Top 10 HD re-releases to make your Dreamcast obsolete
With Jet Set Radio and Sonic Adventure 2's recent HD re-releases there are more Dreamcast games available on modern consoles than ever before. From Crazy Taxi to Rez HD and Virtual On, many of the best and most important Dreamcast games can be played without a Dreamcast.
More than most consoles, we are reaching a point where all the important exclusives and definitive titles are available elsewhere. That's a good thing too, because the two-year lifespan of Sega's console in the market was pretty close to how long the actual hardware lasts. The flaky GD-ROM drive had a tendency to burn out in no time. The sooner the Dreamcast is made obsolete through HD re-releases, the better our chances will be to actually enjoy these games in the future.
That said, there are some important gaps in the HD remake catalog, and it will be some time before we can definitively give up on our broken or soon-to-be broken Dreamcasts. Here are the games that will get us there—ten(ish) games that deserve to be preserved.
Like Jet Set Radio, Shenmue is a game that's destined for a misunderstood HD re-release. When the game first came out it was equally praised for its immersive world and criticized for its stilted dialogue and laborious pacing. The English dub was embarrassing and led to jokes about "looking for some sailors" that persist today. That said, it gave players an incredibly evocative look at a small Japanese town in the 80s. It had a slice of life quality that made a lot of the awkwardness tolerable. An HD remake with the original Japanese dialogue and English subtitles could capture that feeling even more. Sega could throw us an extra bone and spruce up the loading times, audio quality, and graphics for a new look at a flawed but incredibly unique game.
While we're imagining dreams coming true, Sega should package it as a Shenmue HD Collection with both Shenmue 1 and 2 and throw in a teaser trailer for Shenmue 3. C'mon!
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
There are few games that can compete with the atmosphere of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. Set years after a vampire reign turns the world into a dead, almost post-apocalyptic wasteland, Soul Reaver is grim, decaying, and lonely. Banished for surpassing his master, the protagonist Raziel becomes a soul-sucking vampire zombie with a plan to exact revenge on his vampire brothers. Not a whole lot of positivity there, but the fantastic writing from Uncharted scribe Amy Hennig and some excellent Zelda-esque puzzle design make Soul Reaver's dead world a joy to explore.
While the game was released on other consoles and even has a PC version, the Dreamcast release is unique for some excellently remodeled characters and cleaner textures. It was the HD remake of its day, so a re-release of that version is only common sense.
Phantasy Star Online
Can Sega ever recapture the magic of the original Phantasy Star Online? My guess is no. While they've made plenty of sequels and PSO2 could be a solid game in its own right, it doesn't seem like Sega has plans to return to the simple charms of the original game. My experience with every sequel has felt like a brief overload of fanboy pandering and unnecessary info dumps. The neon sci-fi appeal of the first game has been replaced with a pile of anime cliches.
While the Dreamcast days of 56k modems made PSO impressive at the time, its technical accomplishments look like child's play now. That said, an HD remake for $15 or so on XBLA and PSN could be an amazing novelty and nostalgic trip for many, including myself. Hell, it could even be a great way for Sega to assemble a cheap and successful free-to-play game. Just as long as they don't muck with what made the game good to begin with—simple rhythmic combat and an enjoyable loot fest with three friends.
Power Stone 2
Super Smash Bros. may be the standard when it comes to untraditional, 4-player party fighting games, but that only makes Power Stone 2 even more special. Playstation All-Stars seems to suggest there can only be two kinds of fighting games these days (Smash Bros. clones and everything else), and in that light Power Stone 2 is incredibly unique. Like a hybrid of fighting and 3D platformers, Power Stone 2 pitted opponents in moving arenas full of weapons and collectible power-ups. Hording the Power Stones was just as important as navigating the environment and beating up your friends. More than anything though, it's the vibrant, ever-changing arenas that make Power Stone 2 a raucous blast.
The series saw a PSP re-release with Power Stone Collection, which would be kind of neat in a world where everyone has a PSP, but it honestly misses the point in a big way. Power Stone 2 belongs on a home console, in front of a TV with four controllers. It could even work as an online game, but it needs a multiplayer environment to breathe. While the series would work fine on XBLA and PSN, I can imagine an additional mode in a Wii U version where one player uses the touch screen to screw with the environment while the other four players battle it out.