Dreamcast 20th Anniversary

Cross-posted from Tumblr. Originally posted September 9, 2019.

Well it’s Dreamcast’s 20th anniversary!

Admittedly I never owned a DC when it was new. In fact I’d just gotten a PSX for my birthday just a few months before it was released. That was my console upgrade from the SNES and would remain so until I got a PS2 some years later.

I didn’t have a computer back then, let alone the internet. I didn’t read game magazines. I don’t think I even knew anyone that owned the console. So pretty much my only exposure to the Dreamcast was through coverage on Gamespot TV.

I loved that show back then. Seeing a TV show about gaming was so novel when it was pretty much my only exposure to games outside of… actually playing games.

They covered plenty of Dreamcast games on that show. But the one that really stuck with me was… Seaman.

(The quality of this clip is awful but I’m just happy it exists at all. Also Seaman drops some lines that are… remarkably still relevant to the current day.)

Seaman was basically a bizarre little pet simulator. Feed your fishman, care for it, watch it grow. What really made it stand out, however, was that you were able to talk to your fishman through a microphone.

This, as far as I was concerned, was pure magic. The idea of being able to have a real conversation with a digital character was absolutely enthralling to me. I’m sure my imagination ran wild with possibilities that weren’t actually possible in the real game. In reality, the game probably just recognizes a set list of words and phrases in relation to questions, not really allowing you to express… y’know, fleshed out thoughts. But that didn’t matter.

Of all the Dreamcast games to be jealous of… I was jealous of Seaman. I never did get to play the game, even to this day. I’d still really like to though.

I did eventually get a DC sometime around 2007, at a flea market for like 15 bucks. I went through the hassle of burning a bunch of games to CD-R and giving them a go. Not the best way to go about it but whatever.

I know it’s been said millions of times, but the console really does have an incredible library of games, especially for only having a shelf life of around 2 years. Sega was at their absolute creative peak, pumping out original experience after original experience. Games like Crazy Taxi, Space Channel 5, Chu-Chu Rocket, REZ, Phantasy Star Online, Jet Set Radio, Samba de Amigo, Shenmue, Roommania 203, and of course Seaman, all had their own identities and were totally unique from anything else on the market, even to this day in many cases.

Plus the third party support. Capcom went absolutely haam on that thing. And it tended to have the best version of multiplats released during the PSX/N64 era. And it’s still getting physical homebrew releases to this day. That’s dedication.

Anyways that’s my odd and meandering retrospective on the Dreamcast. It was truly the little white box that could… but unfortunately couldn’t.