Remembering the Dreamcast

It’s around 20 years since I was in DC-heaven. Pre the cancellation announcement, and I had just started a part time job, so was able to have some disposable income. With the previous console, the Saturn, I had to wait until birthdays or Christmas to get games, but now I was almost self sufficient (lol).

Pre-dreamcast, I recall all of the code names, hearing it would be 128 bit (!), have four controller ports… etc. Our neighbour had an N64 and my best friend was on the Playstation bandwagon, so really we had all bases covered. I was a die hard SEGA nut, even though the Saturn was a bit of a burn really, and I had a chipped PSX by this point. I was hoping it was all going to be different next time… they’d promised a Sonic game after all…

My brother and I were gifted a Dreamcast for Christmas as a joint present. It came with Chu Chu Rocket, Sega Rally 2, and Soul Calibur. Chu Chu online! Mind Blown. Absolutely blown. We played Soul Calibur constantly. I am not sure when I got Sonic Adventure, somehow I remember the Saturn purchase history more clearly, but Sonic Adventure was Mario 64 but faster, bigger, and much nicer looking, with a great soundtrack. The VMU! I think we had one at launch, and my brother had a transparent blue controller. The VMU blew my mind further. I took it to school with me, though I was now 17… and Tamagotchi was a long time ago, but I had my Chao with me.

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The demo disks were amazing. I subscribed to the official magazine and loved trying out something new every month. I remember a few people in school getting the PS2 and loving the DVD player, but I was more about the games. DC should have been DVD, end of. We bought a couple of unofficial controllers to play during sleep overs, and I remember quite a few times in the summer holidays setting up our 3 man tent in the back garden, with a power lead from the shed so we could play Power Stone 4 player all through the night. I bet we annoyed the neighbours with that.

We later got a pair of light guns and House of the Dead (2?). Such great fun.

This was the console for me aged 17 to 20 really, and for my brother 14-17. Some of my best gaming memories are sitting next to him on the sofa, playing so many co-op games. It was brilliant. Proper teamwork in Zombie Revenge, playing against each other in Power Stone, taking turns on Crazy Taxi (we were skating and were big Offspring fans, so it was perfect), playing Tony Hawks, Virtua Tennis as we played a lot of real tennis, this was so brill, NHL games and the 2Ksports games, Dynamite Cop…

The variation and breadth of top-tier titles was like nothing I have played since. The arcade ports were just perfect for pick-up-and-play moments when you got in from school before tea, or only had 30 minutes to play something.

Then… disaster. I remember reading that sales were down and was genuinely shocked that SEGA would be releasing games for SONY and Nintendo systems. I couldn’t believe it. I felt betrayed. Absolutely gutted. I was playing a dead console. On the flip side, the RRP for games absolutely tanked, so my shitty job in Debenhams would now cover 3-4 games per weekend, so I stocked up the library. All those games I demoed, I bought. I bought Sonic Adventure 2 in some kind of special boxset with a coin inside. The system was dying just as I was getting ready to start uni… and my life would be changing anyway.

I had an Xbox and enjoyed it. I basically hated the PS2 and blamed it for killing my beloved DC. But a few years into uni I realised I could get loads of things on eBay and thus pissed away some student loan on building up a collection. Importing shit from Japan, too, such as this Sakura Taisen DC

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I started a SEGA collection blog, which I realised is still online (I’ll post this there, too), when I started my PhD. I bought the BBA and played PSO.. online… and absolutely loved it. I didn’t really know the series beforehand and this was completely new to me. It’s still going now, so one day I will get back into it.

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then I started learning Japanese, moved to Japan, lived there for 4 years, collected a bit more… and the rest is history.

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Weirdly, one of the most played games was the demo of San Francisco Rush 2049. Two-played stunt arena high-score battle with my brother. Absolute hours spend on that.

Emulation was always shit, and I gave up on that scene, but now, I am able to emulated Dreamcast not only on my Mac, but my bloody mobile phone.

