style visuals.

Of course, these days cel-shading is nothing new and so Jet Set Radio no longer looks so special. But what have stood the test of time are its brilliant rollerblading and graffiti spraying gameplay, and its irrefutably funky soundtrack.

Not many game soundtracks find their way onto the hallowed Chris Scullion Ark Of Aural Wonders (i.e. my iPod) but Jet Set Radio has pride of place there.

Buy it: Jet Set Radio


12) Marvel vs Capcom 1 & 2

Marvel vs Capcom 2What it is: A Capcom/comics cavalcade of confrontational clusterfuckery

Why it was chosen: While I’m a fan of one-on-one fighting games, I’m certainly not a pro. I don’t sit there counting frames and analysing my opponents, and I don’t own a fight stick because, frankly, I don’t care if I sometimes mess up a spinning piledriver.

What I care about is fighting games that look cool as hell, and in that regard Marvel vs Capcom and its sequel not only tick that box, but add a few more boxes also coincidentally named ‘cool as hell’ and tick those too.

The latter in particular is just ridiculous, with 28 Marvel characters squaring off against 28 Capcom ones, allowing you to finally live out those Iron Man vs Mega Man dreams you never knew you had.

Buy it: Marvel vs Capcom and Marvel vs Capcom 2


13) MDK2

MDK2What it is: The sequel to Shiny Entertainment’s cult adventure game.

Why it was chosen: After making the world chuckle childishly to the daft Earthworm Jim, developer Shiny Entertainment surprised gamers with its next game, the uncharacteristically dark MDK.

When it came to the sequel Shiny was too busy working on its new game Messiah, so a little studio by the name of Bioware (yup) developed MDK2 instead.

This second helping offers more of the same, once again utilising the first game’s brilliant Arkham-style gliding mechanic to make for beautiful, satisfying combat.

Buy it: MDK2


14) Metropolis Street Racer

Metropolis Street RacerWhat it is: You know the Project Gotham Racing games? Meet their grandad.

Why it was chosen: Before it started working on racing games for Microsoft, developer Bizarre Creations first busted out this fantastic Dreamcast exclusive.

Metropolis Street Racer was, to all intents and purposes, Project Gotham Racing 0. It introduced many of the Xbox series’ trademark selling points, including its then-unique Kudos system and its realistic recreations of real-world cities: in this case London, Tokyo and San Francisco.

Obviously it looks a little dated these days, but it’s a testament to Bizarre’s forward thinking that it still holds up as a fun racer.

Buy it: Metropolis Street Racer


15) NBA 2K series

NBA 2KWhat it is: A trio of quality basketball titles from Sega.

Why it was chosen: EA would never admit it, but the best presentation you’ll see in a sports game these days is 2K Sports’ NBA 2K15.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, though. The NBA 2K series has been consistently fantastic ever since… well, the year 2K, and the three offerings on Dreamcast easily outshined their PS2 equivalents on a visual level.

Even better for Dreamcast owners, they were exclusive to Sega’s console. That’s because the 2K series actually originally belonged to Sega before Take-Two Interactive bought it in 2005 and created the 2K Sports label.

Buy it: NBA 2K, NBA 2K1, NBA 2K2


16) NFL 2K series

nfl 2k2What it is: The same, only with American football.

Why it was chosen: As noted above, basketball fans are fortunate in that they have two franchises to choose between each year (NBA 2K and EA’s NBA Live), creating competition and encouraging each series’ developer to raise the bar every year.

This is also the case if you’re a football fan (FIFA and PES), a baseball fan (MLB The Show and MLB 2K), even a tennis fan (Top Spin, Virtua Tennis and EA Grand Slam Tennis).

But what if you like American football? Tough flaps: EA owns the monopoly on the NFL licence.

This wasn’t always the case: back in the day Sega competed with EA’s Madden NFL series with its own NFL 2K series. Many agreed the NFL 2K games were far superior to Madden, to the extent that to this day some hardcore fans still play NFL 2K2 rather than EA’s modern annual instalments.

Buy it: NFL 2K, NFL 2K1, NFL 2K2


17) Power Stone 1 & 2

Power StoneWhat it is: Free-roaming arena-based fighting goodness.

Why it was chosen: Capcom’s Power Stone is a series I would love to see return to current-gen gaming.

At the time it was a revelation: it was a standard one-on-one fighter, only instead of limiting players to a single 2D plane they were able to roam wherever they liked in large 3D areas and use any weaponry or scenery available to them.

This led to a multitude of tactical possibilities for each stage. Did you head for the balconies and try chucking stuff at your opponent from afar? Did you get up close and try going hand-to-hand?

Did you go with a speedy fighter who could more easily avoid flung projectiles, or did you opt for a massive, bulky bastard who could literally pluck lampposts out of the ground and swing them around?

