The World's SMALLEST Dreamcast Games!

A minature scale model of the Dreamcast by Retroldtech

The Dreamcast's GD-ROM format was a strange beast, being ever so slightly bigger than a CD-ROM but nowhere close to the capacity of the impending, mighty DVD-ROM. Packing in 1GB per disc, a majority of the Dreamcast's retail game library barely even tapped into this extra available space. As we will explore here, storage space isn't everything though: you can squeeze some pretty darn good games into not even a tenth of a GD-ROM's space!

Screenshot of the GD MENU Card Manager application
In this day and age of being able to store Dreamcast games on many different kinds of hardware, like SD cards or hard drives, it is possible to strip these games of any blank data that is used to fill up the rest of a GD, leaving just the necessary files to save space. This can be a risky move, as doing so can break games if they're not optimized correctly, but there are "means" to find games that have already been shrunk down to be used on a optical drive emulator such as GDEMU or MODE.
Photo of a 256gb SD card
My entire shelf of Dreamcast games and more fit on this! What a time we live in!
It's via this technique that I have been able to put together this list of games that are all less than 100MB! Take note, I am not including indie releases, prototypes, unreleased games, Atomiswave ports or software like web browsers and Fish Life. Also I haven't downloaded every game ever released so there are probably some visual novels out there that are tiny in size for all I know.

15. Silent Scope - 96.91MB

Photo of the Silent Scope game case
Konami's Dreamcast output was kind of disappointing. When they weren't busy cancelling Castlevania games for the system, they did throw out the odd bone with some arcade ports such as this here sniping-romp. It's a real shame the Dreamcast wasn't blessed with a sniper light gun like the Xbox, as the game played with a standard controller feels like it's missing something. Much like Samba De Amigo, though, it is playable enough this way but you can't help feeling like it's a lesser experience. Oh well.

14. Ooga Booga - 91.49MB

Photo of the Ooga Booga game case
This very unique collection of mini-games, with an emphasis on online multiplayer, released exclusively in North America and was touted as one of the big hitters during the push to sell people on SegaNet. Luckily, this is one of those games where online play has been revived, though even if that wasn't the case, this would still be worth checking out as there is nothing else quite like it on the Dreamcast.

13. Evangelion Typing Project E - 71.59MB

Photo of the Evangelion Typing Project E game case
I won't go into too much detail about this one as it has been discussed here at length in the past after Derek Pascarella treated us all to an English translation! Evangelion Typing Project E gives us another game to practice our touch-typing skills on, but instead of gunning down zombies with words you er...do Evangelion stuff! Like the anime! I dunno, I haven't really had a chance to play much of it yet, but definitely give it a shot if you're a fan of the show! There are in fact two translated Evangelion typing games, but I couldn't properly shrink the other one without it breaking, so I assume if optimized well it'd probably be a similar size to this one.

12. SEGA Tetris - 62.56MB

Photo of the Sega Tetris game case
This was the first Japanese import Dreamcast game I ever purchased from eBay, if I recall correctly! Why this one stayed in Japan is beyond me, but the console rights for Tetris have always been a bit of a confusing ride as Sega themselves found out when their Mega Drive/Genesis release had to be recalled... But this is Sega Tetris, not to be confused with Tetris...by Sega. Got it?

I really dig the presentation in this game. It's also kind of notable for being one of the last arcade Tetris games before the new rules came into play like swapping, hard drops and now legendary T-spins. The gameplay of this one gets ridiculously fast-paced, making it one of the harder Tetris games out there, though there are plenty of modes to mess around in, including a UFO catcher claw game with cute Sonic 1 remixes!

This is another one on the "someone get it translated and back online if at all possible" wish list!

11. Plus Plumb - 62.53MB

Photo of the Plus Plum game case
No, I wasn't going to pop down the shops just to buy a plum to photo this with. That'd be silly.
Only 3kB less than Sega Tetris, we have another Japan-only puzzle game! Plus Plumb is a pretty obscure one as far as I know. I discovered it back in around 2000 when a car boot sale I went to every week had a store of bootleg games (oh no! ☠️). These bootlegs were incredibly low effort, literally just plain CD-Rs with the game's titles penned on them, most of which were random Japanese games I'd never heard of until I took them home and fed them to the rotating Utopia reindeer.

