Wednesday, September 10, 2014

15 memories in honor of the Sega Dreamcast's 15th anniversary

You may have heard elsewhere that yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the Sega Dreamcast's North American launch. (For those of you who aren't great at math, that means it was released in this region on Sept. 9, 1999.)

In honor of that milestone, I thought it might be nice to take a little Dreamcast-focused trip down memory lane.

1. I bought one at launch--Oddly, I can only say that about a couple of consoles, like the Saturn and the Wii. And maybe the Nintendo 64. (I can't entirely remember when I got that last one, but I'm pretty sure it was within a few weeks or months of its release.) 

2. I sold my Japanese Saturn and games to pay for it--As much as I love my Dreamcast and the handful of games I've since acquired for it, I have to admit that I now regret this decision--or at least consider it to have been a somewhat questionable one. 

3. The system's design is what made me want the system--What can I say? It reminded me of NEC's PC Engine, which has long been my favorite console, aesthetically speaking.

4. Well, that and Sonic Adventure and Power Stone--Coming from the era that gave us the Nintendo 64, the PlayStation and the Saturn, these launch-day games looked positively futuristic to my young-ish eyes. I remember being especially entranced by Capcom's arena-based brawler.

5. I've never played Sonic Adventure, by the way--I'm not exactly sure why, unfortunately. Were reviews not so kind to this ambitious release? If so, that's likely the reason. Or maybe the other games I picked up at launch were enough to satisfy me?

6. I've also never owned or played Skies of Arcadia--Given my love of the RPG genre, and the praise that's often heaped upon this Overworks-developed title, that's sure to be a shocking revelation for some. I know it is for me.

7. Nor have I owned or played Samba de Amigo--Actually, this may be an even more surprising disclosure than the one above. I have a feeling the rather pricey (even back then) maraca controllers are what kept me from picking up a copy.

8. Worst admission yet: I also haven't owned or played Seaman--I mean, really--given the name of this blog, I should've at least played a game called Seaman, right? Seriously, despite the fact that this odd "virtual pet" has intrigued me since it first traipsed onto my radar, I've never experienced it firsthand. Maybe I'll rectify that sometime next year.

9. I've spent very little time with Shenmue despite liking what I've played of it--Here's another head-scratcher, or at least I think it is. At least there's a somewhat acceptable explanation for this one--that being that my older brother took this game and a few others (SoulCalibur being one, and Power Stone possibly being another) with him when we stopped sharing an apartment many, many years ago. As for why I've failed to buy a replacement copy in the ensuing decade or so, though, I can't say.

10. I'm pretty sure I've never imported a Dreamcast game--I say "I'm pretty sure" here because my memory's a bit foggy when it comes to this subject. Assuming that's the case, though, this is one of the few instances where I haven't bought even a single Japanese game for a system I still own. Don't worry, I plan to change that soon enough by picking up one or all of the following Japan-only Dreamcast titles: Boku no Tennis Jinsei, Net de Tennis, Lack of Love and Segagaga

11. Oh, and Space Channel 5: Part 2 as well--Sadly, I'm pretty sure acquiring this 2002 release is going to set me back a pretty penny--although maybe not as much as copies of the aforementioned Lack of Love and Segagaga are likely to cost me? Regardless, it'll be worth it, especially when you consider the following.

12. The original Space Channel 5 title is one of my all-time favorite games--I could play it over and over and over again and never become bored with it. In fact, I've done just that since first bought this fabulous rhythm game some years ago.

13. I don't believe I ever took my Dreamcast on line--I'm not entirely sure why that is, although I think it may have had a little something to do with the fact that the only online-enabled Dreamcast game I've ever owned is ChuChu Rocket!--which I didn't buy until a number of years after the system had exited the market.

14. I've never used a VMU to do anything other than data storage--In other words, I've never used it to play any of the mini-games that were included on a number of Dreamcast discs. Granted, a quick glance at this list suggests I own just a handful of titles that offer VMU support, so I guess I shouldn't feel too bad about this oversight.

15. I am determined to own one of the pink Hello Kitty Dreamcast systems before I die--In fact, maybe I'll make it a goal to check this off of my lengthy gaming wish list sometime in 2015.

