1998 – specifically 27 November. Prince is likely preparing to party like it’s next year. Lots of clever folks are getting worried all the computers will soon misbehave. And Sega launches its latest console, the super soaraway Sega Dreamcast. Woo!
Shouldn’t we call it the Sega Swansong now, as it was a falling giant’s last bid for glory?
Now hang on – Stuff won’t hear a word said against Sega’s last console. Despite having a footprint little bigger than the shiny discs its games came on, the Dreamcast was a beast at the time – more or less a NAOMI arcade machine for your home. You didn’t get a rubbish Crazy Taxi port; you got the original. The catalogue was packed full of other greats too: Jet Set Radio, Shenmue, Ikaruga and, um, Seaman. There was even a modem, so you could play online and party like it wasn’t 1999.
So why aren’t we now battling it out on the Dreamcast 4, if it was hardware perfection?
We never said anything about perfection. As former Sega Dreamcast owners will attest, the console was seemingly crafted by engineers who thought the concept of longevity was an amusing joke. It eventually became prone to resetting if you so much as sneezed nearby: even the one at the National Videogame Museum kept keeling over while Stuff was trying to beat gaming legend Ian Livingstone in a do-or-die battle of balls in Virtua Tennis some years back. But it really was a fantastic machine, with superb games. When it worked.
I’m unconvinced… and yet intrigued by Seaman. So what now?
Dreamcast emulation is today a commonplace thing, albeit an illegal thing. It used to need a PC, but now even a cheap Android blower is capable of running the classics. Or you could try the Dreamcast lottery on eBay, where you may even end up with a fully working console. But we’re hoping Sega made millions with the Mega Drive Mini and will soon rummage in its drawers for another console to shrink down. If a Sega Dreamcast Mini ever rocks up at Stuff HQ with Rez inside, we’ll dim the lights, pump up the volume and never work again.
Six of the best Sega Dreamcast games
It might have had a short commercial life, but the Sega Dreamcast blazed brightly when it comes to games. Here are Stuff’s current favourites.
Crazy Taxi (2000): Ya Ya Ya Ya Ya! With its noisy soundtrack, vivid colours and bouncy physics, Crazy Taxi was a rollocking bite-sized racer ideal for anyone who wasn’t a miserable grump.
Rez (2001): A pulsating marriage of Space Harrier and a rhythm action game, Rez remains a hypnotic, head-bobbing trance-like experience.
Soulcalibur (1999): Fab visuals. Eight-way movement. Extra goodies over the arcade original. This was the system’s best fighter, with plenty of depth.
Shenmue (1999): This wildly ambitious RPG fully immersed you in a world that felt alive. Still cited today as a gaming high-point by wistful fans.
Virtua Tennis (2000): A rare sports title that still prized arcade larks over faux-realism, this ball-thwacker was fab – even if the stars resembled zombies.
The Typing of the Dead (2000): Like House of the Dead 2, a perfect arcade port. Plus it ramped up the absurdity and gave your Dreamcast keyboard something to do.