Four Games You Must Play: Dreamcast

Console-Defining: Sonic Adventure

Is it the best Sonic game? No. Is it the best Dreamcast game? Also no. Is it a bad game? If it was, it wouldn't be here. Sonic's first foray into 3D, which launched with the Dreamcast, was markedly less successful than Mario's had been three years prior, but nonetheless provided a fun and challenging game, which really showed off what sixth generation hardware was capable of. Featuring a jaunty soundtrack and a multi-stranded, Rashomon style storyline (each showing off a different type of gameplay, from racing and shooting things to gem-hunting and fishing. Yes, fishing), the game managed to provide a relatively lengthy experience. Sonic Adventure 2 three years later tightened up the mechanics and stages, but largely built on what Adventure achieved.

Marvel of Game Design: Shenmue

Shenmue is a story about an teenager trained in martial arts, questing to exact revenge for the death of his father. What you do in Shenmue is have awkward conversations with your girlfriend, feed the neighbourhood stray cat, and ask around the town if anyone knows where sailors hang out.

While the game hasn't aged well, Shenmue did something that no games at that point wholeheartedly tried outside of Harvest Moon: the details of normal day-to-day living. While it's not the action-packed platforming and shooting that was normally associated with video games (and come to think of it, that sentiment hasn't really changed), the attention of detail paid to the citizens and routines of Yamanose made exploring it compelling.

A lot of recent games place undue emphasis on the largest scales possible; huge rolling expanses to explore, but they are often underpopulated. Shenmue's careful attention paid to the little things can remind that the parallels drawn to every day life are more charming.

Best Multiplayer Experience: Power Stone

Super Smash Bros. may have had the continuing legacy of being the silly non-serious fighting game to play at parties, Power Stone was a serious contender. Fighting in themed arenas from wild west saloons to Egyptian tombs, the cast of brightly coloured and painfully anime combatants smacked each other upside the head in the pursuit of the titular Power Stones loosed unto the stage.

Collecting them all put your character into overdrive, at which point you have a host of new and super-destructive moves at your disposal. Super Smash Bros. Brawl has a similar frantic scramble over the victory-booning Smash Ball, but the experience here is the original and best.

Obscure Gem: Illbleed

I've got to admit something here; Illbleed is not what you'd call a good game. Aside from it not having aged well graphically, the gameplay is confusing, the controls are clunky, and the voice acting is god-awful. On the other hand, it's a love letter to schlocky B-Movie horror; and its mechanical shortcomings suit it well.

You play as Eriko Christie, a teenager raised by abusive owners of a travelling haunted house attraction. Instead of turning her into a nervous wreck, Eriko now considers herself 'unscareable'. That said, when she and her friends all get invitations to attend the Theme Park of Murder, Illbleed, she's not particularly enthusiastic about attending. Her friends on the other hand rush off to the park, and summarily find themselves trapped. What follows are a series of themed 'attractions' covered in lethal traps that must be detected and defused in order to survive.

The goofy premise and oh so nearly intentionally poor execution mean its something of a cult hit, in the same way that film fans treat The Room. As such, it's a game better watched than played.



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