Do any of you have fond (or otherwise) memories of Sega's final system? If so, please share them in the comments section of this post.


michaelstearns said...

I think I shared my key memory last year (which was that I thought I would be murdered in a fast food robbery incident the night before it launched). But I've got some responses to your post!

Sonic Adventure--I think you missed the window on this one, it's still a game I remember fondly but today it's extremely difficult to not view it as a buggy mess, and that's from someone who adored it at the time. It really felt like a breakthrough and as a first step into 3D it absolutely did not disappoint me. I spent well over 100 hours playing it! Since then I think 3D Sonic has "stabilized" into more polished products but also becomes extremely unexciting. :(

Also, besides Samba (and Sonic) I have not played or barely played the same "classic" DC titles as you (and if you want to play Skies of Arcadia you should get it on GC anyway, my chief complaint was the random encounter rate being insane and I understand they scaled it back for that version). I think it was just a case of knowing what you enjoy--they're all interesting games but I guess I didn't feel I was going to get much out of them. But, I did buy a lot of less notable titles just to try them out, too...

Space Channel 5 pt 2 I think is really good, I liked it a lot more than the first one, for some reason it just clicked better with me. I have heard from some people who really like the first one, though, that pt 2 feels like a rehash to them, mechanically speaking. Still, I think it's an amazing experience and strongly recommend it! Also for some reason I decided to get that one on PS2 instead of Dreamcast. I wonder why?

michaelstearns said...

(Also I sent you a PM on Facebook) said...

Hey there, Michael! Yeah, I'm pretty sure I've noted the anniversary of the Dreamcast's release a number of times over the years--and I'm guessing you've commented on some or all of those posts, too :)

You're not the first person to basically warn me away from Sonic Adventure, by the way. Sounds like it's a game that you really had to enjoy when it was first released, eh?

I'm definitely going to (finally) get SC5 Part 2 soon, and I can't imagine I'll care if it feels like a rehash. I love the first one so much that a second trip through the same universe should be exciting to me no matter what.

Oh, and I don't think it's at all weird that you bought the PS2 version of SC5 Part 2 (the NA release that includes both SP5 games, I hope?). I've had my eye on the same thing for ages, actually. I guess I was just meant to buy the DC version :) said...

Ah! I'll go check it out now...

michaelstearns said...

I actually got the Japanese release, they hadn't released it in English yet at the time and I would have wanted it in Japanese anyway.. is the US version bilingual?

Anyway I wouldn't completely say "don't play Sonic Adventure!" but just that it would be really hard to impress the way it did at the time, especially being pretty rough in places. In fact some of its best places are also its roughest places! Still, those best places are pretty neat, heh! said...

I have no idea if the US version is bilingual or not, Michael. I'm going to guess it's not, but I have absolutely nothing with which to back up that guess :)

Anyway, thanks for clarifying your thoughts on this one. I have a feeling I'll pick it up at some point just because I'm curious about it. Plus, I can't imagine copies cost all that much these days.

Walter Beast said...

Roommania and Tokyo Bus Guide are weird imports. And Cool Cool Toon (SNK's Jet Set Space Channel 5 like game).
Speaking of Jet Set, De La Jet Set Radio has some of the coolest boxart.
Oh, and let us not forget Rez and Ikaruga! said...

Hey there, Walter! I've heard of Roommania, but Tokyo Bus Guide? Well, er, it certainly sounds ... interesting. Guess I'll have to look up some info on it.

Oh, and I've definitely heard about and even seen some videos of Cool Cool Toon. It's cute! Not entirely sure about the gameplay, though.

Finally, YES, I too love the box art for De La Jet Set Radio. Really great stuff there :)

Riven said...

Dreamcast has this huge cult following and I'm genuinely interested in why. I bought one used and when I realized it had almost no games I wanted to play, I ended up getting rid of it. It's actually the only console I've ever gotten rid of in my entire life! I really liked Sonic Adventure, but I ended up just buying it for GameCube later on (and then PC). The only other game I really wanted to play on it was Skies of Arcadia, perhaps Phantasy Star Online. I don't know. It's sad because I really like the actual design of the system. I think it's adorable! But if a system has less than 5 games total that I want to play on it, I'm not sure it's worth keeping around as anything other than a decoration.

