The Sega Dreamcast was a system that had some really cool and innovative games. However, the console never had as much widespread appeal as the PS2 or Xbox. I could write an entire article about the failings of the Sega Dreamcast, but I’m going to write about the results of the failure instead.
Specifically, I want to take some time to evaluate the 12 most underrated Sega Dreamcast games. Unlike other systems, these games may be underrated because they were on a rather unpopular system or they simply didn’t get the praise that I feel they deserve.
Either way, I’m going to talk about 12 titles in no particular order and show you why I think they deserve a second look.
1. Elemental Gimmick Gear (E.G.G)
Elemental Gimmick Gear was an action-RPG that came with hand-drawn, pre-rendered backgrounds that were a cool departure from the style at the time. Although much of the gameplay took place in 2D, something many gamers didn’t appreciate, the boss battles were fought in 3D.
The art is enough to bring people to this game, especially if you factor in the music. The combat was fun as you zoomed across the land in your upgradable E.G.G., a type of pilotable battle armor.
If you’re looking for a good place to start with underrated Sega Dreamcast titles, this is it. Elemental Gimmick Gear’s price is going up, so you might want to get your hands on a copy soon.
I think Seaman belongs on this list for the sheer “WTF” factor that it brought to the table. This was a virtual pet game that puts you in the shoes of a scientist trying to raise the titular being.
You start out babysitting an egg and receiving some hints from the game’s narrator. If that voice sounds familiar, that’s because it’s Leonard Nemoy.
The game is tough, time-consuming, and frustrating. But, it’s funny and bizarre, and that makes it worth playing. You raise that egg into a fish with a human face that talks to you, sings, and makes disparaging remarks!
Once you finish playing parent to the Frogman, the final metamorphosis of the creature, you send it off into the wild, possibly dooming the world to being heckled by a species of genetic freaks with no natural predators. .
Although Seaman might not be for everyone, I have no problem proclaiming that I love Seaman.
3. Cannon Spike
Cannon Spike has the dubious honor of being the last Sega Dreamcast game to be released in Europe, and it never got the attention it deserves. Basically, this is an arcade shooter game that puts you in the shoes of some of Capcom’s most noteworthy characters.
It’s your job to go out and clean up the streets and fight evil beings while playing as Mega Man, Cammy from Street Fighter, Arthur from Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and more. In a way, this reminds me of the Final Fantasy crossover game Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring
Every character sorta plays the same and the game is not overly difficult. Still, as far as arcade shooters go, this game is fun. I don’t know that it was so much underrated as much as it was overlooked because it came so late in the development cycle, but it’s staying on this list.
4. Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future
The Ecco the Dolphin series has always been a little odd. In fact, the first game went so far off the rails with the final battle against the alien Vortex Queen that I didn’t know if the game wasn’t just a fever dream. Seriously, go read the story of this game and think about all the acid you’d have to drop to dream up this stuff.
The story was cool, but the graphics and gameplay are where the game really shined. Like other entries in the series, you have to solve puzzles and use the environment to your advantage to overcome challenges.
Sure, the above-water graphics didn’t age well, but the gameplay, music, and underwater graphics are very good. Yet, the game belly flopped in terms of sales and only scored middling reviews. If you want something peaceful and fun with a twist of horror for gaming, check out Ecco the Dolphin.
Do you like survival games? How about nightmares? Oh, I have a game for you, and it’s called Illbleed. The story is a little 90s because you basically end up at a Hell House, and you need to disarm the traps, save your friends, and make it out alive to win the prize money.
Atmospheric doesn’t even begin to describe this game. If you’re playing this title late at night, you’re bound to succumb to a jump scare or two as the spookiness of the game seeps in. The music and sound effects are particularly nice, and the graphics were solid for the time.
The gameplay is loads of fun, but it takes some practice to figure out exactly what you’re supposed to be doing in the game. If you pay attention, though, the game is challenging and scary, just like it should be.
Horror game enthusiasts will certainly like this game and its presentation if they can get past the goofiness that sometimes appears in the game.
Headhunter was a game with a terribly dark story that, looking back on it now, might hit a little too close to home. You play as Jack Wade, one of the best headhunters in the business. What does a headhunter do, you ask?
Well, they hunt down the worst criminals so that they can be put in jail (cool) and then have their organs stolen from them and transplanted into wealthier individuals (not so cool). You start out the game with amnesia and start to earn your licenses to return to the field of hunting down criminals. Needless to say, things get a little dicey.
