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:
Metal Gear Solid 2, 3 – As with Metal Gear Solid, I just never got into the franchise as much as I wanted, outside MGS4. MSG3 I did enjoy somewhat, though I really did loathe MGS2.
Halo, Halo 2 – I actually did enjoy Halo, but I really found Halo 2 to be mind numbingly poor. I also disliked its approach of “realism” in only having a couple of ballistic weapons at one time, which every FPS had to adopt (though I understand for games such as Call of Duty.) The single player in Halo 2 was a yawn fest, and I still think its multiplayer is overrated, as well as annoying in the sense that it’s frustrating that it takes 101 bullets to fell anyone.
Okami, Zone of the Enders 1-2, Beyond Good & Evil, Psychonauts, Eternal Darkness, Shenmue, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – Outstanding games….but I have not played enough of them to warrant any of them to be on my list. Though I have to admit that the Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner opening theme is one of the best things I have ever heard in my life.
80% of all RPG’s – My queue is filled with the likes of Tales of the Abyss, Xenosaga Episode I-III, every Shin Megami Tensi (minus Persona 4) Suikoden III-V and so on. Some of these titles I played a bit into and fell in love with (especially Persona 3) but too many factors pulled me away from them.
Sonic Adventure – This was the reason why I bought my Sega Dreamcast, even though I didn’t get it until years later. Playing it again on both the Sega Dreamcast and Xbox Live Arcade….my God this hasn’t aged well whatsoever. That opening theme though….still catchy as all hell.
Soul Calibur – I recognize its achievements, though I still prefer Soul Blade/Edge any day of the week.
Jet Grind Radio – Never clicked with me, though it’s gorgeous even today.
Super Mario Sunshine – UGH. Thoroughly pointless IMO. The waterpack gimmick fell flat for me, the colorful world felt flat and mostly dead. One of the most disappointing Mario games I’ve ever played.
Devil May Cry/God of War franchises – Both are worthwhile and must plays, but none of them had any place on my list.
Marvel vs Capcom 2 – The official #26. Still a chaotic thrill ride worth taking, whether it’s the Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox or Xbox Live Arcade/PSN version.
25. Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)
The game that almost glorified running hookers down with a corvette, Grand Theft Auto III was the rebirth of a franchise, which spawned into a mega sensation. Each release after GTAIII has become a highly sought after title, but it was GTAIII that started the craze. Run or drive around a good chunk of real estate, following a storyline, or just off doing your own thing. The freedom and diversity on display wasn’t as plentiful as the current releases, but there’s no denying its satisfaction and groundwork that it laid out.
The Strategy RPG genre has become a sickening addiction for myself. Disgaea was one of a few in that genre that grabbed me by the grapefruits and refused to let me go. The hilarious storyline with a lovable cast of characters further helped to engross me into its rock solid gameplay. The series has evolved in several different ways, though the original has the charm that captures my heart each time.
Released in Japan in limited quantities, this hodgepodge of Darkstalkers – Darkstalkers 3 was more or less an “ultimate” version of the franchise. Each character has three different versions of themselves, each representing one of the three releases, along with the crisp, near arcade perfect visuals and quality overall. The Darkstalkers franchise might not receive the level of love from the fighting game community as the pillars of the community (Street Fighter, Marvel) but make no mistake – Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service is still one of the most enthralling titles in the genre.
Mario and Link made the transition to 3D years before, so why not Samus and the Metroid franchise? Still one of the most gorgeous games on the Gamecube, Metroid Prime also built an enjoyable game world within the beauty of its looks. The somewhat unusual control methods can be a turn off early on, but quickly become second nature. It’s definitely one of the upper echelon within the franchise, and it’s a title that most Gamecube owners should have already played years ago.
A radical departure from the standard Phantasy Star franchise, Phantasy Star Online boldly went where so few console games have gone before – online! Create your avatar, link up with folks on the Sega Dreamcast’s 56k modem (or solo if you wish) and take on a myriad of enemies, all while collecting materialistic upgrades and physical upgrades. While the ability to play online ceased years ago, it’s still a pleasant enough romp through the game on your own.