On this very day, 15 years ago, Japanese gaming giant Sega pulled the plug on the Dreamcast console. It was the last system Nintendo’s most formidable rival in the ‘90s would ever have in the video game market.
The Dreamcast is remembered fondly for its worthy library and foresight into gaming’s future. The scrappy platform sported online multiplayer, web surfing, and even downloadable content — all of which we take for granted today. It isn’t hard to determine how or why the Dreamcast died — in short, it was bad timing, as its release was too close to Sony’s powerful PlayStation 2 — but we’re not keen to dwell on death. Rather, let’s celebrate life and revisit some of the best Sega’s white box had to offer.
Even today, 3D arena fighting games are a rare breed. They’re around, but the last I recall playing was the subpar Marvel: Rise of the Imperfects. In truth, few could ever stand up to the frantic energy Power Stone for the Dreamcast had.
If you’re hearing ‘90s alt punk in your head, it’s because you played Crazy Taxi. Built for the arcades but ideal at home on the Dreamcast, Crazy Taxi was all about keeping up the momentum of an era defined by excess.
A lot of people think Shenmue is boring. Well, they’re wrong. A gripping, sweeping revenge tale of epic proportion but set in a modern era, Shenmue was a groundbreaking experience that proved the viability of open-world gaming. While it didn’t invent the concept, modern Grand Theft Auto and Elder Scrolls owe a debt to Yu Suzuki’s breathtaking piece of work. I can’t wait Shenmue III.
Sports games come and go now, or a yearly refresh that has no end. But Sega’s sports license treated every entry like tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed. Head and shoulders above the rest was NFL 2K1. Though it’s hard to believe, it was not only the most realistic-looking football game at the time, but it was just so much damn fun to play. The kick meter could have been better, though.
Dead or Alive 2
Dead or Alive is the Michael Bay flick of fighting games: easy to get into, the story is bullshit, and it’s kinda gross about women.
But Dead or Alive 2 was arguably the series’ highest point, with a robust and smooth 3D fighting mechanic and a pace that almost left you breathless. It defined the franchise’s shape for the next decade, and that may have been its biggest problem.
The weapons-based fighting game Soul Calibur is/was more fun when you disable health and make victories only ring-outs. At least that’s how my cousins and I spent summers playing these games.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Like Crazy Taxi, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was a staple of mall arcades, bowling alleys, and movie theaters across America in the early 2000s. Nothing takes me back more than the mind numbingly repetitive tune of “I wanna take you for a ride…”
Though 2011 saw the return of the series in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds nearly ten years after, Capcom has lost the license to uber-dominant Marvel brand. So it’s unlikely we’ll ever see Ryu chuck hadokens at Spider-Man anytime soon. But we’ll always have the memories.
No game could define Sega’s final, incredible console better than the exloits of its own mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. Though not the first Sonic game in 3D, Sonic Adventure did bring Sonic into something resembling a 3D open world. And yes, we all remember how low our jaws dropped when we first saw Sonic running from the killer whale.
And for the weird: Space Channel 5
Okay, I didn’t play this one. I just remember Morgan Webb dressed as Ulala on X-Play when the game was ported to the Game Boy Advance.
I didn’t watch Fuller House but this is why I miss the ‘90s.