It's rather appropriate that Sega's Dreamcast launched at the turn of the millennium, since its titles — often ported from arcade versions — are emblematic of a transitional era in video game design; a limbo space between the frenetic coin-op classics of yesteryear and the big budget home console adventures that dominate today's market. Its launch upon this industry fault-line might indeed help explain the system's financial failure and abrupt discontinuation.
But regardless of Sega's unfortunate demise, we'll always have the games. Some have aged like fine polygonal wines, while others quickly betray their irksome anachronisms. Join me in remembering our fallen console comrade by celebrating the 10 best Dreamcast games that helped define this fleeting era of gaming history.
10. 'Resident Evil: Code Veronica'
Release date: February, 2000
Whether due to the inappropriately young age I was exposed to it, or the chilling design of its zombie-infested manor houses, Code Veronica remains one of the most deeply affecting Resident Evil games I've ever played. Unforgiving? Sure. Unsettling? Absolutely. Forgettable? Not one bit.
9. 'Sonic Adventure'
Release date: December, 1998
The Dreamcast's early graphical tour de force proved just how capable its hardware under the hood really was. The open-world structure might not have been the smartest direction to take Sega's blurry blue mascot, but the rapid running sections remained just as compelling as ever. And who could forget that boardwalk-chomping whale?!
8. 'Crazy Taxi'
Release date: 2000
No other game ate up my arcade-designated pocket money quite like this one, so when I finally got my hands on the retry-unlimited home version I was elated. Ferrying impatient customers around a fake San Francisco with The Offspring blaring out your radio is a gloriously anarchic experience that's every bit as compelling today. Re-skin the yellow chassis with a nondescript Uber paint job and we've got ourselves a remake.
7. 'Power Stone 2'
Release date: April, 2000
This frantic and vibrant brawler managed to unite two of the console's greatest assets: additive local multiplayer modes and arresting artistic design. Though I barely understood what was taking place on screen for the majority of the time, I could rely on having a huge grin smeared across my face for the duration.
6. 'Virtua Tennis'
Release date: 1999
The greatest arcade tennis franchise of all time started life on the dear old Dreamcast, cementing itself as the go-to game for highly competitive baseline slugging. Virtua Tennis's disarming depth reveals itself to players over time, and only demands you master its air-tight controls against the nigh-unbeatable starch-stained monarch of the court, King. Damn you and your relentless max power serves King!
Released: July, 1998
How do you create the most memorable fighting game since Street Fighter? Add an extra D to the graphics (as well as a couple more to the female characters' chests) and give everyone weapons! Seriously though, SoulCalibur is dope.
4. 'ChuChu Rocket!'
Released: November, 1999
Another example of superbly designed local multiplayer action. No other console seemed to have such a penchant for ruining friendships than the Dreamcast, offering up tons of new and creative ways to get competitive. ChuChu Rocket! was an absolute blast to play, and flinging devilish KapuKapus at my enemies rarely got old.
3. 'Phantasy Star Online'
Released: December, 2000
This game, as astute readers will notice, did not define this particular era of antiquated gaming. But Phantasy Star Online nonetheless deserves its place on this list for having pushed the industry forward into the online age.
As one of the first ever online role-playing games released on home consoles, Phantasy Star made use of the Dreamcast's built-in modem to connect intrepid space adventurers from around the world. It was deviously addictive, visually striking and, at the time, playing over the internet was as close as you could get to witnessing magic on a television screen.
2. 'Jet Set Radio'
Released: June, 2000
Only in Japan could you have a rollerskating gang called The GGs go up against an army of baton-wielding policeman in an epic struggle to grind every rail and tag every surface of the cell-shaded city Tokyo-to. Jet Set Radio had mountains of style, a mesmerizing soundtrack and a surreal quality that equally fascinated and baffled my 10-year-old mind. Instant classic.
Released: December, 1999
With Shenmue 3's long-anticipated resurrection receiving record breaking backing on Kickstarter last year it only seems appropriate that we honor the franchise's origins. Eons ahead of its own time, it's hard to overstate the uniqueness of Shenmue, surrounded by mech-obsessed, gun-nut peers back in 1999.
Sure, the game can be reduced to a brawler with quick time events, but that would do a disservice to its infectious atmosphere, stunning level of detail and epic narrative. We've waited long enough. Bring on number three.