We all know about Skies of Arcadia, Shenmue, Sonic Adventure, and Jet Set Radio. I don’t think there is a self-respecting SEGA fan alive who doesn’t know what all the best Dreamcast games are. But the Dreamcast’s library is large, and I’ll bet there are five games out there many of you have not played. This list is devoted to those games, the most overlooked awesome games on the Dreamcast!
Cannon Spike is an exceptionally hard to find game for the Dreamcast, so you’ll be forgiven if you hadn’t heard of it before our review. I’d encourage you to read the review for an in depth reason of why this game is on the list, but to put it simply: this is a well-made, fast past arena shooter, and there isn’t much else like it on the Dreamcast. It also has a cast drawn from various Capcom games, which should entice fans of the publisher.
Largely known as one of the last major Dreamcast releases, Ikaruga doesn’t get much attention these days, which is a shame because this is probably the best shmup on the system. The game is a spiritual successor to Radiant Silvergun for the Saturn, which was oddly enough the last major release for the Saturn. Ikaruga uses a system of color coded ships and bullets, allowing players to change the color of their ship to fly through bullets of the corresponding color. Like any self-respecting shmup, Ikaruga is incredibly chaotic and difficult, especially in the later levels. If you like shmups, and want to play one on the Dreamcast, Ikaruga is the title to go for. Ikaruga would have been higher on this list had it remained Dreamcast exclusive.
Test Drive Le Mans
I never really cared for SEGA GT. Or Gran Turismo for that matter. To me, Test Drive Le Mans is the perfect example of what a realistic racer should be: a perfect blend of arcade and simulation racing. Casual racing fans can just take a car of their choice around any number of European tracks for a few laps. Hardcore racing fans can turn on realistic tire wear, realistic fuel usage, and go through a full length 24 hour race in the spirit of the real race this game is based on, 24 Hours of Le Mans. I personally preferred something inbetween. I loved the idea of fuel usage and tire wear, but I’m certainly never going to be willing to go through a 24 hour virtual endurance race! Le Mans is also the best looking racing game on the system, which certainly doesn’t hurt it’s placement on this list.
What happens when you take Street Fighter and turn it into a fully 3D fighter? This game. Project Justice is a heck of an overtop fighting game, featuring all sorts of over the top fighters and moves. Like the recently released Marvel vs. Capcom 3 you control a team of three fighters. The way you organize your team, and the way you utilize them is vital. Unlike MvC3, you can’t switch between fighters during a fight. If you love fast paced 3D fighters, it’s hard to go wrong here. Just don’t expect a remotely coherent narrative. Now if only Capcom could bring us a sequel…
Starlancer puts you in the seat of an all new squadron of civilians at the eve of an interplanetary war. In this game you will fight everything from small skirmishes with star fighters to epic battles with fleets of gunships and capital ships. Some missions even have optional objectives that will change aspects of the story. Nothing major like it is nowadays, but Starlance was one of the early pioneers in this aspect of video game story telling.
Starlancer has the best space sim controls I’ve ever used on a console, loads of different ships to choose from that only get cooler as your squadron rises in notoriety and even an in world kill scoreboard, to let you know how you stack up against the other squadron’s aces. It’s also among the last Dreamcast games to still feature online play, in the form of fighter on fighter death matches. Starlancer is not an innovative game, but it is a superb example of the space sim genre, and the only truly great one of its ilk on a game console, period. It was one of the last of the classic space sims, and if you can only buy one more Dreamcast game, let it be this one. You won’t be disappointed.