The month of the Dreamcast has come to a conclusion so it’s time to formulate my thoughts on the console as a whole, my thoughts on playing the games in my collection as well as touch on any new Dreamcast purchases made.
I think I have a pretty small but damn good library of games for my Dreamcast and some of that is luck since 95% of them were purchased 14-15 years ago with no knowledge of what was considered “good”. Some of it can be attributed to the fact (and yes, I firmly believe it to be a fact) that the percentage of quality titles in the Dreamcast library as a whole is difficult to match. Sure, there are a ton of great games on the NES, Genesis, PS2, etc. but when you look at the total number of games available for those systems…it really doesn’t compare. Sega had to go balls out with this console in order to rebound and compete and I love the fact they weren’t afraid to take chances with the hardware or software. I am sad that I didn’t own one in the short period of time it was viable as I love underdog consoles (i.e. TurboGrafx-16) but that love occurred after I became financially secure and betting on a losing console horse wouldn’t also mean a waste of money. If I had to break down the Dreamcast’s pros/cons in 1999 vs. 2017 terms I’d do it like this:
- Online capabilities right out of the box (just need a web browser disc and dial-up connection)
- Graphics that blew PlayStation and N64 out of the water
- The return of Sonic
- Amazing sports titles that don’t come from EA
- An epically diverse launch library
- VMU’s allow transfer of data from DC to DC (good if you have friends that own one) as well as offering content to play independent from the disc game itself
- Competitive price point
- Able to burn games onto disc and play
- Would Sega screw it up like they did the Saturn?
- No DVD drive
- Relatively loud cooling fan as well as while reading discs
So as you can see, in my opinion, the pros outweighed the cons when it came to the launch of the Dreamcast. Obviously that didn’t translate into long term sales and market share once the PS2 launched a year later but upon initial inspection, there was nothing really to indicate that this console wasn’t going to be amazing. Now if I compare the pros and cons to owning a Dreamcast in 2017, it might look like this.
- Library of games is small but an large percentage of total library are B or A list titles
- Consoles and games haven’t reached Nintendo level collectability among general public and most can be purchased for reasonable prices
- Graphics hold up and don’t look terribly dated
- Lack of DVD drive no longer a detriment
- Online servers are no longer active (unless you know where to look)
- Consoles can be temperamental when it comes to disc read errors
- Internal batteries are soldered inside console and most are failing requiring re-entry of date/time each time you turn on
- Games hard to find in the “wild” due to console not being successful
- VMU purpose beyond acting as memory cards are diminished
- Lack of dual analog sticks makes playing 3D games much more difficult. This wasn’t considered a con at launch because we didn’t know any better!
Honestly, some of the cons I listed for 2017 aren’t truly cons…..they are simply aspects that made the Dreamcast unique in 1999 that no longer serve a purpose. The others can be worked around or fixed without too much difficulty and thanks to eBay and Gamestop online (!) you can find the Dreamcast games you want even if no one else is selling them locally. Overall, I’d say there’s no better time than now to buy one and enjoy the vast array of innovative and fun games the system has to offer.
As for games or peripherals added to my library this month, I kept it minimal. I noticed a lack of RPG’s in my collection, outside of Phantasy Star Online, so I added two of the better ones in Skies of Arcadia and Grandia 2. I also added two peripherals to my collection in the official Dreamcast keyboard and mouse, both complete in box. Now I can finally seek out that copy of Typing of the Dead I’ve been interested in owning and really practice my words to per minute typing skills. Just like I did in 9th grade, minus the zombies.
In summary, the Dreamcast is one of my all time favorites and ties with the Genesis as my favorite Sega console (if I had to choose just one I would probably choose Dreamcast). I will be keeping my Dreamcast console hooked up a little bit longer in hopes of really sitting down with some of the RPG’s I recently purchased.
Overall Grade: A-