(This was originally written September, 8, 2005, back on my old Ramsey Propaganda website and I am posting it here again today 6+ years later. Unedited and in its original form)
The Dreamcast, powerful, fast, beautiful, perfect.
This system, leading up to its launch drove me insane, I wanted it so bad, everyday just reading about it, at night “dreaming” about it. The commercials were the best that any other console has EVER had. Sega’s slogan was, “You know its alive, worse, it knows its alive, It’s Thinking.” When I saw that I thought to myself, this is it, Sega wont fail this time. The Dreamcast had the best launch line up of any system EVER.
Games like Soul Calibur, NFL 2K, Sonic Adventure, Hydro Thunder, Ready 2 Rumble, Power Stone and so many more great titles. But what came after the launch was where the DC shined even more. Games like Unreal Tournament, Quake 3, Space Channel 5, Seaman, The whole 2K series, Grandia 2, DOA 2, Phantasy Star Online, Resident Evil:CV, Sega GT, Metropolis Street Racer (MSR), Test Drive Le Mans. All the great arcade fighters like Street Fighter, Marvel vs Capcom, Capcom vs SNK. And then there were the games that not only stood out above any games to ever be created before them, for any system, but that also still today stands to the test of time. Games that were so innovative and graphically superior to anything we had ever seen before, its why the DC is still loved in the hearts of gamers who got to experience it.
One of those games is Crazy Taxi, a game that no matter who you are or what you like, you will love it. It was fun, it was innovative, it was unlike anything before it, a true classic. Another game that really stood out was Shenmue, this game still today looks better than 90% of all PS2 games and alot of XBOX games for that matter. The game had a huge world, with hundreds of NPC’s, and one of the best and deepest storylines ever in a game. Jet Grind Radio was another innovative and fun game that is still today a cult classic in many parts of the world. Alot of games that were developed for the DC were later made for other systems, but they didnt compare to the originals.
The technology inside the DC was brilliant, especially for its time. It used a proprietary format called GD Rom. It was much like a CD rom, except it held 1.2gb of data, compared to a cd with only 800mb’s. It was also supposed to discourage piracy, but didnt, at all. Since games didnt use the whole size of the GD roms, people, much like myself were able to put games on a cd rom. Some games, like the big ones (Shenmue 2) were still put on CD roms, but are missing certain things from the original.
The DC had a web browser, the first console to ever feature this. It was the first console to include a modem (56k) to play games online and surf the net. And it worked great.
Here’s some specs for the DC:
Its CPU is a Hitachi 128 bit graphics “engine” with an on board RISC processor SH4 which was 200mhz and did 360 MIPS and 1.4 GFLOPS. The SH4 is optimized for floating point calculations and is on par with a Pentium 3, which at that time was top of the line. The Dreamcast had 64 bit and 128 bit components. Its graphics chip was a NEC PowerVR2 which could render 4 million polygons a second, although 7 million polygons a second was possible, the DC wasn’t around long enough for developers to push it to that limit.
It has all the hardware graphic effects of todays systems and in some cases it works better than some of todays systems, like for example, anti aliasing, which up till about 6 months ago was almost non exsistent in most PS2 games. Its memory is another factor in the DC that made it so powerful, It had 16mb’s of main system ram, 8mb’s of video ram and 2 mb’s of audio ram. The Dreamcast truly was a system that shouldve been around much longer than it was. But with Sony planning its launch of the PS2 and pushing out its hype, starting in april of 1999, the DC was doomed for the long haul right out of the gate.
On its launch day Sega made 98 million dollars, a record for Sega and the industry at that time. The DC fell to the PS2/Sony hype due in part to the numbers game that Sony played. Sony claimed that the PS2 could do 75 million polygons a second, to this day we have seen its highest polygon count in Gran Turismo 4 at 9 million a second. Another factor that killed the DC was the PS2′s backwards compatability with the PS1 and the built in DVD playback that the DC didnt have.
All in all the DC was a great system, that even by todays standards still has some of the prettiest graphics and sound. And was a stepping stone for Microsoft and XBOX live with online gaming. The Dreamcast sold close to 10 million consoles worldwide. Today its becoming a cult classic, there are more and more people wanting this sytem and its games, but its becoming harder and harder to find as its production was cut years ago.
Still, the DC was something of a success for Sega, even though the DC’s life span lasted (technically) about a year. After the blunder that was the Sega CD, 32x and the Saturn, all thanks to an idiot named Tom Kalinske for launching a 32 bit add on (32X) 3 months before launching a 32 bit console (Saturn). The DC showed that Sega really had class and the ability to create not only awesome hardware, but awesome software as well. And who knows, if Sega hadnt fired the genius behind the US launch of the DC (Bernie Stolar) it might still be around today.
The Dreamcast is lost but never forgotten. 9-9-99 to 10-26-00.