What Would A Dreamcast Be Like In 2014?

What Would a Dreamcast be Like in 2014?

Fifteen years ago, the Dreamcast launched in North America, five weeks before hitting the UK. D.R.E.A.M.C.A.S.T. It was a games console. No, it was nothing like the PlayStation 2. Yes, it was really called Dreamcast, even in the UK.

It was revolutionary, and we're not just saying that because there's a special cardboard box in the loft containing a self-chipped multi-region Dreamcast, all the first-party peripherals, several spare emergency backup copies of Space Channel 5 and lots of toys imported at great expense in the early 2000s.

"Up to 6 billion Players"

Dreamcast launched with a modem inside it, way back in 1999. That was entirely revolutionary, no two ways about it. Unfortunately for Sega it made a bit of a botch of the launch of its supporting online services and software so there wasn't much to actually do or play online for quite some time.

Fast-forward to the year 2001, though, when Phantasy Star Online was finally released, and everyone who had a Dreamcast was hanging around lobbies waiting to play this early, revolutionary, online console RPG through a crappy pre-broadband dial-up connection.

Phantasy Star Online and Shenmue I and II were the Dreamcast classics no owner could be without, while cult titles like Seaman, in which you bred and talked to a fish through a custom microphone, and Jet Set Radio, a storming animated skate game, made owners feel like they were part of a special club with access to the most innovative and original games.

Dreamcast had the weirdest stuff. Which is why it was best. And also why no one outside of the enthusiast mentalist scene really wanted one. PlayStation had the Gran Turismo series. Dreamcast had that talking fish thing, a fairly terrible 3D Sonic game and arcade games you could already play for £1 elsewhere.

Mr Mainstream wasn't hugely interested, even though, whenever Dreamcast is talked about now, everyone says Virtua Tennis is their favourite game ever.

Dreamcast 2.0

The problem for anyone who would like to see Sega return to this, ahem, glory period of niche hardware making and effortless cult smash creation, is that there's not a huge number of the original glory-makers remaining at the company.

The core of Sega's Dreamcast offering as far as the hardcore gaming element was concerned was its perfect ports of arcade games, like Crazy Taxi, Samba De Amigo, Rez, Virtua Fighter 3, Ikaruga, Virtua Tennis and more.

Given that Sega's arcade division currently consists of three blokes who drive around the country in a van fixing the broken steering wheels on antique Daytona USA machines, there's not much in the way of cutting-edge arcade action to port across.

OutRun 2 was the last great Sega coin-op, and that came out well over a decade ago and was ported extremely well to the PSP of all things. There's literally no need for any Sega hardware these days.

The recent mobile version of Crazy Taxi illustrates perfectly well why Sega will never make a hardware comeback. The game is developed by an outsourced company, so has nothing really to do with actual Sega design talent, plus it runs on Android and iOS -- mature platforms with hundreds of millions of players ready to go from day one.

A Dreamcast II, much as we would like to see it and could be convinced to part with upwards of £199 ($321) were it to arrive on Kickstarter along with a pack-in copy of Shenmue III and a companion app and some stickers, would therefore be mostly home to outsourced freemium tat, football management games and emulated Sonic classics we've already played on 20 other formats over the last 20 years.

It'd be a laughing stock, in fact, much like the original machine was to those outside the niche Sega enthusiast club.


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Comments

    The Dreamcast 2.0 came out in 2001. It was called Xbox. I've happily bought every iteration of Dreamcast since then. ;-)

      no.

        I'm as big a Sega fanboi as they come.... I have my Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast all connected to my TV and played regularly.

        But, jimmydanger's comment is actually somewhat true. Sega had many meetings microsoft during the development of the Xbox to work out an arrangement where it would actually play DC games natively.
        The original Xbox controller was also a near copy of the DC controller.

        Also, Peter Moore was COO of Sega of America during the DC years, and he brought a lot of Sega thinking [and even IP] to MS for the Xbox. Hence why Shenmue ended up on the xbox.

          yeah but you wrote it out with way more respect for a company we hold fond memories of.

