Console of the Month (Feb 2017) – Sega Dreamcast

For the month of February, I’m diving back into Sega hardware only 5 months after covering the Genesis and 4 months after covering the Sega CD and 32X. I guess this means I’m a bit of a closeted Sega fan boy which is surprising for me to admit since I never actually owned any of the Sega gaming systems when they were originally released.

Sega’s final home console, the Dreamcast, was released on 9/9/99 in North America and was instantly popular thanks to its next gen feel and great launch library. After the disaster that was the Saturn launch, Sega needed to hit this one out of the park in order to carve into the PlayStation and Nintendo 64’s demographics and sales. I think the Dreamcast definitely succeeded in doing that with it’s unique and memorable library plus it was the first console out of the gate with a built in modem for online playing capabilities. When the PlayStation 2 was released only a year later, the Dreamcast almost instantly became a relic without a DVD drive and slightly less powerful graphics capabilities (debatable). This is unfortunate because in the mere one and a half years that the Dreamcast was supported by Sega, the percentage of good to great games of the system’s total library is amazing.

I considered buying a brand new Dreamcast once I heard its discontinuation in the Spring of 2001 but by then I was considering buying a used PS2 from a co-worker looking to pick up an Xbox when it would launch later that year. I didn’t feel the need to buy another console, even if discounted, since I already had a PlayStation that was filling that void. It would have been nice to have a complete in box Dreamcast in my collection but isn’t hindsight always 20/20? As it was, I bought a used Dreamcast at a video game store sometime in 2002 as they were heavily discounted by then. I also bought 90% of my current library in the one or two years after discontinuation as many owners were looking to unload their Dreamcast games to earn money towards PS2, Xbox & Nintendo Gamecube titles. I must have had good sense of quality for the games I bought then as much of my library consists of what are considered the top games for the system. Either I was lucky or I had a sixth sense about these things because I really don’t recall doing any research as to what games to buy for the system.

I was pretty pleased with the system & the games available when I bought it but one thing I recalled about the Dreamcast which holds true 15 years later, is that the damn things are finicky. One of the first DC’s I owned had disc read issues only a couple years after I bought it and somehow I managed to figure out how to fix it (temporarily). I bought a back-up console maybe 10 years ago due to all the issues I was having with my original DC and I’ve had much more success and consistency with that one even though both were manufactured in the Spring of 2000. The one I still struggle with was made in Japan and the other, more reliable one was made in China….but who knows if there’s any correlation? Seems doubtful. I was also the owner of two other 6th Gen consoles during their heyday, the PS2 and the Gamecube and I simply gravitated towards those two thriving systems in the early to mid 2000’s than I did for the DC.

In conclusion, this month I will be playing more Dreamcast than I probably have my entire life and I hope to really dive deep into at least a few of the titles in my collection. It will be challenging & unrealistic to get too far into all of them as many of the games in my DC collection require a lot of hours of playtime in order to really gain any traction. I also plan on taking apart my troublesome DC and get to the root cause of the disc read errors. I do look forward to the challenge of playing the amazing library of games in my collection but wish me luck on the repair aspect as I’m 0 for 1 recently in home console repair (RIP Game Gear).

Currently in my collection:

  • 2 gray consoles (1 works like a champ, 1 works like a champ after a few haymakers to the noggin’) with standard AV and power cords
  • 3 controllers – 1 gray with box and instructions, 1 blue and 1 black
  • 2 VMUs (virtual memory units) – 1 gray and 1 blue

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