Happy 10th Birthday Sega Dreamcast!
Some call it the overshadowed entertainment system. Others call it the lost sixth-generation console. For some, they might even call it the pioneer of cross-platform gaming. This, my friends, is the Sega Dreamcast. Exactly ten years ago, the Sega released their latest (and last) entry in the console wars. Long before the entry of the other console players of the sixth generation, the Dreamcast was a welcome console in the homes of gamers.
During its peak as a next-gen console, it introduced an interface and hardware far more advanced than the original Playstation, the Nintendo 64, or even Dreamcast’s predecessor Saturn. Back in 1999, Dreamcast’s graphics were literally ahead of its time. Top notched games included the original Soul Calibur, Crazy Taxi, as well the console ports of the the multiplayer FPS’s Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena. While all these titles would eventually head to other platforms, critics and gamers were almost unanimous in opinion that the Dreamcast versions were superior. What was also critical to Dreamcast’s success was its role as the first console to truly support online gaming, more than three years before the conception of Xbox Live. Unfortunately for most gamers during that time, Dreamcast’s glory days were numbered.
The following year after the release of the Dreamcast, the next, and most powerful, entry arrived; the Sony Playstation 2. Due to the one year gap between consoles, the PS2 happily built itself upon newer technologies that the Dreamcast lacked. Of all the advantages the PS2 boasted against the Dreamcast, it’s ultimate weapon was the then latest and highly anticipated DVD format. Boasting several times the capacity of the CD, and maintaining quick reading speeds, the DVD became the ultimate demise of the Dreamcast. Sega just couldn’t compete with the better graphics, faster hardware, bigger storage media, and vast catalog that Sony held in its position. To make things worst, the Xbox and Gamecube arrived the year after that, also boasting supersior hardware specs and a killer catalogue that rivaled Sony’s in every way. With Dreamcast quickly falling behind technology, by the turn of the millenium, the once killer console was finally removed from store shelves, forever. Only three consoles would make it to the next generation, and Sega would be forced to make games for its former rivals.
Years went by and the three consoles would later gain prominence. Xbox Live was unleashed in 2002, becoming an immediate hit, even claiming the title of online console gaming pioneer for itself. The PS2 would later on go on to sell an astonishing 138 million copies, mostly thanks to a catalog of top-notched games. The Gamecube continued to perform well, mostly thanks to it’s selection of franchises that have remained rock solid for the past two decades. By the time the seventh generation was among us, cross-platform gaming finally became mainstream. The console wars would continue amongst the three, with none of them showing any sign of surrender anytime soon.
With that story finished, let us not keep in our minds how the Dreamcast died, rather, let us remember how the Dreamcast lived for the gamer. Let us look back at just how far gaming went since the Dreamcast’s induction ten years ago. Let us remember how titles for multiple consoles once looked at the Dreamcast version as the golden standard. Let us remember how a home entertainment system once connected with another one from across the world for the first time. These, my friends, are the Dreamcast’s legacy. Today, gamers around the world celebrate that legacy, the tenth-anniversary of a truly revolutionizing console. This is to Dreamcast: Congratulations on your tenth birthday, and may the gamers of tomorrow remember everything you’ve done for us. Cheers to Sega for having given us a gamer’s blessing!