US Dreamcast - Happy 15th Anniversary
On this day, fifteen years ago in America, a console was released. It was short lived and in many ways, ahead of its time. It remains for many people the last time they were truely impressed by a "next gen" console. The Dreamcast blew everything else completely out of the water and truely offerly a leap in terms of graphics and sound as well as a handful of amazing launch games and out-of-the-box online connectivity.
Packaging for the US console took a mature tone compared to Japan and Europe
In fact, just take a look at the US launch lineup for a second.
Air Force Delta
Flag to Flag
House of the Dead 2
Monaco Grand Prix
Mortal Kombat Gold
NFL Blitz 2000
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
TNN Motorsports Hardcore Heat
Tokyo Xtreme Racer
Wow! Has there ever been a better selection of games to try out a brand new console? Particularly, for Sega fans the launch really did feel like a special time in gaming and some light at the end of the tunnel after the disappointments of the Mega CD, 32X, CD-X, the forgotten Neptune and the much loved-but-inferior Saturn. The brand was seemingly in a state of revitalisation, and it at last felt like Sega had snapped out of its long slump and was back on top. Even the tv adverts, weird as they were, were designeed to make us Sega fans giddy.
I can still remember the fervor around the the British Dreamcast publications, as they waxed lyrical about the record-breaking US launch and that Dreamcast sales had cracked a million units; a figure that had taken the PlayStation nine months to reach. It really did seem that the stage seemed set for a massive mainstream success, but as we know the console took a different path.
"It's thinking" (naff slogan alert)
Yet, while it might not have panned out quite so well from a business standpoint, like any fan who supports a team we did not care about bank balances, or profits, but the fun and unusual experiences that we were given as Sega seemingly threw caution to the wind and went all out in creating a final legacy for the Sega brand. This why today the Dreamcast is remembered with reverence, rather than as just another technological milestone or an example of a successful business model, but a console that was made simply with the sincere notion that a console with the most enjoyable, original and well-designed games would win. Of course, in hindsight, this notion was proved to be somewhat naïve.
Games like Shenmue may have cost a bomb but left us with some fantastic experiences
It left us at its peak, leaving us to moon over the games we’d never get to play and seeing our favourite franchises sold off to the highest bidder like some prize stud, but in adversity a community comes together and it these strong ties that ensures the console remains prevalent, receiving new titles some 12 years after it was “abandoned”.
This evening, if you do anything, try at least to get your system set up and play on of the US launch titles from way back on September 9, 1999 and re-live the awe-inspiring experience that fans enjoyed for the first time. You might just find that sometimes things were better back in the past.