Poor SEGA. Despite finding success with the Genesis and Game Gear, it seems as though this one-time king of the Console War was forever destined to fall short of the big boys at Nintendo and Sony. However, that doesn’t mean they went down without a fight. Case in point, the Dreamcast.
More of an enigma to most, this short-lived console features one of the best back catalogs in the history of gaming! Especially when it comes to racing!
Despite only being around for some 16 months before SEGA pulled the plug, the Dreamcast is credited with including some of the very best racing games of all time. And, while there aren’t a whole lot that I’ve personally had experience with (I had faithfully converted to the church of Sony by 1999), I feel that the ones I have been privileged to enjoy stand as an everlasting testament to the importance of quality over quantity!
Join me now for a look back at
The Best Racing Games For The SEGA Dreamcast
Metropolis Street Racer (2000)
Originally planned as a launch title for the Dreamcast, Metropolis Street Racer serves as the first game in the Project Gotham Racing series, as well as one of the first really good examples of an open-world racing game.
Developed by Bizarre Creations and published by SEGA, the game is noted for having introduced the Kudos reward system and is often praised for its detailed and accurate depictions of cities such as London, Tokyo, and San Francisco.
Additional highlights include a strong in-game soundtrack courtesy of composer Richard Jacques, a realistic day/night spectrum controlled through the console’s internal clock, expert-level driving mechanics, and an impressive 262 available tracks.
While it may not have allowed for online racing, gamers could compete in special time trials and speed challenges that permitted them to upload their best times to an online rankings board through the free Dreamarena gaming service.
Bottom line, MSR is not only the best Dreamcast racing games, but one of the genre’s best overall! A refined and innovative racer far ahead of its time, this 64-bit classic continues to fire on all cylinders more than two decades later.
SEGA GT (2000)
A joint venture between Wow Entertainment and TOSE, SEGA GT is a racing simulator that was designed with the intention of taking on Sony’s super hot Gran Turismo series. In a similar vein to the Sony sim, players compete in various races across 22 different tracks to gain licenses and win cups.
Prize money can then be used to buy additional cars and mechanical parts for increased performance. While the controls are a little dicey, and the game does tend to straddle a little closer to an arcade racer than its competition, SEGA GT makes up for these shortcomings with some great-looking graphics and true-to-life driving mechanics that make it one of the console’s best.
Sure, Gran Turismo may have come out as the winner, but this slick SEGA simulator is still a great and daring example of what could have been had the Dreamcast fared just a little better on the market.
San Francisco Rush 2049 (2000)
Originally developed and manufactured for arcades by Atari Games, this third entry in the popular Rush series eventually found itself ported over to the Dreamcast courtesy of Midway Games West.
Set in a futuristic version of San Francisco, it features an arcade-style physics engine and cars that can extend wings from their sides to perform precise mid-air adjustments.
Easily the most fun to play entry on this list, it was the last game in the franchise to be set within San Francisco. It was also the final product for the Atari Games label, which was sadly dropped soon after the initial arcade release.
With an emphasis on single-player exploration, San Francisco Rush 2049 also features an included stunt mode, as well as multiplayer deathmatch battle modes and race modes supporting up to four players.
Praised by consumers and critics alike, and one of my favorite racing games on the Dreamcast, this version of the game was so well received that it would go on to be nominated for an award at the 4th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards in San Jose, California on March 22nd, 2001. It’s definitely one of a kind, and that alone makes it worth picking up!
Hydro Thunder (1999)
I previously wrote about this one for a piece on the best racing arcade games of the 1990s, but would you believe me if I told you that the version we got for the Dreamcast in 1999 was far superior? Well, believe it!
Marketed as a ‘full-throttle adrenaline rush’ when released by Midway Games, it not only perfectly encapsulated all of the fast-paced thrills of its arcade counterpart, but once again really showed what this console was capable of in the right hands!
Featuring killer visuals, addictive gameplay, and some wacky physics, the game puts players behind the controls of various high-tech speedboats and sets them loose on some of the most treacherous race courses to be realized in 64-bits.
While the overall execution is somewhat reminiscent of SEGA’s Daytona USA, this radical racer puts a fresh spin on the genre that just begs to be experienced behind the full computing power of the Dreamcast!
Demolition Racer: No Exit (2000)
Back in the late 90s, demolition derby games were a dime a dozen. Most of them were pretty mediocre. Not so with this vehicular combat classic!
Developed by Pitbull Syndicate and published by Infogrames, Demolition Racer: No Exit essentially took a boring PS1 game and turned it on its head, making it one of the best racing games for the Dreamcast. With better graphics, more cars, more tracks, unlockable mini-games, and the very cool No Exit mode – which plays similar to a rather destructive version of Last Man Standing!
It’s all kinds of fun, while also doing a great job of making up for the numerous failings of its predecessor. If you’re looking for something challenging that’s both pretty and certain to keep you pumped and reaching for a win, then look no further than this gas-guzzlin’ gem!
It’s not particularly innovative or daring, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a derby game as good as this!