Although few outside the video game community noticed, September 9 was the nine-year anniversary of the Sega Dreamcast's launch. I can still remember holding the Official Dreamcast Magazine in my hands with a huge picture of Sonic on the front just waiting for the console to be released. And once it was released, I couldn't have been happier.
But unfortunately, I was (and I'm probably still) in the minority. Back then, Sega was off its game. It was trying to recover from the Saturn debacle and the countless other false starts it had succumb to over the years with products like the Sega CD and arguably, the GameGear.
The Dreamcast seemed different to me, though. Unlike previous Sega consoles, which only copied competing products and failed to truly grasp what gamers wanted, the Great White Beauty sitting under my TV was different. For once, Sega was ahead of its time; the Dreamcast had the best graphics of any console in the space at that point, offered compelling games that people actually wanted to play, and even included support for online gaming.
Of course, it lacked some of the necessities that could have made it more relevant in succeeding years: it didn't offer a DVD player like the Playstation 2 and although it had connectivity options, Ethernet support wasn't built into the console, which put it at a significant disadvantage once Sony, and especially Microsoft, entered that generation's console war.
Worse, the Dreamcast was plagued by poor third-party support and even major titles like Shenmue were met with lackluster excitement. Everyone wanted to play the Playstation 2--it offered better graphics capability, a DVD player, and better third-party support. All the while, the Dreamcast sat on store shelves.
And in the end, the Dreamcast finally died before its time and Sega was forced to retreat from the console space and try its luck in software. It was a sad time for Dreamcast Fanboys, but they got through it. How you ask? By keeping it connected to their HDTVs at all times and telling themselves that no matter what sales figures say, the Dreamcast really did win the last console war.… Read more