When Love For The Dreamcast Dies...

We’ve all got our Dreamcast back story. Some of us bought it at launch, having bought every Sega console since the Master System, including the 32X and Mega CD. Some of us were beguiled by the advertising; cinema adverts between big budget movies, featuring “the Dreamcast Barber”, or the classic “Its thinking…” TV commercial, showing the Dreamcast to be a machine so vastly superior to the existing consoles, that purchase was a necessity. It was new, it was sexy, it was enthralling…
But for me, the whole console launch, the killer apps and the must have games, the wacky peripherals and the arcade perfect experiences, completely passed me by. A proud Sega supporter, I was  first a Megadrive, then Saturn owner, but my kids had rebelled against the Saturn as the “family console”, insisting on a Playstation for Christmas 1998. And not too long after that, my desire to game waned; the chief gamers in the house were now my two eldest sons, (aged 7 and 10 at the time)…we simply 'progressed' to a PS2 (with GTA 3 and a DVD player!) The Dreamcast and indeed Sega as a console maker, was finished before I even realised it had been in the race…
I received my first Dreamcast in the summer of 2004. It had belonged to a nephew of mine, and he thought his younger cousins might be interested in it. Being complete PS2 addicts, they didn’t give it a second look, but I, on the other hand, did. I became intrigued by it, beguiled and charmed by it. I started to use my newly acquired home PC to research the failed enigma that was the Dreamcast, finding Planet Dreamcast, all of the IGN reviews and of course, our beloved Dreamcast Junkyard. I felt gutted that I had missed out on it’s launch, it’s short life and it’s untimely demise…I tried to immerse myself into it’s history, in a vain attempt to recapture something that had been all too fleeting…the Dreamcast burning brightly in the consciousness of gamers everywhere...



It was then that my interest morphed into something of an unhealthy obsession. I started buying every game I could, watching endless YouTube videos and spending long hours on blogs and forums. Tom Charnock, the very founder of this esteemed site, kindly allowed me to pen a few piss poor articles, and let me be a member of the Junkyard team. I sought out rarer games, imports and peripherals, met a strange man, in a service station on the M1, at 11:15 at night to procure a wank Treamcast, scored a sweet Dreamcast with a see through green shell, but also ton of worthless cack….lots of stuff I didn’t need like an Arsenal Dreamcast shirt, a neon Dreamcast “bar sign”, and endless coloured controllers and VMUs. I dread to think of my total financial outlay on the system, and I dread my wife knowing it, even more.
I was a man obsessed.
But little by little, the love, the obsession, the interest, that had at first consumed me, began to fade and fizzle. And it was partly, no, in fact mostly, Sega’s fault. An outrageous assertion? Lets see.
Not ones to miss up on the opportunity of making a quick buck out of their old IPs, Sega had bought out the Dreamcast Collection (Crazy Taxi, Sonic Adventure, Space Channel 5 Part II, and Sega Bass Fishing) for the Xbox 360, my 'current gen' console. The practise of bringing out last generation games, as cut price bundles, on current generation consoles, has been going on since the Megadrive days. Its a way for the game buying public to tap into a bit of recent nostalgia, or play classic games they may have missed. Its also a lazy way for publisher to wring out the last few quid, from tired old IPs.
The collection was a reasonable representation of classic Dreamcast fare, however, Space Channel 5 (Part 2) was a good inclusion, something a little unusual, and maybe unplayed by the odd Dreamcast enthusiast. Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure were good solid titles and bonafide Dreamcast classics. But Sega Bass Fishing, obviously now to be played without the fishing rod peripheral, always seemed like an odd choice to me.
Knowing of my love for the Dreamcast, one of my lovely sons decided to buy me a copy  of the collection for Christmas. I didn’t need it…I had all of the games after all! But he thought I might want it, hence it arrived under the tree along with my socks, aftershave and matching woolly hat and glove set…(Christmas presents take a nosedive when you hit middle age). Sadly, that innocent act of festive generosity was the start of it. The effect was immediate. Firstly,  I actually played Sonic Adventure to its conclusion, something I’d never done on the Dreamcast. I asked myself why? Was it the controller?
Next, I found myself driving a Crazy Taxi, to a vastly inferior soundtrack, now lacking the Offspring charm of the original. Why would I do that? I did play a bit of Space Channel 5… but not enough to unlock Space Michael. I even flirted with a bit of “360 Controller Bass Fishing”. Why was I neglecting my Dreamcast, to play these titles on the 360? I soon realised, however, that it was because it was so much easier for the lazy gamer. No tiny memory VMUs, no changing plugs, wires or leads, wireless controllers(!) and the ability to continue using my 360 24/7 which I was a bit taken with at the time…it was enticing.
But what sealed the deal, and saw the end of my torrid affair with the Dreamcast (and Saturn for that matter), was Xbox Live. When Dreamcast titles started to appear on other consoles, as physical discs, the love had begun to die… it wasn’t just the  games on the Xbox Dreamcast Collection disc. I’d also bought House Of The Dead Part 2 & 3 , plus Samba De Amigo on the Wii. I’d got Shenmue 2 for the Xbox which could be played on the 360,and Powerstone 1 & 2 and Crazy Taxi 1 & 2 on the PSP… I now had a choice of nine Dreamcast games that I could play on the current gen systems I loved the most…
Xbox Live, in the meantime had started leaking Dreamcast games like an incontinent pensioner in a fresh pair of Huggies…Jet Set Radio, Sonic Adventure 2, Soul Calibur (plus Daytona USA, Virtua Fighter 2, NiGHTS and Fighting Vipers from the Saturn’s repertoire…) and like the frivolous, money haemorrhaging sucker that I am, I bought ‘em all.
Little by little, the lightguns and the analogue TVs were fobbed in favour of the Wiimotes and the digital flat screens. The disturbing wheezing, sawing, whirring disc drive of the Dreamcast was replaced by the hushed tones of the Xbox 360 and the "My Games" selection of it’s system, where without getting up from my chair, I could now play Gears Of War, followed by Soul Calibur, followed by Fighting Vipers, NiGHTs, Sonic Adventure and… well you get the picture. So much of Sega’s IP was now whored out all over Xbox Live, along with new games which scratched the Sega itch, by including a plethora of fan service in titles such as… Sonic & Sega Superstars Tennis, Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing.
My rejection of my Sega consoles mustn’t have gone unnoticed by my eldest son, because on one dark day in 2012, he scooped up all of my Dreamcast collection, all of my Saturn collection: games, consoles, peripherals, rarities, imports and frivolous tat, into a series of bin bags (I kid you not) and dumped  it all in the loft. Whilst I was furious and quick to transfer the games into plastic storage cases, much of the hardware remains buried to this day,  in a landslide of domestic shite in that upstairs wasteland...