Power Stone 2 upped the ante by introducing 4-player battles, making things even more ridiculous and therefore glorious.

Buy it: Power Stone and Power Stone 2


18) Re-Volt

Re-VoltWhat it is: A racing game featuring remote-controlled cars.

Why it was chosen: I’m not sure why but every time a racing game features RC cars I seem to get along with it for some reason. The Rare-developed RC Pro-Am was a brilliant NES and Game Boy racer, while Vita game Motorstorm RC kept me busy for ages.

Whereas those games featured an isometric viewpoint – which made sense, as it was as if you were looking down at the toy car you’re controlling – Re-Volt defied realism by switching to the more traditional third-person chase cam used in most racing games.

This let you see what it was like from the car’s point of view, making its massive Honey I Shrunk The Kids courses (including a brilliant one taking place on a suburban street) a delight.

Its extremely twitchy handling takes some getting used to, but once it clicks it’s fantastic fun.

Buy it: Re-Volt


19) Rez

RezWhat it is: The coolest game on the Dreamcast.

Why it was chosen: It’s hard to describe Rez and make it sound fantastic to anyone who hasn’t played it.

Even back when it first launched I remember reading gushing coverage of it in Official Dreamcast Magazine and thinking “meh, it looks a bit shit”.

It’s only when you play it (or indeed watch someone else play it, as I did on an IMAX recently), that the true beauty of Rez becomes clear.

This was one of the first games where the music wasn’t just there for the sake of it, it was actually part of the game.

The thumping score evolves as you progress through each level, while enemies explode to the beat in synchronised, harmonious bliss. Lovely stuff.

Buy it: Rez (rare and expensive)


20) Samba De Amigo

Samba De AmigoWhat it is: A rhythm action game featuring a perpetually grinning, maraca-shaking monkey.

Why it was chosen: One of the reasons the Dreamcast was before its time was it was introducing daft oversized plastic controllers long before we had Guitar Hero, Rock Band drums and the Wii Zapper.

Samba De Amigo is a shining example of this. Costing £99.99, it came with a set of motion-sensing maracas. Guess what you did with them.

At a time before motion-sensing became the sort of thing gaming snobs turned up their noses at, some of those same snobs were gleefully shaking their Dreamcast maracas about like goons to the likes of Livin’ La Vida Loca and the Macarena.

Buy it: Samba De Amigo (rare and expensive)


21) San Francisco Rush 2049

San Francisco Rush 2049What it is: Futuristic street racing with some of the daftest jumps you’ll ever see

Why it was chosen: You know that stuff I was saying about Hydro Thunder, and how Midway was the king of arcade-style racing games? This is exhibit B.

Taking place in a futuristic version of San Francisco (round about the year 2049, funnily enough), this was a racer that just decided to say: “Look, let’s not fuck around here. You and I both know you want to see some cool stuff. So here it is.”

To this day when I think of big jumps in racing games, San Francisco Rush 2049 is the first game that immediately springs to mind. I mean, can you blame me?

Buy it: San Francisco Rush 2049


22) Sega Rally Championship 2

Sega Rally 2What it is: The second in Sega’s rally series and the reason many televisions in 1999 were barking “VERY LONG MEDIUM LEFT MAYBE” at their owners.

Why it was chosen: The Colin McRae Rally series – which continues to this day under its new Dirt moniker – is generally considered to be the best source of entertainment for rally fans. Generally considered by wrong people, that is.

I direct m’lud at Sega Rally Championship 2, Sega AM5’s bloody brilliant arcade racer which kicks realism right in the mudflaps.

What’s that? You want to spend half an hour adjusting your car’s suspension and camber? Have fun with that.

Instead, I’ll be swinging out impossibly long powerslides across snowy roads while my sort-of-Japanese navigator hollers “CAUTION HAIRPIN RIGHT” at me.

Buy it: Sega Rally Championship 2


23) Shenmue 1 & 2

ShenmueWhat it is: The greatest story never told. Not fully, anyway.

Why it was chosen: Look, I know these days Shenmue doesn’t seem so special. I get it.

I know there are people in the present day who see everyone asking for Shenmue 3, decide to try the first one out to see what the fuss is all about, and decide the answer is “piss all”.

But that’s like listening to a Beatles album today and saying it just sounds the same as loads of other music. There’s a bloody reason for that.

At the time of its release, Shenmue was properly ground-breaking. A murder mystery taking place in a living, breathing village? A little shopping area full of buildings that weren’t just scenery but could almost all be entered?

There’s a reason so many of us want to see Shenmue 3, and it isn’t because we think the first two hold up particularly well today as modern games. It’s because we didn’t just play Shenmue, we felt it. We were all Ryo. And we still have unfinished business.

Buy it: Shenmue and Shenmue 2 (Shenmue 2 is rare and expensive)


24) SoulCalibur

SoulCaliburWhat it is: The ultimate weapons-based fighter.

