Sega’s Dreamcast holds a special place in my heart, it may have had its (many) faults, but to me and many others, it was a significant milestone that affected gaming as we know it.
In Japan , the Dreamcast finally launched in November 1998. All 150,000 available units sold out before the day was over, marking a great sign of things to come. On 9 September 1999, the US launch proved another astonishing success for Sega, as they struggled to meet the demand for the product, with 500,000 Dreamcast consoles finding their way into American households in just two weeks alone.
Sega hit the the one million mark six weeks ahead of its prediction, leading to another successful hit here in Europe, with equally encouraging sales, as Sega sent out over 400,000 units on its October launch. Sega proudly boasted that it made $98 million on software and hardware sales alone, which is nothing short of amazing, even by today's standards. It makes the Dreamcast one of the most successful hardware launches ever.
Being the first 128-bit home console as well as the first to offer online connectivity out of the box, and setting the modern trend for sourcing internal components from PC, the Dreamcast was an absolute beast. Offering state of the art graphics, free online play—which, was a massive first on a home console—and intuitive peripherals such as the VMU (Visual Memory Unit) which was essentially a removable storage device that also rocked a pretty cool twist.
The VMU could also serve as an additional display during normal gameplay and act as a humble handheld game console. VMU mini-games were present, including the Chao Adventure mini-game from Sonic Adventure. Here, you were able to transfer Chao eggs to the VMU and play to increase the stats, then upload your improved Chao back into the Dreamcast game. Whilst many developers never really used the VMU functions, some games used the display to show statistics such as one's current health, etc.