            Yes, that is true, lol.

              Sorry, I thought everybody knew!

              As an active Sega fan at the time of the Dreamcast's Sony assisted demise, the first party/SEGA owned studios with games already in development were divvied up between Gamecube (where the Virtua Striker/ Billy Hatcher/Sonic Team mainly went exclusively, until the multi play Sonic Heroes in 2004 - the first time Sonic appeared on Sony hardware) and Xbox (the aforementioned ShenmueII, Crazy Taxi 3, Sega GT, Otogi 1 & 2 (!), Toejam and Earl 3, Outrun 2&2+ ).

              And MS hired quite a few of the Sega hardware division guys who lost their jobs when Dreamcast went under. Big arse controllers with memory card slots the size of a small mobile phone, built in networking, %75 of the Dreamcasts planned next two years of first party games, JSRF, there was absolutely mistaking the Dreamcastiness of the Xbox.

              I'm sorry if I didn't show the required reverence to Sega. I'm quite genuinely a massive Sega fan since the 80s, and that's how it was. Don't be offended.

              If you were a Sega fan in 2002-04, Xbox and GameCube were essential. May that be added to the database of gamer historical knowledge!

              Last edited 11/09/14 7:22 pm

      Don't know why people are downvoting this, it's not inaccurate at all. One of the big reasons Microsoft got interested in consoles in the first place was because Sega approached them to develop the operating system for the Dreamcast. WinCE was actually only used for a couple of games in the end because of performance problems, but it meant that Microsoft had dipped a toe in the water.

      Xbox ended up with the better iteration of Jet Set Radio, the Panzer Dragoon game that was originally being worked on for Dreamcast, ports of Phantasy Star Online, Shenmue II... lots of Sega's highest-profile stuff that would have otherwise probably been on the Dreamcast or its successor had Sega stayed in that market.

      Additionally the Xbox very clearly inherits directly from elements of the Dreamcast's design. The decision to put a network adapter into the system and design it with the intention to take it online is absolutely a result of them looking at Dreamcast's online capabilities and deciding that was the future, but to bank on broadband taking off rather than putting a modem in.

      Hell, even the original Xbox 'Duke' controller is undeniably derived from the Dreamcast's. The size and shape are extremely similar, the buttons are the same name, color and orientation to each other (which still gives me issues playing with Nintendo stuff, because X/Y and A/B are swapped!) and it has a stick and dpad in the same orientation and position as the Dreamcast (which is notably different to their locations on the Dual Shock and N64 controllers).

      Hell, Microsoft even picked up Peter Moore, the guy who was running Sega's western business during the Dreamcast era, and had him head the Xbox division.

    "It’d be a laughing stock, in fact, much like the original machine was to those outside the niche Sega enthusiast club."

    Maximum nerd rage at this comment!

    The Dreamcast was a great console.
    Soul Calibre was a classic and the best fighting game available by any standards, Shenmue was great, Jet Set/ Grind Radio was revolutionary.

    These games seem “weird” now but you have to remember that those were different times.
    Shenmue was blurring the line between story telling and game play long before games like Uncharted mastered the formula.
    Fighting games were a HUGE deal on the PS1 and the DC had the two best fighters available shortly after launch in Soul Calibre and Virtua Fighter (3?).
    Sega rally was THE rally game prior to the Colin McRae series upping the realism.
    Powerstone was released less than 4 weeks after Smash Bros into what was essentially a new genre at the time.
    Metropolis Street Racer built the mould for the Project Gotham Racing series which would be huge on the Xbox and 360.
    Jet Grind/ Set Radio set the bar for cel-shaded 3D that would be aped for years to come.

    It didn’t sell because it was poorly supported by some major 3rd parties (EA primarily) and was a victim of some hefty exaggeration from Sony about what the PS2 would be capable of when it was released.

