On that day, Sega released their final console in North America, the Sega Dreamcast. Between hardware, software and peripherals, Sega grossed $97 million on that, beating the $64 million dollar opening weekend of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. This out of the gate success didn’t last though. Despite having an incredible line of exclusive games, Sega simply couldn’t compete against the likes of Sony, Nintendo, and new console manufacturer Microsoft, announcing in early 2001 that they would cease making hardware and shift focus to third-party development.
Even though the Dreamcast died prematurely, it has lived on in part through through ports of most of its major releases to other consoles, handhelds, and PC. In recent years, new cables and hardware modifications have also allowed the Dreamcast to run on modern displays through HDMI. To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Sega’s swan song, we’ve assembled a buyers guide of sorts, detailing the best way to play Dreamcast games in 2019.
CAPCOM VS. SNK 2: MARK OF THE MILLENNIUM
When people think of Capcom and “Vs.”, they tend to think of the Marvel vs. Capcom games, which also found their way to Dreamcast, but another beloved chapter in the “Vs. Series” is when Capcom pitted themselves against another 2-D fighting game champion: SNK. Capcom vs. SNK was released on the Dreamcast in North America, however its sequel was only released on other consoles like the PS2, GameCube and Xbox in that territory. Though Capcom’s fighting games tended to run best on Dreamcast, the PS2 version of Capcom vs. SNK 2 is still available for purchase on the PlayStation 3 as a PS2 Classic.
CRAZY TAXI AND CRAZY TAXI 2
One of the best games to land on the Dreamcast was a conversion of the arcade hit, Crazy Taxi. In it, players drive through a digital recreation of San Francisco, ferrying customers as quickly as possible to places like Tower Records, Pizza Hut, and KFC, all the while rocking out to the Offspring and Bad Religion. Crazy Taxi was one of the first Sega games to land on a competitors platform, thanks to publisher Acclaim who ported it to the other platforms at the time. Presently the Xbox 360 version of Crazy Taxi can be played on the Xbox One, while PlayStation owners can access it through the PS Now streaming service. Unfortunately due to licensing though, the above mentioned businesses and others aren’t in those versions, and the same goes for the music. You’re still getting the game, but it’s sadly missing a lot of its identity and charm.
Crazy Taxi 2 would skip the arcades to be the series first console exclusive. Crazy Taxi 2’s structure is largely the same as the original, but it did bring a few changes, namely, the setting. Crazy Taxi 2 changes coast and takes place in New York City. New mechanics include a new jump function and the ability to pick up multiple fares at once. Crazy Taxi 2 has not seen as wide a circulation as the first game, coming only to the PSP with the original game in a compilation called Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars. This version is still available on PSN for play on both the PS Vita and PSP. If you’re looking for more Crazy Taxi on the go, the original game is also available for both iOS and Android devices.
Originally released for Sega Saturn exclusively in Japan before getting a worldwide release on PlayStation, Grandia is an incredible JRPG from developer Game Arts, the creators of the Lunar series. This is due in large part to the terrific story, and the combat system which mixes turn based combat with a realtime element. Continuing in the trend of the first game, its sequel would debut as a Dreamcast exclusive in 2001, where it would get critical acclaim from outlets like Electronic Gaming Monthly who would bestow it with a Gold award for getting an average review score of 9.0/10. Grandia II has been available on Steam for a few years now, and recently a compilation of the first and second games was just released for the Nintendo Switch from GungHo Online Entertainment.
THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2
Sega’s The House of the Dead series needs little introduction, as even today it’s still one of the most enjoyable horror light-gun action games. The second entry was one of the Dreamcast’s launch titles, and the last time it was made available was through a compilation with the third game for the Nintendo Wii. If you still have a Wii, or even a Wii U, and a couple of remotes, The House of the Dead 2 is a great game to blast away some zombies with a friend.
Most people were probably introduced to this innovative polarity switching vertical shooter through its port to GameCube, but the first home console it made its way to was Dreamcast as a Japanese exclusive. Now Ikaruga can be played on everything from the PlayStation 4 to the Xbox One and PC. Perhaps the best way to experience it in 2019 though is via the Nintendo Switch version. Ikaruga is a game that supports tate, or vertical mode, when played as a handheld title on Switch. When coupled with the Flip Grip accessory, it’s easily one of the best ways to play an already great game.
