Welcome to the first ever edition of Flashback Friday, this will be a weekly segment where I will be looking back at classic consoles. We will start this series off with one of my all time favorite consoles which is the Sega Dreamcast, this console marked the end of Sega as a hardware manufacturer after 18 years of creating consoles and handhelds. It is September 9th 1999 and children and adults are waiting for the release of the Sega Dreamcast in the United States, it is the very first console in the 6th generation of consoles arriving over a year before the next console in this generation, which was the Playstation 2, the Sega Dreamcast looked to be a game changer.
The Sega Dreamcast was the first gaming console to be manufactured with a built in modem, although it was a 512KB modem with the much faster broadband adapter to be purchased separately. This system came out of the box with internet support as well as online play. At the time, This was a feature went over a lot of gamers heads who could not comprehend the notion of being able to play games with others that were not in the same room as you or playing on the same console as you. This included the SegaNet Internet service ,which was previously introduced with the Sega Saturn; it was basically the equivalent of today’s PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. Even today some of the games are still available to play online thanks to dedicated fans of Sega and the Dreamcast specifically.
Another part of this system that was ahead of its time was the memory card. The card that was standard at the time was the Dreamcast VMU which would plug into the controller, but as picture above also had its own A and B buttons as well as its own D-Pad and a standalone screen. these buttons could be utilized in games such as Sonic Adventure where the VMU could be taken on the go to interact with your Chao’s while traveling so you would never have to worry about them not growing to their full potential. at the time for a company to think this complexly about something as simple as a memory unit was very revolutionary.
A great gaming console is only as great as its game library! The Dreamcast was no exception with over 600 games in its library it had games for everyone’s taste. This console possessed some of my personal favorite games of all time on it and definitely its fair share of classics. Games such as Sonic Adventure and Shenmue really defined the Sega Dreamcast. It bolstered its own set of sports titles such as NFL 2K and Ready 2 Rumble but also delivered some wacky games such as Crazy Taxi, and my personal favorite game on the console Skies of Arcadia; which this was a gorgeous Japanese RPG similar in style to Final Fantasy VII that put you in the role of Vyse, a young air-pirate, who was attempting to make his way to recover weapons that are potentially going to be used to destroy the world. Skies of Arcadia is worth a play by anyone who is a fan of Japanese RPG’s.
Personally, I believe if it had been released in 2003 or later I feel Sega may still be around today as a hardware manufacturer, the amount of game changing content that was included in this console can still be seen today especially the built in internet compatibility which is a standard in today’s day and age. To think a now defunct hardware manufacturer was the first console to introduce this concept amazes me, I would highly recommend those who haven’t experienced this console themselves to purchase one of these if they see one for the right price for them, I promise you will not be disappointed.
Join us next week on Flashback Friday as we explore the console that started it all! The Atari 2600.