Plus Plumb is a pretty standard match 3 versus game with some Pokémon-looking mofos chatting in between stages (with full voice acting!). I played quite a bit of this back in the day (did eventually buy a legit copy, don't worry) so the music from this is one of those earworms that has stuck with me for 20+ years!

10. Planet Ring - 62.44MB

The cover artwork for Planet Ring
Also within the 63MB range is this PAL exclusive, online-only mini-game collection that was given away on the front of magazines and the like. I never got around to trying this one out when the original servers were up, but luckily it's one of those games that is back online today! It even has voice chat so you can talk to someone other than your mutant human-faced fish for a change!

9. Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Volume 1 - 61.32MB

The cover artwork for Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Volume 1
The passage of time and advancing technology means video games over the years have only gotten bigger and bigger, so when you decide to stick six dog-old arcade games in a collection...those games are not going to take up a lot of space. Of course this doesn't mean much of anything when it comes to gameplay of course; I mean who doesn't want to slide around a sink as a bubble with a scary face avoiding spiders and razor blades? That's what I thought!

Included on this collection are Defender, Defender II, Joust, Bubbles, Sinistar, and my personal favourite, Robotron: 2084. While the later Midway Arcade Treasures collections on PS2 and GameCube are far more comprehensive (Midway Arcade Treasures 3 even includes Dreamcast ports of San Francisco Rush 2049 and Hydro Thunder!) this isn't a bad selection of classic titles, all things considered.

This would probably be higher on the list but the menu does feature some rather nice 3D models of the arcade cabinets (which I imagine bumped up the size somewhat), something that another collection we will get to later lacks. In case you're wondering, the USA-exclusive second volume which also contains six arcade games is well over 300MB and the only reason I think this might be is because the second collection has some FMV logo animations when you boot it up.

8. Musapey's Choco Marker - 65.35MB

Photo of Musapey's Choco Marker game case
Do not stare into the hamster's eyes, they are pretty sus.
Another Japanese puzzle game, this time from the er..."fine" folks that bought you the Death Crimson series, Ecole! With a title like Musapey's Choco Marker, it's kind of unsurprising that this one is not more known! The game has you run around on 3D coloured blocks as some hamster-looking thing, matching them up until there are none left. It's quite fun once you get used to how it works, though I will say this: turn the volume down when you play it as the sound effects and voices are really blown out and far too loud!
 

7. Net De Tennis - 65.07MB

Photo of the Net De Tennis game case
This box art is top tier. I love it.
A Japan-only Capcom release that grabs the tennis game featured in their arcade title Capcom Sports Club (which can now be played in its entirety on the Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium collection for modern platforms) and adds a "For Matching Service" online mode to it. This is a very bare bones package with a Vs CPU mode, some basic character customization, and that's pretty much it.

Despite this, I still enjoy cracking this one open from time to time. It plays really nicely and has a cute pixel art style. The audience leaping into shot in the foreground going absolutely bananas anytime the ball passes a player is a fun detail that somehow never gets old. Also the box art is just...really cool aesthetically. I hope this one can be put back online one day.

6. Cosmic Smash - 49.14MB

Photo of the Cosmic Smash game case
These photos are not just to flex, I swear!
This game is certainty the talk of the town at the moment thanks to its unexpected PlayStation VR2 revival that was recently revealed! This one is definitely a case of  "less is more", and one of my personal favourite "chuck-it-in-the-dreamcast-for-30-minutes" kind of games.

Cosmic Smash has a deliberately minimalist style that requires very few assets: you have your polygon humanoid with his tennis racket, a ball, blocks to smash in a cosmic-like fashion and nothing but orange lights to suggest the corridors that lead you to the next level. Combine this with the chill electronic beats and dual voice work overlapping each other (one a Japanese tannoy lady, and the other an English speaking stoner-sounding bloke), and you have one very
 tastefully designed game.

Cosmic Smash's simplicity in both content and visuals means it was obviously going to have smaller data requirements, but this doesn't stop it from being a must-try experience.


5. Tako no Marine - 43.66MB

Photo of the Tako no Marine game case
Tako from Parodius can stand in for the lack of Tako no Marine merchandise.
Here's a super obscure Japan-exclusive from Micro Cabin, creators of erm... a load of other super obscure Japan-exclusive games! Pop Breaker on the Game Gear, anyone? No?

