Console Special No.6: Sega Dreamcast

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Console Special No.6: Sega Dreamcast

Post by JaySevenZero » July 24th, 2019, 2:04 pm

As you all know by now we've been creating a series of podcast specials, with the focus being on the consoles themselves. The podcasts encompass the history of the chosen system from launch through its evolution, mixed with the panels personal perspective of their time spent with it. There's also discussion of some of the stand-out titles for the system.

As with the regular Cane and Rinse podcast, we'd like to include contributions from you, our community, too. So we've created this sub-forum and threads so you can leave us your most memorable moments spent with the systems we're covering.

Our eighth show will cover the Sega Dreamcast.

All being well, we'll be recording this in late October 2019. So If you have something to say about this system this is where you should leave it.

As with the others, this will be also a three month timed exclusive for our Patreon, with each special being released on our regular feed only once the next one is published, so if ever there was a time to give us just 75p-80p per month, this could be it!

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Re: Console Special No.6: Sega Dreamcast

Post by Mechner » July 28th, 2019, 3:52 pm

I came to the Sega Dreamcast extremely late, When it launched in 99' I didn't even own a video game console, on my many visits to "GAME", to pick up PC games which that year included (Prince of Persia 3D) I would also pine after the many consoles I couldn't have (owing to being a 7 year old boy with no disposable income). The Dreamcast stuck out for having possibly the most interesting logo, something about that blue swirl stuck in my brain, even after the console just disappeared from the market place shortly after. No one I knew ever owned one, and it drifted into relative obscurity here in Ireland.

Skip through more or less 3 generations of consoles later to 2014 when I got the strange desire in my head to revisit a more nostalgic time, for some reason this included absolutely having to get my hands on a Sega Dreamcast.

I am not really sure why, because I knew very little about the console other than it contained the only console ports of odd PC games I played in my youth such as "Omikron: The Nomad Soul" and of course a North American release of "Prince of Persia 3D". I took a trip to Dublin with my long time best friend, to a fairly well stocked Retro Games Shop (one of the few in Ireland) called "The Rage" and I picked up my Sega Dreamcast, 1 controller, a VMU and 5 games.

The games were:

- The Nomad Soul
- Headhunter
- Army men: Sarges Heroes
- Soul Calibre
- Shenmue

There was one more thing that the guy behind the counter suggested I pick up this was a VGA to HDMI adapter.. I looked at him puzzled "What do you mean VGA? It's a console right, not a PC?" He said "Trust me, this is gonna look amazing on your modern TV", I took the advice and bought it.. Little did I know how good this Dreamcast was going to look.

On arriving home, we immediately hooked up the Dreamcast to my Sony Bravia, VGA Cable from the console to the HDMI of my TV... what game should be first... Soul Calibre, I powered up the console and the famous swirl hit my screen, and the now synonymous sound of the laser finding the start of the Disc began. To say I was blown away by the performance and visuals of a then 15 year old console is an understatement. I remember turning to my friend and saying "that actually looks as good as PS3 visuals"

We passed the controller around for the night and played around with this console like it was 99' again and I had just bought the console brand new. I sat cross-legged on the floor, up close to the screen (owing to the odd placement and shortness of the cable connecting to the odd shaped controller to the console). Every game we tried floored me, Omikron on a CONSOLE? One of my favourite games ever on a home console is just so weird and amazing to me. Headhunter was like playing a HD remake in comparison to the poorly optimised version I played on the PS2 all those years ago. Army Men Sarges Heroes was better than the PC port.. (I didn't think it was possible for a console to be better than the PC in the late 90's) And finally Shenmue, what a beautiful, strange, intriguing mess of a game... the visuals still stun me. We laughed and stared with wonderment thinking what would the VMU display this time, for this game... the Dreamcast really put the other consoles of it's day to shame. For being a console of pure joy and creativity. The games are utterly full of imagination and bursting with colour.

