Sega Dreamcast

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Sega Dreamcast
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It's Thinking!
Developer: Sega
Release Date: NA: September 9, 1999
EU: October 14, 1999
JP: November 27, 1998
AU: November 30, 1999
Predecessor: Sega Saturn
Competitors: Xbox
Nintendo GameCube
PlayStation 2
Generation: Sixth generation


The Sega Dreamcast was Sega's final home console, succeeding the Sega Saturn, and was the first console of the sixth generation of gaming, released in 1998 for Japan and 1999 worldwide and was discontinued in 2001, prior to the release of the Xbox and Nintendo GameCube.

Good Qualities

  1. Many great titles, including Sonic Adventure, Jet Set Radio, Shenmue, Crazy Taxi and The House of the Dead 2.
  2. It was the first home console to include a modem to connect to the Internet for online play out of the box. Some online games even work to this day through homebrew servers.
  3. It was very powerful for the time it was released.
  4. Lots of high quality sports games and arcade ports. Speaking of arcade ports, the Dreamcast was based on the Naomi hardware, and thus many games for the Naomi had arcade perfect ports to the Dreamcast.
  5. It supports native VGA video output, which makes hooking up the Dreamcast to modern televisions easier.
  6. The memory card for the Dreamcast, the VMU, not only allowed gamers to save data, but also had offered gameplay features and even acted as a handheld gaming device itself. During gameplay, it shows mini-images relevant to the game. Some games even use this feature for actual gameplay purposes. This idea would be used further for the Nintendo Wii U.
  7. Four controller ports right away.
  8. Also works as a CD player and online browser, though for browsing you had to use PlanetWeb in America, DreamKey for Europe, and Dream Passport in Japan.
  9. More than 700 games for the system, an impressive feat considering it was on the market for less than 3 years.
  10. There was even a cable that made it compatible with the equally underrated Neo Geo Pocket Color.
  11. The console supported order-independent-transparency, which basically annihilated transparency issues.
  12. It is very durable as seen in WIRED's Console Wars, where it survived a 15ft drop and being drenched in a whole bottle of Mountain Dew.

Bad Qualities

  1. The system was very short lived and a commercial flop, unfortunately being Sega's last console. See here for the reasons why and for bad qualities see here
  2. The controller is big compared to previous Sega controllers, being roughly similar in size to the Xbox Duke controller. It doesn't have a right-side analog stick which was standard on DualShock controllers at the time and the then upcoming Xbox and GameCube controllers. It also has a bottom placed wire, ensuring maximum annoyance.
  3. Games for the system are getting increasingly scarce and therefore hard to find and are really expensive. Most of the time when you find games in game stores, their inventory is mostly sports games and software, but occasionally a mediocre game or a good but expensive.
    • Imported games are a bit cheaper, adding to the issue of the console being region locked.
  4. The method of connecting online is a very dated process that requires you to connect an internet cable to a dial up box and actually get a dial up service to set it up. Although you can get around this by connecting it through a Raspberry Pi, it's a very costly and limited process to say the least.
  5. The battery life on the VMU is very short, Fortunately you can still save your games with a dead battery.
  6. The console had little to no prevention of piracy of games and software, before the model 3 version of the console, anyone with a computer with a DVD drive (with compatible software) and CD-R disks (popular brands commonly used being Verbatim) laying around. As such, pirates can burn any Dreamcast ROM they got from the Internet and play it in their Dreamcasts no matter what region it was from. Couple that with the fact that GD-ROM burners were never sold, and you have one of the most pirated consoles in the world.

Maintenance

  1. The games have warnings about Track 1 actually being game data and to avoid putting in a CD player.
  2. The Dreamcast's AC adapter is non-proprietary, so if you break or lose yours, it'll be easy and cheap to get a replacement.
  3. The VMU's battery drains very quickly, however it can still keep save files with a dead battery.
  4. The Dreamcast has an internal battery for the clock, most of these clocks however, are no longer working. To replace the battery, the controller board has to be lifted out, and the battery stand has to be unsoldered and replaced with a new stand with a new battery. NOTE: The battery MUST be a rechargable cell battery or else it will NOT work and will cause leaking.

Reception

When first released, the Sega Dreamcast was extremely popular and highly successful, with it breaking several records at the time. However its popularity was very short lived, as it was quickly overshadowed by the PlayStation 2. The system was discontinued less than 2 years after its North American release due to bad sales and lack of funds from Sega.

As Retro Gaming became popular, the Dreamcast became a cult classic. It is now considered a great system despite its short life and commercial failure. It is widely considered the best console Sega ever made, and is well remembered for being the final Sega console.

When James Rolfe in his Angry Video Game Nerd persona reviewed Sonic Shuffle for AVGN Wishlist Part 1, he acknowledged that the Sega Dreamcast was a good console to go out on, after many ups and downs from the company.

Ever since the Dreamcast's discontinuation, many Sega fans remained hopeful that Sega would eventually release a new console. Over the years, there have been multiple attempts to convince Sega to return to the console market but all of them have failed, as it unlikely that Sega would have the resources or the money, plus their IPs are all third-party now.

The Dreamcast has built a very dedicated homebrew community that continues to release games to this date.

Trivia

  • As mentioned above, Microsoft helped Sega develop some of the concepts for the Dreamcast including the Internet modem. Some of these concepts would later be used on the Xbox, which created a theory that Xbox was a successor to the Dreamcast.
  • The console's codename was Katana.

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