You were there. You rushed into the store and snapped up the subtle box. You knew what you held in your hands was “thinking.” You knew Sega finally pulled through with a winner.
That was six years ago today when Sega released the Dreamcast, the casualty of the current console war. A system far ahead of its time, the varied software, stunning graphics, online play (modem right out of the box), and incredible launch titles made the Dreamcast Sega’s final chance of success a guaranteed winner.
Certainly, Namco’s Soul Calibur was the title to see, play, hear, and worship on 9-9-99. That was the flagship title, the one that simply blew everyone away with smooth 3-D movement, brilliant parry and counter attack systems, and characters to fit everyone’s style and level of expertise. It would remain the benchmark title for the console for its entire shelf life, very few games even coming remotely close to the graphical showcase that Soul Calibur was.
So, while other games may not have been able to match Namco’s flawless work, with such an amazing selection of titles, they didn’t need to. There was something for everyone on the Dreamcast. Innovation came from everywhere.
The too-cute-to-be-fun maraca shaking Samba de Amigo, complete with untouchable (and now valuable) maraca controllers. Cel-shading showed through in Jet Set Radio and has never been topped. The love-it-or-hate-it Shenmue broke new grounds for realism. Ulala danced her way through Space Channel 5. Fishing became fun in Sega Marine Fishing. 2-D fighting fans received an amazing lineup with Street Fighter III, and two King of Fighters entries.
Sonic entered into 3-D, and arguably matched Mario, in Sonic Adventure. Without EA Sports signed on as a developer, Visual Concepts did the unthinkable and matched the company every step with their 2K line of sports games. Shooting fans pulled in variety of the 2-D and 3-D kind, like Capcom’s Gunbird and Crave’s Starlancer. Racings fans were satisfied with countless choices, like the great arcade racer Speed Devils and simulation Sega GT. First-person shooter fans got their wish with two major franchises, Quake and Unreal Tournament.
And in one day, it was over. The variety of games should have worked. The hype and early sales should have worked. They didn’t, and while the various reasons can be debated for the depressing early departure of the console in January 2001, there’s no question it should still be competing for market share in a perfect world.
It’s obviously not however, which leaves fans with nothing to celebrate other than an anniversary. They also have a software library that, even with only 252 (in the US) games, isn’t matched by the Playstation 2 in terms of variety (or originality). This is the day to pull your Dreamcast out and hook it back up (if it’s not always). It deserves it.