What followed for me was a year long obsession with everything Dreamcast, my game collection grew rapidly, ballooning up to 40 titles, I was picking out obscure titles like Toy Commander, D2, Carrier and Illbleed. Every peripheral I could find I bought, I got the Keyboard and Mouse, More Controllers.. VMU's the list goes on. I even bought a Second Dreamcast and modded it with a Blue LED.

I learned all about it's history and it's incredibly forward thinking design, the fact it was running on a windows operating system "Windows CE".. How when it failed and was pulled from the market many of it's design philosophy was picked up by Microsoft's XBOX... it's easy to see where the Duke Controller design came from.. and like the XBOX it came internet ready, though could be upgraded to the fabled and much sought after Ethernet adapter....

Then quite suddenly, out of nowhere around a year later I stopped playing it.. I am not sure why either.

The last time I played it in 2015 was with my friend. We played through Shenmue from start to finish, collecting as much as we could while following Ryu on his bizarre adventure to avenge his father. It was an unforgettable experience terrible voice acting (so bad it's good), strange but pleasing controls, racing and winning in forklift competitions, listening to laughable J-Pop with english words as Ryu drives a motorbike. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced, one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had, but that was it... Like how the Dreamcast only lasted a short time the market.. the time I spent with it burnt hard and fast.. I haven't returned to it since and it sits gathering dust.

I dont know if I will ever play it again.. but I can say with a surety that the Dreamcast still to this day holds it's own against any console it comes up against, It is easy to see why it is has a cult following for many people.. all I am left "thinking" is what could have been if it was successful for SEGA.. where would gaming be now.

"It's thinking"

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Re: Console Special No.6: Sega Dreamcast

Post by Alex79uk » July 28th, 2019, 6:29 pm

I was introduced to the Dreamcast by a friend who was always bang up to date with the latest consoles. We'd sometimes go back to his after the pub and playing with real life humans in Phantasy Star Online absolutely blew my mind. Thinking back it would have been the first ever game I played online. One night he showed us this game called Space Channel 5. We all loved it. It didn't matter who was holding the pad, the rest of us would gather round the TV and drunkenly act out the routine Ulala was instructing us to from the screen. Up up shoot, down left shoot, down down shoot...

It became such a staple of our Saturday nights that a few months later, in a move for which I could surely be named boyfriend of the year, I bought my then girlfriend a Dreamcast with a copy of Space Channel 5 for her birthday. Honestly, it was for her...

She wasn't much of gamer, and away from the alcohol fuelled social situation she wasn't as interested in playing the game as I thought she would be. Still, nice new Dreamcast in the house!

It was a fantastic machine. Marvel Vs Capcom 2, Resident Evil Code Veronica, The House Of The Dead, Crazy Taxi... Loads of great games.

I reaquanted myself with the console years later after discovering you could burn your own games and played through a few gems I'd missed at the time. Seriously though, being able to play copied games on an unmodified console? Madness!!

I wish I still had the console, or at least I wish I knew where it was, but as with most of the stuff I've owned over the years, it could be anywhere!

I've not mentioned the pad yet, or the VMU, I'm sure there will be much discussion on the podcast about these, but all I'll say is I never really liked the pad much. Always found it a bit uncomfortable.

But, as the last console Sega ever made, it was an excellent send off. A much loved, quirky thing, which seems to have remained in the hearts of everyone who ever owned it.

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Re: Console Special No.6: Sega Dreamcast

Post by Suits » August 1st, 2019, 8:55 am

It was February 2000, I had just turned 16 the week prior and had a Sony Mini-Disc walkman as a gift. Sadly the loading mechanism had jammed and I'd taken it back to Dixons that day for an exchange. I was told, much to my total surprise that they had no other units in stock and that I had to have my money back, £100, I was gutted. Took the money, put it in my bag and wondered off pondering what I was going to do now.

On the way home from town, I stopped off at my mates house who was chilling with another one of the boys in his room.

Having told them my story and having discussing it for a few minutes it fell out of our mind and we soon got onto other more important topics while joining Rizlas.

