Dreams Never Die
Ken takes a look at Sega's ill-fated system, ultimately picking up a second lease on life...
Article by Ken Horowitz (Email)
January 7th 2005, 08:53AM
You have to hand it to the Dreamcast. The modern embodiment of Twain’s famous quote about reports of death being greatly exaggerated, it simply refuses to go away. Be through slow but steady releases from Japan or through the exciting and blazing hot homebrew scene, it seems there’s always something new on hand to play.
It takes more than a mere moment’s thought to really put the Dreamcast’s posthumous accomplishments into context. Remember, this was a console that first debuted when apathy towards anything Sega was at its height, the company was stumbling over its own feet (remember Bernie Stolar publicly killing the Saturn at the 1997 E3?), and Sony was spending its leisure time shining its market crown. It sold well enough in the U.S. but as great a system as the Dreamcast was, there simply wasn’t enough love for it in its native land. How ironic then, that it is in Japan that Sega’s final console has held on the longest.
Now, this isn’t meant to be a steamy-eyed retrospective on how wonderful the Dreamcast was and I won’t go into a list of all the great games released for the system during its heyday. You can get that from a myriad of sources (DreamcastHistory.com being one of the best). Every console has its exclusives which fans guard like a mother dog defending its puppies and the Dreamcast has its fair share of those. No, it’s what’s been released since Sega officially pulled the plug in March of 2001 that’s surely going to mark its place in gaming history. Few consoles have seen so much activity after being “officially” dropped by the manufacturer.
When Sega discontinued the Dreamcast, it was initially assumed that only those titles finishing up development would make it to retail, with most never crossing the Pacific; a slow drip until the well ran dry. This was true, to some extent, as it is with virtually all consoles when they reach the twilight of their cycles as a viable platform. The interesting thing here is that the drip hasn’t stopped. Even as late as this past December, new titles were still being released. Chaos Field is the newest to join such other shmup fests like Psyvariar, Ikaruga, and the underrated Border Down as a reason to keep your Dreamcast connected to your TV. Though all but Border Down have been made available to gamers on other consoles, the fact that they even came out for the Dreamcast is a feat in itself. Even more impressive is that Sega themselves released Chaos Field (along with the puzzle game Puyo Pop Fever). It would appear that the system’s allure is too much for even them to resist.