Sega Dreamcast Tribute ~ 10th Anniversary

13 09 2009

Dreamcast, oh, how I love thee!

On September 9, 1999 (coolest release date ever), the revolutionary Sega Dreamcast was released as Sega’s last hurrah after a series of steady decline in response to a lukewarm or lack thereof reception to the Sega Saturn, 32x, and Sega CD. Despite it’s untimely decline and ultimate fall after only a 3-year run, its presence and contributions are still felt worldwide coming into the next era of console gaming.

This is a brief, yet humble homage to a console that was well before it’s time.


Manufacturer:
Sega Electronics

Launch Price: $199.99

Released Date: September 9, 1999

Format: GD-ROM

CPU: 128-bit Hitachi processor, running at 200 MHz

Memory: 16Mbyte main RAM, 8MB VRAM, 2MB audio RAM

Resolution: 640×480 pixels, with a 16.7 million color palette

Sound: 32-bit Stereo surround

Power: A/C

Connectivity: 56k dialup & broadband modems, cable to Neo Geo Pocket

Accessories: various controllers, memory cards, carry cases, light guns

Miscellaneous: based on the Windows CE operating system

1/31/2001 Sega discontinued production of the Dreamcast

2/16/2006 Sega began selling refurbished Dreamcasts online due to

hardcore collector demand.

Launch Titles (18): Power Stone, Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure, Mortal Kombat Gold, Expendable, Blue Stinger, Trickstyle, Hydro Thunder, Tokyo Xtreme Racer, Flag to Flag, Monaco Grand Prix 2, Pen Pen Trilcelon, TNN Motorsports Hardcore Heat, House of the Dead 2, Air Force Delta, Aerowings, NFL2k, NFL Blitz 2000, and Ready 2 Rumble.

I’ve provided the base facts concerning the Sega Dreamcast in order to outline integral points that later became the driving force, if not laying the bricks to serve as the foundation for the shape of modern gaming as we know it.

After flopping with the Sega Saturn, Sega was on it’s last leg and needed something truly unique and outstanding to stand out against Sony’s PSOne competitor and to undo the bitter aftermath of products gone awry. This is where the Dreamcast comes in at relatively $100 dollars cheaper than the current and future (PS2) competition with a bevy of gaming beauties ready at launch. To date, the Sega Dreamcast is the only system to deliver  a solid launch title lineup with not only decent reviews on more than half of the titles, but notable mentions such as Soul Calibur and Power Stone are still holding it’s ground to this day as one of the best video games released on the Dreamcast. Power Stone alone is still considered an addictively fun game after being released 10 years ago.

First and foremost, I will be so bold as to say that the Dreamcast was a primary frontier in online console gaming. It was the very first console that came with a modem pre-installed so that users could access the internet out of the box. It also supported Broadband via a Broadband adaptor, had a Windows CE operating system and first introduced the concept of MORPG via a console medium. If you are unfamiliar with the term MORPG, it is an acronym for Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game and is not to be mistaken for MMORPG which denotes a PC oriented video game. What wasn’t exciting about connecting through your console to launch and play Phantasy Star Online with a group of your friends and go into dungeons and kill monsters. While I have never played Phantasy Star Online, I have played Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II and I was completely hooked by the loose tethered style of gameplay that I’m sure that the original version would have hooked me in as well. By “loose tethered”, I mean that most video games especially in ones in which the screen is split off for the amount of users in the party tend to have an invisible tether when certain (client) members venture far away from the primary (host) member of the group. This invisible tether usually deters further movement from the other party members unless the primary member moves closer to his or her teammate’s location, allowing more room for movement hence the tether description.

Unfortunately, being the first pioneer in groundbreaking evolution usually reveals flaws inherent to the system that hindsight may not have been able to forsee in the development process. It is these flaws that later competitors (e.g. XBox) would later evaluate, draw, and improve upon to refine and bring online console gaming as we know it. Yeah, did you really think that Xbox Live would be where it is now had it not been for the Dreamcast, so all Xbox Live users should be thankful of Sega.

On top of that, the actual graphical and technical spec could rival the current consoles on the market, if not surpass them in some fields (Playstation 2). Many people were quite amazed that Soul Calibur looked a lot better on the Dreamcast than it did in the arcades.

In 2007, there are 688 official video games released in the Dreamcast library despite discontinuation in 2001. When the announcement to discontinue the line was made, there were roughly 50 to 60 titles still in development that were promised to be published. Free software development kits such as KallistiOS  continue to breath life into the console through homebrew games to date.