My mates sister who was a few years older than us had a few mates around as Rhys' parents were out and the older crew had claimed downstairs and we had his bedroom. Fine.

At some point later into the evening, Kate called Rhys down for something and came back up with a weird, garbled message about does anyone want to buy a brand new Dreamcast for £100. We instantly shrugged it off after a few seconds.

I considered it for maybe 2 seconds and just, yes, lets do it.

I'd honestly forgotten that I had suddenly come into some extra cash and not only that, but had it on me to take advantage of this random proposal. I quickly scrambled the money out of my bag and stuffed it into Rhys' hands, Fry from Futurama style.

Rhys ran downstairs and did the deal, I can only imagine what this guys face must have looked like as a random sixteen year old suddenly took him up on his moody offer.

The console was sealed brand new, (stolen obviously) and had no games, I cared not, I would worry about that later.

I ran home with it under my arm and plugged it all in and poked around with the settings and internet.

I later picked up Quake 3 Arena as my first game I think and started to buy the Official Dreamcast Magazine to get back into the swing of things console wise after selling my PS1 for some new skates the previous summer.

This was also the first console that I played online, Quake 3 Arena, it was also well worth noting that this was the first device I viewed internet porn on. Rad.

Us lads, or men now I suppose still coin the term 'Astro' as a description for anything other than a first party controller. This is because for my Dreamcast (which was largely communal at this point) I needed to buy another controller for. Pennies being tight I picked up a disastrous controller, which was bright blue, plastic, naff and called Astro Pad. A pad of legend now it would seem.

The games were cool at the time, my stand out game that aways springs to mind is Speed Devils, others that were absolute stand outs to us were Tony Hawk, which was an OK port compared to the PS version we were used to, RE: Code Veronica, Chu Chi Rocket which we played to almost fights and House of the Dead 2 which we all loved.

Looking back at them, or perhaps more accurately playing them today leaves me with less enthusiasm sadly. There's a few that still hold up, maybe, but generally I find them shallow and basic, with usually only a hint at something being fun or unique.

I was burned many times as a youngster paying out for games like Royal Rumble, Ecco, Fur Fighters, UEFA Striker, GTA2, Hidden & Dangerous only to be left let down by rubbish features, bad controls, or just bad experiences.

Shenmue arrived a year or two too early for me age wise and Power Stone just didn’t grab us over Tony Hawk and HotD2.

One of the most dreadful games for me was Fighting Force 2 on the system. Which was a total mess.

Word is, that the best stuff is Japan only, which was out of my reach, funds and knowledge of a sixteen year old. Going back to those titles now is often laborious, expensive or not the best way to play them.

I understand now that there were/are some really excellent games on the system, they just passed me by at the time sadly, which does colour my own personal reflection of the console a certain way.

The hardware was decent, I thought it looked cool, was lovely and compact and had a wonderful pad. I really liked the design choice of the wire coming out of the bottom of the pad, wrapping back up underneath it and clipping into the underside, to come out of the top. This was clearly to accommodate the VMU and rumble pack, which when all plugged in and set up was quiet a hefty beast.

The console was damn loud mind, it still is. The fans whir hard and the disc drive is constantly clicking and spinning hard. I think it’s one of the loudest consoles ever to be honest. I recently set it up on my desk next to my PVM and was shocked over how loud the little white box is.

The fate of my Dreamcast was that the laser began to fail, I passed it off to a mate of mine (Rhys as it goes who's sisters mate sold it to us) who didn't mind messing about with it to get it working, after-all I had my PS2 now and was away with the fairies in that respect.

I still have a large number of my original Dreamcast games (about 30), peripherals and bits and bobs, I also, happen to still have all 21 DreamOn Demo Discs that was released with the official magazine which is pretty neat.

My overall reflection of this console is that it wasn’t very good, it had a few good games but compared to both the PS1 & PS2 its falls distinctly short for me. That said, I do love it. This was a console that saw me through 6th Form, a fun McDonalds job and hours and hours of naff gaming with mates. It did things I had never even thought of before from video game systems and I really liked the controller and the funky underused VMU’s.