And that, my dear friends is how one man’s love for the Dreamcast died. What a sad and depressing tale. At least it would be, if that was how the story ended...
Next time: Discover how mine and the Dreamcast’s love for each other was rekindled, like that of two lonely divorcees, liquored up at a school reunion.

8 comments:

hoogafanter said...

Got mine on Christmas 2000. Loved it ever since, never stopped playing...

Florian Wallin said...

Got mine 2002 or 2003 , missed the launch by some reason. Today i have about 80% of all pal titles plus most of the shmups , 5 dreamcasts and 13 cobtrollers etc etc... yes i am addicted to Dreamcast , why ? Im not sure but there is something special with tgis system. The last console made for real arcadegamer - ish feeling .... and its a sexy beast ;D

Florian Wallin said...

Sorry had to add this, playing for example crazy taxi on another system (no matter witch one) can never feel the same as on the the original tbh. Maybe it looks better in 360 ? Or sounds better, but on the original hardware is how it was supposed to play. (Not saying its bad on other systems but best on the dreamcast)

Daniel Turner said...

that’s a hell of a cliffhanger! i want part 2 now! :)

Damon Fillman said...

While modern consoles take up most of gaming these days, I still regularly think and play the Dreamcast. It holds a special place in my heart and that will never wane...

jon lee said...

lol i know how this ends. Father K i am so very proud of you. A truely great article that reminds me of the saturn articles you were writting when we met.

ItsMuchMore said...

Great read, always had a love for Sega and the Dreamcast, never owned a PS1 and only got a PS2 for some online titles like Twisted Metal Black and Resident Evil Outbreak File 2

Had Dreamcast since launch and it made way for the Xbox Original as games like Outrun and Spikeout Battle Street were just too good to miss out on.

So when found out about getting Dreamcast back online all the other consoles and computers were pushed aside and the Dreamcast is back in the forefront of my gaming!

Now the Adventure is trying to rebuild my PAL collection, however speaking about Adventure, Xbox 360 Dreamcast collection had Sonic Adventure 1 not Sonic Adventure 2 :)

Simon Early said...

Yes absolutely correct! Thanks for pointing that out. It will be corrected..