I haven't written a word about the Sega Dreamcast in ages yet it's still a very big part of my gaming life. Yes, I still play Shenmue I & II. Yes, I still play Soul Calibur and Power Stone. Yes, I still play the Sonic Adventure games. Hell, I still go online and frag like the best of them in Quake III. It's part nostalgia, part obbssession, part Sega coolness why the DC still rock and rolls today. We'll lets start off by looking at the launch, which I've discused many times before but what the hell...
November 27th, 1998 saw the Japanese launch of the console with great sucess. The word hit the west with exciment and we were pumped. The console's specs rivaled arcade hardware, it was amazing! Summer 1999 was filled with anticipation. Images and videos for the DC hit the internet with fury. Virtual Fighter 3! Sonic Adventure! Sega Rally 2! Developers were in awe of the system's abilities. Gamers were excited because Sega was back with a vengence.
At the end of July our local Toy's R Us setup a Sega Dreamcast kiosk. Within it's confines played the Sonic Adventure demo. I remember walking in to slap down a $50 pre-order for the console when I saw the kiosk standing there. Holy crap! My first chance to play the system and the game of the future. It was pure nirvana. Let's be honest here... I'm a game geek. I'm a Sega geek. I'm a Sonic geek. That all melded into one special moment when I first played Sonic Adventure, the first "real" Sonic game since Sonic & Knuckles hit the Sega Genesis way back in October 1994. This was the first big Sonic game in 5 years. It was worth the wait.
By mid-August, Imagine Media released their first issue of The Official Sega Dreamcast Magazine. Edited and written by the folks at Next-Generation Magazine, the publication paved the future style of official magazines from Nintendo Power to The Official Sony Playstation Magazine. I was hooked from the start with the first issue. Printed in a professional large format, the content featured a survival guide for the DC launch, hardware breakdowns and a couple of fantastic reviews for Sonic Adventure and House of The Dead 2.
As the countdown ticked from weeks into days, I was getting more and more excited. I purchased a Sonic The Hedgehog piggy-bank in the summer and slowly filled it with townies, loonies and quarters. It payed for a huge part of the launch day expenseses.
September 9th, 1999 the North American launch date had arrived. I got up bright and early and arrived just in time for the doors of Toys 'R Us to open. A couple of dozen Sega fans had arrived as well and we discussed the console and games. If you were around the launch or read about it, I'm sure you heard about shortages. The store had a limited number of consoles and games. I was lucky to pre-order or I wouldn't have had my console that day. The only games they got in were NFL2K, Hydro-Thunder and Mortal Kombat Gold. They didn't even get any VMU's in. So with new console in hand off to Superstore I went.
Luckily my trip wasn't wasted, inside a VMU was available for purchase as well was Sonic Adventure. Off home I flew with a quick stop at a gas station to fill the car. Funny, it always seems like something like that always gets in the way... Argh!
Arriving at home, I quickly hooked up the console and threw in Sonic Adventure. I was lost in Sonic's new world for days... I didn't even play the "Generator" demo disc that came with my console nor tried out my internet connection. It was just me and the blue-blur.
The best way to understand how big the DC was at the time is to visualize the most explosive graphics at the time were the blurry visuals of Super Mario 64 and Final Fantasy VII. There was no online gameplaying. So when the DC arrived and brought home visuals that blew away anything in the arcade you knew it was big. This wasn't 20 to 30fps gameplay, this was 60fps. This was high resultion graphics and fast gameplay. Yeah, we were a few months off from our first worldwide online game Chu Chu Rocket but we did get a web browser. This web browser took us to Sega chat rooms and sites with tools to start building our own fan sites. That was community building, just as important as online gaming.
I didn't go online with my DC until months after the launch. I was plenty busy with with Sonic Adventure, Soul Calibur, Power Stone and House of The Dead 2 to even bother with the internet capabilities. When I finaly did tap into the net, it was so cool. I didn't just buy a video game machine, it was a communication tool. I'd go into chat rooms and talk with other Sega fans about future games. I'd also download game saves or exchange Chao's with others. Yeah, the Sega Dreamcast was a blast. It kept getting better and better as each season passed, as each milestone was reached. Shenmue, Alien Front Online, Quake III, Sonic Adventure 2, Phantasy Star Online, Jet Set Radio, Seaman... I could keep going and going.
Today, the system is still kickin'. Homebrew is stronger than ever. Emulator development continues forward and once and awhile a real honest to goodness new game is sold in Japan, ready for import.
So yo, happy B-Day DC! Here's to another six years!
- For the latest opinions and news in the DC community, head over to Lordnikon's kick ass site onlineconsoles.com
- The emulation scene continues forward with DC Emulation
- The original DC media site. You got a DC and wanna download a few cool files, head over to PlanetWeb Dreamcast
- Tools for your DC. Build a webpage with your DC or upload a VMU file to the net. Have fun! PlanetWeb Tools
Additional DC links and goodies are located in the Cool Stuff page of this site.