The Sega Dreamcast Changed My Life

The Sega Dreamcast Changed My Life

Originally released on November 27th, 1998 in Japan, the Dreamcast was a shot at redemption after Sega’s last console, the Saturn, had a less than stellar time competing with the Playstation and Nintendo 64. Something had to change in order for Sega to keep a horse in the console race. The Dreamcast had it all: incredibly powerful graphics, online capability through dial up, and a playful take on media. Hell, the memory card, also known as the Visual Memory Unit (or VMU) had a screen built into it. Sega was here to play and they did it wonderfully.

This year is the 60th anniversary of Sega. This post has been updated and retimed to celebrate the company’s gaming legacy.

If there is one thing I believe the Dreamcast managed better than any other console, it was offering bright and living worlds. The Dreamcast had an energy, a pulsing heart that I’ve found nowhere else. Yu Suzuki’s ambitious Shenmue dutifully recreated the streets of 1986’s Dobuita, giving NPCs schedules and habits. The bright anti-establishment frenzy of Jet Set Radio popularised cel-shaded graphics, sweeping players away in a jazz fusion lighting bolt of colours and sounds. Sonic the Hedgehog came to life in Sonic Adventure, shooting through loops and bouncing on springs in proper 3D.

I played it all and learned to love the act of playing. I found myself in those games. I will never forget sailing into the unknown in Skies of Arcadia. By all standards, Skies is an average role playing game. For me, it was a revelation. I watched as cheerful heroes stood against villains because that’s what heroes do. I learned that impossible was a word that people used so they could feel better when they quit. I was told to always be audacious. I have tried every day since then to live up to the heroes I found in that game. It is the reason I believe that games are worth the attention we give them. I would not be here if not for that game and the wonderful console that made it possible.

When I finished Skies of Arcadia for the first time, I ran to find my mother. I was eleven years old and was crying tears of joy. I held her close and she held me back; I remember her smile. A bemused grin that told me it was ok to care. That it was beautiful to dream. The Dreamcast encouraged my passion and called on me to share it with those around me. My father was obsessed with Shenmue; we would play it together every Christmas after it came out. He, too, could not get enough of those virtual worlds and eagerly awaits Shenmue 3.

The Dreamcast didn’t last long. It arrived too soon and floundered as the Playstation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox entered the market with astounding fanfare. By 2001, Sega discontinued the console and lowered the price in a desperate attempt to offload inventory and exit the world of consoles for good.

Skies of Arcadia ends with a message. I think of it often. It comes to mind now as I think of the Dreamcast:

As long as there are dreamers who have the courage to pursue their dreams, the world will have heroes. And as long as there is a thirst to discover the unknown, there will be new stories to tell…and new adventures to be had.

That is what the Dreamcast was. A joyous and celebratory reminder to play and dream. The Dreamcast may be dead but there are still dreamers out there. Like me. Like you. As long as we keep dreaming? I think things will be alright. For games and beyond.


  • I’ve never even touched a Dreamcast before, I was too young to join the revolution in 99, but damn that’s a good article Heather. A joy to read even for a non-SEGA fan. I always hear the fond words people have to say about the Dreamcast… Wish I had have had the chance to experience it at the time.

  • The one thing I didn’t like about the DC was the awful mushy buttons on the controller. Other than that, the DC was a console ahead of its time that sadly lived all too briefly.

    At least we’re getting Shenmue 3.

    • I loved a lot of ideas in the controller but I can’t stand actually holding it. It actually taught me a lot about practical design because it was the sort of controller I’d always dreamed about.

    • Pretty much all modern controllers work off ideas that the DC controller pioneered. It was an amazing prototype that spawned my favourite controller ever: The Gamcube controller.

  • Back in 2000 I remember Soul Calibur on Dreamcast being the best looking fighting game I’d ever seen anywhere. IMO it has held up very well after all these years. Outstanding game.

    • A quick tangent:

      I felt the same way about Tekken Tag Tournament on PS2. The graphics blew my mind the first time I played it on a kiosk at Myer back in late 2000. lol IMHO it still holds up in 2016.

      Back to DC.

    • Yeah, when I got my dreamcast my first thought was “I’ll never turn on the Playstation again”
      Even when the PS2 came out, Soul Calibur was the best fighter by a country mile.

  • 3 words.

    Phantasy Star Online.

