Dreamcast: The Shoot-Em-Up Haven
Posted by:
Date: May 28, 2008

Ah, the Dreamcast. Though the system was discontinued by Sega back in 2001 or so, it still holds a place in my heart. I still to this day play the console, often going through periods where it’s the only system I’ll play for a while. One of the most interesting aspects of the Dreamcast is its’ longevity. Many of the games on it were in 2D and still look great today. Also interesting is the fact that the Dreamcast is a bastion for the ailing shoot-em-up genre of games. The console continues to see new games come out in Japan to this day, with almost everything being released in the last couple of years being shooters. There’s even a few shooters that have been announced for release in 2008 (we shall see if they actually come out). For the shoot-em-up fans out there, I’ve put together a list of shooters I’ve had the opportunity of playing on the old console.

Twinkle Star Sprites
Company:
SNK
Released: 1999

Originally released on the Neo Geo in 1996, the game has since been ported to the Saturn, Dreamcast, and Playstation 2. The main draw of the game is that it is a competitive shooter, akin to a puzzle game, where you duel another character to win.



Mars Matrix
Company: Capcom
Released: 2000

One of my favorite shooters on the system. The main difference from the standard shoot-em-up is the ability to absorb shots from enemies which you can throw back or absorb enough to cause a full-screen explosion. There is also an experience system that is used to unlock a lot of different extras. I’m still working on finishing unlocking all the goodies.



Gunbird 2
Company: Psikyo
Released: 2000

Sequel to Gunbird on the Saturn and Playstation, Gunbird 2 continues the zaniness. You can pick from a number of characters (including Morrigan of Darkstalkers fame) to fly through the levels in a goal to earn a potion that will grant the character their wish. Nothing terribly unique about the style, but its a polished game and the cutscenes are quite amusing.



Rainbow Cotton
Company: Success
Released: 2000

The Cotton series has a storied history in Japan dating back to the first Cotton game released in 1991. Rainbow Cotton was the second time that 3D was attempted in the series. Although a bright game visually, sadly it’s not all that fun.



Giga Wing
Company:
Capcom
Released: 2000

Another favorite of mine, Giga Wing takes place in a Steam Punk setting and features 5 ships to choose from. The key system is the Reflect Force. When activated, the reflect force will reflect any enemy bullets in the same direction they came from. Due to the large amount of bullets that can be on screen, its’ use is crucial for survival.



Giga Wing 2
Company: Capcom
Released: 2001

Improving upon the original, Giga Wing 2 made better use of the Reflect Force by allowing you to choose how it worked from one of two options. Other improvements included more detailed, 3D graphics and the ability to play up to 4 players at the same time.



Zero Gunner 2
Company: Psikyo
Released: 2001

Possibly Shaddak’s favorite shooter on the Dreamcast, Zero Gunner 2 allows you to pick from 3 different helicopters to blast your way through 9 difficulty levels. The innovative feature in this game is the ability to rotate your helicopter 360 degrees, which is critical for surviving attacks from the side and back.



Ikaruga
Company: Treasure
Released: 2002

Possibly the most well-known shooter on the Dreamcast, Ikaruga is the spiritual successor to Radiant Silvergun on the Saturn. The game’s main feature is the ability to switch your ship between white and black, which affects what enemy bullets hurt you and the damage you deal. The game has since been ported to the Gamecube and Xbox Live Arcade.



Border Down
Company: G.Rev
Released: 2003

The main feature of Border Down is difficulty settings that are switched during gameplay. There are 3 difficulty levels, called borders – red, yellow, and green. The green border is the longest version of a level, but with enemies shooting less. Meanwhile, the red border is the shortest version of a level but the enemies fire much more often. When you start a game, you select a border to begin on and as you die you “border down” (hence the name of the game) and the game continues on until you die on the last border.



Shikigami no Shiro 2 (Castle Shikigami 2)
Company: Alfa System
Released: 2004

The first console the game appeared on was the Gamecube in Japan. However, the Dreamcast fan base managed to convince Alfa System to later port it to the Dreamcast. Each character has their own shooting style and two weapons. Also featured is the Tension Bonus System where your score is multiplied based on how close the character is to enemies and enemy bullets. The U.S. only got the Playstation 2 port of it.



Psyvariar 2
Company: Success
Released: 2004

Psyvariar 2 has two pilots to choose from and has 6 areas to battle through. The main feature is called “buzzing”, where you graze bullets to fill your Neutrino gauge. When it fills, your suit levels up, granting you higher firepower and temporary invincibility.



Trizeal
Company: Triangle Service
Released: 2005

Interesting fact – the game was done by 3 people, which console conversions were handled by a single person. Rather impressive I’d say. In it, you control a ship that can transform into 3 forms. Triangle Service is currently working on a sequel, with rumors that it will be ported to the Dreamcast at some point.



Chaos Field
Company: Milestone
Released: 2005

This game features 3 ships to choose from with various types of firepower and speed. Each level consists of a battle against a large, powerful boss. The name of the title is derived from the fact that your ship can move between two dimensions – the order field and chaos field, which affects enemy firepower and your score.



Under Defeat
Company: G.Rev
Released: 2006

One of the prettiest shooters on the Dreamcast, you play in an alternate world war 2 piloting a helicopter. You have a limited ability to rotate the helicopter. Weapons include a machine gun, bomb, and options of which there are 3 varieties. This game was originally intended as the last official Dreamcast game, but later Milestone and Warashi got approval from Sega to do official game releases after Under Defeat came out.



Radilgy
Company: Milestone
Released: 2006

Another title by Milestone, featuring cel-shaded graphics and a light tone. Features a ship with 3 type of shots and the ability to use a shield to protect yourself in near death situations.



Last Hope
Company: NG:Dev.Team
Released: 2007

Last Hope is a very standard side-scrolling shooter. It has 6 stages, 4 difficulty levels, and all the backgrounds are hand-drawn. Not too shabby for an indie developer.



Trigger Heart Exelica
Company: Warashi
Released: 2007

One of the most recent games on the Dreamcast. There are two main features in the game. The first is the ability to anchor enemy ships then use them as shields or throwing them for more damage. The second is that the difficulty level automatically adjust based on how well the player does. This recently came out in America on Xbox Live Arcade.



Karous
Company: Milestone
Released: 2007

Another very recent game for the Dreamcast, it plays similar to previous games by Milestone on the console. Features cel-shaded graphics and a dark tone, with heavy use of red, black, and grey colors.

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