    I don’t think calling it a “laughing stock” is fair. People genuinely thought it was cool, it’s just that most people were happy to wait for the PS2.

      Soul Calibre was a classic and the best fighting game available by any standards. Fighting games were a HUGE deal on the PS1 and the DC had the two best fighters available shortly after launch in Soul Calibre and Virtua Fighter (3?).

      I REALLY have to disagree with you here! =) There are a lot of fighting games, and people have their favourites... Marvel vs Capcom/VS Series, Streetfighter, Mortal Kombat, Injustice, Tekken, KoF, Soul Calibur, Darkstalkers, Virtua Fighter, etc... but what makes them great? To me, it's about how much fun they are to play, how exciting they are to watch, how popular they are(the scene), and how interesting the IP is. For me that's easily the Marvel vs Capcom series. These games have characters including/from the Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Rocket Raccoon, Darkstalkers, Phoenix Wright, Resident Evil, Dead Rising, Megaman, etc... and it's immensely fun. The PS1 had memory limitations so they actually remade the VS games so you couldn't tag between characters like normal... and although they had some good versions on Saturn, I never actually played it. The reason why I wanted to buy a Dreamcast was because I saw Marvel vs Capcom 1 on it in a store, and it pretty much was arcade perfect. MvC2 ended up being the same, and one of(if not my most) favourite games ever. MvC2 had inferior versions on other systems(including Xbox360/PS3!), so Dreamcast is the best... and people have played that regularly for over a decade and it encouraged MvC3/UMvC3. If you watch Evolution(the biggest fighting game tournament held every year), you can also see how hype the matches are. Unfortunately, fighting games aren't very accessible/supported in Australia... things like the games/arcade sticks are hard/impossible to find in stores like JB Hifi/EB Games, and the same was true during the DC days.

      The death of the Dreamcast imo was largely due to the previous spamming of consoles by SEGA which lost consumer confidence, competition by Sony with the Playstation and its enormous library including titles like Final Fantasy VII, the initial price, and that Sony didn't have deep pockets like Nintendo to hold on.

        I liked Soul Calibur a lot, but I'd agree with you that the Dreamcast's fighting game lineup was generally excellent beyond just Soul Calibur. MVC and Capcom vs SNK were both really good. Heck, even the Japan-only Dead or Alive 2 LE was probably the best iteration of that series.

        Soul Calibur was the big draw for most people though, because it was a launch game and was better (and better looking!) than just about every 3D fighter on the market at the time.

          I only played SC a bit on the PS1 I think... I do get the appeal with the graphics and being a launch title. I rant about MvC2 because it is still a current game(there's a lot of ppl that still play in America + tournaments) due to its replayability, and Dreamcast is the way to go. It's just one of those games like Dota that people keep playing long past the expected expiration date that many other games have(flavour of the month). One of those "you need to play this" games like FFVII.

            Soul Calibur was only ever on Dreamcast and then many years later on Xbox 360 as an exclusive. Soul Edge/Soul Blade was the PS1 game, Calibur is sort of a sequel.

        Oooookkay…..

        I’m guessing you’re a bit of a fighting game buff.

        I was *this* close to editing that comment after I posted to add a ‘3D’ to my claim and decided it wasn’t worth it. I should have known better!

        I don’t like 2D fighter’s personally they aren’t my cup of tea, but I’m not going to argue with you at all if you think there were better 2D fighters elsewhere.

        I would still argue that it was 3D fighters that were driving consoles sales through the 32bit era and which were a major factor in the success of the PS1. If I remember correctly it was actually the Sega Saturn which had the better 2D output and I didn’t see too many Saturn exclusive fighting games saving that machine!

        I may not be a fighting game buff, but I’ll happily argue for Soul Calibur and Virtua Fighter 3tb as the best looking, best playing 3D fighters on the market at the end of 1999 (and probably for a fair time after as well). The Dreamcast version of Soul Calibur is to this day the forth best reviewed game of all time on according to Metacritic!