So, why would a system well ahead of it’s time not have a 2nd successor in the works? Here’s an outline to factors that cut the Dreamcasts’ lifeline prematurely short:

  • You’ll find that not much has changed when it comes to Sony bullying other companies. By “bully”, I use the word loosely in the very same way a loan shark uses intimidation and whatever tactic possible to get things done. It’s very easy to fall prey to this trap when the media jumps on the bandwagon and praises a Dreamcast accomplishment only to undermine it’s merit by adding that it is preferable to wait for the PS2. 1 step forwards, 10 steps back, it seems. As much as I love my Playstation and Playstation 2, I am not blind enough to not realize the empty promises and ridiculous marketing that Sony has attempted to feed me during all these years. I really wanted a Dreamcast back in the heyday, but my dad opted for a Playstation later down the road.
  • DVD format cut down data on a disc and became the preferred media format of that time. Having released a year earlier, the Dreamcast utilized a GD-ROM – a proprietary disc format developed by Yamaha for Sega – where pits on the disc are packed more closely together resulting in higher storage capacity. Perhaps, it is this reason that the games were graphically beautiful to look at.
  • One of the biggest appeals with the Playstation 2 was the ability to double-up as a dvd player. In this regard, the end consumer can have a decent dvd player and console all for the price of one. Multimedia fits perfectly in a society where being able to juggle and multi-task several things with the touch of a button tends to give a slight edge to whomever can do it the best in it’s respective field. Ironically, dvd usage on the Playstation greatly diminished it’s lifeline as such a system was not a true dedicated dvd player and would work harder with each subsequent dvd usage. Wanna crap out your Playstation 2 fast? Use it to watch DVDs.
  • Built-in hard drives wasn’t the norm in consoles. Not having a hard drive most likely significantly cut the cost of the Dreamcast and helped support the sales of memory card peripherals. Nowadays, built-in hard drive is the norm because it’s primary purpose to alleviate lengthy loading times by freeing up memory. But, there are still systems that have been relatively slow to hoping onto the hard drive scene and haven’t been severely affected by it (see Nintendo). There is very strong driving force that allows individuals to ignore certain “flaws”, which bring me to the next point…
  • Shaky faith to invest in a console after being disappointed causes individuals to not want to re-invest in something that looks awesome even if it means being strung along repeatedly by another manufacturer will fails to deliver on promises.

I own all of the next-generation consoles and can honestly say that I have been disappointed with facets of those consoles, but the media itself is not important to me as it only serves to bridge what is dear to my heart – the video games. Despite having this stance, there is a certain level of reliability that I come to expect in the consoles that I invest in. I have had to replace my Playstation 2 at least 3 times due to not being able to pass the test of time; I currently own 3 functional Playstation 2s. The same goes with the abomination I like to call my Xbox 360. Yes, Microsoft, you are, indeed, a cheap, crafy bastard. My Playstation 3 still doesn’t have much to offer me and is serving as a very expensive paper weight. My Nintendo Wii is a great system with a lot of gimmicks and strong 1st party support, but that’s about it for me.

In discussions concerning video game nostalgia, references about the Dreamcast are still held in high regards with many drifting back to that special memory when they first popped in a title to be completely wowed by hours. Many of us still have fully functional Dreamcast systems that still continue to give back a lot of video game love.

Those meaty Dreamcast controllers also pass the test of time in durability. They are the forefathers in shaping modern console controller peripherals, yet none can stand the test of time nor do they even compare in terms of responsiveness or functionality. Most of the controllers for the consoles on the market break with Playstation at the front of the pack. The controllers don’t have the same feel to the Dreamcast’s analog stick or D-pad, either. I, for one, hate how unreliable and “cheap” the Playstation 3 controllers feel.

Courtesy of ScrewAttack’s Top 10 Dreamcast Games on Gametrailers.com

Now that the background has been mentioned, let’s bring back the focus to why the Dreamcast is so epic. ScrewAttack had an extremely great segment of the Top 10 Dreamcast Games which I’m sure many can agree to it’s validity. With a library of 688 games, I’d imagine it is difficult to condense the greatest to a small, quantifiable amount of 10, so there are plenty of notable video games that didn’t make the cut.

I feel that Soul Calibur really established itself on the Dreamcast. It’s launch games such as this that help solidify a successful release for the console and fan base for the franchise. It’s no wonder that the Dreamcast did extremely well for it’s release. To this day, I always anticipate each next Soul Calibur installation with great excitement.

I never owned a Dreamcast when it would have mattered to me most, but I have always enjoyed the video games as both a spectator and participant. Playing Power Stone until 4 ‘o clock in the morning with 3 other people and not knowing how much time has passed by from all of the fun that was being had is a unifying feeling for any who have played this game.

I grew up during a time heavily influenced by a golden era of Capcom’s splendid fighters. It’s because of this that I’ve come to adore and appreciate fighters in all shapes and forms despite having my ass easily served back to me. If it’s one thing that Capcom does really well (Capcom does many things very well), it’s that they always make damn good fighters…especially the ones on the Dreamcast.

Grandia still has one of the best and definitely entertaining battle systems in a role-playing game. It is also one of many fan favorites on the Dreamcast.

Not too many games stand out with vivid colors or distinctive art styles in the race for the best graphics. While Jet Grind Radio (Jet Set Radio in Japan) isn’t the type of game that you’d use an example to showcase HD quality, it triumphs over many of those game for being bold and unique.

