kinda late to say this but the Dreamcast is amazing. bought one two months ago and i will always cherish it. sigh... sonic adventure rules...
Sega's last attempt at a successful console platform was a valiant one. For many, the Dreamcast--which launched September 9, 1999--righted many of the things that Sega's previous console, the Saturn, did wrong. In fact, in many ways, the Dreamcast was the antithesis of the Sega Saturn. Instead of being a complex, multi-CPU system, the Dreamcast had a single, zippy CPU, a built-in 56K modem, and a powerful graphics processor that could produce some dazzling effects and detailed visuals in both 2D and 3D--whereas the Saturn mainly excelled in the 2D department. Therefore, it was clear from the start that the entire machine was designed to make development as easy as possible, as further evidenced by the inclusion of Windows CE as a development platform.
Equally important for Sega was retailer support. Many stores felt burned by the knee-jerk-reaction launch of the Sega Saturn (to get the system out before the PlayStation), which gave them little time to adequately prepare for its arrival. Of course, the early launch also didn't do the Saturn or retailers any favors in terms of the system's launch lineup, because only a few games were available. But the Dreamcast was a different story. Sega spent almost an entire year ensuring that retailers had adequate time to prepare for and promote the Dreamcast, which led to some impressive preorder numbers. Additionally, the Dreamcast launch lineup was diverse, ranging from arcade and sports games like Hydro Thunder and NFL 2K, to fighting games like SoulCalibur, Power Stone, and Mortal Kombat Gold. Truly, there was something for everyone, including all of the Sonic the Hedgehog fans who finally got a proper 3D follow-up to the popular series with the original Sonic Adventure.
Ultimately, the Dreamcast ended up being a remarkably well-rounded console that tried to bridge the gap between the classic 2D graphics of older consoles and the 3D graphics of modern games, and it arguably succeeded. Some Dreamcast fans remember the console as the last great bastion of 2D fighting games such as Street Fighter III, Street Fighter Alpha, The King of Fighters, and the Marvel vs. Capcom games. Others remember it as the sports fan's console--the birthplace of what would become the outstanding 2K Sports series, particularly the early installments of the NBA 2K and NFL 2K series, the latter of which was killed off after the NFL signed a licensing exclusivity agreement with EA Sports in 2004. Other fans remember it as a great racing-game console, home to both excellent simulations and arcade racers, including Test Drive Le Mans, F355 Challenge, Sega Rally Championship 2, and, of course, Crazy Taxi. Then there are fans who recall the Dreamcast as a very quirky, "very Japanese" console with a varied game library that included such oddities as Seaman, ChuChu Rocket!, and the love-it-or-hate-it adventure odyssey Shenmue--it was definitely a great choice for fans of quirky imported Japanese hardware and software, given its unusual Virtual Memory Unit (VMU) memory card and cross-functionality with SNK's NeoGeo Pocket handheld. And still others look back on it for being the first modern console to explore online multiplayer gaming with such experiments as Quake III Arena and Phantasy Star Online--trailblazing hardware that arguably set the stage for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.
And now, we look back on the console and its tumultuous history--its many triumphs and its frustrating shortcomings. Browse the timeline of the Dreamcast, and then get our editors' take on the hardware and their experiences yelling at Seaman, exploring online in Phantasy Star Online, and looking for where Chinese sailors hang out in Shenmue.
The Life and Death of the Dreamcast
Take a look at the highs and lows as originally reported by GameSpot as they happened.
Before the official Dreamcast announcement, the first real details of Sega's follow-up to the Saturn surrounded a project named Black Belt, which was designed to use a 3dfx-powered graphics chip.
February 3, 1998: Could It Be Katana?
A new code name surfaced for Sega's next system, indicating that the Black Belt project had been dropped in favor of something different.
April 22, 1998: Katana Strategy Still on Back Burner
Newly appointed Sega of America president Bernie Stolar confirms Katana and goes into detail on how Sega can win back its market share with a new system.
