DC Memories Part II

This Is My Modem, Which I Givith' Up Too You

September 9th, 2003

Happy Birthday DC! 4 years old and still kickin' ass! In my series of Dreamcast historical documents, I figured it's time to focus on the most innovative aspect of the DC - that wonderful 56k modem. Way back in the fall of 1999, Sega released it's wonderful Dreamcast console in North America. The launch was a massive media and finalcial success. The wealth of high quality titles until Christmas was amazing. So amazing infact that I forgot that I had a nice little 56k modem to utilize at my own will.

Sega fuckin' rules. You see not only did the company ship the DC with a modem, but it also came with a handy web browser so that users could go online with it right away. Now you may say, "So what Kelley, the X-Box came with a BROADBAND ADAPTER? Now that's a total geeks wet dream compared to a 56k modem!". I may reply to you, "Yes my good friend but my X-Box modem has yet to go online for over a year and the only way I'll ever get online with it is if I purchase a friggin' X-Box starter kit and the only thing I can do with it is play games".

The annoying geek will respond, "but I bought a game console. All I wanna do with it is play games online with it not surf the net". And I will respond with a giant boot up a geeks ass with this...

First off never defend Microsoft or any corporate entity. Shit... I paid hundreds of dollars for a console and the modem sits there like a dumn shit until I spend more money to get it operational. You see Sega was smart to pack in a web browser. it allowed us to create a COMMUNITY. From logging on at chat rooms to posting at message boards. From creating fan webpages with the DC itself to downloading save games. Programmer hobyiests created VMU mini games for the memory card and placed them online for download. Sega provided us the software and hardware right from the start to alow this to happen and the DC community became one of the strongest and still continues.

After 3 months of owning the system, I finaly tapped into the online world. Sonic Adventure was the first title too utilize some form of internet abilities. Players battled for world wide time rankings and downloading additions to the game. Also, players could go online to trade their chaos or go chat at Sonic chat-rooms. I tell ya, I was in heaven. The DC was literaly my only source for accessing the internet for 6 months. I checked my e-mail and gaming sites daily. Jibber jabbed at chat-rooms and downloaded saved games. Now isn't that what's a modem for? Christ, a piece of hardware restricted to only playing online games... shit. Thanks Sega for having the curtisy and respect of purchasers as opposed to Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo.

The first online title to appear was Chu Chu Rocket, released 1st quarter 2000. The addictive mouse versus cat action/puzzler became was not only a financial success for Sega, but an artistic achievment for Yuji Naka and Sonic Team. The game was highly addictive as players battled across not only North America, but also against Japanese gamers. Online gaming was a reality and Sega built the road to the future. For Sonic Team, Chu Chu Rocket was not just a game but a test for Sega's network gaming and to prepare themselves for their next project.

In the fall of 2000, Sony had released it's monsterous Playstation 2 in a successful, over-hyped media campaign with fantastic sales. Gamers were not thrilled to say the least and Sega fans laughed at the crap on the Sony launch. It would take the PS2 a good six to nine months until it finaly had any decent titles to purchase. For Sega, this was it's last stand. They Headed straight into the Sony fires with guns ablazing. Armed with a fantastic media campaign which haroled back too the glory Genesis 16-bit days, Sega announced that online gaming was the future.

Three titles were available at first to prove this. The first released was NFL2k1. Visual Concept's criticaly acclaimed North American Football franchise became a massive hit on the DC's launch and the much improved sequel, was online ready. For a second season in a row, Sega had snagged the ball from EA's Madden series and scored a touchdown. Quake III: The Arena was released next allowing the gamer to battle with a controller or mouse/keyboard combo against three other opponents online. Legendary game designer John Cormach supervised the PC to DC port and was very pleased with the console's hardware and online network abilities. Finaly, NBA2K1 hit the court and stole the crown from EA as well.

Sega's online strategy appeared to be working. Gamer communities were born and grew overnight. However, Sony's Propaganda machine would have the last laugh and the DC would slowly feel the heat.

On January 30th, 2001, Sega announced it's plans that it would move from a hardware/software developer into strictly a 3rd party software developer for all available consoles. Fans were shocked about the announcment, some saddened and angered beyond belief they bashed Sega as much as possible. Me personaly, I was crushed by the news. However that very same day, whwhat felt like an apology from Sega was the release of Phantasy Star Online.

Sonic Team's 3nd title would become the most popular DC online title ever. The title lasted well over two and half years online with fans still urging Sega too extend its servers for the game. Who knows if it will last longer, only time will tell. October 1st, 2003 is it's closing date.

PSO's RPG action fueled the online revolution. Sega was right, online gaming was a part of the future and they were the first to do it. The only problem was that they were always ahead of their time and the videogame industry had to play catch up. The online strategy didn't work, Sega's DC would slowly die and rise again like a great phoenix. Hobbists would developer divx movie and mp3 players for the system. Emulation would hit the system as fantastic NES and SMS emulators got people too bust out their DC's once more.

Sega's 56k'er kicked ass. It remains one of the biggest milestones the console has achieved over the years. Now get online and play a few hours of PSO. Trust me, you'll like it.

- Kelley