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The Dreamcast: A dream come true

When you think of the year 1999 in gaming, there are at least a few topics that come to mind: Pok'emon becoming a worldwide phenomenon, Pizza Hut and Playstation working together for a demo disc deal, and the long awaited launch of the Sega Dreamcast. All three were big parts of my late childhood, but although the Dreamcast had a very short lifespan, I began putting as much time into it as my Playstation and Nintendo 64. Join me won't you, as I call this article....

 

 

Commercials for the Sega Dreamcast began popping up just a little after the summer season, and many consumers were hyped over Sega's shiny new white box, even with the Playstation and Nintendo 64 going strong, and a pretty good start of launch titles to go with it. Obviously I had to beg my parents to help me get the announced Sonic Adventure game after seeing it in both commercials and magazine ads (I mostly saw them in those small Archie comics).

Sonic Adventure really changed the formula and style of Sonic games prior, rather than just being stuck with a concept of making it from point A to point B through a level, other characters had their own tasks of completing a stage. On top of that, there were hub areas that you could explore, and communicate with the new human characters of Station Square and the Mystic Ruins.

 

Sonic Adventure not only had some drastic changes to past titles, but it had a more fleshed out story, also exploring Knuckles' past and connection to the Chaos Emeralds. To add to the depth, the Dreamcast's memory card, the Virtual Memory Unit (which attached to controllers) could also be removed to play certain mini-games with the newly introduced Chao virtual pet on its LCD screen.

The Virtual Memory Unit (I'll just call it VMU from now on) was also a neat accessory for the Dreamcast as well. While playing certain games you may also get some information that pops up on it, it seemed like it was ahead of its time. Games like Power Stone also had some mini-games for the VMU that you could unlock, and speaking of which....

Sega had promised some ports of a handful of arcade titles, and Power Stone was one of them. This is a fighting game in which you run around a full 3D environment slugging foes with either your own attacks, or grabbing an object from the arena to use on them. Three colored "power stones" appear in the arena and by collecting all of them your character transforms into a superhero to perform stronger attacks and having an advantage. Definitely one of the higher points of the Dreamcast library.

 

As the library of Dreamcast games was slowly growing, I had to remain focused on my school work if I wanted more games out of the system as it wasn't just about my allowance. I was still starting out in middle school and some subjects were getting harder. A few more games I was able to achieve were Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, Marvel vs. Capcom, Slave Zero and Crazy Taxi.

My older brother mostly had the idea of getting Crazy Taxi as he loved the immersive experience of driving around at blinding quick speeds and causing destruction as he made his way of picking up fares and taking them to their destination.

Product placement was abound in Crazy Taxi adding to the fun of driving around the areas, but unfortunately with later releases of the game they had to be removed.

 

As the millennium rolled around, news of the Playstation 2 and its graphical specs were shown at the Electronic Gaming Expo and in gaming magazines and consumers were starting to draw their interest after hearing about the system having DVD support. Sega on the other hand, continued releasing titles as what third party support they had were also releasing games, and with its online service they had an ace up their sleeve.

Phantasy Star Online was a continuation of the Phantasy Star universe and allowed players to fight alongside other players in co-op, along with typing messages through an in-game keyboard. If you didn't want to play online though, an optional offline campaign was playable.

 

As 2001 approached, consumers were beginning to demand Sega re-release the Dreamcast with DVD player support, and unfortunately led to the system slowly heading to its grave. Even with system owners cherishing the system, it wasn't enough. One last option Sega had was bringing a sandbox game overseas, one to attempt to change the gaming industry, Shenmue.

3D sandbox games were still in their infancy during the 1990s generation, but Shenmue was showing promise in the areas of story, gameplay and environment. As far as Dreamcast titles went, it was highly underrated on the system as you saw the story unfold.

With over three discs spanning its story, Shenmue allowed you to roam many areas not just being a hometown. And if you wanted to tread slowly through the game you could also spend some time with activities like playing familiar Sega games in an arcade or collecting toy capsules.

 

Before the Dreamcast made its last breath, one last Sonic Adventure game was released, this time removing the explorable hubs in favor of more story and playing as both "hero" and "dark" stories as the different characters from their own roles, and introducing the soon to be popular Sonic character, Shadow.

Sonic Adventure 2 was regarded by many Sonic fans as the best Sonic game ever, but I honestly put that title to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 before all these new characters were introduced. Sonic Adventure 2 had better 3D character models, but removing the hubs kinda hurt the experience for me.

 

In memory, many gamers respect the Dreamcast as a relic of the generation because of how short it lasted on the market with its many memorable and unique titles behind it, and plenty of console exclusives to make it stand out. Even today it can spark a lengthy discussion with the impact it left on late 1990s era gaming, and that's saying a lot. What are your memories of the Sega Dreamcast? Leave a comment and as always, see you next article!

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Benjanime Posted on Aug 05, 2020 at 05:23 AM

@Julie

there was just something so special about the impact of the dreamcast that made me wish it would have lasted longer on the market, despite what people wanted out of the system. having an interactive memory card alone was just awesome ^^ i'm glad you enjoyed reading it :)

Julie Posted on Aug 05, 2020 at 12:28 AM

My, what a wonderfully well-written article! ❤ What an above-average vocabulary! ❤ Written by an amazing boy gifted with a high intelligence and an angelic heart of gold. ❤

The Sega Dreamcast is really missed for that unique video quality: sharp, crispy clear video on the screen, with its powerful and genuine 60 frames per second, not sacrificing the actual screen resolution like Sony PlayStation 2 does. A pleasure to look and listen to.

The nostalgic games I had were few but of the highest quality: Sonic Adventure (the first one), a major milestone in the franchise. My favorite polygonal Sonic to date in all aspects. And for me at least, it's the symbol of the Dreamcast.
Seaman was a pleasant experience for me, contrary to what many report about this game. Always treating Seaman in a courteous and polite manner you gain a smart and pleasant companion to be with. And the Seaman babies were very cute, increasing my love for this game.
Shenmue was an ambitious project for the Dreamcast hardware capabilities, but this game was pretty well executed in view of these limitations. Memorable and exciting; walking around the cities was very pleasant.
So many great classics including all those perfect arcade conversions, and in some cases superior to the original versions, with Soul Calibur being a good example.

Mr Magic Posted on Aug 04, 2020 at 05:57 PM

Oh, man. Power Stone! What an experience that was! :)

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