May 19, 1998: Katana to Become Dream Cast?
Reporters spot the first official mention of Sega's new system days before the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
May 21, 1998: Dreamcast Is Here…Almost
The Dreamcast is officially announced in Japan. Sega reveals that the system will use Power-VR hardware and will come packed in with a 33.6K modem in that country.
May 21, 1998: Sega of America "Goes Big"
Shortly following Sega of Japan's reveal, Sega of America officially announces the Dreamcast for North America.
May 22, 1998: Dreaming of Dreamcast
GameSpot readers of 1998 share their thoughts about everything from the logo and the name of the system to its technical specs.
June 1, 1998: Sega Unveils Dreamcast to US
The first footage of Dreamcast projects is shown to press in the US, including an early glimpse at an impressive shooter named Geist Force.
July 13, 1998: Sega's First Dreamcast Title Revealed
July 15, 1998: Stolar Talks Dreamcast
GameSpot's interview with then Sega of America president Bernie Stolar goes in-depth about Sega's strategy with the Dreamcast and how the company plans to get support from developers.
July 16, 1998: Sonic Onboard Dreamcast
After years without a proper Sonic game, Sega finally announces Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast with a tease of Sonic's eyeballs and the promise of a big event.
September 17, 1998: How Naomi Got Its Groove On
Sega reveals the arcade incarnation of the Dreamcast hardware, which makes arcade games cheaper for operators and Naomi-to-Dreamcast ports much easier.
October 8, 1998: BioHazard and More on Dreamcast
November 2, 1998: Trouble in Castlevania?
The rumored Dreamcast Castlevania game already hits some serious barriers, and insiders dub it "Cancelvania."
November 13, 1998: PlayStation 2 to Reach 128 bits?
Even the earliest rumors of the PlayStation 2 hardware draw dark clouds over the impending Dreamcast launch in Japan.
November 20, 1998: Project Berkley Becomes Reality
Yu Suzuki gives an early glimpse of what eventually becomes one of the most divisive Dreamcast games, Shenmue.
November 25, 1998: Vivarium Does DC Voice Recognition
Yoot Saito and his team unveil Seaman for the Dreamcast, a game that lets you talk to a man-frog-thing via a microphone that attaches to the controller. The North American release would feature the voice talents of Leonard Nemoy.
November 30, 1998: Sega's Big Opening
The Dreamcast launches in Japan and sells out at retail much to Sega's delight.
February 1, 1999: Dreamcastville: Population 4 Million
Some early chest-thumping by Sega shows that the company expects to sell plenty of units by March 2000.
February 24, 1999: Sega's DC Football Game
Visual Concepts reveals its first Dreamcast football game, which would later jump-start the 2K series of sports games.
What were your memories of the Sega Dreamcast hardware and game lineup? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts.
an excellent game console that really didn't get its due. So sad. But it will live on as the favorite underdog forever.
and btw the Saturn was a better console with better support and original games, sega made a huge mistake making an allegiance with Microsoft and taking the Dual SH4 set up down to a single SH4 to please whiny microsoft and game devs when their best developers had already mastered Saturn's dual SH2, most important of all is that the console was release too early by dropping support on Saturn and angering sega fans who went to other consoles because of this. It also does not take a genious to figure out that putting in the modem actually hurt the console and shifted focus on real single player games to empty hollow shell multiplayer games, had Sega not wasted money so carelessly they would not have had the console die the way it did, but microsoft played a hand in it its just so funny that very few people actually realize this.
@DCUltrapro a sega fanboy who never owned a saturn during its lifecycle... now you know why the dreamcast died
Greatest console of ALL TIME in my humble opinion, coming from a Sega fanboy through and through who also owns a PS1, PS2, Atari Consoles, Nintendo Wii, Gamecube and Xbox/360. DC was the best, most fun, most entertaining console of all time and was way ahead of the curve in its day. God I miss you DC!!!
