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:
Within this generation, two multiplayer Marvel titles took center stage - Marvel Ultimate Alliance and X-Men Legends. The former was released during this current cycle as well, though the latter manages to outshine even the current generation installment of Marvel. Play as one of four X-Men on screen at once, switching over freely to whichever character you want, X-Men Legends fused a “loot grind” action RPG feel into the Marvel Universe, and produced a title that’s still quite replayable, even to this day.
The sandbox boom was in full swing around the time Yakuza was released on the PlayStation 2. Sega, a company that released one of the first sandbox titles to gain notoriety (Sega Dreamcast’s Shenmue) released the beginning of a fascinating series that’s reached four installments in the US. A gritty story with frequent bouts of comedic moments sprinkled in, a plethora of mini games, advancements in combat and so on were only just a few aspects to Yakuza that stood out. Though each succeeding installment utilized Japanese voices with English subtitles, Yakuza‘s English voice over really wasn’t something to scoff at. In any case, Yakuza presented more than enough to slit its self at number 19.
There are a number of franchises that attempt to position themselves as interactive movies of sorts, and Indigo Prophecy manages to pop into my mind before any other title, even before the Metal Gear Solid franchise. The movement controls were rigid, and the use of QTE (which were random, adding to a more frantic sense of “what’s coming up next?”) but it was an interesting take on an interactive story, one that would be revisited and retooled somewhat years later in Heavy Rain on the PlayStation 3. Unusual story, unusual atmosphere, unusual amounts of investment.
Parents around the country cried foul when Bully was first announced, mainly because the same company behind the ultra violent Grand Theft Auto franchise, were at the helm. Mothers didn’t want their children playing a game about a kid that murdered other students. Naturally Bully was nothing close to that sentiment, and instead offered a year long look through one troubled kids life at a boarding school, where he was more of a bully halting kid, rather than a bully in his own right. The game world, from its location to its cast of characters, was one of the more enjoyable ones in the genre, and even with the number of additions to the gameplay to differentiate its self from the more violent releases in the genre, it never got as much praise as it deserved. A tongue-in-cheek adventure that never tries to push the player around.
16. Resident Evil: Code Veronica (DC)
I love me some Resident Evil games….well, aside from the atrocity of Resident Evil 5, but still! Code Veronica was another dark chapter of the whole Umbrella debacle, which finally paired Claire together with her brother Chris in the starring role. One deviance from previous Resident Evil titles included a camera that would occasionally follow the character and not just be frozen in place. It seemed like a minor change, but it was refreshing to finally see some minor evolutions with how the mechanics worked. Regardless, it actually feels a bit more dated than the older installments of the franchise (which were featured on vastly inferior consoles at that) but Code Veronica still manages to provide enough entertainment and memories that will live on for a long time to come.