It’s Thinking: 9/9/99
The Sega Dreamcast may be the best console you’ve never played.
And most gamers didn’t play it at the time because they were waiting for something better to come along (Playstation 2) and also because nobody liked Sega.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. Sega had fans, but it’s image amongst consumers and those in the industry had left many people with a sour taste in their mouths thanks to failed, public experiments, codenamed “32 X”, “CD” and “Saturn”.
Something like that.
It’s a shame, really. The Sega Dreamcast could’ve, and should’ve, been the answer to turn Sega’s fortunes around.
Fresh off the heels of failed commercial and financial console efforts of the Saturn, Sega decided to start from scratch and develop a console that would change the future of gaming.
Unfortunately, they were too late. Gamers weren’t happy with Sega. They’d already paid too much for a Saturn that was obsolete at launch. Plus, the Frankenstein peripherals that tried to keep the Genesis alive were seemingly junk and still fresh in people’s minds. (re: Sega CD/32X)
No sir, this new console was going to be the future of Sega, and launch the company back into the forefront of consumers and gamers alike. And while the Dreamcast did make some strides when it was unveiled in North America on September 9th, 1999, the momentum didn’t carry through like Sega had hoped.
But I don’t want to talk about the history of the Dreamcast and why it failed. I want to emphasize what a GREAT console this was and show you all it’s Dreamcasty goodness!
My first experience with the Dreamcast came shortly after it’s launch. It was November of ‘99. Myself and a teammate of mine had gotten together following a hockey game and he had asked me if I had ever played it. I’m pretty sure my reaction was something along the lines of,
“What’s a Dreamcast?”
So much for marketing.
While Sega did have some pretty unique marketing and television ads, I still hadn’t been exposed to much about the console. I had a few gaming magazines here and there but in 1999, I was 17 years old and to be honest, my prime gaming days were behind me. I was more into trying to embark on a fruitful junior hockey career, enjoying time with my first serious girlfriend and generally trying to be the coolest mutha around.
But I digress.
When my friend turned on the console, the first thing that stuck out was the startup screen. It resonated with me, it’s charm not lost on me even years after that initial experience. It was the first time I remember being excited about something so simple and such a small feature.
We immediately started playing NFL 2K and I had to pull my jaw up off the floor. This was better than my Playstation. Heck, it was even better than my Nintendo 64! I didn’t want to admit that, but it was true! The graphics, sound, gameplay… it was all so… solid!
It was hard for me to accept. How could this console, that I had never really heard of before, be better than the PS1 and N64 I had enjoyed so much?
I was hooked.
We stayed up for hours that night going through a handful of games; NFL 2K, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, and Soul Caliber…and we would go back and forth taking turns. I was in awe of this incredible machine and I thought it was an amazing console.
That would be the last time I’d play a Sega Dreamcast for about thirteen years.
My friend sold it shortly after that. All of his buddies (myself included) were saving up to snag Sony’s latest console contribution, the Playstation 2. I continued along my path of supporting Sony, even though my passion for gaming was falling by the wayside in favor of a more active social life and, eventually, college.
That first experience was so intriguing, but due to a lack of interest from the rest of my gaming comrades, I never went back. I followed the crowd and let the Dreamcast pass me by. It wasn’t until two years ago that I finally came around and rediscovered the console for my very own.
Since returning to my retro gaming roots a few years back, I have seen numerous followers and tweeps alike praise the Dreamcast for it’s fantastic library of games and innovative gameplay.
I decided I needed to discover that for myself and see if 17-year-old Wally was right with his initial impression of Sega’s final home console release.
Follow along with me as I dive into the Dreamcast’s library, experiencing the console’s greatest hits and misses and getting a first-hand exposure to what is arguably Sega’s most beloved (but failed) contribution to the video game industry. We’ll explore games, developers, marketing campaigns…everything and anything that made up it’s short but incredible life span.
Experience the Dreamcast for yourself. You may soon discover it’s the greatest console you’ve never played.