Pirate battles? Need I say any more?

Sonic is a classic in his own right next to other iconic video game characters such as Mario, Samus, and Link. In comparison to them, he is the less prominent of all the ones mentioned and hasn’t had a decent game in his name. Remember the days when Sonic and all those Sonic games were just golden and truly showed Sega’s prowess. The best 3D Sonic game was on the Dreamcast and that’s where it’s going to remain at.

Finally, I’d like to end this belated tribute (Thanks Timewarner for crapping out on me) by sharing a few words with Sega and Dreamcast directly.

s

Sega Dreamcast,

It’s been 10 years since you grazed us with your

definitive presence. While I was never there at the beginning

of your short career to bask in all those unforgettable moments,

I’ve been able to vicariously live through

the enriching memories and experiences of gamers – both my

age and much older – who still remember what the epitome of

gaming was all about. I hope to forge new and wonderful memories with my very own

Dreamcast and empart these experiences to younger generations.

s

You truly are a legend among consoles. You will be continue to live on through us.

Specs and Miscellaneous Notes taken from Gameconsoles

Tribute from fellow blogger Otaku Dan

//

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16 responses

13 09 2009
Sega Dreamcast Tribute ~ 10th Anniversary | Console Gaming

[…] post by One ‘N Only Jem […]

14 09 2009
15 09 2009
Jura

I don’t see how not having a hard drive would matter. Most games never used them much till years later. Also don’t think so much time should be spent on why it didn’t last if this is suppose to be a tribute.

15 09 2009
oneandonlyjem

@Jura: Well, a hard drive wouldn’t matter to some, but it definitely is important to other people who probably would have liked the option to have a hard drive even if it’s not being utilized to it’s fullest extent. It doesn’t matter to me, either. I can see how you interpreted it to be that way. In a sense, I wanted to give some background as well in conjunction to why it’s a great system. Perhaps, “tribute” is not exactly what I was aiming for, but nonetheless, the Dreamcast was… is still a great system.

Thanks for the visit and feedback, Jura.

19 09 2009
xJAYMANx

@Jem-chan: {Blinks} Oops, sorry, I was distracted by Rock Band… So what’s a Dreamcast again? ^_~

19 09 2009
oneandonlyjem

@Jay: It’s one of the best systems of its time. You may return to Rock Band.

21 09 2009
Snark

Heheh, sadly, I never owned a Dreamcast, though I did make frequent trips to a friend’s house just to play with his =P

And I’ve got fond memories of Soul Calibur and Sonic Adventure; its not often that you get such inspired games

22 09 2009
oneandonlyjem

@Snark: At the very least, you have fond memories of the Dreamcast^^

Thank you for the visit and input.

1 10 2009
Cello

The dreamcast is my fav system of all time, burning games using the utopia disc was awesome, power stone, rumble pak, VMU’s….man, just a great system. My jaw actually dropped when the killer whale broke up the wooden dock in sonic the hedgehog as you ran away, great stuff!

BTW I have a banner and would be honored if I have a place in your blogroll, I have an anime/asian movie blog. Thanks for your time & keep up the good work! Heres a banner you can use:

1 10 2009
oneandonlyjem

@Cello: Hello and thank you for both your visit and feedback.

Sure. Blog/banner exchange would be great. My banner is at the very top of the banner roll over at the right side of the site. I’d be glad to exchange with you after I’m done doing errands. Just dropping by for the quick replies.

3 10 2009
gordanham

The only time I ever played dreamcast was at a Target……

6 10 2009
Tequila

Another SEGA fanatic here, I loved the Dreamcast (but my alltime favorite machine is the Saturn) – I can remember getting my machine on launch day, I actually owned 3 Dreamcasts at one point (EU, US and Japanese models) When Sega went out of business my love for gaming sorta died.. when I was a kid, I virtually lived at the arcades. And the Dreamcast would mean straight arcade ports of those awesome Naomi board games right into our homes.

Don’t even start me on PSO – i was so addicted, I now suddenly remember the $400 phonebills… XD

anyway, some of my fav games on DC: Shenmue, Jet Set Radio, PSO, Biohazard:VC, Virtua Tennis, Crazy Taxi, Virtual On, MSR, Sonic Adventure

22 11 2009
oneandonlyjem

Geez, that’s a hefty phone bill. You must have had some sweet gaming experiences.

19 10 2009
kamadoma

I miss my Dreamcast, it died on me with lens problems. My favorite Dreamcast game of all time would probably be the Shenmue series, and Skies of Arcadia.

22 11 2009
oneandonlyjem

It’s ok. The Dreamcast is super cheap, so if you ever decide to pick one up for a fairly good price.

11 01 2010
2009 in perspective and looking ahead towards 2010 « One 'N Only Jem

[…] Sega Dreamcast Tribute ~ 10th Anniversary – Tribute to a revolutionary gaming platform […]

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