(And I totally would buy the Hello Kitty Dreamcast just for decoration, haha.)

I don't doubt that there may have been a lot of good JP games for it that never came out here, but sadly my Japanese probably isn't good enough to play any of them. (For some reason I bought DiGi Charat Fantasy, and when I realized there was too much text in it, it went on eBay.)

Monster_Hunter2882 said...

I feel bad for having only played ports of Dreamcast games. said...

Hey there, Riven! I'm sorry to hear the system and its games catalog weren't a hit for you. That happens sometimes.

For me, though, there definitely are more than five games I'm interested in for the system. Hell, I already own more than that (I think I own seven DC games at the moment), and there are at least 10 more on my wish list. said...

Eh, don't feel bad, Sam. It's good that a lot of the DC's best--or most noteworthy, at least--games have been ported to other systems, if you ask me. Should you ever feel an interest playing them in their original form, used DC systems and games can be picked up pretty cheaply these days. Sure, some games are really pricey, but many others are cheap. And if you're OK with just playing ports and remakes? That's great, too!

Xinen said...

I absolutely love the system. I bought mine with my second paycheck from my new job at the time, even after hearing that Sega had pulled the plug. My mom even heard about that and tried to warn me. Still, its a great party system, and what it did with the online was incredible imho. I do feel that like most 3D games many titles don't age well, but there are still some classics in there. Some of my faves are Grandia 2, Last Blade 2, Powerstone 1 & 2, Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, Shenmue ("where can I find sailors?" haha, my navy officer dad was always so worried that I kept looking for seamen). There are of course many other titles, but I strangely can't remember many. Quake III Arena was killer despite the 4 player limitations, Unreal Tournament was a blast.
I too never finished Shenmue, or used my VMU for anything other than data. I do feel it was abandoned way to early and unfortunately Sega has been kicking me square in the nuts with every iteration of my beloved franchises. Golden Axe and Shining Force are amongst my favorite franchises ever, but alas, how the mighty have fallen. Such a good era though, I would bounce between my PS1, and my first paycheck went to the collector's edition of Lunar 2 Eternal Blue, such a great title. Ah those good ol' days of those games, Final Fantasy when it was in top form, Suikoden 1 & 2. My apologies for waxing nostalgic. Damn how time flies though. Loving my Sony systems though including my PS3/4/Vita combo. said...

Hey there, Xinen. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love that you got into the DC so late in the game. It reminds me of when I finally bought a PS2--the system was all but dead by then XD Still, I've loved it dearly since, just like I loved/love my DC and its games. Glad to hear you're in the same boat!

Lewis Packwood said...

Great post! I absolutely loved my Dreamcast - it's still my favourite
ever console. Phantasy Star Online was amazing, and it's still the only
online game I've ever really gotten into.

I'd highly recommend
Skies of Arcadia, it's one of my favourite RPGs. I think the later
GameCube version has some extra content though, so you might want to track down that one.

the console's demise I'd collected pretty much every halfway decent
game for it, but there were still a few I missed out on - Billy Hatcher
and the Giant Egg, OutRigger and Cosmic Smash to name a few. Maybe it's
time to track them down... said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lewis! It's always nice to hear from a fellow Dreamcast fan :)

Thanks, too, for recommending Skies of Arcadia. I guess I'll have to get off my butt and pick up a copy of it one of these days.

I'm also curious about Cosmic Smash, by the way. I remember finding it interesting back when it was released, but like you I failed to pick it up for whatever reason.

Chief said...

I don't know how I missed this post. Dreamcast singlehandedly brought me back to home consoles. I was burned by watching the Saturn burn. Dreamcast was the SEGA swan song and it was beautiful.

I've been after a copy of Space Channel 5: part 2, samba de amigo boxed, and the Limited Edition Segaga. Those are a few of the things I'm missing from my DC collection. I've been able to get quite a bit when SEGA quit hardware and thrift a few things. I'd like to collect a few limited edition consoles but only if I can get the matching controllers, vmu, and KB+Mouse.

Great post! Cheers & RIP SEGA! it hasn't been the same since.

Chief said...

Why you guys no VMU. There were some decent time killer games on it. Enjoyed killing time after tests during my last year in middle school with it.