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On September 9th, 1999, the Sega Dreamcast hit the United States, in hopes that it would bring a new generation of gaming. It was the very first 128-bit gaming console to be released in the video game industry. Though it is deemed as a failure compared to other consoles, it still had its share of classics. The following list of games are games that helped push the envelope and bring rise to new ideas. Sega won't get as much credit as they deserve for some of these games, however any Dreamcast owner can say these games were simply unique to its time.
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Sonic Adventure was one of the launch titles when the Dreamcast hit the U.S. Everybody had already established a nice little relationship with the blue hedgehog from his days on the Sega Genesis. What was so unique about this title was the fact that the entire world was in 3-D. Now you can say that the Nintendo 64 had Mario 64 and it was 3-D. What made Sonic such a cool game was the fact that you were able to fully engulf the speed of Sonic while still maintaining the beautiful environments. Settings would zoom by you in great detail while not slowing down for a second.
The game also brought Sonic the Hedgehog into a whole new gaming style. It got away from the side scroller and turned into a pretty entertaining platform. Thus giving Super Mario a run for his money. Since then Sonic has released a slew of games based on the fast paced world of Sonic, however they have not hit the quality that Sonic Adventure and its sequel, Sonic Adventure 2 accomplished.
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Shenmue was and probably is still one of my favorite video games of all time. It never really received the credit that it should have. The story was of a young man who's father is killed. He then dedicates his future to finding his father's murderer. Along the way you found yourself getting a job driving a forklift, staying in hotels, playing games and watching a stunning environment change from fall to winter and summer. There's something to say when before your eyes a town gradually changes seasons and put up Christmas decorations to show.
The story was without a doubt compelling. Throw a fun Virtual Fighter type fighting system and a free roaming world and you were set. It was one of the more realistic feeling games to hit the Dreamcast and possibly gave rise to games such as Fable and Oblivion that had large open environments.
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One of the most intriguing games I believe I have ever played was a game from publishers Vivarium. Seaman, a virtual pet voiced by none other than Leonard Nimoy, was a trip into an experiment of a lost creature. You start off with a squid like creature in your very own virtual fish tank and a little egg. Soon the egg turned into a tadpole but what was weird about the tadpole? Perhaps is was the human face it had. Your goal was to raise and communicate with this creature as it grew into a strange fish with a human face.
This sounds kind of like a lame idea but when you throw in the fact that there was a microphone that accompanied the game you get a whole new experience. You could actually carry on a conversation with this creature where it would learn things about you and remember them! It was something completely new that really was a success. It was a virtual pet in the end but the work put into the creature to maintain it as well as hearing it say new things each day was mind blowing. It eventually grows into a creature and leaves the tank, but it left an impression, that's for sure.
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Think of some of your favorite multiplayer games today. Many of you will probably right of the bat think of Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty. Well Alien Front Online was well before it's time. The single player mode was so-so. You fought off aliens in your spaceships but what really gave this one power was its online mode. The Dreamcast was the first console to let you play online with other gamers. Alien Front Online was the first to allow voice communication between console gamers. It may seem like a common thing now, but back then it was a whole new thing to be able to vocally communicate with your team and opponents.
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I saved NFL 2K for last for a very special reason. This was the motivation behind me getting a Sega Dreamcast. I remember walking through he mall one day and seeing a television with NFL 2K on it. It was simply a computer verse computer game to show it off. I was blown away. Never had I seen a football game look so incredibly realistic. It was the first game I got when I purchased a Sega Dreamcast. Now many will say, it's football what can be so great about football? Stay with me here.
NFL 2K was the first franchise to truly compete with Madden, the dominating football franchise for over a decade. Sega Sports, which later developed into 2K Sports and so on, released games with the likes of NBA and NHL 2K. These both challenge franchises that had previously barely been touched by other games. EA had soul influence on the gaming world until this franchise hit. It pushed Madden to the limit and even I think passed it in quality in certain years. Since then, EA Sports has gained soul rights to the NFL license, thus all but eliminating NFL 2K from the runnings.
This game was so special because it gave us the great football games we have today. Madden is what they are now because NFL 2K pushed them to the limit. You will still find those loyalists who insist NFL 2K reign supreme over Madden, and they have a valid argument.
NFL 2K began setting the standard for football games and had it been given a few more years it could very possibly be surpassing Madden today.
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So what have we learned today? The Dreamcast is still probably deemed a failure compared to many of the other consoles that have been developed and sold. However, the Dreamcast did have it's share of great and revolutionary games in its arsenal that can still be enjoyed by owenrs today. A Few of the games above have continued their franchises on the next generation consoles. Sonic has even enjoyed a few titled with the Nintendo Wii, though they have been about par compared to previous titles. The NFL 2K series tried to make a slight comeback with their own football game called All Pro Football 2K8, but it was blown away easily by Madden. If you would like to try any of these games out they are cheaper then ever and can probably be purchased at a used game shop or on ebay for a pretty fair price. Check these titles out and give the Dreamcast another chance.