To You, From 15 Years Ago to 100 Years in the Future ~ A Celebration of the Dreamcast

The Home of a Dreamcaster Player of the Future

The Home of a Dreamcaster Player of the Future

My name is Dreamcaster. I am an Armoured Hero from the 22nd century and I have travelled back into the past to talk about the significance of this day, the 27th November. 

In the future, information is delivered throughout the world at a blistering 56 kbit/s. Our central computer banks—smooth white thinking machines designed to process the daily administrative tasks that humans are no longer required to attend—are equipped with 16 MB 64-bit 100 MHz main RAM and 200 MHz SH-4 processors.

All television broadcasts are delivered in 480p HD and are capable of 640 × 480 video resolution.

This is the future, and it would not have been possible were it not for you, 15 years ago.

In 1998, on this day, Sega Corporation released their new console, the Dreamcast in the Japanese market. The Dreamcast was the first console of the sixth generation, a machine built upon lessons learnt previously from the unexpected success of Sony’s PlayStation console and both a succession of hardware updates for the 16-bit Mega Drive and the Saturn‘s inability to stand against Sony in the west.

To place this in the context of the time, the launch of the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation—itself initially conceived of as a Sony developed CD drive add-on for Nintendo‘s 16-bit Super Nintendo console—had cornered the market by 1996. The Saturn, whilst remaining one of the most collectable consoles in the history of the industry, failed to win support in America and Europe.

To this, the Dreamcast was perceived as the solution.

Following fierce interdepartmental struggles within Sega, the console made its debut in the mild early winter of 1998, more than a year ahead of the release of the PlayStation2.

We all play. Let’s play together,” declared a number of stereotypical and absurdist spokespeople during the television adverts for the console, lauding the console’s online capabilities, singing the praises of its 56k modem and challenging you to do more with your online time than sit amongst strangers in AOL chat rooms.

For all you children with wireless headsets, bitter recriminations and a copy of the latest Call of Duty shooter, the Dreamcast and ChuChu Rocket were there first.

The console’s opening gambits in Japan were Godzilla GenerationsGunbird 2Incoming, and July. Before the end of the year, Sega weighed in with the first real Sonic the Hedgehog game since the Mega-CD (Sonic Adventure) and the much maligned Virtua Fighter 3, a title which later required a patched re-release as Virtua Fighter 3TB.

SeamanMarvel vs. CapcomSoul Calibur, and Space Channel 5 followed in 1999; Resident Evil: Code VeronicaDead or Alive 2Phantasy Star OnlineSamba de Amigo, and Shenmue in 2000.

Yet whilst Shenmue‘s Ryo Hazuki was searching for part time jobs at the docks of Yokohama, a friend of mine was driving his own forklift truck around the warehouses of Ubisoft in London and the cracks were beginning to show.

Arguably released too early in the “console wars” of the sixth generation, the Dreamcast found it difficult to fight off mounting excitement regarding the release of Sony‘s forthcoming PlayStation2. Stuck between continuing support and the longevity of the previous generation, and anticipation for the future, the Dreamcast failed to find a strong enough footing in the market.

In March 2001, despite a string of successful games and avid support from the console’s fanbase, Sega announced the discontinuation of the Dreamcast and the company’s move away from hardware creation to a new role as a third-party developer.

However successful the Dreamcast was, it wasn’t successful enough to save Sega from years of poor decisions and bad practice.

Yet despite this, the story of the Dreamcast is not one that need evoke your pity. We gather together on the 27th November not to talk of what went wrong, but to celebrate what went right.

ShenmueJet Set RadioMetropolis Street RacerBangai-oSpace Channel 5Phantasy Star OnlineCrazy TaxiTech RomancerProject JusticeSonic Adventure 2SegagagaIkarugaRoommania#203.

In the future after the bomb, 100 years from now, we celebrate the past in ways that you may not yet understand. The trends of your present have fallen by the wayside; their significance forgotten in the aftermath of successive remake after successive remake, an endless cash in on nostalgia pioneered not least of all by Sega themselves.

In the future, on the 27th November, we remember when a company spiralling downwards produced some of the most inventive and original games of the decade; games to inspire both a generation and the culture of a post-apocalyptic civilisation.

In the future, on the 27th November, children dress as Alex Kidd and Ulala and run through the streets of Neo-Oak Wood City; in the future our buildings stand tall and white on the horizon in the setting sun, each one decorated with a blazing swirl of orange, blue or red.

My name is Dreamcaster. I am an Armoured Hero from the 22nd century and I have travelled back into the past to talk about the significance of this day, the 27th November.

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