Tomorrow’s the Dreamcast’s anniversary in the US and we decided to celebrate by listing our 10 essential games released on September 9th, 1999 (and don’t forget to check out the 24 hour marathon). With a launch of 19 games, the Dreamcast definitely had one impressive launch with many of the games still being some of the best games for the console.
Hit the jump to read on!
Mike Kyzivat: There were a lot of good games released at the Dreamcast’s launch. In fact, there were 19 games in total launched when the Dreamcast hit North America. That’s a lot of games. I remember the Saturn launch having somewhere around 5 games and many of those felt unfinished. With a lot of big name titles like Soul Calibur, Power Stone, Hydro Thunder and Sonic Adventure, I think that Blue Stinger got lost in the mix. However, it is a great game in its own right. The game is basically a Resident Evil clone set on “Dinosaur Island” and you fight monsters with weapons or sometimes your bare fists. There is some key collecting and small puzzle solving as well, but the thing that always stood out in my mind was the fact that you were fighting creatures that looked like Necromorphs from Dead Space in a setting that was as bright and colorful as Sonic Adventure. Definitely an interesting combination.
Scott Morrison: Dynamite Cop is the Die Hard of video games, and I suppose it’s appropriate to say that since it used to be acquainted with the Die Hard movies. What do I mean by this? It’s a brainless game, but in all the right ways. Any beat-em-up fan will be able to jump right in to this game and grab a broomstick, hand gun, rocket launcher, or beach chair to aid you in your mission to rescue the president’s daughter. Dynamite Cop is the sequel to the Sega Saturn game Die Hard Arcade, but Sega lost its license with Die Hard in the US, and in turn renamed the lead character “Bruno” instead of John McClane. I feel like more people would have played this game with the words, “Die Hard” in the title, but that is neither here nor there. The game is a 3D brawler in the most nonsensical manner. You make your way though a cruise ship fighting off waves of ridiculous enemies with anything from sumo wrestlers to DJs, using anything at your disposal. Being a straight arcade port, you could easily make your way through the game in 30 minutes or so, but you’ll soon find yourself repeating the process to experiment with different paths, weapons, and simply enjoying the care-free atmosphere of saving the day one thug at a time.
House of the Dead 2
Tom Kyzivat: House of the Dead II, often referred to by video game scholars and experts as “The RPG of Light Gun Games”, became notable because it focused so heavily on story and voice acting over gameplay. You’ll notice right away, playing this nearly-arcade-perfect Dreamcast port, that little attention is paid to fighting mechanics, because so much effort went into the deeply layered story. I still get shivers down my spine when James declares, in despair, “G’s blood stains!”.
All right, you get it. Let’s make fun of House of the Dead’s terrible story and voice acting. Geez, when did I become so cliche? Oh, right–I was always cliche. Well, what else am I supposed to say? We all know this game like the back of our hands, and we played the hell out of it on Dreamcast when the system came out. But I suppose my major exposure to the game was through the Dreamcast. I wasn’t crazy about pumping quarters into the arcade machine, since I kinda suck as gun games, so it was a zombie bonanza on the home console! Let’s see… what am I missing? Oh, I guess no summary of HOTD would be complete without inviting the reader to “suffer like G did?”, which I guess you probably have if you made it all the way through this write-up.
Scott Morrison: Hydro Thunder was one of those awesome arcade racing cabinets that scarred the crap out of you if you walked by at the right time for it to yell, “HYDRO THUNDER!” This was literally what attracted me to the machine. When I learned it would be a launch game on the Dreamcast, I got pretty excited to know my TV would soon yell at me too. Seriously though, Hydro Thunder is a fun simplistic boat racer. The landscapes are beautiful, and anyone will tell you that at the time the Dreamcast had the best water rendering effects, which only added to game’s visual appeal. The races were short enough to start with, but grew in length and intensity as the game went on. Of course there is not much depth to the game itself, but there is a lot of replay value. Unlocking boats and levels provided me with hours of playtime, as did multiplayer. If you needed a quick multiplayer game to warm up the Dreamcast, Hydro Thunder was it, and many of my friends would agree. The game saw itself ported to many other consoles, and recently the XBLA “sequel,” Hydro Thunder Hurricane has brought back that 1999 smile to my face. If you are new to the series I definitely recommend it. Though you may be able to find a Dreamcast and the original game for the same price. Pick your poison. It’s a win-win really.
NFL Blitz 2000
Flake: I hate football. Where I live, this makes me a virtual pariah but no matter; It’s a dumb, boring sport where only 10 seconds of gameplay occurs for every 2 minutes of wandering around and waiting out the clock. And then there is NFL Blitz, the football game that fixes all of that.
NFL Blitz is a fighting game disguised as a sports title. You pick your team (it doesn’t really matter), you call your plays (they don’t really matter), and then you do what you can to get the hand-egg from one side of the field to the other or, if you are playing defense, you try to stop this. Really, the ‘football’ just frames non-stop arcade fun. It’s over the top to the point that it is cartoonish and it’s going to make you laugh non-stop.
And of course, since it’s a port of a Midway title, you can expect all the usual zany zones, giant heads, and other Easter eggs. Just in case Blitz 2000 wasn’t zany enough for you already.