Why it was chosen: A lot of people forget SoulCalibur was actually the second game in Namco’s Soul series, one which began with Soul Blade. That’s because SoulCalibur had a far greater impact.

Soul Blade was brilliant too, but it was released on a system (the PlayStation) that already had a wealth of brilliant fighting games: Tekken, Dead Or Alive, Battle Arena Toshinden and so forth.

SoulCalibur was the first fighting game on the Dreamcast and, as a result, the first truly next-gen fighter. And it looked incredible.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it still looks brilliant a hefty 16 years later, and how many polygonal games can you say that about?

Bandai Namco’s currently on its fifth SoulCalibur game, but none have had anywhere near the same impact as that Dreamcast classic.

Buy it: SoulCalibur


25) Space Channel 5 Part 1 & 2

Space Channel 5 Part 2What it is: More rhythm action, this time courtesy of a sexy intergalactic news reporter.

Why it was chosen: I’m not going to go down the tired old route of implying Sega must have been smoking something when it came up with the idea of Space Channel 5. I’m going to outright state that it definitely was.

The first game puts you in charge of Ulala, a news correspondent for intergalactic TV station Space Channel 5, and a lady with a penchant for the sort of clothes people in the ’60s thought we’d be wearing in the year 2000.

Ulala has to rescue hostages kidnapped by space aliens, and naturally she does this by dancing at them.

It gets even sillier in the second game, where her friend Michael Jackson (as in the actual one, voice and all) joins her.

Buy it: Space Channel 5 and Space Channel 5 Part 2 (Part 2 is rare and expensive)


26) Star Wars Episode I Racer

Star Wars Episode I RacerWhat it is: The only good thing to come out of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Except for that meme with Darth Vader shouting “noooooo”.

Why it was chosen: Someone cynical would suggest that the only reason George Lucas, with his infamous Star Wars merchandising contract, put a lengthy pod racing section in Star Wars Episode I was so it could be turned into a video game and make him more money.

To those cynical people, I say… well, you’re probably right. But that doesn’t matter because the game is brilliant.

Basically, imagine a WipEout game set in the Star Wars universe and you’re sort of on the right track. And as an added bonus, you don’t have to play as that little dribble of piss Anakin Skywalker.

Buy it: Star Wars Episode I Racer


27) Toy Commander

Toy CommanderWhat it is: You know those shite Army Men games? This is how they should have been done.

Why it was chosen: Blatantly inspired by Toy Story, Toy Commander tells the story of a group of toys pissed off that the boy who owns them is now obsessed with army stuff.

When he gets a bunch of army stuff (mostly vehicles, conveniently) for Christmas, the other toys decide to start a war with them.

The result? You get to take on a bunch of weird and wonderful missions which usually involve switching between cars, tanks, helicopters, planes and the like so they can each do their own bit.

Because it all takes place with tiny vehicles in a house though, these epic missions are sometimes menial tasks. Boiling eggs will never feel the same again when you aren’t using a car to roll the eggs into the pot.

Buy it: Toy Commander


28) TrickStyle

TrickStyleWhat it is: A futuristic hoverboarding game published by Acclaim.

Why it was chosen: If you’ve ever seen Back To The Future Part 2 (and if you haven’t then you aren’t a complete person yet), you don’t need me to sell you on hoverboards.

Now, imagine said hoverboards were used for racing and Tony Hawk style trick-based challenges, set in futuristic versions of London, Tokyo and New York.

Sounds good, right? But who would have developed such a thing? Answer: a little British studio called Criterion Games, shortly before they started work on its new series, Burnout.

Buy it: TrickStyle


29) Virtua Striker 2

Virtua Striker 2What it is: A Sega-developed football game that everyone hates.

Why it was chosen: At a time when people were playing ISS and FIFA games, nobody paid any attention to Virtua Striker, mainly because it played like shit. At least, it did at first.

But this arcade football sequel, replete with Sega’s trademark ‘chunky’ feel, only really came into its own if you spent a few hours learning what makes it tick. Eventually you could string together some amazing passes and score some ridiculous long-range goals, with the over-excited announcer screaming “GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLL WONDERFUL GOAL” at your face.

It also featured two bizarre hidden teams: MVP Royal Genki (a team made up of aliens) and MVP Yukichan. The latter consisted of a variety of weird and wonderful characters, including mariachis, Eskimos, a big snowman wearing earmuffs and a ghost.

Buy it: Virtua Striker 2


30) Virtua Tennis 1 & 2

Virtua TennisWhat it is: Still the best tennis games ever. Come at me, Top Spin.

Why it was chosen: There’s a tendency in modern tennis games to complicate things with loads of different shot types, timing gimmicks, spin features and the like. It’s all well and good, but in a fast-paced sport like tennis the learning curve is too steep.