The high points of the game are the story, graphics, weapons, and motorcycle riding sequences. The game got some good reviews on the Sega Dreamcast, but it didn’t sell much and player ratings weren’t great.
Not, not Diablo II, just D2, and this game is going to take you places. For example, you start the game by having your plane hijacked by cultists, and you crash into the Canadian wilderness. You wake up 10 days later and things get even worse.
You crawl out of the rubble and you’re suddenly fighting for your life against a mutated cultist. From then on, you’re in full survival mode, killing for food and trying to get to the bottom of what the heck is going on.
I’ve compared this game to Parasite Eve II in the past, but the combat is not nearly as exciting and the RPG elements aren’t as fleshed out. Still, you’ll get a kick out of the gameplay, music, and story!
8. Skies of Arcadia
Anyone that recognizes Skies of Arcadia from its title is going to say “what, that’s not underrated.” I recognize that the game got some reviews, but you have to remember that many of them were merely “good”. You should also keep in mind that the game did not sell well anywhere.
Alright, disclaimer aside, I hardly know where to start with this game. It might be fair to say it’s the best Sega Dreamcast RPG. Not that there is a lot of company on that list, but it’s certainly in the top five.
Skies of Arcadia is basically what Vaan from Final Fantasy XII wanted: to be an air pirate battling against an evil empire. The graphics are nice, the music is great, the combat is stylish, and the game is not afraid to take risks.
I’m highly impressed with everything about the game including the character development. If you’re a fan of role-playing games, you should try this one.
9. Power Stone
Power Stone gets points in my book for some originality. This fighting game by Capcom brings ten characters into a 3D arena and lets them whale on each other.
You can use special moves to devastate your opponents, especially if you collect the titular power stones that are scattered on the ground. The 3D environment, usable items around the map, and unique characters are lots of fun.
I did notice one thing, though. The fighting portion of Ehrgeiz, not the great RPG part of the game, was just like Power Stone. You have 3D maps, interactive items, and you’re all after a MacGuffin that will grant you a wish. How weird is that?
This game’s reviews were middling, but it’s a lot of fun and a good break from the games with a 2D fighting area.
10. Phantasy Star Online
Phantasy Star Online was the first online RPG for consoles, and you had to plug your internet directly into your Sega Dreamcast to get it to work.
Once online, you would meet up with other people in a hub and go do quests like any of the best MMORPGs that you could play these days. The game’s futuristic aesthetic was nice, the combat was fun, and the various classes were really cool. I liked the story, too, but I wish the game put a little more into it. Are we on doomed vessels from the main series, like the criminally underrated Phantasy Star III? What’s going on?
The game got poor reviews because the limitations of the internet back then impacted gameplay and the monsters weren’t as feisty as some people would like. Nevertheless, this game was groundbreaking, good, and fun. However, I will recognize that version 2 was better on PC.
11. Tech Romancer
People that love mecha anime shows definitely got a kick of Tech Romancer, but it lacked widespread appeal. That’s probably why it got such middling reviews despite being a stylish anime-like fighting game.
The story mode was cool. Aliens invade and you and your friends go on the offensive in your own mechas, each one with its own story. It’s almost like playing through an anime story, but you get to be the one raining down blows instead of watching.
The game got some flak for its fighting that didn’t really break any new ground. Still, the gameplay did its job and left the player feeling satisfied. Tech Romancer deserves another look and some more love.
12. Evolution: The World of Sacred Device
Evolution: The World of Sacred Device is a really fun, upbeat dungeon-crawling RPG that puts you in the shoes of Mag, a young man whose only ambition is to be an adventurer like the rest of his family.
Unfortunately, his folks pulled a Batman, and he is left with Gre, his butler. Just like Alfred, Gre has a bit of a badass streak in him. By that, I mean, he uses a shotgun to blow away your enemies.
As far as an RPG goes, this one was fun, rather linear, and had enough substance and story to carry it along. The lack of random battles was a welcome change that is now commonplace. I wouldn’t say this game was groundbreaking, but it’s far better than the initial reviews would have you believe.
Final Thoughts on the Most Underrated Sega Dreamcast Games
The Sega Dreamcast had a lot of potential, but the lack of titles, high prices, and a million other things killed this system way too soon. I don’t know if we’ll ever see Sega consoles again, but I would like to see some of the games on the system revisited.
So, what games did I miss? Tell me all about your picks for the most underrated Sega Dreamcast games and we’ll have a chat about them in the comments. I promise I won’t shamelessly steal them and integrate them into another list!