September 9th, 1999 – one of the two most memorable gaming dates I’ve experienced (Mortal Monday for Mortal Kombat in the early 90′s was the other one.) The Sega Dreamcast launched on that date, which began quite an interesting generation of games. The Sega Dreamcast was underpowered compared to the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and even Gamecube that were all on the horizon, yet produced a myriad of exceptional titles that shouldn’t be passed up. Thanks to a series of factors, including the lack of key third party support, the Dreamcast was phased out and only left the Nintendo Gamecube, Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation 2 to occupy gamers in the US.
While the Sega Dreamcast is one of, if not possibly my all-time favorite gaming console, it only produced five titles for this console generation that fit my top 25 list. The quality overall of the titles selected could almost be the strongest out of any generation I have experienced, especially with no singular dominance in genres present. Lats take a look at my Top 25 128-bit Games:
10. Crazy Taxi (DC)
The Sega Dreamcast game with the most obnoxious, yet most memorable soundtrack, was also one of the most replayable games in the last 15 years. Arcade driving antics through a rather massive game world, picking up and dropping off passengers at designated pick up and drop off spots, was a lot more chaotic than one may think. The bonus of a second map to drive through added a bit of beef to the package, giving players another area to memorize and dissect. The Dreamcast controller felt perfectly tailored for Crazy Taxi as well, making me forget that this used to be a steering wheel based arcade release. If you haven’t played played Crazy Taxi, do yourself a favor and pick up a Sega Dreamcast and Crazy Taxi. The HD XBLA port doesn’t do the game justice.
Vice City is the pinnacle of Grand Theft Auto titles for many gamers, and occasionally is their favorite game of that generation. In just about every respect, Vice City is a masterpiece, though it’s not the top GTA or top game in this generation for me. Even still, the amazing soundtrack, the addition of more side quests, motorcycles and more ways to cause mayhem still made it leaps and bounds better than Grand Theft Auto III, and most other games in its generation.
08. Super Mario Strikers (GCN)
The “black sheep” of Mario mascot sports titles IMO, Super Mario Strikers was beyond addicting. As a single player game, it was passable, but with a group of friends that knew what they were doing, Strikers became an instant classic. A surprising amount of depth can be found as well, from curbing your shots, to using the right items at the right time in the right spots for an almost guaranteed two point super striker shot. Mario Strikers Charged on the Nintendo Wii attempted to capture the same charm and excitement that Super Mario Strikers possessed, but ultimately failed to reach it. If you have a sibling at home that games with you, or if you have a steady stream of friends that come over, you cannot go wrong with Super Mario Strikes and the hilarity that will ensure from its multiplayer portion.
Square Enix continues its trend of Final Fantasy titles with a multiple of three being the ones that resonate the most with me. Often scoffed at for its gameplay changes, mainly it’s direction in combat (from turn based/active time battle in previous installments, to a more MMORPG kind of battle engine) but it clicked instantly with me. The voice acting was quite stellar to boot, helping to usher in a new generation of RPG’s with a focus upon voice acting, rather than the ancient text crawls of years past. Even the characters came off as likable to me. A huge game world, a myriad of activities to partake in, and quite a bit of replay value were all that awaited me with Final Fantasy XII.
If there was one near perfect RPG during this generation, from story, to characters, to music to combat system, and so on, Persona 4 was definitely it. If a video game could capture the essence of a glowing personality that could resonate with any and every fan of the genre, Persona 4 would be it. What’s more is that it never held your hand for the most part, offering quite a bit of challenge throughout the game, which only intensified as the game unfolded. Also, Nanako….probably the single most adorable, lovable and believable character I have ever encountered in a video game. This little gal manages to steal the show every single time she’s featured in a scene.