Virtua Tennis boils the entire sport down to two buttons: shot and lob. Despite (or maybe because of) this simplified approach, it’s one of the finest multiplayer games ever created.

The number of hours I spent playing Virtua Tennis with my flatmates at university is nothing short of terrifying. Some nights we’d stay up so late playing co-op doubles tournaments that we’d lose points because our so-called team-mate had fallen asleep on the couch, I mean fucking hell Dave this is serious business.

Ahem. Sorry. It still hurts.

Buy it: Virtua Tennis and Virtua Tennis 2


Honourable mentions

You know the script by now: this is the bit where I ask why 30 games wasn’t enough, chuck a veiled insult in your way as if to suggest you’re never happy, then give you another 15 suggestions to essentially turn every list into a 45 Best instead.

So, here are 15 more Dreamcast games that I don’t quite recommend as highly as the other 30 (otherwise they’d be in there), but would still gladly defend to the death, even if I had to punch a baby holding a flick-knife in order to protect them.

Bangai-O
Shooter experts Treasure first released 10,000 copies of this little beauty on Nintendo 64 before porting it to Dreamcast. Pretty rare to find but a great risk/reward shooter, in which the size of your special attack depends on how many enemy bullets are on-screen.

Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Oratorio Tangram
Not just the nickname Terry Wogan gives to his genitalia (allegedly), this Sega AM3 fighter puts you behind a massive mech and tasks you with destroying another one. It’s a bit janky these days but the spectacle alone is still worth the price of entry. Which is also what Terry Wogan says to woo ladies, coincidentally.

Dino Crisis
Close your eyes. Imagine Resident Evil with dinosaurs. Open your eyes. Read that bit I just wrote, because you had your eyes closed. I’m talking about Dino Crisis, basically.

Headhunter
Metal Gear Solid? Ha! Metal Gear BOLLOCKS, more like. Headhunter was Sega’s answer to Konami’s game, with similar stealth ’em up sections. As an added bonus though, its cutscenes all came in at under five hours long.

Mr Driller
One of my favourite action puzzle games, only on the Dreamcast. Read more of my Mr Driller gushings in my 30 best DS games article.

Pop ‘N Music 1, 2, 3 and 4
A brilliant rhythm action series with a xylophone-style nine-button controller. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m a sucker for big plastic novelty controllers.

Rayman 2: The Great Escape
Arguably the best version of Ubisoft’s 3D platformer, which is saying something considering it’s been released on a total of nine formats over the years.

Ready 2 Rumble Boxing and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Round 2
Midway’s comedy boxing games. The second is the better game, because it features a number of celebrity opponents, including Shaquille O’Neal, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and that man Michael Jackson again.

Resident Evil 2, 3 and Code: Veronica
Code: Veronica was originally a Dreamcast exclusive, while the others are faithful ports of the PlayStation titles.

Sega GT
Sega’s answer to Sony’s Gran Turismo games includes over 130 cars and 22 different tracks. Despite being almost as good as Gran Turismo, it sold poorly.

Sonic Adventure 1 and 2
Arguably the last two properly brilliant 3D Sonic games (I do have a soft spot for Sonic Generations, but that’s for another time). Ignore the bad voice acting and even worse music, these still offer enough lovely set-pieces to be worth playing.

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
A 2D fighting game so strategically in-depth that fighting game tournaments continue to feature it to this day. Proper hardcore stuff, this one.

The House Of The Dead 2
A home port of Sega’s so-bad-it’s-good B-movie lightgun shooter. More exploding zombie heads than you can shake a boomstick at.

Ultimate Fighting Championship
Long before anyone properly gave a shit about UFC, Crave Entertainment released this technical one-on-one fighter. Developer Anchor Inc went on to make the WWF Raw games for Xbox, with mixed results.

Virtua Fighter 3tb
The Dreamcast’s short lifespan meant this was the only Virtua Fighter game released for it. The ‘tb’ bit stands for Team Battle and not, as you may have hoped, a special mode in which all the fighters try to infect their opponents with tuberculosis.

14 thoughts on “The 30 best Dreamcast games

  1. Great article. I can understand Blue Stinger not being there although I thought it was a lot of fun. No Skies of Arcadia though? Really? Thats surely a paragraph typo.

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  2. I still have my Dreamcast too with an alarming amount of controllers (most 3rd party) although I think the video port is buggered. *sad face*
    That’s a great list Chris. I owned around 75% of those games, far more games than I ever owned on the PS2.
    The game I want to mention that you didn’t was StarLancer. It looked simply gorgeous, played extremely well and was the first ever game I played online (and got my ass kicked).

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  3. I loved my dreamcast. I maintain the first sonic on dreamcast was the last time sonic was good or even relevant to a gaming machine.

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