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Showing posts with label Ready 2 Rumble. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ready 2 Rumble. Show all posts

A Dreamcast Launch Retrospectacle: Celebrating/Ranking the Games of 9.9.99

Well, shit. It’s been 21 years since the Dreamcast’s North American launch. That makes it old enough to drink here.

Legally.

Of course, that’s hardly news for all you folks outside of the States. In Japan, the Dreamcast has been of legal libation consumption age for nearly two years, both because it came out almost a year earlier and because the nation’s legal drinking age is 20. Doubly so for most European countries. In Germany, kids as young as 14 can drink wine and beer with their parents’ consent, which means the Dreamcast has been allowed to partake in the devil’s sauce for over seven years (with permission from the Saturn and Mega Drive, of course). And apparently you Brits have been legally allowed to drink at home since you were five (?!) years old. If true, the Dreamcast has been pounding pints in the UK since the Nintendo DS was in nappies.

Anyway, I write all of this because I find it both a convenient and unnecessarily convoluted excuse to crack open some brewskies and reminisce about the Dreamcast’s iconic launch library all those years ago. In the spirit of the occasion, I’d like to think of this feature as a Dreamcast 21 run of sorts.

I’ve always been fascinated with video game console launches and the “next gen” titles that usher us into each new era of gaming. I believe these launches provide unique insights into how platform holders aspire to position their consoles and contribute to the broader evolution of the medium. Console launches give us a glimpse into the creative mindsets of developers seeking to innovate with the new technological possibilities afforded to them. Then there’s the sheer spectacle of it all, which can also be fun in itself.

When it comes to the all-time great console launches, I can’t think of a better time than the sixth generation. Leading the way, of course, was the Sega Dreamcast. You probably don’t need me to sell you on the brilliance of its launch collection. At least in North America and PAL territories (sorry, Japan), there was almost a magic surrounding it. From day one, the Dreamcast hosted a legendary library of excellent games, many of which remain widely revered by the Junkyard community. I’ve recently replayed all 19 of the North American launch titles and I’m surprised which ones have held up at least as well as, if not better than I expected. Others, less so. More than anything, revisiting the Dreamcast’s launch library has helped strengthen my appreciation for the creative risks Sega took with its final console debut, as well as the more enduring impacts its games ultimately had on the medium.

It boggles my mind to consider the rare confluence of factors that could've enabled the Dreamcast to spoil early adopters with such a wealth of launch day riches. Back then, and for a variety of reasons, console launch lineups seemed more crucial for setting the tone and tenor of the experiences we might associate with those platforms. Perhaps the relative technical strides between generations underscored the need to show off a diverse stable of games that could never have existed previously. And before development costs skyrocketed in the HD era, maybe it was easier for more devs to begin and finish their projects in the time between receiving dev kits and preparing for launch. At the very least, developers might've been freer to work in peace without us asshat fans yammering at them on social media all the time.

So now, after 21 years, I figured I’d share my thoughts on all 19 North American Dreamcast launch titles through a not-completely-sober, retrospective lens. Here are my totally biased and nostalgia-be-damned takes on the Dreamcast’s original launch lineup. And in no particular ord—actually, screw it. I’m not usually a fan of ranked game lists but I’m a couple of beers in at this point and I’m fine with being a hypocrite.

OK. Worst to first. Let’s go...

Spooky Happenings In Ready 2 Rumble

One of the most interesting and useful components of the Dreamcast's operating system is that it features an internal calendar and clock function. While this may seem pretty standard today, back in the late 1990s this wasn't the case, with many preceding platforms (and even contemporary hardware, such as the N64) eschewing such features at a system level. The Dreamcast was by no means the first console to employ an internal clock and calendar, but I'd wager it was the first one to make meaningful use of it in a way that actually had any significant importance in gameplay.

Games like Metropolis Street Racer use the clock to set the time of day in the various cities, while Seaman uses it to help dictate the incubation time of your grotesque, aquatic man-faced mutants. One other nice little feature that the internal clock and calendar allowed for, was time-sensitive bonuses and two particular titles make interesting (albeit minor) visual alterations should you set the date to 31st October, All Hallows' Eve.

If you fire up Midway's Ready 2 Rumble on this most macabre of dates, you'll notice some extra spooky spectators in among the cheering fans during the bouts:
See? It doesn't end there though, for if you fire up the sequel Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2 you'll be treated to a fairly grotesque new canvas in the ring - one which is again adorned with a quartet of skellingtons, along with the ambiguous text 'Plays well with others. Well, most of the time':
There are plenty of other downloadable bonuses for Dreamcast games (see Sonic Adventure for the main ones), and plenty of Halloween and horror themed games and levels within said games, but we thought it was worth giving this fairly obscure little bonus an airing on this most spooky of days.

Found any more? Let us know in the comments, in our Facebook group or on Twitter. Pumpkin Hill doesn't count, by the way.