Alex Riggen: No sports game has eaten up more of my time than the NFL2K series. Sega Sports did an amazing job taking the football genre in a new direction that really used the Dreamcast’s power. I remember seeing the Madden game from the same year on the PlayStation and realizing just how dated it looked and played compared to Sega’s game. It’s important to note that NFL2K was not just an improvement graphically as it also really nailed the gameplay in a manner that was easy to pick up and play but also felt realistic. That’s still a thing many sports games today struggle with as they try to get more complicated and realistic but have lost all of my interest in the process.
Tom Kyzivat: It’s hard to talk about Power Stone without wanting to talk about its sequel, since it improves on every aspect of the game and comes as close to Dreamcast perfection as I think is possible, but… we’re not talking about Power Stone 2. However, the first game had its share of charm, and in some specific cases had more content than the second. The first thing that comes to mind is that there was a kick button, which was done away with in the sequel in favor of light and heavy attack instead. What that meant was that, in the first game, you had an attack combination with both punch and kick, each with unique moves. A jumping punch and a dive kick, and, most importantly, two unique attacks after transforming! Aside from that, it also had some pretty cool, character-specific levels that we don’t see in 2, as well as three bosses that are absent in the sequel (though they might be unlockable in different versions). Kraken, a pirate, is the fist boss, and Valgas, the last boss, is all rocky and junk. His final form takes up most of the screen, and looks like Carnage with crystals embedded in his back. Pretty cool stuff. All in all, Power Stone seemed to focus much more on the individual characters, more like a fighting game, whereas 2 seemed to put the focus on the player and the overall experience, with each character feeling a bit more interchangeable. Two games in a series, but each with a completely unique feel.
Scott Morrison: The Nintendo 64 had Mario 64 and nothing else at launch. Sega upped the ante with 19 Dreamcast launch games in the US, but one of them was to the Dreamcast what Mario 64 was to the N64. Sonic Adventure was the 3D adventure game that Sega fans waited a generation for. The game was aptly named as it felt like a whole new world traveling at break neck speeds through different levels and exploring vast jungles and the slightly less vast, but still captivating, Station Square. Sonic Adventure took full advantage of the Dreamcast at launch as well with immediate downloadable content, and a surprisingly addictive VMU mini-game. With six playable characters, my time was well spent exploring the new captivating world of Sonic and ignoring every bit of homework. I expressed my excitement for the game so intensely that my dad, who only ever played Virtua Cop with me in the arcade, actually sat down on September 9th with me for a few hours to see what was so special about Sonic Adventure. I’m still not sure if he knows, but he knew his son was more excited for that than getting his driver’s permit. Sonic Adventure covered a wide range of gameplay from the speedy Sonic and Tails levels, to target-shooting “a la Panzer Dragoon” to even fishing. There is something for everyone in Sonic Adventure, and something that still brings me back to it every year around this time to celebrate one of my favorite launch games of all time. Sonic Adventure may not have aged incredibly well, but it still reminds me of a great time when Sega was full of attitude and continued to create a grand scale experience with their mascot.
Flake: Yep, this was a launch title. Easy to forget because it still stands up today as a quality game both in terms of the gameplay and the graphics. In the Master System days, Sega established itself as the company that brought the arcade home. This crown was stolen from them a bit by SNK and Nintendo but when the Dreamcast came out, Soul Calibur put Sega back on top of the hill for arcade games at home.
Better than arcade perfect, the Dreamcast port of Soul Calibur featured missions and other modes to get the most out of the game when you didn’t have another person hand to battle on the stage of history. Oh and you can use the fishing rod to destroy the evil sword, too.
Virtua Fighter 3tb
Mike Kyzivat: Based on the Arcade version of 3 this one adds a stream of opponents to fight, hence the team battle addition. But it’s basically Virtua Fighter 3, with all it’s strengths and weaknesses. This game seems to be the black sheep of the Virtua Fighter family. The Am2 team decided to put a dodge button into the game, which I think many people felt was unnecessary (myself included). Virtua Fighter has always been about being simple to pick up and play, but hard to master. Adding the dodge button just confused most players and without really adding anything to the game play. At least the rest of the game is pure Virtua Fighter. Two new characters were added a sumo wrestler and a woman named Aoi that uses a form of jujutsu, as well as, updated moves for the returning characters. It may not be the best iteration of the Virtua Fighter series, but at the time it was cutting edge.
I really believe that the Dreamcast had the greatest launch line-up of games for a console ever. Not only did it have a large amount with 19 games but just looking at the list above over half of them were worth playing even 13 years later.
I couldn’t agree more. I can’t recall a single other launch that actually made me feel spoiled for choice in its library’s very first moments. I actually remember cutting out two pages from my EGM from that month, because every single review on them was a Dreamcast launch title, and I wanted all of them.
But when the opportunity to buy my first game finally arose, my inner obsession with obscure titles trumped my desire for those games, leading me to a purchase that still embarrasses me to this day.
The very first Dreamcast game I ever played was Trickstyle.
Oh, Trickstyle, I never realized how bad that game was until I tried to play it again recently. For many years I had only played the demo and thought it was decent and I remember getting the game for cheap and getting pretty good at it. Going back now though the controls and terrible level design and camera make it incredibly frustrating. It definitely hasn’t aged well.