They're actually considering adding Dreamcast games to PSN. I think it was in the monthly rumor section of Game Informer...
@wario96 I've been saying that since the Wii launched. We've already got HotD2&3. Why not Power Stone 2, Sonic Adventure Battle 2, Shenmue (the Wii-mote might be good for it), Street Fighter Alpha 3, etc...? I still own and enjoy my Dreamcast. It's STILL awesome, regardless of current gen tech. Technologically, we're hitting a glass ceiling (cost wise) where development costs are ridiculous! Instead of creating another "gimmick" game for the Wii, why not re-release some of the Dreamcasts' old Classics? I'd snag'em!
you know what they should do, add dreamcast games to the wii VC and make the dreamcast master collection (including sonic adventure i love that game)
Very good article. I love these well-made "History Of..." articles of things worthy to remember. I never had a DC. I've always been more of a PC player.
robertwarnes91. It was released in North America on 9/9/99 not just in one country, and many American sites are celebrating that date. Perhaps other markets celebrated their launch date, it does not matter as it doesn't pertain to it's North American launch.
So..... why is every site chosen to celebrate the Dreamcast's 10th birthday on the date of the tenth anniversary of the system's release in ONE country a year after the original Japanese launch? It would have been more logical to mark the 10th birthday on the 30th of November 2008 ten years after its original release in Japan?
Dreamcast was an amazing system for its time and had many superb games availabl for it. Even though it did not have the graphic ability of the PS2 (see Sega Rally, headhunter etc) it still managed to pull off brilliant experiences that will always be remembered by all who played through them. I still have mine and play jojos bizarre advetnture to this day. Where else can a dog pull of a raging demon??
still have my dreamcast. always will have my dreamcast. why you may ask? shenmue. if you didn't ask why i apologize.
loved the genesis and dreamcast but come on people, sega put out another console? In this day and age where Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft rule the market; that would be [another] unwise move by sega. They can't even manage to put out a decent game nowadays. Shenmue II wasn't nearly as good as the original.
I feel like I'm having amnesia. This whole situation kinda reminds me of Nintendo, and especially the Wii...
The Dreamcast is seriously one of my favorite systems. I'm a big fan of Sega and it's a really big shame that this console got so little spotlight and became obsolete way too fast. It was unquestionably WAY ahead of its time. Online gameplay, VMUs, one of the first to use discs, the list goes on. I was 8 years old when my parents bought me my dreamcast and I instantly loved it. I think I was too young to appreciate the online capabilities it had to offer, but I was enthralled with the quality of the games they produced. I have a great collection of DC games that I really enjoy and still play with my little brother on ocassion. Even the "Generator" demo disc that came with the system provided countless hours of entertainment for me. I'm just waiting for the day that Sega realizes they need to make another console. Their fanbase is large and solid, and I think they would do very well to go back into the console business. I know I and probably everyone on this page would buy one. I want that special Sega feeling back in me. I want to remember what it feels like to really, REALLY enjoy playing a game, like I used to. Until then I'll stick to Nintendo.
@ cube-gage: I completely agree with you about the DC and I don't know why but I always felt that warm fuzzy feeling every time I turned on my DC and I still can't explain what it is, I think it's the same feeling I got when I used to turn on my NES and SNES to play the Mario and Zelda games, you can feel there is something special about them...
Man...I still remember the day when I first bought it. This little console sure burned some nice memories in me. After reading this topic, I am really considering playing Shenmue again.
The good ol' days, when Xbox Live didn't rule the tv... and I could sit down and play some Soul Calibur, House of the Dead, Spawn, Pen Pen TriIcelon, 'n Jet Set Radio with my bro and sis :) ... hell, we still go back 'n play Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Power Stone 2 from time to time!!!
