Ten years ago today I woke up early in the morning and rode a bus downtown before taking a light rail train to, what was at the time the closest Best Buy. I walked out with a white box emblazoned with an orange swirl.
Yes, if you bought one then you already know that today is the tenth anniversary of Sega’s US launch of their greatest achievement and biggest failure. The Dreamcast was the little machine that could do everything except compete against the PlayStation 2 launch hype.
Bundled with a 56k modem for online gaming the Dreamcast was ahead of it’s time. The Dreamcast was also the first console to support progressive scan (albeit through an optional adapter). In addition it supported mouse, keyboard and microphone peripherals.
In a way the Dreamcast was too much of a good thing. Sega’s much touted GD-ROM anti-piracy method was cracked within a year of the US launch. Rampant piracy combined with an already low price point resulted in a product line that was impossible to sustain. With the PlayStation 2 already on shelves and the Xbox and GameCube on the horizon Sega threw in the towel and walked out on the hardware business.
It’s a shame that the Dreamcast had such a short lifespan, but we should be happy it existed. Without the Dreamcast Microsoft may never have entered the console market. Microsoft would then never have developed Xbox Live and online gaming on consoles would be very different and probably not as good.
So dust off that copy of Shenmue and rejoice. Today is Dreamcast Day!