Dreamcast

SN Vault: What if the Dreamcast survived the Sony onslaught?

(Editors’ note: At SEGA Nerds, we really love the classics, and every so often, we dig through the dusty, cobwebbed filled vault in the  dungeon to bring back a classic feature from our past that we want to share with our current readers. Aside from formatting and any grammatical corrections, these articles are the same as they appeared when they were originally published.)

Original author: Chris
Original post date: Sometime in 2002
Website: Dreamcaster’s Realm

I know there have been dozens upon dozens of articles out there focusing on why the Dreamcast died, but I have never read anything on what might have been if it had survived Sony’s barrage of propaganda.

Ya know, kinda like the ol’ DC or Marvel Comics “What ifs?” My personal favorite was “What if Dr. Doom Saved the World?” or something like that. It was totally hilarious because it showed him in some weird parade with people throwing flowers and junk on him while he was smiling and waving. Now that’s comedy. Oh yeah, I almost forgot what I had to write. Guess it’s that ADD kicking in again.

dreamcast-launch
Who’s ready for the launch of the Dreamcast?! THIS GUY!

The Dreamcast launched here Sept. 9, 1999, that’s 9/9/99 for all you idiots, for about $299. I’ll always remember that date not so much because the Dreamcast launched then, but because I got pulled over and received my first friggin’ ticket. But I won’t go into that. I’ve gotta say that the DC’s launch was the most impressive ever with games like Sonic Adventure, House of the Dead 2, Soul Calibur, Mortal Kombat Gold, Aerowings and Hydro Thunder. In total there were 18 games; that was the biggest launch ever! The DC already had more than 300,000 preordered; that was unheard of at that time.

There were a few hiccups, though. Games like Blue Stinger, Sonic Adventure and a few others were defective and couldn’t play on some DCs. Sega said something about there was a glitch in one of the GD-rom burners and that only 1 percent of all DC games were defective. Even that couldn’t stop the DC from raking in $98 million in consoles and games in only three mere days. That was crazy! The DC’s launch was the biggest and best launch in America’s history.

I’m not going to go too much into what happened with the DC because most of you all know what happened. And if you don’t you probably should look it up on Yahoo and also pull your head out of you ass!

First off, SEGA announced in February 1999 that they would be coming out with a microphone and a digital camera, aptly named the DreamEye. Now both of the units came out in Japan, and we did receive the microphone, which was bundled with Seaman and Alien Front Online.

According to SEGA, we would be able to teleconference with the two peripherals, we could send audio and video e-mail and use them in games. When it was announced, two SEGA reps showed off what it could do as they teleconferenced over the Dreamcast’s narrowband modem. From what I’ve heard it was pretty impressive, but later accounts from users say that the quality of the camera wasn’t that good. Nevertheless, can you imagine the coolness of playing video games and being able to see the other person somehow.

Some SEGA reps also talked a little about being able to take a few photos of yourself and then map it to a character’s face in the game. This would absolutely killer! The DreamEye could also take some still photos that could then be saved onto your VMU. Pretty cool, eh?

DC-zip
The fabled Dreamcast zip drive. Oh my, how beautiful is it!

Next in line of the could-have-been peripherals is the zip drive. There was a prototype that was displayed at E3 a few years ago. The zip drive, which fit underneath the DC, was roughly the same diameter as the Dreamcast, but it was pretty thin.

It would have been able to store about 100 megs and would have been able to revolutionize the way the you used Dreamcast with the internet. Firstly, you could download a whole lot more data, been able to download MP3s (for use with the DC MP3 player.).

Then, there were the plans to bring DVD to the Dreamcast. We all know how that turned out, but we do have VCD players; not too shabby, I guess. But it would have been totally cool if Sega sold an upgraded DC with DVD abilities.

dc-mp3
Forget the iPod, I would still rock my Dreamcast mp3 play today if SEGA released it!

Now that you see what kind of plans were in store for the Dreamcast and know that these just never came to because of the profit loss for SEGA, just think if things turned out a bit different.

What if Sega survived the Sony onslaught?

We could all be playing NBA 2K3 online against several other players, with our broadband adapters, while using realtime voice chat, and having your face on the head of the star player in the All-Star game. Can anyone disagree with me that this scenario would be video game nirvana?

If Sega solidly outsold, Sony during the Playstation’s first year, could you imagine the installed user base the DC would have had by the time the Xbox and Gamecube entered into the fold?

No doubt about it, third-party publishers would have flocked to the DC the way they have with the Big Black Box. Can you imagine playing Grand Theft Auto, Castlevania, Shenmue on the Dreamcast’s newly beefed-up interior?

Also, we wouldn’t have had to worry about all those blasted game cancellations. We would have had our grubby little hands on Half Life years ago.

sega-e3
SEGA dominated E3 in 1999.

Now remember E3 2000, when SEGA pummeled the competition with its barrage of excellent first-party games? Now come with me while we ride my magic carpet to E3 2003.

You enter the big E3 building and all your eyes could see are huge SEGA mascots that could rival King Kong (Or Lizzie from NES Rampage). You then decide to travel to the SEGA news conference dumbfounded at what you hear. Konami and SEGA have just signed a deal to exclusively to bring Metal Gear to the Dreamcast! Wow, that’s totally awesome! Then it even gets better. SEGA has just announced that it has bought out Rockstar Games!

This is can’t be real! Shortly thereafter, SEGA unveils plans to release the Dreamcast upgrade it has talked about so long.

You leave the three-day gaming festival with confidence that Dreamcast will be ahead of the pack for a long time. And why wouldn’t you when the Dreamcast is more than five million consoles ahead of the next competitor.

Well, I know this may make me sound a bit like a fanboy (and a lunatic), but my mommy always told me I had a big imagination. And besides, the name of our beloved white box is Dreamcast isn’t it? So what’s wrong with dreaming a bit? Besides, this dream we all experienced beginning on Sept. 9, 1999 may be one we never want to wake up from.

Chris Powell

Chris is the editor-in-chief at SEGA Nerds and Mega Visions Magazine. Over the years, he's written for publications like Joystiq, PSP Fanboy, RETRO magazine, among others. Oh yeah, he's also been a diehard SEGA Nerd his entire life.
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