Is it any good?
The Dreamcast had a ton of potential, but unfortunately a futile amount of time to establish and adapt. Many folk blame piracy for its downfall (I hate piracy), but if that was the case... how come the PS1 didn't fail? Some people believe it was down to the brand being damaged, due to the Mega-CD and piss poor management of the Saturn. I wouldn't be surprised if the real reason was because it lacked a DVD player as seen in the PS2, but seriously, who knows? It's probably a debate that will rage on forever, and never reveal an answer.
Should I still get one
What is for certain is that SEGA make great games, always have and always will... and these days we get to play them on a multitude of platforms. You simply must own a Dreamcast, its library of games are still very attractive, and the console is easily affordable. The Dreamcast changed gaming forever, and that's why it left such a massive cavity in the chest of those who did adopt.
The homebrew scene is the most active of any retro console, updates, mods and new games trickle along consistently. Games such as Sturmwind and the ever changing Beats of Rage (released 2004), along with projects like the 'Dreamcast Media Center' help keep the community very much alive.
Games to look for
Shenmue, 1 and 2
Shenmue was reportedly the game that bankrupted SEGA, and billed as one of the most expensive series ever made. Unfortunately the game had a Marmite affect on people of all ages, you ever loved it or you hated it. For me, it was a massive adventure on a scale like nothing before, life changing almost, but you had to be there to understand that. It questioned your motives, played out the repercussions of your actions, and sent you on many a labour-intensive task. In its own special way, the attempts to emulate reality largely succeeded, but Shenmue at its heart is an adventure - slash fighter, all rolled into one... boy do I long for its finale.
I'm not so sure anyone knew what to expect on first loading up Crazy Taxi. It turned out to be one of the fastest, most adrenaline pumped racing games the world had ever seen. Crazy Taxi might have lost its long term appeal these days, but back in the day, there was nothing quite like it.
Sonic Adventure 2
I wasn't a big fan of Sonic Adventure (please keep reading). But Sonic Adventure 2 left me wishing I'd given the original more attention. The graphics even today look good, the levels are vast and it's clearly a game that 'Super Mario Galaxy' borrowed a few of its ideas from. Sonic Adventure 2 definitely has the legs, and is still one of the best Dreamcast games I think I've ever played.
Inject pace, online play, war and a counter-terrorism plot into a First-Person-Shooter and you've got Outrigger. SEGA's answer to Serious Sam more than delivers in the game-play department, but favours the
traditional closed corridor action, instead of a wide open approach. This game has weird controls, so a keyboard and mouse is highly recommended. There's tons of weapons, upgrades and levels to unlock... and IGN rated it 8.6 out of 10.
Never have I played a racer this beautiful. The attention to detail is mesmerising, and the controls tight.
Stick with Daytona or Sega Rally 2 if you prefer arcade physics over realism, for everyone else there isn't a finer racer you could wish to play.
The original and the best for me... the Kudos system worked perfectly and the cars handled well under pressure. The graphics throughout showed that the Dreamcast could hold its own, and it's an experience I'll never forget. Remember, It's not how fast you drive, it's how good you drive fast.
From out of nowhere, and withought question, came the best fighting game I've ever played. Soul Calibur was everything you could ever wish for in a fighter. The control, and variety of offensive and defensive moves were stunning. The graphics were better than any other fighter out there, and the attention to detail was simply blinding. It's a game many still hold close to their chest, and it feels as fresh as now as the first time I played it.
Virtua Tennis is epic... until this game came along, every other Tennis game was simply a warm-up. Many have tried to emulate its formula, but for the most part nothing has captured the essence of the court, in the way Virtua Tennis did.