After the recent booms of “mini” retro consoles packed with classic games, including the Genesis Mini and the Game Gear Micro, Sega is thinking about doing it again. A company executive told Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu that Sega’s next classic console release might be a “Dreamcast Mini,” reviving the company’s last full game machine from 1999.
The Dreamcast was an initial success thanks to its 128-bit power, far outclassing the N64 and PlayStation. But it was crushed by the launch of the PS2 (and to a lesser extent, the Xbox and GameCube), and Sega transitioned to a game publisher making its games for competing consoles shortly thereafter. Even so, a library of innovative titles and novel hardware, like memory cards with built-in LCD screens and an online multiplayer system, have given the Dreamcast a lasting legacy.
Retro “mini” consoles have become a popular way for game companies to squeeze a little cash out of their old libraries. Old game ROMs can run on super-cheap hardware, with shrunken devices typically costing well below $100, and collectors love the tiny, functional glimpses into their childhoods. It helps that these revived consoles work with new HDMI-enabled TVs in ways the originals don’t without some expensive converters.
The Dreamcast would take a little more work than previous mini consoles—the most advanced we’ve seen thus far is the much less powerful original PlayStation. But speaking for myself, I’d lay my money down on day one.
Here are ten games we’d love to see on a Dreamcast Mini. You can have this list for free, Sega.
You can’t have a Sega console without a Sonic game (unless it’s the Sega Saturn, I guess—but we don’t talk about that). Sonic Adventure was the blue blur’s first foray into 3D platforming, and while it’s far from perfect, it gets the essential speed and ‘tude of the character down well. It’s also a more well-rounded game than the sequel, even accounting for slower sections. Maybe they could make the fishing section optional?
The Dreamcast was home to tons of great racers, but none beat out this enhanced port of Sega’s own arcade racer. That ridiculously earnest Daaaaaaay-to-NA song is still seared into my memory from 90s arcades. While the racing in Daytona USA is simple, it’s also pure and timeless. It would warm racing fans’ hearts to see those rumbling polygons drift to the left again.
There are tons and tons of great fighters for the Dreamcast. A case could be made for Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Sega’s own Virtua Fighter 3, or even more niche games like Project Justice. But to my mind no fighter has such lasting influence, or is as easy to return to, as SoulCalibur. The weapon-based fighter is easy to pick up and hard to master, and you can still clearly see its DNA in modern 3D fighters.
Jet Set Radio
Undeniably stylish, timelessly influential, and still funky as hell, this gets an automatic mention on almost any list of Dreamcast games. Also called Jet Grind Radio in some markets, the Sega graffiti game fuses the 90s skateboarding trend with mission-based gameplay. But the game’s cel-shaded graphics, razor-sharp character design, and undeniably appealing soundtrack are what make it timeless, even with dated and sometimes frustrating levels.
Power Stone 2
SoulCalibur is damn near perfect for a one-on-one fighter, but if you want to throw down with four players at once, you’ve got to go for Power Stone 2. This free-for-all feels kind of like a top-down version of Smash Bros., with nutty cartoon characters, screen-filling super attacks, and some eye-popping boss fights. Simple, short, and sweet, it’s a perfect party game for crowds that don’t know how to wavedash.
A zany wish fulfilment setup, great sense of speed, and a star-studded soundtrack of 90s punk rock made Crazy Taxi an instant arcade smash hit. The Dreamcast version is a perfect port, letting players crash their way through San Francisco traffic on the way to Tower Records, or actually play the game with skill and reach for that S-class license. Just make sure that soundtrack is intact, unlike some ports on modern platforms.
The Dreamcast hosted many well-received “bullet hell” shooters, but none has been so praised as Ikaruga. Released only in Japan on the Dreamcast, it’s now considered one of the best shooters ever made, and eventually it got the western release (and several re-releases) that so many were craving. A Dreamcast Mini would be a great way to relive the top-down shooter’s golden hour with the original controller.
Resident Evil: Code Veronica
Capcom’s survival horror series was a blockbuster in the 90s, and this Dreamcast exclusive (at the time) was the best and most advanced version. It showcases the best gameplay and graphics of any Resident Evil game prior to the series’ rebirth with RE4 on the GameCube. If you want a trip back in time to the days when horror games had static backgrounds and tank controls, Code Veronica is your ticket.
Space Channel 5
We’d have given the rhythm game slot to Sega’s Samba de Amigo, if it weren’t for the fact that it requires custom maraca controllers. Space Channel 5 is a good substitute, though: a kooky sci-fi story is painted over J-pop beats and Jetsons-inspired character designs. The game’s a little short, so Sega couple pack in the sequel Part 2 to pad it out.
Skies of Arcadia
The Dreamcast is home to a handful of great RPGs, but none have stood the test of time like Sega’s own Skies of Arcadia. This game fuses old-fashioned turn-based RPG combat with a bright, fresh world full of pirates and air ships. It’s nothing revolutionary in RPG terms, but its rock-solid presentation and appealing characters make it a cult classic…one that’s sadly never been re-released beyond the GameCube port. I’d buy a Dreamcast Mini for Skies of Arcadia alone.
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McKourage, Chief editor at GHsiteMap