The Dreamcast was initially released in Japan in 1998, but this advanced new system received the most fanfare with its stateside launch on September 9, 1999. Before the console was even released, Sega had already sold over 300,000 Dreamcast units, a record at the time. In fact, the Dreamcast sold so well that it almost reached a quarter million units sold within the first twenty-four hours alone. And this was not without reason. Not only did the Dreamcast retail for only $199, but it also had 18 great launch titles to keep gamers happy for a long time.
The Best Dreamcast Launch Titles
Even though Mario still holds the title of the most popular platformer, Sonic the Hedgehog became a popular character with a number of popular games on the Genesis and Game Gear systems. His popularity eventually spawned his own animated cartoon only catapulting Sonic to even greater success. But Sega seemed to hit a plateau with the release of its Saturn game console, which was an unsuccessful system that failed to have any popular Sonic games in its library. Finally, Sega announced their next generation Dreamcast and Sonic fans rejoiced. This powerful 3D system would hopefully translate the two-dimensional success of the first Sonic games into three dimensions. Gamers finally had their answer with Sonic Adventure.
Although there were some awkward 3D angles and some terrible voice acting, Sonic Adventure showed-off the power of the Dreamcast to next-gen gamers. The CGI opening sequence in Sonic Adventure was jawdroppingly epic with graphics as yet unseen in gaming consoles. The story was simple and familiar for old Sonic fans—Dr. Eggman has taken all the Chaos emeralds and it is Sonic and his team’s responsibility to save the world. The “adventure” portion of the game are oftentimes painstakingly slow, but the breakneck speed and excitement of barreling through a level at warp speed more than make up for the game’s flaws.
This was a must-have game for anyone who purchased a Dreamcast on launch day, and it has remained a must-have game for anyone who owns a Dreamcast.
Quite simply, Soul Caliber was probably the best fighting game ever released on a gaming console. Never was there a fighting game that had this much depth in game play. Never was there a fighting game that was this beautiful—everything from the characters to the level design was completely unprecedented in game design. Soul Calibur singlehandedly redefined and refined the fighting game.
In Soul Calibur, gamers chose from a slew of butt-kicking, weapon wielding fighters. New characters, levels, and artwork could be unlocked almost every time the game was turned on. The in game sound effects and soundtrack were flawless, and the voice acting was superb. Each character had a unique library of moves that were so deep that even most hardcore gamers had a hard time mastering all that the characters had to offer. And finally, it was the graphics that really made Soul Calibur shine. Its graphic prowess was soon eclipsed, but in a word, the graphics on this game were flawless.
If there was a must-have game for the Dreamcast’s launch, this was it.
Pulled directly from the arcade of the same name, Hydro Thunder provides some fast-paced boating action for Dreamcast owners. In Hydro Thunder, gamers can first select from three boats and three tracks. After successfully placing in third place or above for each of these three tracks, a new set of tracks and three more powerful boats are unlocked. This repeats itself until a grand total of thirteen tracks and thirteen boats are unlocked. Each track is completely different from the others and is filled with shortcuts and hidden items. These alone will keep gamers coming back for more. Although by no means revolutionary, Hydro Thunder had some of the best graphics out of all the launch games.
Hydro Thunder provided hours of exciting gameplay and was another great addition to the Dreamcast’s long list of stellar launch titles.
With EA not supporting the Dreamcast with its Madden football games, Sega had to develop a title that would attract both avid and casual sport gamers alike. The result was Visual Concepts’ masterpiece, NFL 2K. This title offered seamless play selection and intuitive gameplay, which kept NFL 2K toe-to-toe with EA’s counterpart on the Playstation. Graphics on NFL 2K were stunning and helped push the video game sports genre to the next level. A number of different modes were included to keep gamers occupied for hours on end.
For any sport lover, NFL 2K could not be beat. This franchise continued throughout the life of the Dreamcast an later became the ESPN 2K series on other gaming consoles.
Although not to the level of Soul Calibur, PowerStone offered gamers a great fighting alternative with interactive levels and animated backgrounds.
House of the Dead 2
Taken directly from the arcade, House of the Dead 2 is a non-stop shooter full of aliens and absolutely terrible voice acting. What more could you ask for?
This title is a futuristic, snowboarding style game that will please most. Although it is a little thin, the graphics are stunning, especially for the launch of the Dreamcast.
The Worst Dreamcast Launch Titles
Mortal Kombat Gold
Mortal Kombat was just one of those games that just never died. The first Mortal Kombat game was shocking for the gratuitous blood, but Mortal Kombat Gold just left gamers wanting something so much more. This was definitely a title to stay away from with the Soul Calibur and Powerstone available for the Dreamcast.
Pen Pen Trilcelon
Every console needs a game that caters to children, and Pen Pen Trilcelon seemed to fit the bill. Unfortunately, this game was far too thin—even for the youngest among us.
TNN Motorsports Hardcore Heat
Rally sport racing fan or not, what good is a racing game that leaves your tires spinning in circles instead of speeding past your opponents?