        There were other fighters on the market of course, but those two were the near-unanimous standouts. Particularly if you’re talking about shifting consoles- to this day I’ve never owned a console game that had the “wow” factor that Soul Calibur had when you showed it to your mates for the first time. It didn’t matter if you had a high end PC running the best games available at the time, the animations, lighting and character models in that game were absolutely top shelf.

          I grew up reading a lot of comic books and watching Marvel cartoons and playing video games... the VS games were just the perfect combination of the two. I did play them a lot and got very good at them... and I'd be playing Marvel in an arcade while other people would play Tekken or something. I think it really just depends what you're exposed to and what your friends played... I'm also not going to argue about whether 3D fighters sold more systems or not, because they probably were here in Australia. In America, MvC2 was huge... and to my knowledge, it's the only reason why people would want to buy a Dreamcast in this day and age. It's really one of the best fighting games of all time... but unless you know about things like AHVB, ROM, etc, you probably wouldn't appreciate it.

    I remember the Christmas morning I woke up to see that Santa had dropped some presents off at my Aunties place (lel, how could I be so blind and naive) to find a console sized box in my loungeroom.

    I opened it up and found the Sega Dreamcast, staring at me like a pretty girl I'd never noticed at the party up until that moment but then found myself becoming totally intrigued. I can't remember the first game I got (It must not have been great) but I remember the countless hours I poured into Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, playing a 3d game with my favourite characters from the Genesis games was unreal. Unfortunately I only ever bought another game in Dead Rising 1 (a game I would only come to appreciate when I got older) and my love affair was over before it ever really began.

    *longing sigh*

      I think you're talking about House of the Dead 2 there. Was it a light gun shooter?
      I had that and TWO light-guns. Terribly inaccurate but super badass to play guns akimbo!

      Dead Rising was an Xbox 360 exclusive.

        You're very right, it was indeed an exclusive Xbox 360 title. I must have been confusing that one with my 360.

        I meditated on this last night, I don't think I even had another game on the Dreamcast other than the two Sonic Adventures. I certainly didn't help keep it afloat lol.

    Powerstone 2 on the dreamcast was the ultimate party game.

    I have to agree with @jimmydanger, the last great SEGA games were on the original Xbox. Panzer Dragoon Orta, Gunvalkyrie, Jet Set Radio Future. I love Dreamcast!

    Sold my Dreamcast and about 50 games (20 original, cough) a few months ago. Amazing console. Lots of great memories.

    I have a Dreamcast and I never played PSO and Shenmue 1 or 2.

    Marvel vs Capcom 2 is the reason to own a Dreamcast. People STILL play this regularly over 10 years later, and on Dreamcast because it's the best version(unless you own the Sega Naomi arcade system). If you like the Marvel movies or Capcom games, you should play MvC2 and UMvC3... even watch the tournaments.

    The Dreamcast itself is an awesome console and was under-appreciated due to the competition and lack of consumer confidence with the barrage of previous SEGA consoles. But really it's the games which make the consoles... consoles are just the delivery system for those games. If there really was a DC2.0 released today, it wouldn't be bringing anything new to the table. Steam/PC, PS4 and XBone cover the hardware for 3rd party companies to bring their games to, Nintendo are still in the game with their inferior hardware due to their IP and money and virtual monopoly on the handheld market... but as much as I'd like to see a DC2.0, Sega just don't have the deep pockets to make it work.

    I guess those three guys had time on their drive to create this then http://kotaku.com/sega-is-making-a-sandbox-game-with-actual-sand-1632887044

    As a huge Resident Evil fan, I bought a Dreamcast purely for Resident Evil: Code Veronica.

    Between Code Veronica, Sonic Adventure, Soul Calibur, Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, Skies of Arcadia, Grandia 2, Power Stone and Shenmue, I sunk significantly more time into my Dreamcast than any of the other consoles available at the time.

    Never regretted buying a console less.

    A friend managed to get one of these. I loved Die Hard Arcade!
    "Laughing stock" is a bit harsh.

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