Either the world did not end, you are a lucky reader who survived the event, or we now live in a post-apocalyptic era. Either way, this is the End of the World Video Game Retrospective! The Mayan calendar predicted events that may have caused the human race to go extinct before our time. As such, this will be a discussion of a console that was forced into extinction before its time. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Sega Dreamcast.
Remember the marketing campaign, “nine-nine ninety nine?” On September 9th, 1999 came a system that was the pinochle of the form at the time of release (until a certain Sony machine with the ability to play games and DVD’s knocked it off the market). Yes, we’re talking about the Sega Dreamcast, the first console with the ability to utilize Internet for a variety of uses and the last console that Sega ever released.
1) Sonic Adventure (1 and 2)
I’m leading off with Sonic for the second consecutive week. Super Mario 64 led that franchise into the 3rd dimension, and it was now Sonic’s turn. The speed of the Genesis Sonic games was intact and with a new three-dimensional camera following the action, Sonic’s speed became even more impressive. Running away from that whale gave me chills. The story was presented through cut scenes and spoken dialogue this time around, making this new Sonic rather cinematic. Though both games were great all-around, I give the edge to Sonic Adventure 2. The new characters were cool, the graphics and music were better, and they eliminated all the stupid gameplay types that the first one suffered from (fishing anyone?). However, both Sonic Adventure titles are truly favorites.
A weapons-based fighter that was a sequel to PlayStation’s Soul Edge, SoulCalibur was groundbreaking. The music was orchestrated. The amount of content was gargantuan. The animation was like nothing ever seen before and the gameplay was deep and enjoyable. However, the true stars of the game were the characters and their weapons. There was someone here for everyone, as my friends and I each had someone that fit our taste. Sophitia used a sword and shield like Link from Legend of Zelda. She wore blue and was Greek, all cool things to me. Eric and Matt used Mitsurugi and Taki, respectively, as Matt loved ninjas and Eric samurai. Ed loved fast-paced nunchaku-wielding Maxi, as he wanted to use a character that looked cool and required little work. All in all, some of my fondest memories of the Dreamcast and hanging with my friends are related to SoulCalibur.
Before there was Grand Theft Auto III or Mass Effect, there was Shenmue. This was one of the first games that had a living, breathing world with the player doing many tasks and engaging in dialogue with various people. You were able to get a job and practice martial arts in parking lots and your own dojo, and on actual people. The fighting system was designed by Yu Suzuki, who also designed Virtua Fighter, arguably the most technical fighting game ever made. This game also started “quick-time events,” those interactive cut scenes that involve “press this button now or something happens” like in Resident Evil 4. Due to all these features, the game truly immersed you into the world of the protagonist as he diligently attempts to track his father’s killer. Unfortunately the story never finished in this edition, or in Shenmue 2, and Shenmue 3 doesn’t look like it’s coming out any time soon.
4) Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Let’s take the characters I played as in videogames growing up and pit them against characters I read about in comics and watched on Saturday morning cartoons. 54 characters strong, MvC2 was a wonder. You had characters from Street Fighter, Megaman, Darkstalkers, and others face off against the X-men, Spider-man, some Avengers, and many more in a team-based, three-on-three, balls-to-the-wall fighting experience where victory depended on quick fingers, combo execution, and using your chosen heroes and villains’ powers and abilities in the most efficient way possible. Though Marvel vs Capcom 2 released in 2000 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 eventually came out eleven years later for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, this second outing holds a special place in the hearts of fighting game and comic book fans alike.
5) Jet Grind Radio
Known as “Jet Set Radio” in Japan, this game found the perfect balance between style and gameplay. It was the first game to utilize “cell-shading,” which gave the game a cartoony style with extremely fluid animation, mostly represented in the way the characters danced to the awesome tracks. Speaking of music, the game had an awesome soundtrack, varying from hip-hop to rock and including the likes of Rob Zombie and Jurassic 5. Players had a great time traversing through the ostentatiously colored environments on their magnetically driven inline skates, grinding rails, spraying graffiti, and doing tricks along the way.
6) Crazy Taxi
A game that would definitely be a favorite of Allstate’s Mayhem, Crazy Taxi had a simple yet addictive premise. You pick someone up and take him or her to the destination before the time runs out. The faster you get there, the more money you get. It sounds fairly boring, but in practice, the game is epic. You’re hurrying to get to that destination by any means necessary, crashing into other vehicles, dodging pedestrians, driving on the sidewalk, and slamming into walls. The driver and even the passenger are having a great time. And, of course, you are.
Other notable Sega Dreamcast games from that era: NBA 2K and NFL 2K series, House of the Dead 2, Power Stone series, Seaman, Resident Evil Code: Veronica, Skies of Arcadia, Samba de Amigo, Space Channel 5.
Keep your eyes on this retrospective to see if one of your favorite games of the past makes an appearance. And if it doesn’t, suggest it in the comments.