Star-Spangled Box Art

I realise that this post will date extremely quickly, but as it's US Independence Day I thought I would take a quick look at something relevant, but that we haven't really touched on in the past - the different types of US Dreamcast hardware and software packaging. But first: a public service announcement:
Happy Independence Day!
Now that's out of the way, let's begin. The PAL Dreamcast packaging never actually changed from the day the system was launched, to the day Sega drop-kicked the Dreamcast into a wheelie bin. It was always the same - the blue and white boxes, minimalist text and a few warning labels. From a design perspective, this packaging was perfectly serviceable and suited the Dreamcast's image well. There were a few special edition cardboard sleeves that went around the console boxes (and the House of the Dead 2 gun set), but for the most part PAL hardware boxes didn't vary. In the US though, the packaging underwent something of a major redesign about a year after the system's launch.

The original packaging looks like this:
How a Dreamcast looks when you've got a hangover.
As far as console boxes go, it's quite nice. The slightly out-of-focus console lit from various angles with orange and blue is certainly eye-catching, and the design on the left that mirrors the Dreamcast GD drive door and LED lens is a nice nod to the actual physical styling of the console. Indeed, Sega also used this 'side bar' design on the game boxes/manuals too. Elsewhere in the hardware catalogue, the imagery was replicated - the keyboard and controller boxes also used a similar design:
How the controller looks when you've got a hangover.
How the keyboard...you get the idea. Sigh.

It appears that at some time in 2000, Sega decided to re-brand they system, the peripherals and the games, and the Dreamcast entered the 'black' era. According to this article from Games Radar, this was an attempt to counter Sony's PS2 although there's no real evidence to support this theory. My own theory about the colouring of the Dreamcast's original packaging (and the console itself) is that Sega were keen to distance the Dreamcast from the Saturn and perform a complete switch-up of colour schemes. That they would revert to a predominantly dark-coloured packaging design and completely drop the 'Sega' bit from their product logo is something that was obviously decided at board level...but makes little sense to me at least. Regardless, the switch was made and this rather fetching new design (complete with 'the ultimate gaming system' tagline) was introduced:
Sitting quite a way from the TV here.
The whole 'space' thing is really quite nice and affords the system an 'other worldly' appearance. Mimicking the images of a satellite orbiting the Earth or a space ship chasing the sun around a planet, it sends a message that the console is not of terrestrial origin and offers experiences that can only be found by heading to the cosmos. Or maybe I'm just talking corporate advertising shit. The peripherals also found themselves getting the same treatment:
That's a long wire if it reaches all the way to the sun.
The long and short of it is, Sega changed the Dreamcast's US branding around a year after the console launched. The reasons for it are not fully known, but both designs look good. The only thing that can be seen as a negative is that if you have a large collection of NTSC-U games, the black and white game cases can look a bit odd when they're all mixed up on a shelf. But that's just me being a pitifully sad nerd.
Ryu wondered where he'd left his car keys as the traffic warden approached.
What do you think? Which do you prefer? Comments please! Right. I'm off to whistle The Star-Spangled Banner and drink Budweiser from a cowboy boot.

10 comments:

Matt Lambourne said...

An odd change and even with 2 shots at the brand, I still find that the U.S. dreamcast branding is the worst of the 3 regions... Just plain ugly!

nocarpayment said...

I purchased the launch unit on launch day. I though the box was meh back then. Sega tried some form of rebranding and later changed it. The second box is better i believe.

BIGMercenary said...

You forgot to mention the tough but oddly-colored Sports Edition, with its warring orange and green colored box. Nothing like having your eyes assaulted by two colors that just don't match.
As for the cases, I preferred the white more, it fit along the colors of the DC itself with the orange dash in the middle of it. But really I never knew about the re-branding, I always thought that meant they were platinum sellers. You learn something new every day.

Tom Charnock said...

Yeah, I'm aware of the special editions such as the 'sports' one, but I was just focussing on the 'standard' ones here. Thanks for reading and commenting though :)

CD ageS said...

I find it somewhat funny you mentioning one of reasons behind the redesign change being to distance the console from the Saturn. "The Ultimate Gaming System" subtitle was also used on console packaging of the Saturn system in the US so... lol!
I really like the latter Black and Blue design. It looked good across the board IMO.

Simon Early said...

The Japanese Saturn was nearly the same colour as the common PAL Dreamcast. Perhaps the colour switch was inspired by a desire to recreate the success of the Saturn in Japan?

Simon Early said...

The Japanese Saturn was nearly the same colour as the common PAL Dreamcast. Perhaps the colour switch was inspired by a desire to recreate the success of the Saturn in Japan?

Simon Early said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ronaldo Chambers said...

In my opinion the second redesign if the box with the ultimate gaming system tagline looms better but the earlier white game cases looks better than the black version

Super Magnetic said...

The white cases are far superior in my opinion, while I like the eclipse boxes better.