JET SET RADIO
At a time when Activision’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series was the franchise to beat, Sega introduced Jet Set Radio, a gorgeous cel-shaded game that mixed rollerblading with graffiti tagging. The Xbox 360 port, Jet Set Radio HD, is playable on the Xbox One while PC players can grab the game on Steam. Those who play exclusively on PlayStation devices can still pick up the game for PlayStation 3, or if you play on the go, the PlayStation Vita.
POWER STONE AND POWER STONE 2
What do you get when you take a game with the pick-up-and-play mechanics of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. and make it 3-D? You get Power Stone, a wonderfully creative arena fighter from Capcom. The first was a Dreamcast launch title in North America while the second game arrived a year later. If you’re looking to snag a copy of either, good luck as they’re incredibly expensive on the secondary market. Sadly the only time this series saw release after the death of the Dreamcast was through the Power Stone Collection on PSP, which is now available to play on the PS Vita. It’s better than nothing of course, but the joy of Power Stone comes from playing with three other friends, which is difficult to do on a handheld. Hopefully Devil May Cry 5 producer Hideaki Itsuno, who worked on the series, gets his wish to revive the series at some point, whether that’s through another collection or a third entry.
RESIDENT EVIL CODE: VERONICA
Sega not only briefly secured an exclusive Resident Evil title early in the Dreamcast’s life cycle, but also one that was one the first true follow-up to Resident Evil 2. Resident Evil CODE: Veronica continued the story of Claire Redfield, still looking for her brother, Chris, who gets captured and sent to a secluded prison island ran by the twisted Alfred Ashford. CODE: Veronica would get a director’s cut called Resident Evil CODE: Veronica X that would add additional cut-scenes. This new version would end Sega’s exclusivity of the game though as it would come to other platforms like Nintendo’s GameCube and the PlayStation 2. A HD version of CODE: Veronica X would come to the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. This version is presently playable on the Xbox One, and the PS2 version can be bought for the PlayStation 4 as a PS2 Classic title.
From the mind of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who was behind last year’s incredible Tetris Effect, Rez is a game unlike any other. A mixture of an on-rails shooter like Nintendo’s Star Fox or Sega’s own Panzer Dragoon with a trance inducing rhythm element, Rez is a game that simply has to be played to fully understand it. Debuting on the Dreamcast, Rez founds its way to the PlayStation 2 and eventually the Xbox 360 as Red HD, the last time the game was seen on a Microsoft platform. An updated version of the game, complete with a new free roaming space called “Area X” was released under the name Rez Infinite. Infinite is available for the PS4 and PC with VR support on both platforms. Select Android mobile devices can also play the game with the aid of Google Daydream.
SAMBA DE AMIGO
Sega sure liked to make games that required strange peripherals to play, like the odd Seaman which was the only game to use a microphone, and Samba de Amigo, a rhythm game where you shake maraca controllers to keep up with the beat. Gearbox Software, those of Borderlands fame, loved Samba de Amigo so much that they built a prototype of the game for the Nintendo Wii that eventually went into production. The port received less than favorable reviews for some inaccurate motion inputs, but it’s still in 2019 the easiest way to play the game. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to grab a copy that comes with the maraca attachment for the Wii remote.
SEGA BASS FISHING
Speaking of peripherals, if you wanted to take the arcade game Sega Bass Fishing home, Sega brought the game to the Dreamcast complete with an optional fishing controller you could purchase. Sega Bass Fishing seems like a niche game, but it became a best-selling title on the Dreamcast and has been kept in circulation throughout the years. A version was produced for the Wii, complete with motion controls, and also the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It’s one of the backwards compatible games on the Xbox One and still available on Steam.
SHENMUE 1 AND 2
There’s perhaps no series that defines the Dreamcast more than Shenmue. A large, expensive to produce, open world epic from the mind of Yu Suzuki, Shenmue was a game ahead of its time in so many ways. The open world genre would take off not long after the Dreamcast’s demise with the release of Grand Theft Auto III and Sega found also find success using Shemue’s framework to create the Yakuza series. Shenmue has a loyal and dedicated fan base, and in 2015 when creator Yu Suzuki announced a Kickstarter campaign to produce Shenmue III, it didn’t take long for the project to get funded. On the Dreamcast, North America only saw the first chapter of the Sega, but Shenmue II, a game released in Japan for Dreamcast, was ported to the original Xbox. Both games were collected and released for modern consoles and PC last year.
