Random Video Game History: the Dreamcast

Talk about any games outside of DKC's scope.

Random Video Game History: the Dreamcast

Postby Jomingo » April 3rd, 2008, 8:08 am

OK, this may seem kinda random, hence the title, but I've decided to start a topic about one of the most interesting chapters in the History of Video Games, The Rise and Fall of the Sega Dreamcast. I originally had this idea for a possible feature article on the site, but Qyzbud and I have decided to keep the site more about DK, and just make this into a topic instead. I will list everything I know about the topic, while making it into an exciting read. Please correct me if there are any mistakes, and feel free to add anything else you feel is important, as well as discuss what I have written.


The Sega Dreamcast was a system that was ahead of it's time, rising out of the mist of a great failure of a system. It pioneered in online gaming, leading the way for the Xbox, and later the Playstation 2. Before I can tell you about the Dreamcast, I have to explain what lead to the Dreamcast's creation, The Sega Saturn.

Sega had been struggling to compete with Nintendo since it's introduction to the gaming market with the Sega Master System. Soon to come out was the Sony Playstation, which had high expectations set for it. There was also the announced Nintendo Ultra 64 (which would later drop the word "ultra" from it's title). Sega had just come off of several major hardware flops, the Sega CD and 32X, so they were out to fix this situation and get back on top. The Sega Saturn was released in 1995. To make a long story short, it flopped. It was a technically superior system, but it was extremely hard to work with. It's internal arrangement made it difficult to untap it's potential. That, and the $400 price tag, (compared to the Playstation's retail price of only $299) got the system off to a bad start. Sega started making plans for their next system only two years after they released the Saturn. This would later become known as the Sega Dreamcast.

The Sega Saturn was discontinued in late 1998. This early discontinuation angered many third party developer's, many of whom had to cancel games they had planned for the Saturn. The Sega Dreamcast was released in November of '98 in Japan, and elsewhere in late 1999. The Dreamcast was the first system to have built in internet capabilites, and the only major system ever to feature online gaming over Dial-up. The Dreamcast sold well, very well! It broke pre-order records, and Sega coundn't fill all the advance orders. They made close to $100 Million dollars on combined hardware and software sales during the Dreamcast's launch.

The Dreamcast sold great in it's first year. Though they didn't have any of EA's sport titles (due to the EA's losses over the Saturn), they did fine with there Sega Sport's titles. Though they were doing good, the competition was looming on them, and soon they would have to deal with the release of the Playstation 2.

Sony announced their next system a year before it came out, and this diverted a lot of people from buying the Dreamcast. Many people were still loyal to Sony after the success of the Playstation, so they waited for the Playstation 2 instead of getting the Dreamcast.

Sega couldn't keep up after the Playstation 2 was released. It was almost entirely ignored in Japan, mostly due to the PS2's DVD playability. It was cheaper than an actual player at the time. Not even a price cut in the middle of 2000 (making the Dreamcast half the price of the PS2) could stop this new system's momentum. It was wierd, one minute they were on top of the world, and then it just suddenly stopped. The announcement of the Microsoft Xbox and the Nintendo Gamecube later that year was quite possibly the last straw for Sega.

In July of 2001, Sega announced that they would discontinue the Dreamcast, and drop out of the Video Game Hardware market. One of the most innovative councils of all time, paving the way for online gaming right out of the box, amazing graphics even two years before the Playstation two was released, and several amazing titles including Sonic Adventure, PowerStone, Shenmue and many others, was now gone. Sega was still going to keep producing games for other councils, though they have become a shell of their former selves.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Dreamcast, so if you have one, make sure you dust it off and start playing it in honor of the most ambitious console of all time.
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Nice work, sir; very interesting.

Postby Qyzbud » April 3rd, 2008, 2:08 pm

Way to go, Jomingo... I look forward to reading this all, and discussing it. Just wanted to say it looks like you've done a fine job. 8-)

EDIT: That is indeed an interesting (and rocky) history. I never had a Dreamcast myself, and in fact I've only known one person who has... I'm not sure if I had my head in the sand (a trick Expresso taught me), or if it really wasn't a big thing this side of the equator. It did have graphics, capabilities and ideas ahead of its time, to my hat's off to Sega for all those innovations. It was certainly a sneaky move by Sony... announcing their PS2 early, so that gamers held off buying other systems (ie Dreamcast). That hype was no doubt a huge factor in deciding the Dreamcast's unfortunate fate.

I'm assuming you were a proud Dreamcast owner, Flamingo Jomingo?
Last edited by Qyzbud on April 3rd, 2008, 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added some thoughts (maybe) worth reading. ;)
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Re: Random Video Game History: the Dreamcast

Postby Jomingo » April 4th, 2008, 7:48 am

Actually, not until after it was discontinued. But I have always wanted one since it came out. I was a bit too young too pay for it myself, but I definately wanted it more than a PS2. Once I finally got one I loved it, and it's still my favorite console, well not anymore, but it was until I got smash bros.

About Sony's sneaky moves, you don't know the half of it. I don't go into much detail about it, but Sony had a huge smear campaign going since the day the Dreamcast was released. Alway's talking about how the Playstation was better than the Saturn, so why trust Sega again, and other stuff of that sort. Another major factor in Sega's demise was how much DVD's took off in Japan. They were obsessed with it over their, and the PS2 was the cheapest player available.

