It's been 10 years since Sega launched the Dreamcast, and while it eventually failed, we like to think that in an alternate reality somewhere the Dreamcast reigns supreme. Let's imagine Dreamcast victory!
In order for the Dreamcast to have been successful, many of the decisions Sega made leading up to the console would have to have been different. We're not going to go back that far. Instead, let's imagine what could have happened following the Dreamcast's U.S. launch on September 9th, 1999, to keep the noisy white console on top of its game.
September 9th, 1999: Sega launches the Dreamcast in North America, selling a record number of units thanks to the low-entry price and hot launch titles like Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure, Power Stone, and Hydro Thunder. This actually happened, but we'll get to daydreaming soon enough.
Early 2000: Sega rolls out a massive update to its SegaNet online gaming service, integrating matchmaking, friends lists, and instant messaging, along with a framework that makes it easy for 3rd party companies to get their titles up and running online. EA changes its plans to support the console, delivering a wide variety of action and sports titles, at least until 2K signs an exclusive licence with the NFL. Yes, now we are dreaming.
October 26th, 2000: Sony introduces the PlayStation 2 to North America. The ridiculously low number of units available at launch encounter a problem with the North American firmware, causing them to explode when placed in close proximity to cute kittens and adorable babies. Sony still sells huge numbers, but third parties slowly begin to abandon the console, not wanting to be associated with exploding infants.
Yes, this step is completely necessary. The key to this little fantasy is more third-party support, along with an event so catastrophic that it could shake the strong foundation of fans that Sony had built up with the original PlayStation. I don't like to imagine cute things exploding any more than you people do, but it would have to be something pretty extreme.
January 31st, 2001: Sega announces they'll be ramping up Dreamcast production in order to meet the rising demand, thanks in part to the last minute, baby fire-inspired move from one Japanese company...
July 19th, 2001: Squaresoft releases Final Fantasy X exclusively on the Dreamcast in Japan. Fans are grateful that the console's loud fan drowns out Tidus' dialogue. A huge spike in Dreamcast sales ensues.
November 15th, 2001: Microsoft releases the Xbox. Aside from Halo, the most popular games on the system are ports of Dreamcast titles.
November 18th, 2001: Nintendo releases the Gamecube in North America. Dreamcast fans laugh at its tiny proprietary discs, preferring their larger proprietary discs. Lack of third-party support eventually leads to Nintendo leaving the console business, concentrating on making Mario and Zelda games for the Dreamcast, Xbox, and PlayStation 2.5 (now with less baby 'sploding).
From there, things could pretty much move in the expected direction. Fans would eventually get Panzer Dragoon Saga 2, perhaps with the release of the Dreamcast 2 sometime in the middle of 2005 or 2006. Of course they wouldn't call it the Dreamcast 2, as Sega was never big on adding numbers to their consoles. Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast....hell, we'll call it the Sega Revolution. Why not?
Whatever you call it, we'd still have a sleek new Sega system in our entertainment centres today, and Nintendo fans would be desperately wishing for the Gamecube 2.
Oh, and 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games would still suck. There's only so many problems you can solve by tearing a gaping hole in reality.