Join us as we wax nostalgic about some of the Sega Dreamcast’s most unforgettable games
The story of the Sega Dreamcast is one of the saddest the industry has ever seen. The swansong of the onetime hardware juggernaut that had spent the 1990’s going toe-to-toe with both Nintendo and Sony for control of our living rooms, the dumpy white miracle topped with a scarlet swirl is widely remembered as one of the greatest consoles ever released. Seemingly celebrated by everyone who clutched it oddly-shaped controller, the Dreamcast marked the beginning of an era when home console games could finally rival – and sometimes even surpass – their arcade counterparts. It was a spectacular system, and its life was cut short all too soon.
Bleeding money and unable to compete with Sony’s PlayStation 2, which was selling like hotcakes due in no small part to its usefulness as an affordable DVD player, Sega was forced to pull the plug on the console and the rest is history. They took a bow, exited stage right, and ultimately resumed operations as an independent developer and publisher.
Today marks 17 years since the Dreamcast was unleashed on North America on September 9, 1999. And while we can’t help but get a bit teary eyed thinking of what wonders may have been in store for us had things gone a bit differently for Sega and their mighty white dream machine, we’d rather celebrate the unforgettable experiences the system brought us than lament the might-have-beens.
That said, slip on your party hat and get ready to party as we celebrate the 17th anniversary of the Dreamcast’s North American debut and reflect on some of the console’s most memorable experiences.
Soul Calibur (Namco, 1999)
Arcade-to-console ports have been commonplace since gaming’s earliest years. And while many studios had often done an admirable job of replicating the arcade experience in our living rooms, it was always a bit of an unspoken rule that these versions were lacking in a number of areas when compared to their source material. From Capcom’s butchered adaptation of their hit arcade beat ’em up Final Fight on the Super Nintendo to Donkey Kong‘s hideous and clunky transition to the Atari 2600, home console versions of the arcade’s greatest hits almost always lost something in the transition from coin-op to console.
That said, when Namco announced they were bringing their massively successful weapons-based fighter, Soul Calibur, to the Dreamcast, many expected history to repeat itself. Boy, were they in for a surprise, because not only did this port look and play like a dream, it left its arcade counterpart in the dust. From its silky smooth animations to its wealth of exceptionally detailed sword, axe, and staff-wielding warriors, the game marked the first time a home console version of a title put its arcade inspiration to shame, and it was nothing short of a glorious thing to behold.
I’ve probably sunk tens of thousands of rounds into Soul Calibur since it released alongside the Dreamcast on September 9, 1999, and my soul still burns for more.
The House of the Dead 2 (Sega, 1999)
Another one of the system’s launch titles, The House of the Dead 2 brought Sega’s Naomi-based horror-shooter into your home with none of pixelated putrefaction we found in the Saturn version of its predecessor. The game’s story throws players in the shoes of AMS agents Amy Crystal and Harry Harris as they fight their way out of a zombie-infested depiction Venice, Italy.
The House of the Dead 2 took everything that made the first game so addicting, such as its imaginative ghouls, branching paths, and terrifying bosses and turned the dial to 11. Much like the aforementioned Soul Calibur, Sega put the power of the Dreamcast to great use, creating a near pixel-perfect port of their arcade hit that made a fantastic showpiece for the system. Add to that a number of challenging new gameplay modes to test your gaming mettle and you have a recipe for a game that will soothe even the itchiest trigger finger.