Official Dreamcast Magazine (UK) - Issue #0 (September 1999)

Growing up in the UK there were a fair amount of Dreamcast magazines to choose from. I flip-flopped between DC-UK, and DreamcastMagazine for a time, before finally settling on the one that came with the 'official' moniker, and in-turn a lovely GD-Rom full of demos, at least in the early years.

The Official Dreamcast Magazine (ODM) certainly had it's detractors. Its attempt at being more of a "lifestyle" magazine was pretentious and the fashion features were definitely a little misguided, but once this team (and they were a brand new team) got into their swing, I feel it was the most balanced, informative, and entertaining of all of the Dreamcast publications in the UK.

Digging them out recently, and now having the opportunity to play through the demo discs (one of which was Sega Swirl and another Planet Ring) on my newly purchased PAL system, I thought it would be fun to go through each edition (of which there are #22) and relive the hope, and inevitable despair one more time. Here goes.

Issue #0 (September 1999) 

Yeah, they've gone straight for the lad's mags angle with some faux- Asian white chick pouting alongside the text "turn me on!" My 15 year old self was definitely intrigued.

I think my VMU is rumbling, ahem

There was no free GD-ROM as the system hadn't been released yet, so instead it was bundled with a VHS featuring all of the titles coming to the system. Interestingly, it was voiced by the iconic Malcolm Mclaren famous for managing The Sex Pistols and going out with fellow ginger, Vivian Westwood. The video is pretty extensive in it's scope, introducing the unique online functionality as well as giving a general overview of the system it also goes on to show over 10 minutes of gaming footage.It was something I watched over, and over, in the late nineties.

Six Billion Players - if only Soul Calibur, MvC etc. really had of been...

Special Feature:
The inaugural edition of the magazine included a "Welcome to Dreamcast" feature in-which the editor rather cryptically reveals that ODM will be,"a magazine about games, rather than a games magazine."

Anyway, the in-depth overview of the hardware side is very welcomed and he notes that the Dreamcast's Hitachi SH 4 CPU is, "at four times the speed of your average high-spec PC" which means "we can expect frighteningly impressive conversions of our favourite arcade titles such as Sega Rally". Yeah, that conversion was frightening indeed.

There's also a "Talent" article in which pseudo famous people from the Sega world give their view on the upcoming system. Yuji Naka boasts, "I've never seen such a wonderful machine" (one can even smell the Japanese transliteration) , while Jean Francois Ceclillion, the big (nob) cheese of Sega Europe at the time blabs on about how "Football is more than a sport" before infamously blowing Sega Europe's entire advertising budget on several under-performing teams. Cheers mate.

This month, ODM also features a ton of dull fashion articles with people dressed up in race gear, obviously being paid for with advertising while the magazine scurries to link it in with Sega Rally.

Whooo, I love these. In addition to introducing a few more well-known websites from the time, the gadet section always featured some ridiculously overpriced tat that is fun to browse, but you never actually buy. This month's highlight is the,"Seiko Frequency Watch" which basically tells the time and can well, erm measure sound frequency all for a spiffing, £150.

"Isn't it a pain when you're in a club, largin' it away and you need to know exactly how many bpm you are listing to?" is probably the most nineties thing I ever read.

The issue, as you would expect being just before launch it is a bit scattered with preview titles, some being titles that would launch a few weeks away, while some like MSR won't be released for a year or so. The ODM team seem to be looking forward to Power Stone which they dub "as one of the early 'must have' titles", as well as Virtua Fighter which interestingly seems to have received an actual Versus mode since the Japanese release, and TrickStyle which apparently,  "looks very fancy".

Remember the day's when nobody knew how to write Shenmue

The magazine went for the standard mark out of 10 scoring system. This month features most of the UK launch line-up and to be honest, I feel they are pretty on the mark for most of these.

Sonic Adventure 9/10
Sega Rally 8/10
Blue Stinger 7/10
Millennium Soldier Expendable 7/10
Incoming 6/10

Sonic Adventure seemed to do the best with an almost perfect score right off the bat but is let down due to the camera, which I think we can say is far enough. Incoming is the turd of the month being let down by its "repetitive gameplay", again pretty spot-on!

As a kid, I would spend most of my time gorking at the advertising pages at all of the things I could never afford. Special Reserve, a solely mail-order affair, were one of the more interesting  companies as they required you to pay £6.99 to place an order and in exchange you could get anything from a rip-off PlayStation memory card, to a Darth Maul digital watch. This month, they are advertising the Dreamcast system at the RRP of £199, but the software is much cheaper than the retail price at  £33.99, although you have to call for prices for Code Veronica. How quaint.  It's also interesting to note just how cheap the arcade stick was and that buying a second controller didn't require you to sell you car in those days.

The Neo Geo Pocket launched for a staggeringly low price of £59.99 and is described as "this year's must have". Shame it tanked.

A bit of a wayward first issue. Obviously, the magazine was obligated to introduce the specifications and technological side of the system, and the free VHS is decent, but I felt there needed to be more focus on introducing the journalists from the team and creating more of a community feel (like CVG and the Sega Saturn Magazine), than including pictures of fashion models holding a Dreamcast controller. Let's see if things pick up in Issue #01!