The Last Hurrah Of The 20th Century
Twenty years ago, on September 9, 1999 (9-9-99), Sega launched its final system in North America. The Dreamcast had been hyped since the demise of the Saturn, and the screenshots I had seen in copies of GamePro had me doubting that any system could pull off those graphics. However, with the launch of the PlayStation 2 about a year away, the system appeared doomed from the start.
The launch of the system was indeed a cause for celebration, including the first true 3D Sonic platformer. While Sonic Adventure was the main event of the launch, there were a plethora of other titles available that made it one of the most memorable console launches.
Along with Sonic Adventure, Ready 2 Rumble was a much-celebrated title intent on showcasing what Sega’s new powerhouse console was capable of delivering.
Not having a Dreamcast at launch, I played the PlayStation version of this game, which was a decent PS1 game. However, when I finally took the Dreamcast plunge, the magnitude of the difference between the two versions made me regret the time wasted on the inferior version.
Combining a mix of realistic and arcade boxing action, Ready 2 Rumble was more of a statement for the Dreamcast than it was a game, though. Yes, the graphics were amazing, but the game, while fun, was lacking in much replay value.
Whereas Mike Tyson’s PunchOut! is still fun to pick up and play, Ready 2 Rumble now shares more in common with a used up whore. Sure, she was pretty in her day and can still provide a thrill or two, but the old girl just ain’t worth it anymore.
Connecting To The World
NFL 2k made its debut at launch. While this game was not capable of online play, the next installment would offer that feature, making the Dreamcast the first system synonymous with online play.
While this ability is standard nowadays, and some prior systems had online capabilities, the Dreamcast had it built into the system from the start. There are even a dedicated few still keeping the spark lit with servers for Phantasy Star and possibly other titles.
While a lot of hipster Dreamcast fans will brag about PowerStone, the true highlight of the fighting genre at system launch was Soul Calibur. The first time I played this game, it was as if I had received a package from the future. I couldn’t believe a home console was providing graphics superior to the arcade games at the time.
Better Than The Arcade!
Unlike Ready 2 Rumble, Soul Calibur provided both amazing graphics and a deep level of gameplay. While it had the familiar Arcade mode found in most fighting games, Mission battle tests require the player to approach the game in a variety of manners to accomplish tasks and acquire points for the host of the game’s unlockables.
Until We Meet Again
The Dreamcast would go on to have a variety of outstanding and quirky titles (looking at you, SeaMan), but it died a premature death. As far ahead of the competition, it was in 1999, by 2001, the system was outdated, in large part to lacking DVD playback that was standard on the PS2. The ability to pirate games easily also saw software sales suffer, expediting the system’s demise.
Despite its short life, the Dreamcast is remembered fondly by most gamers who witnessed its heyday. Whether this fondness is simply because it was Sega’s last foray into competing on the hardware front or a number of other reasons, the Dreamcast continues to live on in, occasionally seeing new releases by independent developers.
If you were there 20 years ago, sound off below about your Dreamcast memories.