The last console released by Sega, Dreamcast was the company’s final strike in the attempt to regain the position it once had as a console manufacturer. “A strike and a miss” actually, which forced Sega to cease consoles’ production.
Dreamcast’s history is not long. Nevertheless, this console is considered the motivator for some technological leaps in the industry, and had some amazing games (some of them exclusive).
Still today, people are developing homebrew games for Dreamcast (and pretty cool ones), in a kind of “underground-cult-hobby” which shows that the console probably deserved a bigger lifespan, and Sega deserved one more chance!
How I got it
Dreamcast was one of those consoles I “got” indirectly, by convincing one of my younger sisters to ask for it. It was around the year 2000, as I recall, and although Sony had long taken the lead in game consoles, I just was not ready yet to abandon my “love” for the blue hedgehog’s company. So when asked about which console should my sister ask for, I said that she should clearly go with Dreamcast, for Sony had simply “beginner’s luck”, and I was pretty sure Sega would return strong.
The fact is that time (and Sega) proved I was wrong and should have gone with the other option. Thanks mom and dad for giving me yet another baby sister… for not much later there was also a PS2 around the house!
But we’re here to talk about Dreamcast. And the fact is that this gray box still gave me a lot of fun hours, mostly playing Crazy Taxi, Grandia II, Virtua Tennis and (more than any other) Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. And I didn’t even play most of the best games in the console. Fortunately, it is not too late!
Condition and Description
After the fiascos that were the releases of Mega-CD and Sega 32X add-ons to Mega Drive, and watching Sega Saturn lose the 32-bits’ fight against PS1 and Nintendo 64, Sega was invested in creating the next-gen 128-bits’ console.
The development of the last Sega’s console started in 1997, initially rumored as a 64-bit upgrade to Sega Saturn. After testing two different system architectures, and some setbacks in the development, the Dreamcast hit the stores of Japan on the 19th of November, and the other regions on the following year.
A strong marketing campaign, together with the fact that it was the first console of its generation to hit the market, and the release of some excellent titles (some of them already known from the arcades) allowed Sega to build a good sales momentum upon its release.
With the release of Playstation 2 in 2000 came the fall of Dreamcast. Although having more games, being considered easier to develop to and being cheaper, Sega’s console was unable to fight the hype the new Sony’s console created, while Sega was also not financially strong enough to fight Sony. With Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s GameCube on the way, Dreamcast’s production was discontinued in March 2001. Worldwide consoles’ sales: 10.6 millions.
Despite its low Sales and short lifespan, Dreamcast was able to set a legacy: it was the first console to ship with a modem; the dedicated server (SegaNet/Dreamarena) was a precursor to PS2 Network and Xbox Live; ChuChu Rocket was the first online multiplayer game, and Alien Front Online was the first online game to feature in-game voice chat; for the first time, it was also possible to download content for games; Jet Set Radio popularized cel-shadding; Shenmue introduced a game with a vast scope and Seamen was one of the first virtual pet games for a console. For all this, IGN named the Dreamcast the 8th greatest video games’ console of all time (link).
What I found weird when I first read about it on Gamasutra, is the fact that still today new games are being developed (and commercialized unofficially) for Dreamcast in the homebrew community. And pretty cool ones! The fact is that Sega made a commercial decision to abandon console’s production and dedicate to game development on different platforms. But that decision may have come too early: despite selling less than other platforms, Dreamcast was still selling, and had really dedicated fans. Some of them are just not willing to let the Dream die! Check ngdevteam.com and redspotgames.com. If you still love your Dreamcast, you’ll find (surely) something you’ll like!
CPU – 128-bit Hitachi SH-4 RISC processor (200MHz 360 Million Instructions Per Second)
Memory – 26 Megabyte (16MB main / 8MB video / 2 MB sound)
Video – Resolution of 640×480 or 320×240, 16.7 million colors, 3 million polygons per second
Audio – 45MHz Yamaha 32-bit RISC CPU @ 40MIPS, 64 sound channels
Communication – 33.6 or 56 Kbytes/second modem.
Data – Visual Memory System Card with 128 Kilobyte memory. There could be one connected to each controller.
Input – Dreamcast Controller, keyboard, joystick, mouse, steering wheel, light guns, fishing rod, maracas, microphone, etc.