On September 9th ten years ago, Sega released a console here in North America that despite it's two year lifespan, would forever be cemented in gamers hearts as one of the best videogame consoles ever made. The successor of the Sega Saturn, it went by many code names at first, later to be branded as the Dreamcast. Certainly a name that was mocked at first mention by the enthusiast press at the time, but now has become gospel text in the literature of the gaming world.
It was a bumpy beginning, as the Dreamcast's original release date in Japan eight months before, had gone by with a resounding thud. Japan had held on to it's Sega Saturns with firm love unlike their counterparts in the United States. This ultimately pushed Sega to focus on the North American market.
With months to go, Sega was able to put together a strong line-up of launch games, and a launch date of 9-9-99 that provided people with the first taste of viral marketing. With campaign adds with mytersious and intense names such as Apocalipse or It's Thinking.
Intense indeed, but what really helped cynical gamers get on board was Sega's move to show off the Dreamcast's capabilities by displaying an impressive line-up of launch games in stores nationwide. Who could forget games like Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure, NFL 2K, and Ready2Rumble; all instant classics that gamers had to have a Dreamcast in order to play.
At first it seemed the Dreamcast had beaten all the odds, in it's first two weeks Sega sold 500,000 units in the United States and looked like they could compete with juggernaut that was the Sony PlayStation 2. Yet this storybook would not have a happy ending, as Sega stopped production on the Dreamcast after 2 years on the market, beaten to a pulp by the mighty power of the aforementioned PlayStation 2 and a withering of third-party support from major developers.
But let's not ruin this day with memories of regret and sadness, let's remember what made the Dreamcast so great in the eyes of gamers. It was a console that pushed the realms of what could be done at the time, it was machine not tied down by the fears of taking risks. We wouldn't have the likes of Seaman or that crazy fishing rod controller; that we sometimes joked using for other things besides Sega Bass Fishing.
Of course I would be dumbfounded not to mention SegaNet, a feature to the Dreamcast that introduced on-line play to the console sphere, years before any of Microsoft's attempts with Xbox Live. Quake III Arena was a PC favorite that was now available for console gamers, something that was made even more assessable with the keyboard and mouse accessory that was released at that same time.
Truly the Sega Dreamcast was the first console to usher in the "next generation" of gaming. Graphics by that point where barely at the cusp of where they are now, but with the Dreamcast it gave an impressive starting point for what was to come, and what could be done.
So let us celebrate tonight. Pull out you Dreamcast. Go over to a friend who has one. Or buy one from the numerous retailers online that still sell them brand new. Let us all raise a controller to honor a great friend that is lost, but certainly will never be forgotten. Long live the Sega Dreamcast.
OH! While I still have your attention, check out the Official Sega Blog for more thoughts on the Sega Dreamcast from industry vets and fans alike.
Happy 10th Anniversary, Dreamcast! – [SEGA America Blog]