But what is it? Why it's a 3D puzzle platformer with a cool look that uses 2D character sprites in a 3D world, similar to that of Boku Doraemon. Gameplay consists of instructing a girl to run around and press switches to open doors and set off booby traps. There's quite a bit of language-barrier-inducing dialogue shared between the girl and the titular character of Tako (a red octopus), and the puzzles can get quite tricky pretty early on, but as Marge Simpson once said: "I just think it's neat!"

4. Ikaruga - 37.88MB

Photo of the Ikaruga game case
Yeah...wow. This one legit surprised me. This game needs no introduction, I'm sure, but its inclusion on this list really does prove that with some clever use of texture and polygon work, you can make a stone cold classic shmup that barely takes up the equivalent space of a compressed video uploaded to Twitter, and still have it be one of the nicest looking 3D games on the system.

3. Neo Golden Logres - 37.46MB

Photo of the Neo Golden Logres game case
A knight on a horse in a desert with a crow. Yep, that's pinball!
The Dreamcast is sadly very lacking when it comes to digital pinball experiences. Really, REALLY lacking. So much so that you are looking at half of the console's entire officially released pinball library right now, with the other being the PAL-exclusive Pro Pinball Trilogy.

Just like Pro Pinball Trilogy, you are treated to three fictional pinball tables here, all sporting a medieval theme, as emphasized by the box art that really doesn't give away what kind of game this is. I wonder how many Japanese gamers back in the day picked this off the shelf expecting an RPG. only to flip it around and discover it was pinball. It's a pretty fun little collection of tables with an interesting life bar mechanic that replaces your typical limit of balls than can get lost between the flippers.

2. Yukawa's Treasure Hunt - 16.52MB

Photo of Yukawa's Treasure Hunt with a matching display stand
Ratcliffe from Disney's Pocahontas would love this game - lots of digging. This is of course the game starring the late and great Hidekazu Yukawa, in which you need to dig up pieces that make up images of Sega memorabilia, which could win you those items in real life...in Japan for a very limited time, anyway. Gosh, Sega were so experimental and wacky back then, you've got to give them props for trying stuff like this. 

I actually own a stand-up promo display for the game, although sadly it's gotten quite sun faded over the years. It's a very simple game so of course it doesn't require much space but especially with the English fan translation out there this is a fascinating piece of Sega history worth a peek.

1. Namco Museum - 8.99MB

Cover artwork for Namco Museum
After the sheer brilliance of Soul Calibur, it became clear pretty quickly that the Dreamcast was not a priority for Namco. I guess they were too busy getting their PS2 launch line-up ready. Nothing makes this more apparent than this quick and dirty cash grab in the form of six arcade ROMs slapped onto a disc.

Don't get me wrong, these are timeless games (with some nice dip switch options) but compared to the amazing museum collections Namco had made previously for the PlayStation (I mean where else could you catch Pac-Man sitting on the lav?) this is a very basic package, as its record-smashing file size of not even 10MB proves.

Now if it had Mappy on it I would be far more forgiving.

So what does this prove? A lot of the games are Japan-exclusives and a lot of them are pretty simple puzzle games but at the end of the day it's the enjoyment that matters, not the size! That's what she said, etc, etc...
GIF of the Genie from Disney's Aladin crammed into his oil lamp
There are plenty of games on the Dreamcast that fill the disc with FMV cutscenes but that doesn't automatically make them good (see Nightmare Creatures II for example, 700+ mega bytes of shite) and I feel like all the games featured here are worth checking out! There might also be some games I missed so if you know of any of them let me know in the comments!
Photo of a minature model Dreamcast by Retroldtech
The photos you see above and at the start of this article were taken by Retroldtech and showcase their awesome miniature Dreamcast scale models. Thanks again for letting us use these photos as part of this article!

3 comments:

Lewis Cox said...

Really fun article! It’s mad to think that that Pac-Man collection is the size of an average decently-sounding .mp3!

Now, which game is the largest? 👀

Pizza Hotline said...

Such an interesting read! Are these the sizes that the GDI files are when you down load them? Or did you use some special software to strip all the guff?

Animated AF said...

Pizza Hotline, a mix of the two as it depends where you source your GDI files from. For example a TOSE on somewhere like archive.org would have all the GDI files at the full 1.1GB. Either way programs are out there that can cut the guff out though results may lead to unworkable games sometimes, but thankfully not often.