    No game will ever capture me quite like this one did. Nothing will beat sitting in a lobby with friends, showing off custom chat icons. Nothing will beat the thrill of seeing Dark Falz go Phase 3 for the first time. Nothing beats the rush of having 4 Delsabers chase you down and narrowly dodging each pounce. Nothing beats the excitement of seeing hit percentage on your H&S 25 Justice’s. And nothing will ever beat that soundtrack.

  • There were actually 7 disc based games released for the dreamcast last year and many more coming soon. The dream will never die!

  • It’s so hard to explain to people what it was about the Dreamcast that got people so attached to it. For me it was a return to console gaming after not having owned a console since the NES (we had an N64 but it wasn’t mine) and doing most of my mid/late 1990s gaming in arcades.

    The Dreamcast got me back into video games at a time where I could have walked away from them. Skies of Arcadia, Shenmue, Metropolis Street Racer, Phantasy Star Online, Rez and Ikaruga all made it so easy to not just enjoy video games, but love them.

    So whenever people suggest that I overreacted to the Shenmue 3 announcement (I was pretty much like those Gametrailers guys when I watched it live) I want to slap them in the face because they’ll never understand just how huge that was for anyone who had a Dreamcast.

    The dream will not die, indeed.

  • Sega sealed their fate with the design decisions made in the previous consoles (Sega CD, 32X, Saturn). They split up the market with the 32X and CD, burning them with setups that only lasted a short time until the release of the Saturn. The stupid Dual CPU arrangement in the Saturn left most games programmers flustered who were only used to single CPU programming, and it’s abilities concentrated on 2D rather than 3D, which the Playstation made it’s forte. The Dreamcast was a blast, I loved it and it’s graphics were so much better than that PS2, and in some ways it looked as good as the Xbox.
    Let’s hope that Sony aren’t following in their footsteps with the PS4 Pro version. People who buy consoles want to get many years of games out of them before they upgrade, and it would be a big ask for these people to start upgrading to a new console every few years in my opinion, which was what Sega asked people to do.

  • Would people recommend hunting one down? I have been considering doing so for about ten years now. Still worth it despite the premium price?

  • i never knew these existed until years after it was discontinued, i never knew of any sega console after the 32x or mega cd attachments and i only knew one person who had either of them

  • It continues to be one of the great shames of the video game world that Skies of Arcadia has never had either a sequel or a HD rerelease.

    • It at least got a re-release (to a degree) on the GameCube.

      It’s just a pity that while there was mention at length in various magazines at the time, I never did saw it on the shelf.

      I eventually got a copy from the UK (they work fine on Australian consoles) and is one of my favourites for the little console.

      • SoA:L did get an Australian release, as I bought a copy from a local games shop when it launched.

        It was in very small numbers (possibly less than 1000 copies) but it did get an actual Australian release.

        • Sorry, I should have worded my response better.

          While I was sure it get an Australian release, I personally didn’t see it on the shelf in my area back in the day.

          I guess Sega and/or Nintendo just didn’t feel any shop where I lived had a strong enough audience to send a copy or two there.

  • Loved Dreamcast – Crazy Taxi with the proper music, Skies of Arcadia, Powerstone 2, Die Hard Arcade, Le Mans 24 Hr, Sonic Adventure, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Grandia 2, etc etc – but my experience was that build quality was shit. I had two of them, both gave up the ghost, and that was it.

  • Skies of Arcadia, average? I think not. I am surprised Disney have not bought the rights to it to make it into a movie (probably two).

    I’m glad it didn’t get a sequel because a sequel would have such big shoes to fill and let’s face it, JRPGs don’t have that kind of open world experience anymore.

  • such an underrated console.

    powerstone 2 as a party game and shenmue was the best.
    sega tennis and viruta athlete get an honorable mention!

  • Funnily enough i’ve just picked up an old CRT to play my light gun games, my dreamcast gets flogged regularly.

    Nothing beats Wacky Races and PenPen with mates.

  • Powerstone 2, Soul Calibur, Skies, Shenmue, Street Fighter 3 Third Strike, Jet Set Radio and Berserk.
    Take me back to 1999.

  • Crazy Taxi, Soul Calibur, Jet Set Radio, Powerstone, MvC2. I never got my hands on SFIII:TS, but I did get the collection of the first tow games.

    Truth be told, I never enjoyed Skies of Arcadia. There was a colour based system that I struggled with as a colour-blind person. And the ship battles took so long. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but I remember one outside a pyramid that I got stuck on and it was like an hour to get through. I think I quit there.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!