SONIC ADVENTURE 1 AND 2
One of the reasons people point to the failure of the Sega Saturn is that it didn’t have a Super Mario 64 equivalent starring Sonic the Hedgehog, a mistake Sega would not make twice. Compared to many 3-D games of the era, Sonic’s debut outing, Sonic Adventure, nor its sequel, have not aged particularly well. You have to admire the ambition of the series though, especially the original, which tried to appeal to as many players as possible with its multiple campaigns and play styles. Both Sonic Adventure games would come to Nintendo’s GameCube, a move that shocked many who grew up during the 16-bit console wars, and these versions of the game have made their way to other platforms. Both Sonic Adventure games can be played on the PS Now streaming service on PlayStation 4, through backwards compatibility on Xbox One and on PC via Steam.
If there was a game that sold Dreamcast’s back in 1999, it was Soulcalibur, the game that scored perfect 10 reviews scores in publications like EGM. Namco would take the weapon based fighting series to new heights with the multi-console release of the second title, Soulcalibur II, but the series wouldn’t be at its sixth installment today without the original that found new life on Dreamcast. Presently the only way to play Soulcalibur is on the Xbox 360 or the Xbox One family of consoles.
SPACE CHANNEL 5 PARTS 1 AND 2
What made the Dreamcast so special was that it was a home to odd and quirky games. Take Space Channel 5 for example, another rhythm game from Tetsuya Mizuguchi, about an outer space reported named Ulala who has to fend off an alien invasion through the power of dance. Space Channel 5 was released in North America for the Dreamcast, however its sequel, the aptly named Space Channel 5 Part 2, wasn’t seen until it was collected and released for the PlayStation 2. Presently Part 2 can still be downloaded for PS3, Xbox 360 and Steam. The original game is set to make a comeback when Groundling releases Space Channel 5 VR: Kinda Funky News Flash! for the PS VR platform.
STREET FIGHTER III
For years, the Dreamcast was the only place where you could play the three different iterations of Capcom’s Street Fighter III. Third Strike, the final version of the game, would eventually get ported to platforms like the PS2 and original Xbox, but the only was to play New Generation and Second Impact was through a collection released for the Dreamcast. In 2019, developer Digital Eclipse and Capcom released Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, that or the first time since the Dreamcast was on the market allowed players to experience all three parts of the Street Fighter III saga, in one place no less. If all you’re interested in is Third Strike, a stand alone version of the game is still available on PS3 and Xbox 360.
MISSING IN ACTION
You can play a lot of the Dreamcast’s greatest hits fairly easily in 2019, but there’s still a few games that are sadly not available on modern devices. Despite the adoption of PC games through online stores like Steam, there’s no way to play the bizarre House of the Dead spin-off The Typing of the Dead, and similarly Seaman is nowhere to be seen either even though there’s plenty of affordable headsets with microphones now. The first two Marvel vs. Capcom games, which were terrifically converted to the Dreamcast, also aren’t available to purchase now either. Both were released digitally last generation, the second as a stand alone game and the original with Marvel Super Heroes as Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins, but both were pulled from digital store fronts.
A game that showed the potential of what online gaming could be, Phantasy Star Online, the first ever MMO to come to consoles, hasn’t been seen since the game was ported to GameCube. At E3 this year though it was announced that Phantasy Star Online 2 would be coming to Xbox One as well as PC and it will allow cross-platform play.
PLAYING DREAMCAST HARDWARE IN 2019
Natively, the Sega Dreamcast supports composite, S-video and VGA, neither of which will make your console run on a modern TV, if it even has the latter two inputs at all. To allow players to keep their Dreamcast’s plugged into their TV’s, companies like Pound have developed products like the HD Link Cable, an affordable product that simply fits into the consoles video port and converts the signal to HDMI. It works, for the most part, however due to the Dreamcast’s architecture, this solution isn’t perfect. The Dreamcast was designed to output a VGA signal and most games are programmed to do this, but there are some that aren’t. Dino Crisis, a port of the PlayStation survival-horror game, will not work with Pound’s HD Link Cable for example.
For those who have the money, and the know how, a new product called DC HDMI is being recognized as the best solution for the Dreamcast’s display issue but it comes with its own set of problems. The first is the price, $140 USD, and secondly you have to open up your console and solder this to the circuity, meaning you potentially risk damaging your console if there’s a problem during installation.
We hope you enjoyed this 2019 Dreamcast buyers guide and that it helps you discover some of the titles that have kept players talking about the Dreamcast for twenty years. Have some personal favorite games or want to share some of your memories of the console? Reach out to us on your social media platforms.