“Up to 6 billion players”
The latest of our single platform podcast specials focuses on SEGA’s final console, the Dreamcast. Leon, Karl and guests Ben Cartlidge (One Credit Classics) and John Linneman (Digital Foundry Retro) unpick the magic from the smoke and mirrors in an attempt to understand how and why the most powerful console ever (circa 1998/1999) failed to win the hearts and minds of the general public. Passionate prose from the community and a swift(ish) rundown of the machine’s diverse and colourful library round out the show.
You can find out what both Jon and Ben are up to via the links below:
Dreamcast special was edited by Jay Taylor
Podcast: Download (Duration: 3:23:19 — 139.6MB)
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Just listened to this.
It’s a pain to duplicate, so I will post a link to my memories of the Dreamcast. Thanks so much for these amazing podcasts, such memories, such depth, love it. Cheers.
TBH it’s heavily neglected, but I plan on getting it back up and running this year. Thing is, I have branched out a lot and definitely play more than SEGA these days, (e.g. XB360 CAVE shooters), but there we go.
Superb content and I’m going through the podcast back catalogue as I type. Expect a PayPal donation soon 🙂
Thanks M! Much appreciated.
Good podcast, as always! These console specials are a fun trip down memory lane.
Ask any fan of good old interactive art about Dreamcast, and the tone of the answer will be of purpose: Sega’s last console, Dreamcast was the first modern video game, of these capable of connecting to the network for online matches, and it died slowly and painfully on the shelves. The cause of death: few studios and publishers were interested in working with the platform due to a complicated architecture and an obtuse range of novelties (what the hell to do with a memory card that was also a liquid crystal display ?!). On the consumer side, a machine that was just a video game seemed like a bad deal when you could make your PlayStation 2 a perfectly viable DVD player.
But the same fan may remind you of something else: Dreamcast was a console ahead of its time. And he would be absolutely right: commercial success, after all, is not always a sign of lasting impact. In the case of the device, its influence has been running underground since 1999 among fans, developers and creatives. Taking advantage of the 20 years since the launch of Dreamcast in the West, we remember some of the great ideas launched by Sega that are still alive today – you just need to look elsewhere.
Shenmue (1999) x Yakuza Remaster Collection (2019)
Shenmue, developed by studio AM2 (Sega’s creative heart) under the baton of designer Yu Suzuki, is perhaps the most curious story of Dreamcast. Much because it was the most expensive game to produce so far, with a projected cost of around 70 million dollars. But it also has the team’s ambition: Shenmue was perhaps the first game to be successful in its mission to put you in someone else’s life, plant your feet on the digital streets and make-believe friendships of the plot. Each character in the game had a different name and different routines, and each day of the game respects the same weather conditions of the same months of 1986 that the plot simulates.
Phantasy Star Online (2000) x Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (2019)
Not only is the combat well done, but there were cool things like obstacles that require group effort to overcome. Everyone at the match needed to work together to proceed, “said a preview of Phantasy Star Online written by the IGN website at the turn of the century. Common place for those who rehearsed some video game games in recent years, but at the time, simple elements like these were innovative – even more if your teammates didn’t even share on the same couch as you. When it was launched in 2000 also by Sega, PSO was the first online RPG for consoles.
Jet Set Radio (2000) x Lethal League Blaze (2018)
If Genesis, PlayStation and Nintendo 64 each took their first steps towards 3D, many Dreamcast titles have chosen to transform the new dimension into art. This is the case of Jet Set Radio, launched in 2000 and whose visuals were a direct translation of street art into games. All the characters are assembled using stark colors and thick, angular outlines, and the game’s virtual Tokyo was a collage of unlikely architecture and clean walls ready for its next graffiti. Not to mention the soundtrack, which hasn’t aged a second.
Rez (2001) x Tetris Effect (2018)
Okay, Tetsuya Mizuguchi is a name, not an idea. But the guy has been developing a concept for years that started with Sega at the time of the Dreamcast, and is among one of the most successful insights of his time: synesthesia. Since Rez, Tetsuya has created digital experiences designed to be an interactive sensory explosion, with music, video and gameplay influencing each other.
It is an idea that Tetsuya most recently translated with his version of Tetris, called Tetris Effect. In the process, the designer created perhaps the only moment when we can confess that the classic Russian game was a true lysergic trip.