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Showing posts with label Dreamcast Express. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dreamcast Express. Show all posts

Dreamcast Express Extra

A few months ago I managed to acquire an almost complete set of Dreamcast Express demo discs. You can read all about those here, but if you can't be bothered to click that link and you're wondering what the hell Dreamcast Express is, let me explain. Dreamcast Express was the name given to an exclusive set of demo and preview discs sent by mail to subscribers of Sega's Dreamcast Partners initiative. Subscribers were privy to content in the form of playable demos, videos and VMU saves that were stored on the discs and in some cases these playable demos differed drastically to the final product. The most glaring example of this is the Buggy Heat demo featured on Dreamcast Express volume one, in which the controls are completely different and you have the ability to 'free look' like you do in most modern racers. If you lived in Japan at the time of the Dreamcast and had the foresight to subscribe to the Partners service, you would also be treated to a rather brilliant welcome pack, and that can be viewed here, complete with English translation.
Now, at the start of this diatribe, I mentioned that I had an almost complete set of Dreamcast Express. That's because apart from the regular volumes (numbered 1 to 7), Sega issued another volume simply titled 'Extra.' I came to own this addition to the Dreamcast Express series through the kindness of reader and contributor James - the very same gentleman who recently submitted the Partners welcome pack images. James also sent me (for the price of postage alone) several volumes of the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine's cover disc series and I will be casting my gaze over those in a future post. For now though, let's delve into Dreamcast Express Extra and see what's hiding on the GD and in the booklet...

Dreamcast Partners Club Welcome Pack (With English Translation)

The Dreamcast Partners Club was a Japan-only membership club that Sega offered to subscribers, and gave Dreamcast owners access to exclusive content. This content was mainly delivered in the form of the Dreamcast Express demo discs, but also allowed members to collect Dream Point Bank credits that could be exchanged for swirl-branded trinkets, peripherals and the teeth of long-dead warrior kings. Here in Europe, we never got the option to join the Partners Club (and neither did US gamers), so it remains something of an unknown chapter in Dreamcast folklore to many.
This bank is more trustworthy than most.

Thanks to a reader called James though, we can now show you what you would have received in the post as a welcome to the Dreamcast Partners Club had you taken the plunge and signed up. It's mainly the usual stuff you'd expect - membership cards and welcome letters and the like, but there's also a copy of that bizarre Yukawa puzzle game and an intriguing VHS tape. James has promised to get the tape digitised and uploaded to YouTube asap so that we can share it here, but in the meantime cast your peepers over the rest of this intriguing letterbox spam Dreamcast paraphernalia...

A Rough Guide To Dreamcast Express

For a console that was only really supported for three years (more or less), the Dreamcast has left an impressive mark on the landscape of the gaming world. Looking at the system retrospectively, it's true that the Dreamcast was something of a commercial disaster for Sega even considering the record-breaking launches and relatively impressive sales figures. That said, it still amazes me the sheer volume of paraphernalia that was generated around the brand - from alarm clocks and pocket TVs to pens, jackets, mugs, bags and even tissue box holders...the amount of merchandise and superfluous branded tat that was spawned to celebrate the arrival of Sega's final console is bewildering. Some systems died on their asses simply because the public weren't aware of the thing's existence; but Sega were clearly on a mission to make sure that didn't happen to the Dreamcast, and while the platform didn't quite reach the commercial targets they had in mind, nobody can say that the firm was stingy with the marketing budget.

Marketing the Dreamcast brand was not strictly limited to stamping swirls on tea towels and mouse mats though - in Japan at least, Sega took things a little further by allowing gamers to sign up for a 'partner' service which furnished them with exclusive demo and preview discs. These could be played in their Dreamcasts and offered a sneak peek at future releases and featured exclusive bonus content that wasn't available anywhere else. This series of discs was called Dreamcast Express and seven volumes were released between 1999 and 2000, and they each comprise either a single or double GD set packed full of imaginatively-presented content.