Staff Picks: Top 21 Dreamcast Games

With our 2022 Top 200 Dreamcast Games poll coming to a close at the end of March, coinciding with the 21st anniversary of our beloved console’s discontinuation (I would say RIP but she is very much still alive and kicking, if you've been paying attention to anything we've been reporting on in the last few years!), I thought it was time for a peek into the minds of the staff here at The Dreamcast Junkyard. What did WE vote as our top ten Dreamcast games, and how does that look when compiled into a list? Well, let's find out shall we?

Along with myself, I asked Tom, Mike, Brian, Lewis, Kev, James H, James J, Mark and Rich to list their ten favourite Dreamcast titles in order. I took these and did what I seemingly love to do now as I approach my forties - I made a spreadsheet! Everyone's top picks received a score of 10, 2nd place got 9, and so on. I then employed some magic formulas to tally up the totals to give us a definitive top 21 games, using the number of times a game was voted for as a tie-breaker where necessary.

The end result is very interesting! We think there's something here for everyone, and if these were the only games in your collection most people would be pretty happy! There are some surprises, and a few things that, if you've ever listened to the DreamPod, you will not at all be surprised about. 

I'll link you to the spreadsheet itself at the end of this article so you can see the full list of games and how everyone voted, for your agreement or ridicule, but first let us count down these games from last to first. Our first entry is the only joint entry, seeing three games share 19th place...

19. Blue Stinger, San Francisco Rush 2049 & Spirit of Speed 1937 (Joint)

A trio of titles start us off, a couple of which often split the opinion of fans. One thing they all have in common? A commitment to a particular time. Blue Stinger takes place in the year 2000, so each represents a very different era, though released within a short space of each other in reality. Let's hear what some of the team had to say about these games.

Upon its release, Blue Stinger was widely misunderstood and critically dismissed under the umbrella of its survival horror contemporaries. In the decades since, it has emerged a cult classic in its own right. Blue Stinger is Shinya Nishigaki and Climax Graphics' endearing homage/parody of Hollywood action and sci-fi cinema, and it plays wonderfully as a B-movie beat-em-up today. - Brian on Blue Stinger

Rush 2049 embodies everything an arcade racer on Dreamcast should be. It looks great, the tracks are full of inventive shortcuts and hidden nooks and crannies, and the actual racing is tight and exciting. A true Midway game that doesn't take itself too seriously, Rush 2049 is easily one of the best racers on the platform. - Tom on Rush 2049

Spirit Of Speed 1937 is the Dark Souls of racing games. The sad truth is that 99% of people won't play it long enough to experience where its strengths really are. It's a true to the era racer which rewards forward thinking and careful driving - something sim racers will appreciate. - James H on Spirit of Speed 1937

18. Rez

Art? Hacking? No this isn't the latest goings-on over at OpenSea, but instead best encapsulates Rez (besides, this is actually nice to look at). Tetsuya Mizuguchi's rail-shooter may have been minimalist on visuals, but it was heavy on trance beats and addictive gameplay. A gem in the Dreamcast's library and its influence is still felt to this day. - Rich

17. Jet Set Radio

Ahead of it's time in so many ways, Jet Set Radio is held up as one of the shining beacons of unfettered creativity that the Dreamcast is so well known for. From its art style to its music, its gameplay to its reverence for hip-hop and Japanese street culture, JSR is a masterclass in what a video game can be. This is Sega at their most zany, but in the best possible way. Strap on your in-line skates and grab that spray paint can, it's time to get funky! - Andrew

16. Shenmue II

Shenmue 2 has everything its predecessor has but with a much broader scope. Ryo’s journey in 2 never has a slow moment, with his situation ever changing as he makes his way through multiple sprawling and varied cities, with a new cast of charismatic characters making appearances along the way. The game also includes some very important gameplay improvements, as well as the introduction of beloved series staples, such as Lucky Hit. If only we could have seen Shenmue 2’s winning formula continued with subsequent Shenmue entries released on the Dreamcast. - Lewis

15. D2

It goes to show how much myself and Lewis love D2 that a game which never released in the UK charted so highly when only two people voted for it. One of Kenji Eno's final games before his death in 2013 (his last to be published on a Sega console), and the last game in his 'D' trilogy (Enemy Zero being the second, if you're confused by the numbering), this horror survival game set in the Canadian tundra is something very special, and VERY weird. If you can only import one game, this should be it. - Andrew

14. Power Stone 2

You. Your Dreamcast. Four controllers. Three of your best friends. One copy of Power Stone 2. Fun times are guaranteed to ensue.

