The Best Dreamcast RPGs
Where the cult-classic series began, Shenmue is an action-RPG that offers players an incredibly immersive world with plenty of fun quirks and exciting adventures. The player takes control of Ryo Hazuki, a martial artist, as he hunts down his father's killer in 1980s Japan and China. As the player ventures through this vibrant and active world, they will encounter strange characters, plenty of fights, and interesting side-quests that can engross players more than the actual story.
While the game did extremely well among fans and reviewers, it did not succeed commercially, making this a cult-classic that can be hard to come across if you are looking for an original copy. Thankfully, this title was released on Xbox One, PS4, and Steam.
Skies of Arcadia
A classic fantasy JRPG, Skies of Arcadia introduces gamers to the world of Arcadia, a world in the sky, where pirates roam free on floating airships and danger lurks at every turn. The player takes control of Vyse, a Blue Rogue pirate fighting with the resistance against the Valuan Empire. Vyse commands a party of other pirates, whether they are crew or loyal followers, in epic battles in the sky. The gameplay itself is your typical turn-based JRPG with an experience system that players are probably already familiar with. Outside of combat, the player will travel with his airship throughout this vast world, looking for treasure, helping citizens, or shopping for better equipment.
While the Dreamcast version of this game did not sell well, it received a "director's cut" version called Skies of Arcadia Legends for the GameCube. This title is an easy choice for Dreamcast RPG fans since Skies of Arcadia has been rated one of the best games of all time.
Another classic JRPG on the Dreamcast, Grandia II offers players a vast and beautiful fantasy world to explore. This title follows Ryudo, a mercenary who is tasked with protecting a songstress from the Church of Granas, when he discovers some dark secrets within the history of his world and the church.
While the combat does use turn-based elements, the fighting still occurs in real-time, making for some exciting and brutal battles that require quick thinking and some skill. Ryudo also leads a party of four other characters, ranging from skilled mages to ferocious warriors. This title is a treat to play and definitely deserves its title of being one of the best games of all time.
Phantasy Star Online
Phantasy Star Online was the first of its kind, introducing one of the first online JRPGs. Developed by Sonic Team, Phantasy Star Online was incredibly innovative for its time since most MMORPGs of the era were Western titles like Ultima Online and EverQuest. Players in this title will team up into groups of four and explore the uncharted world of Ragol. This world is teeming with strange life, quests, and loot for players to find. Many features this game introduced were the first of its time and influenced later Japanese dungeon crawlers like Monster Hunter.
Sadly, the official servers have been dead for a long time, but a community of devoted players host private servers if you are looking for a grand adventure. Phantasy Star Online is easily one of the biggest titles on the Dreamcast, and is definitely still worth playing today.
The continuation of Ryo Hazuki’s quest for vengeance, Shenmue II offers an awesome expansion to the first title’s story and world. The systems that made the first Shenmue game special make a comeback, but there are some notable changes, such as a wider variety of jobs that are not required to beat the game. Shenmue II is also bursting with content compared to the original. Players will be more engrossed in Ryo's adventures than ever before with this entry into the series.
While the first title was released on Dreamcast for all regions, this title only saw a Dreamcast release in Europe and Japan, while Americans had to wait another year for the Xbox release. For those not looking to import a Dreamcast copy, this title was released on almost every major digital gaming marketplace, beautifully remastered for modern systems.
Evolution: The World of Sacred Device
Another solid dungeon crawler, Evolution: The World of Sacred Device introduces players to a strange world inhabited by ancient ruins and plenty of adventurers looking for lost treasure within.
Many gameplay elements are similar to most 3D, turn-based JRPGs of the era, except for the Cyframes. Cyframes are ancient treasures hidden within dungeons that offer great power to the user. The player character Mag Launcher uses a Cyframe that acts as a third hand, but their uses can vary. Overall, Evolution is a charming yet simple RPG for the Dreamcast, great for casual and hardcore RPG fans alike.
While this game may have been forgotten among some other amazing titles being released at the time, Silver offers gameplay and story elements that rival that of Diablo II and Final Fantasy VIII. On the strange island of Jarrah, a dark sorcerer named Silver has taken control of the people, forcing them to do unspeakable things. The main character David begins his quest against the sorcerer when his wife is taken for Silver's harem, beginning the game.
While David is the main character, the player can choose any party member as the player character, making each adventure different from the last. The story, combat, and control scheme have received a lot of praise, making this title a hidden gem on the Dreamcast. While the original copy wasn't all that popular, this title is available on Steam and GOG for a new generation of gamers to enjoy.