In this, the third part of the series in great classic consoles and games that are still fun to play in 2012, we look at one of the greatest consoles ever made. It may have had a short life-span, but this console was released with a fantastic line-up of games, and is still home to some of the greatest arcade games ever. The console of course is the Sega Dreamcast, and for a console life that was so short it has left one of the greatest catalogues of games console-kind has ever seen.
Released in November 1998 in Japan, and almost a year later in 1999 in all other territories, the Dreamcast was a console ahead of its time. It featured an inbuilt modem to allow online play, four control ports, controllers that featured a memory stick (VMU) which had little LCD screens on them that let you play some games on the move away from the console, a PC out port to attach to a PC monitor and a design that made it the sexiest console ever to grace human eyes. What’s more, the Dreamcast had amazing arcade quality games thanks to a 200mhz Hitachi CPU and a dedicated 100mhz PowerVR2 graphics card. The Sega Dreamcast meant serious business, and it did not let fans down.
Thanks to all this power of course, the console could push out graphics at a higher resolution and at a faster rate than anything before it. Games such as Soul Calibur, Jet Set Radio, Shenmue, Crazy Taxi and Daytona USA blew the minds of gamers, but all too soon Sony released the Playstation 2 and with that came the demise of Sega’s ultimate gaming console.
So, I’ve dug through my Dreamcast collection of about 300 games, played for many hours and I have come up with these five master-pieces which are still as much fun to play now as they were back in the good old days…
1: Sega Bass Fishing
Ahhh, fishing is a lovely relaxing sport. Sitting by the side of the river or a lake, or out on a boat, it’s just you against the fish. Hours can go by and you can sleep while waiting for that elusive bite, but not in Sega Bass Fishing! This is arcade fishing at its finest, and few fishing games before or since match Sega Bass Fishing on the Dreamcast for pure fun and excitement.
This is one of the cheaper games on the system, and should be a stock game in any Dreamcast collection. Graphically its pure arcade quality with bright skies and colourful water and land objects. The game gives you multiple places where you can cast out your line and try and catch those fish, so it never gets old! There’s hardly any waiting around either, as this is an arcade game you’ll be getting bites and catching fish faster than you can throw your tackle back in the water.
2: Virtua Tennis 2
Recently I reviewed Virtua Tennis Challenge on the Apple iPad, and for all intents and purposes this is more or less the same game. The Virtua Tennis games have always been a hit with fans of tennis, and the one reason for this is the game play. Yes, this is another arcade game, so is really enjoyable to play. There’s hours of game available, and plenty of challenges, courts and players to keep you coming back for more.
Virtua Tennis 2 has aged really well, and still looks and plays as good as it did back in the Sega Dreamcast’s hay-day. What’s more, the game can be picked up from various outlets such as eBay for very little money. Yet another must-own Dreamcast title that’s fun to play and has aged like a good wine.
3: Space Channel 5
Ulala is one of the best known characters of the Dreamcast era, and for all the right reasons, she’s hot, she’s feisty and she can move! Space Channel 5 is a musical rhythm game, where you must follow Ulala and other player’s verbal commands. She’ll shout and sing things at you like “Up, Up, Left, Right, Up” and you must press the corresponding keys on the joy-pad. Things become trickier when the coloured buttons are added into the mix and when the speed is increased. It’s all set to some of the most charming graphics that will ever grace your TV and some top-notch animations. What’s more, once again the game comes with buckets full of fun.
Priced at what seems quite random amounts on various sites, Space Channel 5 can range from being reasonably cheap to quite expensive, depending on what day you pick it up, but what-ever you pay for it, Space Channel 5 is a blast and a true out of space experience.
4: Soul Calibur
MMmmm… I like fighting games, and Soul Calibur on Sega’s Dreamcast is, even now in 2012, one of the greatest 3D fighting games ever to grace a console. It has everything a great fighting game should have, great characters, brilliant moves, awesome graphics, fluid animations and a sense of humour. Playing this game now, you realise that Soul Calibur was the standard that was set that all other games had to reach. Many have tried, but so many games have failed to be this good.
Soul Calibur is a mid-priced title on eBay these days, but just like every other game in this list, it’s a game that has stood the test of time and plays as well today as it ever did. Words really can’t express how much fun and how damn awesome this game is.
5: Daytona USA
“Daytonna Yeaaaaaaaaaahhh!!!” screams the game at you, and with this attitude you would expect a game that stands out from the crowd. Daytona USA does just that, by being a fun, yet challenging racing game that some-how stands out a little bit from the crowd. Bathed in Sega’s bright blues and primary colours, Daytona USA is a good old-fashioned racing game built on NASCAR events. It’s all over-the-top crashes, screaming soundtracks and arcade fun, and thanks to that it’s an enjoyable game. I mention challenging, because some might find the controls a bit twitchy. Thankfully they can be tweaked in the options, and the game becomes a real pleasure to play.
One of the more expensive games, Daytona USA is a superb example of an arcade quality game on a home console. It’s a fine-tuned, graphically enhanced version of the Sega Saturn version, with extra tracks and cars, and due to its pedigree, it’s still fun to play now!
So, that’s another in this series complete. Next time we’ll be looking at the Super Nintendo, or SNES as it’s lovingly known.