Had the DC been around longer it would of seriously ruled the online gaming market. PS2 never had much of an online experience, Gamecube pff all they did online is port PSO. Ive always had my suspicions that MS somehow helped in the demise of the DC just so they could enter the market with the XBOX. Theres something about the DC that gives you a certain feeling. I dont know what it is but when you play one or turn one on theres just this warm feeling. You just dont get that with the PS3 360 or Wii IMO. Yeah the controllers sucked, but in time Sega would of improved them just like Sega would of included broadband adapters and DVD capability. And who knows, they might of released more advanced VMU that would act as MP3/MP4 players. Oh the possibilities were so great.
Poor old Dreamcast. I wanted it to do well so badly. I think with it some of the "old" gaming spirit died as well. Wonderful console. Misunderstood (or at least under appreciated) like so many of Sega's consoles before.
I play more Dreamcast than PlayStation 2, XBOX, and GameCube. .. Of the four past generation consoles, all of which I own, for me, the Dreamcast still lives as long as I still live.
Felt sort of sad reading this ;( I get the feeling that sega might make a come back and probably woope ass becuse there's o many people who wish for it to come back. Better watch out playstation and Microsoft :P Btw my fav sega game was Crazy Taxi !!!! Sigh...
aint it funny how 10 years ago the dreamcast did what consoles are just now doing 10 years later? people tend to see past the features of something and look at looks..even though the DC was equal to PS2 in graphics..if sega ever released another console theyd be better off not innovating something because no one would want that in their consoles for another decade.. :/
If I knew that the Dreamcast would have lasted so little I would have still brought the system. It was the best fun I ever had... Its funny that when I brought it, next week it dropped the price lol, I was enfuriated :P The best fun I had was Jet Set Radio and Grandia 2. Shenmue and Shenmue 2 was an incredible experience as well. Thank you microsoft for killing this two Sega franchises... sigh.
I just brought one for $30. let my son play nba showtime & ready 2 rumble2. He had a blast. I really had high hopes for the dreamcast. Being that i prefer the sega master sys. over the first nintendo.I love the Genesis. The Saturn was a BIG mistake!!!!!
Soul Calibur was the most impressive. 10/10 without a doubt. Shenmue was also impressive for its' time. The Dreamcast also had some Arcade fun games too like Crazy Taxi, House of the Dead 2 & Virtua Tennis etc.. Good to see the Dreamcast being remembered by users.
I loved my Dreamcast man! Remember house of the dead 2? Dual wielding light guns baby! Skies of Arcadia was amazing. And I easily spent a few hundred hours on PSO. Can't forget Shenmue or Soul Calibur either. I remember feeding a chaos from Sonic Adventure on my VMU. 2k football! Such a classic system man.
I never actually ever owned a dreamcast but reading this feature brought a tear to my eye. I remember being round my friends place all the time playing Soul Caliber, DOA, Virtua Tennis and Shemue all the time. Some of the best times of my gaming life and just shows you how innovative and ahead of its the time the DC really was. You look at Xbox line and PSN you see how many features they have adopted from Seganet. P.S. The only reason I never owned a DC is because I was just a kid who convinced his parents to buy a PS and would never shell out for a another console:(
I loved the dreamcast but No one would give it a chance and PS2 was no way better than the DC. The DC was a monster for its time and if it stayed in the game it would have made PS2 games look like NES games. I still have the DC. I might buy a new one. I was told that Sega was going to put them back into play. If thats true, I'm going to get a new one.
the 1st console i owned was a micro genius,coming with nintendo and sega genesis,and we was poor back then and saturn and dreamcast was what i only see and cant play,i owned a sega genesis and i loved it,and hopefully sega is gonna make a comeback
For some reason, it was a very endearing system. I bought a second one when my 1st died, and this was well after it's commercial demise. It was fun and powerful, compact (except for maybe the controllers), and even the VU units were novel. Plus, some classic games are always in fashion.
This had the most loved games like Sonic adventure 2, Crazy Taxi and Power Stone. Man I love the dreamcast =)
I remember seeing Crazy Taxi on the Dreamcast for the first time. Best graphics I had ever seen up to that point. I think...