The Sega Dreamcast launched 21 years ago today, and those who remember Sega’s very last system in the console market have nothing but great things and fond memories to share.
Released in September 9, 1999 in North America, the 128-bit powered console was a playful sight to behold — with the base unit priced at $199 and packed along with a unique huge controller that featured four buttons, d-pad, analog stick, and two docks that could be used for peripherals such as the VMU or Visual Memory Unit. Some of the games that launched with the title include Sonic Adventure, Soulcalibur, Power Stone, and NFL 2K, but those would just be a prelude of great things to come for the system.
Despite facing stiff competition with the eventual launch of the Sony Playstation 2, Nintendo Gamecube, and Microsoft Xbox, the Dreamcast was a technical wonder and would be home to some of the most acclaimed video games of its time. It would be the system Capcom chose to continue its Resident Evil franchise with in “Resident Evil Code: Veronica” — which was the true follow-up to Resident Evil 2 and sees Claire Redfield reuniting with her brother Chris to take on zombies, new threats, and the return of Albert Wesker. Capcom would also release most of their best fighting games on the Dreamcast such as Marvel Vs Capcom 2 and Capcom vs SNK 1 and 2, and that primarily had to do with the fact that those games were powered by the NAOMI arcade board — the same technology that was incorporated into the Dreamcast and helped power the console as well.
Arguably one of the most beloved games in the system was Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue — an action adventure title that helped pioneer the open-world and exploration concept mixed with martial arts brawling and quick time events. The game follows a young martial artist named Ryo Hazuki, who seeks revenge for his father’s death at the hands of Lan Di. The game would go on to be a cult classic, and set the stage for two more sequels that continued the story.
One of the key innovations of the system was helping pioneer the concept of online gaming, which was possible with the broadband adapter that could connect players to the internet. Games such as Marvel Vs Capcom 2 and Phantasy Star Online made use of this technology on a dial-up modem, and helped establish the potential of bringing the multiplayer experience outside of your home and into the wide virtual world.
21 years ago today,on 9/9/99,the Sega Dreamcast was launched in NA,ushering in what millions now take for granted…online gaming.Somehow we got games to run via a 56k dial-up modem, and generated the biggest 24 hrs in retail entertainment sales history! https://t.co/FSUewVhFz8 pic.twitter.com/85F9HtuyNk
— Peter Moore (@PeterMooreLFC) September 9, 2020
Former Sega of America president and COO Peter Moore, who was instrumental in the launch and push of the Dreamcast in the US, chimed in on his Twitter to celebrate the occasion and birthday of the late system. However his tenure also saw the eventual discontinuation of the console, which he has accepted full responsibility for and detailed in an old interview with The Guardian:
We had a tremendous 18 months. Dreamcast was on fire – we really thought that we could do it. But then we had a target from Japan that said we had to make x hundreds of millions of dollars by the holiday season and shift x millions of units of hardware, otherwise we just couldn’t sustain the business. So on January 31st, 2001, we said Sega is leaving hardware. We were selling 50,000 units a day, then 60,000, then 100,000, but it was just not going to be enough to get the critical mass to take on the launch of PS2. Somehow I got to make that call, not the Japanese. I had to fire a lot of people; it was not a pleasant day.
And with that, Happy Birthday Sega Dreamcast!