And I'm surprised you say that you know only one person who had one. Over in my part of the world, a whole bunch of people have them or used to have them. Well, OK, I should clear this up a little bit. A whole bunch of gaming enthusiasts, ie. nerds and hackers and the like. You know, all of my friends. It has a huge cult following in recent years, in fact, their have been like 10 games produced for the Dreamcast after it was discontinued, even as late as 2007! They temporary started selling more of them on their website in like 2003 or something because people wanted them so much. The only games I have for mine are:
Sonic Adventure
Crazy Taxi
Sega Bass Fishing
NFL 2K1
Unreal Tournament
Quake III Arena
Toy Commander
Plus my brother(who is moved out) has a CD case full of them.

One of the coolest ideas I forgot to talk about the Dreamcast was the VMU: Visual Memory Unit. Just in case you didn't know, every controller had two ports in the top to plug in memory cards, kinda like the N64. They even had a rumble pack type thing to plug in for rumble capabilities. Anyway, in the front of every controller their was a window in front of the memory card slot. You could plug in a VMU, which was a memory card with a screen and buttons, and then you download minigames onto it's memory and play them portabley. Or in like NFL 2K1, you could see your plays on your screen, so the other player couldn't. Although these minigames usually took up all of you VMU's memory, and the screen was pretty low resolution, it was still a very interesting idea, and was the first and only Console controller with a built in Screen.
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Re: Random Video Game History: the Dreamcast

Postby Qyzbud » April 4th, 2008, 1:43 pm

I think I remember hearing about the VMU. That's pretty darn cool... especially what you mentioned - being able to see a few things that your opponents can be kept in the dark about. I like that very much indeed. I do wonder if it would have been hard to have a little screen like that for vital stuff, though. Might be tricky to look up and down all the time. Baseball or other turn-based activities would be the most valid use for this feature, I'd think.

Sega seriously developed new games for their ol' Dreamcast only a year ago?
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Re: Random Video Game History: the Dreamcast

Postby Jomingo » April 4th, 2008, 9:45 pm

I don't think Sega did, but I know for a fact that at least two Dreamcast games wear made in '07. I think they were third party though.

To tell you the truth, the VMU was a little gimmicky, and it didn't actually come into play that often. It was still a great idea, they just didn't use it as much as they could've.
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Re: Random Video Game History: the Dreamcast

Postby SummerSky » April 5th, 2008, 9:50 am

Great article, Jomingo!

I think the VMU should've focused more on being a portable games console; for downloading minigames to play whilst your away from the console. And as an incentive, any games you scored points on in the handheld games could've aided you in the main quest. They could've even made it so as you had to complete levels on the VMU to progress in the main game. Sonic Adventure allowed you to download a virtual pet to remove from the controller and play with - I liked that!

Dreamcast was a great console - it was the last place we saw that fantastic Sega magic that's been eaten up and swallowed by Sammy. I remember my brother playing Sonic Adventure and Shenmue a whole lot. And he used to buy all the Dreamcast mags whilst we were away on holiday!

I miss those days...
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Re: Random Video Game History: the Dreamcast

Postby Jomingo » April 5th, 2008, 11:42 am

Actually, the Chao minigame in Sonic Adventure let you level up your Chaos portably, and then put it back in the game at a higher level later. I wish Sega would make a new console next generation. That would be amazing, everyone would buy it. Who wouldn't get a new Sega console if it came to exist? I would completely crap my pants the day I read that news on the internet.
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Re: Random Video Game History: the Dreamcast

Postby SummerSky » April 5th, 2008, 2:03 pm

Ah, right. :)

I can't ever see Sega re-entering the console market unless there was a big opening, giving them a chance to edge back in. Or if EA ever managed to purchase Sega, I could see EA releasing a console under the Sega moniker.

Best scenario would be Nintendo snapping them up and restructuring Sega's various teams. But that's coming from a Nintendo fanboy... ;)
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Re: Random Video Game History: the Dreamcast

Postby Jomingo » April 6th, 2008, 10:18 am

Sega and Nintendo teaming up on one system would be awesome. It makes me wet in the pants just thinking about it.
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Re: Random Video Game History: the Dreamcast

Postby SummerSky » April 7th, 2008, 7:45 am

I've no idea how much money Sega make from their releases on the other consoles, but I definately think their characters and 'franchises' are perfectly suited for Nintendo platforms.

Maybe one thing that's helped erode Sega's image these past few years is that they're developing for multiple platforms, and have no focus. Maybe they'd do loads better if they were working with only one piece of hardware, just like the old days. They're too thinly spread - worrying about all the different markets they're creating for, and whether the different markets would find appeal in their games.

Sega's caught EA's bug. They're afraid to innovate, and are sticking to tried-and-tested formulas and cranking them out to strict release deadlines. If they had solid funding - even if it were with Microsoft - I think they'd start to take their time and take risks knowing that they won't be hit hard if a project fails in the market.

Nintendo and Sega would be a dream come true; but, as ever, it's looking unlikely for the time being. :?:
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