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Top 10 HD re-releases to make your Dreamcast obsolete

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Seaman Dreamcast

I honestly don't understand why this game hasn't had an HD remake yet. Originally released with a special microphone attachment, Seaman is a no-brainer with the prominence of chat microphones on modern game consoles. With enough Japanese quirk to put Tokyo Jungle to shame, Seaman may be the weirdest game of all time. Players are tasked with raising the world's most disgusting Tamagotchi over the course of a month in real time. As it grows (and getting it to grow is a puzzle in itself), the Seaman eventually starts to talk. Before long the little guy is chewing your ear off with inane anecdotes and bizarre questions. 

An HD spruce-up could fix voice recognition issues and give the game the attention it deserves. More than that, I think the modern internet-fueled audience is more open to the oddities of Seaman. When Leonard Nimoy introduced every Seaman session with an assessment of your progress back in the day, most players were probably just confused. Today, without the need for a special microphone peripheral, Seaman can shine. I just hope anyone remembers it fondly enough to make it happen.

Skies of Arcadia

Skies of Arcadia Dreamcast

Even at the time of its release, Skies of Arcadia felt just a touch too traditional. Its combat system couldn't be more straightforward and its random battles couldn't have been more relentless. Compared to Grandia 2, another Dreamcast game released around the same time, Skies' battle system felt antiquated. But when you ask which of the two games is remembered more fondly, the answer is almost unanimously Skies of Arcadia. Few RPGs bring the charm the way this one did, and sky pirates are just damn cool. Vibrant colors and a sense of wonder make Skies something that can be appreciated today, even with its simplistic graphics.

My suggestion? A re-release on the Vita and 3DS would be more appropriate for this game's combat system and text-based dialogue. Skies of Arcadia on the go isn't something we even considered back then, but it makes a ton of sense now. It helps that more simple combat systems in games like Persona 4: The Golden and Cthulhu Saves the World make Skies' combat seem more palatable today. Back when people were overloaded on JRPGs it felt like a race to the top of a needlessly complex mountain. Skies lost that race, but it won enough fond memories to earn my re-release wishes.

And yes, I know Skies of Arcadia got an enhanced port on Gamecube, but it didn't exactly light the world on fire.

Chu Chu Rocket!

Chu Chu Rocket Dreamcast

Chu Chu Rocket! was an obscure game upon release and it's only been marginalized since then. Sega's attempts to bring the game back have felt half-hearted and missed the point. Sure, it may look like something that belongs on the DS or iOS, but Chu Chu Rocket's true home is the living room couch. Get four players together and it becomes one of the greatest party games of all time. 

The concept is simple—each player places arrows on the board to direct mice into their rocket. They must also avoid sending mouse-eating cats into their rocket or suffer massive score penalties. The player with the highest score at the end of the round wins. Toss in a bunch of power-ups and tons of levels and that's the game! A more boring person probably would have made this a turn-based game, but Chu Chu Rocket is a crazy, think-on-your-toes action/strategy/party riot.

It all but demands a re-release on XBLA and PSN, where four players can gather in the living room and lose their minds for a few hours. I can't even imagine what kind of messed up 5-player game Sega could turn this into with the Wii U. Mouse mania!

Virtua Tennis

Virtua Tennis Dreamcast

Once upon a time the perfect arcade tennis game was created. It was called Virtua Tennis. Sequels and copycats expanded on the formula by adding systems and features but never creating a better game. Virtua Tennis offers unmatched purity and more depth in its analog-stick-and-two-button controls than you could imagine. You can always get a similar and enjoyable experience with any modern Virtua Tennis game, but if you want to get back to the purity that made the original so sublime you'll hope along with me that Sega offers a re-release some day. Spruced up graphics, solid online play, and a $10-15 price tag would make this classic the only tennis game you'd need this side of Pong.

Maybe when Virtua Tennis 7 is about to come out Sega can pair it with an XBLA/PSN release of a "Virtua Tennis Classic". I think that strategy worked out okay for a certain NBA series...

Mars Matrix

Mars Matrix Dreamcast

The Dreamcast was a destination for 2D shoot 'em ups, but beyond Treasure's masterpiece Ikaruga, the library was a mish-mash of obscure, underappreciated games of varying quality. That's what makes Mars Matrix such a diamond in the rough. It's an unassuming game with some typically garish shooter graphics and a ton of colorful bullets flying in your direction. At face value the differences between a Mars Matrix, a Giga Wing, and a Triggerheart Exelica are negligible. What makes Mars Matrix such a stand-out game becomes apparent as soon as you start digging into it. 

At a time when your shooter options were either Ikaruga or a masturbatory hyper-impossible mess of bullets, Mars Matrix came to the rescue with exciting, well-designed gameplay that wasn't tailored toward that one Japanese guy on Youtube or someone with infinite credits. Unlike so much of the 2D shoot 'em ups back then, Mars Matrix wasn't terrifyingly daunting. It also didn't fall prey to excessive pattern recognition. It was much more about using your instincts and quick reactions in the moment.

The addition of a huge pile of unlockables in the Dreamcast release made playing over and over fun and rewarding. As you unlocked more options you got to see more of the game whether you were good at it or not. It was a very forward-thinking concept that makes Mars Matrix surprisingly modern.

Honorable Mentions Gallery

Dreamcast Collage

I'll be honest, in my process of determining ten absolutely mandatory Dreamcast games, games that are either only on Dreamcast or best on Dreamcast, I could only really come up with nine solid entries. The rest of my choices were either games like Metropolis Street Racer, which has seen plenty of updates in the Project Gotham Racing series, or games that were more like oddities than classics.

Actually, consider this a runner-up list: Metropolis Street RacerD2, Illbleed, Cannon SpikeZombie RevengeOuttrigger, Border DownToy Commander

D2 and IllBleed are notorious for their creepy levels of gore, but neither are actually regarded as good games; Cannon Spike and Zombie Revenge are arcade-style fun, but hardly definitive; Outtrigger was marred with lag when it came out, and now you can just play Kill Confirmed in Black Ops 2 for the same effect; Border Down was interesting at the time because it was a very late Dreamcast release, but it wasn't a stand-out shooter like Ikaruga or Mars Matrix.

That leaves us with Toy Commander. While it may be the game in this runner-up list I'd most want to see get an HD re-release, it also needs the most work to recapture the magic of the original Dreamcast game. Flawed controls, unbalanced gameplay, simplistic graphics, and limited 4-player split-screen multiplayer would all need to be tightened up or overhauled. It'd be so much work that someone should probably just take the idea of toys battling in giant houses and turn it into a brand new game.

So there you have it. Nine absolute necessities and a handful of obscure oddities. It doesn't seem like a lot to ask for, right? What are your favorites? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below.

Joe Donato used to be a Sega fanboy, but he's okay now. Follow his 12-step program on Twitter @JoeDonuts.

Tags: Dreamcast, Remakes, Re-releases, HD, XBLA, PSN

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