Yeah, I get it. The first Power Stone is perfect, but there is definitely fun to be had from Power Stone 2’s left field, balls to the wall attempt at turning the series’ beloved formula into a chaotic, constantly moving party game. Considering the amount of incredible moments I’ve had playing with my friends, it definitely paid off. - Lewis

13th. Resident Evil CODE: Veronica

The first Resident Evil game to make the true leap to 3D executes flawlessly. It’s such a pleasure to play and the fact it still has the essential Resident Evil atmosphere despite not having the static camera angles previous entries were well known for is majorly impressive. Being a Dreamcast exclusive at the time was also a huge win for Sega. - James H

12th. The House Of The Dead 2

The House of the Dead 2, so much love for the game. My love started with the original, when I got the PC version following many pound coins placed into the arcade version at my nearest seaside amusement arcade. I even wrote to Sega asking them if I could be a playable character if they ever made a sequel and I got a letter back saying "It could happen". And that was how everyone's favourite House of the Dead Character 'James' was created.

I got three Dreamcast games for Christmas when my parents saved up to get me and my two brothers a Dreamcast, one of which was The House of the Dead 2. It was great and felt like the arcade experience at home, having to take turns and wait for the person in front to finish their go. Still to this day when playing the game I always recall those fond memories of seeing this beast of an arcade game playing in my living room. - James J

11th. F355 Challenge

The best looking racing simulation game of its time, in my opinion. It's one of the only games where I can listen to the same three songs from its 'soundtrack' on repeat without having to turn the music off.

This game was my favourite 'online' Dreamcast game as I just loved how you didn't know if you were going to qualify for the main race when setting your online lap, then you'd race on your own trying to make sure not to make any mistakes just to watch the ghost replay at the end with all the other racers such as WormyTheWorm and F40. It was just something else.

I remember taking my F355 save car data to my local seaside amusement arcade, just to play the game using my orange-coloured Ferrari,  then I forgot I left my VMU in the arcade slot and the next time I visited the arcade the slot on the machine had been covered up. So somewhere in arcade world is my save file with my orange Ferrari never to be seen again. - James J

10th. Crazy Taxi

This arcade perfect port of Crazy Taxi hit the Dreamcast in early 2000 and featured an incredible soundtrack courtesy of The Offspring and Bad Religion. Race around a San Francisco-inspired city while trying to make some craaaazy money picking up passengers in this unique open world racing game. - Mark

9th. Phantasy Star Online

Phantasy Star Online was the world's first console-based online RPG and follows the crew of a dying planet as they take the ship Pioneer 2 to explore Ragol, a potential new home. Loosely connected to the previous Phantasy Star Series, this era-defining game should be a definite pick up for any Dreamcast collector. - Mark

8th. Le Mans 24 Hours

Whether it’s the eye catching, gorgeous visuals, the wonderfully accessible driving model and exciting racing action, or simply the chance to race the legendary full 24 hours of Le Mans, this game always feels like a generation ahead of its time. It remembers to include the ‘sport’ part of the ‘motorsport’ genre. - Mike

7th. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

Whilst the first game in the series hit tens, THPS2 cranked it up to 11 and did it in style. Better stages, a brilliantly intuitive control system, and one of the greatest licensed soundtracks ever. Few games can claim to be so joyous to play, and no matter how many times you insert that Dreamcast disc, you’ll never get tired of pulling off those tricks and flying high like a bird, man. - Mike

6th. Skies Of Arcadia

It's true, the Dreamcast didn't have very many JRPG's to mention, and even less to write home about, but of the few there were THIS is the cream of the crop. Skies Of Arcadia is a joyful sky pirate romp of a game, seemingly taking the Sega blue sky aesthetic as a jumping off point and running with it. Though it has its problems (those random encounters, gosh darn it!), Skies is more than worthy of its place within the top ten of this list, and a must-play for Dreamcast lovers - even those not usually keen on JRPG's! - Andrew

