Long before Blu-Ray, 3D and HD, there was the little console released by Sega hoping to succeed where the Sega Saturn had failed. I bring up the iconic Dreamcast for two reasons, 1) it’s my favourite console of all time and 2) yesterday marked the anniversary and release of the Dreamcast. Having being released back on the 9/9/99, Sega had high hopes and massive expectations for the advanced 128-bit system with one of the best launches in terms of an incredible library of quality games.
Let’s not forget the Dreamcast shipped with 4 controller ports and the still, to this day, unique VMU memory card, or Visual Memory Unit which doubled as a portable games system on its own. The VMU allowed you to raise and strengthen your Chao before importing them back into launch title, Sonic Adventure. Coupled with revolutionary for then online play via a 33.6k modem and later a 56k modem, the Dreamcast was light years ahead of everything else at the time.
Launch titles included, Sonic Adventure, The House of the Dead 2, Marvel vs. Capcom, Hydro Thunder and the sublime, Power Stone.
Despite having a massive and extremely impressive range of launch title from RPG’s, fighters, action games and including FPS titles, the Dreamcast struggled to strike a chord with the gaming public. The number one reason would have to be the newly released trailer at the time for Metal Gear Solid 2 which was highly impressive with Solid Snake walking across a rain drenched bridge before slipping into camouflage mode, turning invisible and leaping off the side. This trailer combined with people’s expectations for the Playstation 2 effectively killed any hype that the Dreamcast had generated as the PS2 appeared to promise so much more with its bundled DVD player, a new technology back then.
A look back at some of the games that still put a smile on my face are Sonic Adventure, before bursting out on Xbox Live Arcade and the PSN, Sonic called the Dreamcast home in a blindingly fast adventure across gorgeous scenery intermingled with cameos by other playable characters, each having their own story to tell. Awesome game.
Jet Set Radio – Whisking around town on rollerblades tagging and creating aerosol works in Neo-Tokyo was amazing and still looks amazing to this day. Talks of the this title being ported to the PSN in HD put a smile on my face and check out the soundtrack as well. Great techno beats that always bring back memories of jumping on top of buses and doing crazy grinds on anything humanly possible while spray painting at the same time…what’s not to love?
Grandia II – available on PS2 but so much better on Dreamcast if anything for the nostalgia this game generates but good luck tracking down a copy these days. Massive RPG where Ryudo is tasked with protecting a young girl which inevitably ends up becoming part of a much bigger story in scope and scale.
So many more games to tell, I could go on and on but I’ll finish it up with a game that will always hold a special place for me, Shenmue. This game is one of the reasons I became obsessed with Japan and how could you go past the control system employed in the game, “F.R.E.E.” (Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment). This game is like living life in Japan as you’re encouraged to talk to everyone and look everywhere for clues as you track down the man responsible for the death of your father. Gripping story with unforgettable characters and fascinating locales. The original is only available on the Dreamcast and comes highly recommended, this game is a pure and total gem.
So to the Sega Dreamcast, we here at Japandaman say Happy Anniversary and thank for the memories!