Still to this day an awful lot of my non-gaming mates still claim that the Dreamcast is the greatest console of all time, blinded highly by nostalgia and ruined brains.

I love it, but didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped.


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Re: Console Special No.6: Sega Dreamcast

Post by caponeadam » August 8th, 2019, 10:47 am

I remember going out to pick up a reserved Dreamcast on launch day, at the time I had never owned a PC so it was the Dreamcast's promises of internet wonders that sealed the deal for me. Unfortunately all I remember are very vague memories of horrible modem dial up sounds, website images that took forever to load and paying by the minute. I only ever remember playing ChuChu Rocket online, hardly a game to showcase the wonders of the world wide web.

I loved the concept of the LCD screen but in all honesty it never really improved any games for me, the entire system was just way ahead of it's time in the worst possible way.

That said I can understand why this system is still beloved by so many, it had a whole range of unique well made memorable classics such as JetSetRadio, CrazyTaxi, Shenmue and Powerstone to name just a few. It was an incredibly risky and brave move by Sega. For this alone I see the Sega Dreamcast as one of the very best in the long line of unsuccessful console releases.

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Re: Console Special No.6: Sega Dreamcast

Post by Jobobonobo » August 18th, 2019, 8:04 pm

During the fifth generation of consoles, Sega was conspicuously absent when I was a young lad living in the west of Ireland. The Playstation dominated everywhere while I and a few other kids had the N64 for friends to come over and have some multiplayer shenanigans but the Saturn was just not a thing at all. I never seen one in the shops at all and no one I knew had one. Seeing as the Mega Drive was so big last generation, for Sega to drop off the face of the earth was baffling to me, to say the least. The Saturn is a major gap in my gaming experience and I always felt I missed out in something special due to its apparent niche appeal.

So I was pleasantly surprised then, when I heard the announcement of the Dreamcast with its sleek design, iconic logo and incredible graphics get such glowing attention in the few gaming magazines I would buy. Of great interest to me of course, is that Sonic finally truly entered the 3rd dimension (Sonic R was a spin off, does not count). Being a big Sonic guy during the Mega Drive days and especially being so blown away after the ground breaking Mario 64, I was officially hyped for this. So on my 14th birthday, not only did I get the day off from school but our local video rental place had a Dreamcast available for renting! I knew what I was going to be doing that day! So I got a Dreamcast with a copy of Sonic Adventure and could not wait to get started, first thing that morning. It was an interesting experience.

While the game had plenty of jaw dropping moments, there were moments that baffled me. What was with the cringy rock tunes? “Realistic” people wandering around the world? A hub world for exploring? The absurd voice acting? The actual levels were fun to go through but these other design decisions rubbed me the wrong way and having to restart the game over and over again because I did not have a VMU did not help endear it to me further. My interest in the Dreamcast had dropped dramatically. If Sonic could let me down, was there anything else worth bothering with on the system?

Turns out I was as wrong as it is possible to be. Due to trying out versions of Dreamcast titles on PS2 such as Crazy Taxi, Ikaruga and Rez on Xbox 360 and House of the Dead on the Wii it opened my eyes to the really fun, quirky and experimental catalogue of titles the Dreamcast had to offer. Turns out there were a wonderful library of classics that I had foolishly missed out on all these years. Jet Set Radio, Power Stone, Samba di Amigo, Skies of Arcadia, ChuChu Rocket!, Soul Calibur and so much more. I really wished I gave the console another chance and witnessed some of the most memorable classics of the sixth generation in their original form. If the Dreamcast has taught me anything, it is this: never judge a console solely on a personally hyped up title that did not live up to your expectations. If I had done this with other consoles I would have deprived myself of some of my most favourite titles ever. That it was Sega’s final console made my dismissal of it all the more tragic. If time and money happen to align together to my benefit, I may just return to this sleek white box in the future and give it the dues it truly deserves.

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