5th. Hydro Thunder

Wetter is better! Yes it was multi-platform, but it was on the Dreamcast that Midway's 'Wave Race killer' really shone. With incredible water physics and stomach-churning drops, it was like having one of those simulator rides in your own home. Damn the Torpedoes, it's time to misbehave! - Rich

4th. SoulCalibur

The jewel in the crown of Dreamcast 3D fighters, Soul Calibur is an almost flawless arcade-to-home port and really shows off just what the console is capable of. That the game is still described as one of the most impeccable fighting games over 20 years since it was released says it all. - Tom

3rd. Sonic Adventure

As the best-selling Dreamcast title, Sonic Adventure opened our hearts to Sega’s swan song console and ushered its flagship hedgehog into a new era, for better or worse. Its seams have grown worn and frayed with time, but Sonic Adventure endures as a remarkably charming and ambitious roller coaster of gaming comfort food. - Brian

2nd. Virtua Tennis 2

The sports game that you can put on and know that even non-sports or non-tennis fans are going to enjoy, it takes the solid foundations of the first and tweaks it with additional modes, players and an improved career mode, while still keeping the incredibly fluid and intuitive gameplay that made the first game so fun.

Virtua Tennis 2 looks and plays fantastic even in 2022 - to many it is one of the rare examples of a sports game, or a game from a specific genre, that hasn’t actually been improved on with all the advancements since its release. The king of the courts. - Kev

1st. Shenmue

Shenmue is like the Spirit of Speed of open-world games. Shenmue will forever be intertwined with the Dreamcast in the memories of many. It’s often the title best associated with the system for both remaining diehards, lapsed players and former owners. For a long time the Dreamcast represented the only way to play Shenmue, its unfinished saga seeming to beautifully fit the story and feelings of the wider Sega and Dreamcast community with its many ‘what ifs’. 

Part walking simulator, part action-adventure, part detective game; much was made of its scope during development. In modern eyes, it may lack the features of many of the games that followed it, but without the forbearer that is Shenmue many of them wouldn't exist in the guise they do now. The game’s ending is one that shows a perfect understanding of the journey you and Ryo take. Instead of being truly victorious, he merely sets out on the next stage of his journey, descending from his childhood home and through the community - a setting that will have become so familiar to you during your time with the game. - Kev

Honorable Mentions

As the graphic says, Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver, Virtua Striker 2 Ver 2000.1 and Metropolis Street Racer are our honourable mentions here, by virtue of the fact that they were the only other games on the list to be voted for by more than one person. 

Soul Reaver is available on a variety of systems, but most will cite the Dreamcast version as being the best one. It's an excellent story-driver action/puzzle/platform title, and only just missed out on the main list!

I'm not one for football games myself, but it seems like Virtua Striker 2 takes the cake for the best one on the Dreamcast, since no other soccer game made our staff list! If you like your sports games arcadey, you may well like this. Also, check out Tom's recent retrospective.

Not sure at all how this missed the top 10, never mind the top 21! Metropolis Street Racer is still an exclusive to the Dreamcast, and one of the best racing games on the system - if you couldn't tell by our list, many of us rather like racing games here! You can find its spiritual successors on Xbox in the form of the Project Gotham Racing series. RIP Bizarre Creations...

And that's your lot! You can check out the way we all voted by visiting the spreadsheet here, and we'd love to hear in the comments which game you would add to our top 21 plus honourable mentions to make a top 25? For me, it would be a choice between Headhunter, Space Channel 5 and Power Stone! Fine, if you're going to push me I'll say Headhunter - I have an affinity with that game after my chat with producer Stefan Holmqvist!

So what do you make of our picks? Looking forward to seeing what all of you choose for our Top 200! If you haven't cast your vote yet, head here!


DCGX said...

I feel a little stick that 'Rush 2049' and 'Spirit of Speed' technically tied.

Unknown said...

You feel sick, imagine forever having your name on a list that includes Spirit of Speed in this context! 😂

Fantastic work though Andrew.

SegaSen said...

Great list. I would leave out Hydro Thunder, pretty good, but not that amazing, Tony Hawk 2, not my thing at all and all three games tied at 19. I agree however that SoS isn't that bad. I think I would add Tokyo Highway Challenge, Giga Wing or Mars Matrix, Speed Devils Online, Grandia 2, Railroad Tycoon.

Janino296 said...

For me Jet Set Radio will always be Nr.1:) and that includes all platforms