News | 9/11/2009 at 11:17 PM

Co-Op Classics: Ten Years of Dreamcast Co-Op

Another classic video game console celebrates a milestone this week.  Sega's Dreamcast was released in North America ten years ago this past week, on 9/9/99.  Though the console was short lived, it has developed quite a following, even a decade later.  Many features of the Dreamcast were ahead of its time, most notably a standard modem and internet support allowing online co-op for the first time on a home console.  To celebrate the 10th birthday of Sega's final console, we'll take a look at some of the best co-op games the system had to offer, as submitted by staff and readers.

The Shoot 'Em Ups

Gunbird 2 - This game really stands out from the shooter crowd.  Instead of an airplane or spacecraft, you control a flying character, choosing from a list including a giant robot and Morrigan from the Darkstalkers fighting game series.  If you have a bit of spare time, you might check out this (likely NSFW) Youtube review of the game, which defies description.  Co-Optimus user Arne says of Gunbird 2: "Silly, short, but entertaining".

Ikaruga - This is one of the top shmups of all time, according to most.  While it has most recently been available on Xbox Live Arcade, and the Nintendo Gamecube before, the Dreamcast had the first console port.  An elegant color change system and extreme difficulty make Ikaruga a fine example of the best the Dreamcast had to offer as far as co-op shooters are concerned.

Giga Wing 1 and 2 - This is another excellent shooter for the Dreamcast.  One of the "bullet hell" variety, with hundreds of projectiles on screen at once, Giga Wing featured a reflecting shield mechanic.  Enemies destroyed in this way dropped multipliers, allowing for incredibly high scores.  The world record for the original is 291,252,468,839,040 points.  Also notable for a 4 player co-op mode, fairly scarce in shooters of this type.






Other Awesome Co-Op Titles

Phantasy Star Online - This was a truly groundbreaking game.  The gameplay wasn't particularly innovative, as it is a standard hack and slash RPG.  But for many people, PSO was the first online co-op experience on a console.  Sure, the PC had been doing it for a while, but the built in modem of the Dreamcast allowed up to four people to group up and kill stuff together over the internet.  That's a milestone as far as co-op gaming is concerned.  A sequel/second version of PSO was released as well, adding several new features to the game.

Power Stone 2 - This game features only comp stomp co-op, but that can still be fun.  Gameplay is similar to Super Smash Brothers, but in a fully 3D playing field.  Treasure hunters from across the world are all fighting over the Power Stone, rumored to have the ability to make dreams come true.  Team up with a buddy to take down computer controlled characters.  Just make sure to avoid each other, as friendly fire is on.  Or, you know, hit your buddy in the face "on accident".  (There's a dream come true for you! House of the Dead 2 - This game is representative of the lightgun shooters available on the Dreamcast, including Virtua Cop 2 and Confidential Mission.  Gameplay is pretty much what you'd expect: you're gonna shoot a lot of undead with your partner.  House of the Dead has remained popular, and in recent years the series has found a place on the Wii system, which just makes sense. 


Dynamite Cop - This game is your basic old school brawler, given the 3D treatment.  The president's daughter has been abducted by neo-pirates, and it's your job, as a titular dynamite cop, to retrieve her.  Interesting trivia: Dynamite Cop is the second game in a series, the first of which was rebranded in the USA as Die Hard Arcade.  Yippee Ki Yay!

The Dreamcast was Sega's swan song, as far as home consoles go.  The rise of the Playstation 2, coupled with additional competition from Nintendo and Microsoft, drastically cut short the system's lifespan.  Still, it was a fantastic system, and easily ahead of some of its competitors as far as online gameplay was concerned.  The Dreamcast brought us one of my favorite games of all time (though it's not really co-op): Chu Chu Rocket.  What are your Dreamcast favorites, co-op or otherwise?