I didn’t get into the hacked-DC game until perhaps 2005 or so. I then ended up buying a set of discs of so many games, and in fact, burned a load of my own. By this point, it didn’t matter though, the Dream was over.

What I am now waiting for, is to be able to play the DC library on my Switch… in multiplayer on the TV once again. It’s the perfect console for DC emulation in my eyes, and I know it can be done, but I have the new unit with the improved battery.

Alternatively… release many DC games onto the Switch. I already bought Ikaruga, so let’s have Power Stone!

Unfortunately before I moved to Japan, I sold a lot of my collection to clear my credit card debts and start from zero with my first real job. I don’t regret it, and I had some very interesting pieces. I hope they’re still being used and enjoyed today :)

 

About Martin
http://martinirwinphotography.com

One Response to Remembering the Dreamcast

  1. mpfv says:

    Ask any fan of good old interactive art about Dreamcast, and the tone of the answer will be of purpose: Sega’s last console, Dreamcast was the first modern video game, of these capable of connecting to the network for online matches, and it died slowly and painfully on the shelves. The cause of death: few studios and publishers were interested in working with the platform due to a complicated architecture and an obtuse range of novelties (what the hell to do with a memory card that was also a liquid crystal display ?!). On the consumer side, a machine that was just a video game seemed like a bad deal when you could make your PlayStation 2 a perfectly viable DVD player.

    But the same fan may remind you of something else: Dreamcast was a console ahead of its time. And he would be absolutely right: commercial success, after all, is not always a sign of lasting impact. In the case of the device, its influence has been running underground since 1999 among fans, developers and creatives. Taking advantage of the 20 years since the launch of Dreamcast in the West, we remember some of the great ideas launched by Sega that are still alive today – you just need to look elsewhere.

    Starting with:
    Shenmue (1999) x Yakuza Remaster Collection (2019)

    Shenmue, developed by studio AM2 (Sega’s creative heart) under the baton of designer Yu Suzuki, is perhaps the most curious story of Dreamcast. Much because it was the most expensive game to produce so far, with a projected cost of around 70 million dollars. But it also has the team’s ambition: Shenmue was perhaps the first game to be successful in its mission to put you in someone else’s life, plant your feet on the digital streets and make-believe friendships of the plot. Each character in the game had a different name and different routines, and each day of the game respects the same weather conditions of the same months of 1986 that the plot simulates.

    Phantasy Star Online (2000) x Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (2019)
    Not only is the combat well done, but there were cool things like obstacles that require group effort to overcome. Everyone at the match needed to work together to proceed, “said a preview of Phantasy Star Online written by the IGN website at the turn of the century. Common place for those who rehearsed some video game games in recent years, but at the time, simple elements like these were innovative – even more if your teammates didn’t even share on the same couch as you. When it was launched in 2000 also by Sega, PSO was the first online RPG for consoles.

    Jet Set Radio (2000) x Lethal League Blaze (2018)
    If Genesis, PlayStation and Nintendo 64 each took their first steps towards 3D, many Dreamcast titles have chosen to transform the new dimension into art. This is the case of Jet Set Radio, launched in 2000 and whose visuals were a direct translation of street art into games. All the characters are assembled using stark colors and thick, angular outlines, and the game’s virtual Tokyo was a collage of unlikely architecture and clean walls ready for its next graffiti. Not to mention the soundtrack, which hasn’t aged a second.

    Tetsuya Mizuguchi
    Rez (2001) x Tetris Effect (2018)
    Okay, Tetsuya Mizuguchi is a name, not an idea. But the guy has been developing a concept for years that started with Sega at the time of the Dreamcast, and is among one of the most successful insights of his time: synesthesia. Since Rez, Tetsuya has created digital experiences designed to be an interactive sensory explosion, with music, video and gameplay influencing each other.

    It is an idea that Tetsuya most recently translated with his version of Tetris, called Tetris Effect. In the process, the designer created perhaps the only moment when we can confess that the classic Russian game was a true lysergic trip.

    http://wisegamer.net/

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