Sunday, August 19, 2012
10 Overlooked and Underrated Gems Part 5: The Sega Dreamcast
As I conclude my Top 10 underrated and overlooked video game gems for the 5 consoles that have had the most impact for me personally, here we are at what is quite possibly my all time favorite video game system in the history of fucking ever. Say what you want about it, but I fucking loved the Sega Dreamcast. When it first came out on 9/9/99, it made quite the impression. 128-bit graphics, arcade-perfect games, and a dial-up modem built into it that let you play multiplayer games too. It’s success and lifespan was short-lived, as Sega discontinued it in 2002 and then switched to publishing games across every other system available, but for everyone around at the time, the Dreamcast was (and still is) a beloved little console. It had its share of well-known and smash hit games, like “Sonic Adventure”, “Crazy Taxi”, “Jet Grind Radio”, “Marvel VS Capcom 2”, and “Phantasy Star Online”, but it also had a shitload of titles that were so damn good and so overlooked that it’s a crying shame they didn’t get more press. Seriously, out of all 5 lists I came up with for the other consoles, this was the hardest. That being said, here are my top 10 underrated and overlooked gems for the Dreamcast:
10. CANNON SPIKE (2000)
A multi-directional arcade brawler/shooter from Capcom, “Cannon Spike” features a cast from previous Capcom games (Cammy, Mega Man, Arthur, etc.) all duking and shooting it out with each other for no real reason whatsoever. Not that that matters though, because this game is super fun. It’s simple enough and kind of mindless, but it’s satisfying as all hell, and is only one of a shitload of excellent games that Capcom created for the Dreamcast. It’s also pretty damn rare, and sold for a budget price when originally released, so if you’re prepared to lay down some cash for some serious fun, check this out.
9. CONFIDENTIAL MISSION (2002)
Released at the end of the Dreamcast’s life cycle, “Confidential Mission” is a light-gun shooter based on Sega’s own arcade title of the same name. It shares a lot of similarities with “Virtua Cop” and offers up a great assortment of baddies and boss fights. If it has any flaws to it, it’s that the game is so damn short it isn’t even funny. Three missions, one sitting, that’s it. All that being said, it’s still a blast to play regardless, and features some great technical achievements for being little more than a light gun shooter.
8. OOGA BOOGA (2001)
Another game released at the tail end of the Dreamcast’s life cycle, “Ooga Booga” is one of the more unique games you’re likely to play. A multiplayer combat game where you use items such as shrunken heads and magic spells to take out your opponents, “Ooga Booga” also features a shit load of “masks” to unlock that change your abilities and the like. One of the most fun games to play online, this is a game that was made to be played by you and your friends. Check it out.
7. SWORD OF THE BERSERK: GUTS’ RAGE (2000)
Based on a long running manga, “Sword of the Berserk” Guts’ Rage” is a hack and slasher that puts you in the shoes (and very, very large sword) of Guts, as he comes across a town where a disease is running rampant that is transforming its victims into horrible, blood thirsty mutants. Notable at the time for its graphics and quick-time events (one of the first games that actually had them), “Sword of the Berserk” is a short but oh so sweet action blast that is plenty enjoyable whether you’re familiar with the manga or not. There’s great voice acting and an intriguing story as well, all of which will keep you glued to the screen from beginning to end.
6. TECH ROMANCER (1999)
What’s not to like about giant fucking robots? “Tech Romancer” is a Capcom fighting game featuring giant robotic mechs beating the shit out of each other. Originally an arcade game that received a perfect port to the Dreamcast, “Tech Romancer” features a surprisingly deep fighting engine/system for a game of this type. Though the controls may come off as kind of clunky at first, eventually you get used to the flow and feel of the game, and beating the breaking the shit out of your opponents is so much fun.
5. HEAVY METAL: GEOMATRIX (2002)
Another Capcom-published fighting game, but more of an arena-based brawler/shooter like the aforementioned “Cannon Spike” or Capcom’s hit “Power Stone” games for the Dreamcast. “Heavy Metal: Geomatrix” is based on the long running adult comic magazine of the same name, featuring busty babes and cyborg warriors all shooting the shit out of each other. The game’s art design is wonderfully based off the work of renowned artist Simon Bisley, and features a rollicking metal soundtrack that includes Megadeth, Corrosion of Conformity, Halford, and more besides. It’s fast, fun, and harder than hell, and it’s wholeheartedly worth your time.
4. FATAL FURY: MARK OF THE WOLVES (2001)
SNK’s long running “Fatal Fury” series is beloved the world over, but by the time “Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves” came out in North America, it was a Dreamcast exclusive that was ignored because the console was dying out. The real shame in that happens to be that “Mark of the Wolves” is by and far the best game in the franchise, featuring a re-vamped fighting system and a whole new cast of fighters in addition to series stalwart Terry Bogard. The animation is superb and the controls are fluid, and it’s still a crying shame that this game got as ignored as it did back in 2001. Over the years though it’s developed a following thanks to some re-releases on newer consoles as downloadable content, and as such carries a somewhat hefty price tag for video game collectors. That aside though, this is one of the best fighting games on the Dreamcast ever, which is saying a lot considering the Dreamcast had nearly nothing but excellent fighting games.
3. JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE (1999)
Based on a popular manga, Capcom’s “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” is a 2-D brawler where you do little else than kick the shit out of people. That being said, it’s incredibly fun and completely absurd. The first thing you’ll notice is the game’s wonderful art style, which often looks like a cartoon come to life. Also released for the Playstation 1 at the same time, this Dreamcast version didn’t suffer from graphical glitches and constantly long load times. This game is nearly perfect, and these days is a rare find, but rumor has it that a downloadable HD remake is on the way for current consoles, so maybe more gamers will have the chance to enjoy this wonderful piece of art.
2. THE LAST BLADE 2 (2001)
Like the aforementioned “Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves”, SNK’s “The Last Blade 2” is a brilliant 2-D fighting game that is revered for being one of the finest 2-D fighting games to ever come out of the development house. It also happens to be the best 2-D fighting game the Dreamcast has to offer right behind “Marvel VS Capcom 2” and “Street Fighter Alpha 3”. Featuring a handful of sword-carrying warriors to choose from, “The Last Blade 2” features wonderful production values and a lovely art setting, making it one of the prettiest 2-D fighters you’ll ever see. While SNK has achieved a lot of fame for their various fighting franchises like “King of Fighters”, “Fatal Fury”, “Samurai Shodown” and all the others, “The Last Blade” games are simply wonderful, and “The Last Blade 2” is by and far a glorious achievement that too many gamers sadly missed out on.
1. DRACONUS: CULT OF THE WYRM (2000)
A third-person hack and slasher, “Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm” is a medieval fantasy on crack. You choose between playing as a warrior and a sorceress, mixing hand to hand combat and magic attacks to take down your enemies. There’s great melee combat to be had and the longer it goes on, the more difficult this fucker gets. By the time you get to the final stages of the game, you’re going to be worn the fuck out, that much I guarantee. When originally released in 2000, “Draconus” received a mixed reaction from critics and gamers alike. Some who played it were mystified and turned off by its difficulty, while others seemed to love it. If anything, the game reminds me of the recent PS3 role-playing/hack n’ slasher “Demon’s Souls”, which was a hard son of a bitch but received universal acclaim. “Draconus” may come off as a poor man’s version of that if you’ve never played it before, but it’s an incredibly fun and well-crafted game that deserves your time and attention.
Well folks, that’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed this round of lists, and hopefully it’ll make you check out some awesome old games you’ve missed out on. Good night bitches.