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Nerd Shit “The Dreamcast: Ten Years Later” by m1cnBot

 
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m1cnBot 8 years ago on 09/09/09

Story Originally Posted By: John Booty

Article PictureTen years ago today, I took a day off of work and lined up early at the mall for my Sega Dreamcast. The next twenty-four hours were a hazy blur of Sonic Adventure, NFL2K and -- most of all -- Soul Calibur. The Dreamcast had arguably the greatest launch lineup and greatest individual launch title of any system ever. I've never wrung as much enjoyment out of another game system before or since.

A variety of factors always get the blame for the Dreamcast's demise: hype for the unreleased Playstation 2 is usually cited as the primary factor, with consumer ill will from the bad old Saturn/32X/SegaCD days usually given as a contributing factor. Yeah. For nerds.

For everybody else a third factor trumped them both: the Dreamcast had no support from Electronic Arts and therefore no Madden.

You're a gamer. You probably know that 2KSports' games for the Dreamcast were equal or superior to their counterparts from Electronic Arts, but you're not America. Aside from the casual gaming market that Nintendo basically created with the Wii, Madden sells systems. Period. Pull some random guys under the age of forty off of the street. Most of them won't even know what a 32X is, much less carry a goddamn grudge regarding it. But probably half of them have played Madden.

Sega once prospered from exactly the same factor that killed the Dreamcast. Electronic Arts' sports games were at least as instrumental as Sonic The Hedgehog when it came to the Genesis' American success. The incredible Genesis versions of NHL Hockey and Madden were groundbreaking games that made the Genesis a dorm room staple. The jet-black Genesis looked like it meant business and became something you weren't embarrassed to play into your twenties, even in a Hollywood movie. Without the Madden and NHL Hockey franchises Genesis would never have been more than a kids' toy and something for us gamer nerds.

And that's what happened to the Dreamcast. We loved it. Gamers bought it, played it, loved it, and mooned over the perfect scores in Famitsu. But ultimately, America decided it was a toy.

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John Booty 8 years ago on 09/09/09
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Raise your hand if you knew what video clip I linked to without even clicking on it.
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Winter 8 years ago on 09/09/09
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(Raises hand, and discretely wipes a tear from his eye.)
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Nowhere Man 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Ramune Bottle Broken From Frustration named "I will cut some bitches!"
Such a good movie.
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John Booty 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Banana named "Can you hear me now?"
A couple things I didn't have room to touch on in the article.

#1

There was a subset of almost-knowledgeable-but-still clueless nerds who looked at the PS2's specs, particularly the PS2's RAM (32MB vs. 24MB) and its CPU's clockspeed (333mhz vs. 200mhz) and the polygons per second it could render, and declared it would be way superior to the Dreamcast.

What they didn't get was that the Dreamcast's PowerVR graphics chip was a model of efficiency. Picture a cube. The cube has six sides, right? Conventional graphics chips like the PS2 render all six sides, starting with the ones farthest away from the "camera."

But think about that cube. Can you ever see all six sides? No more than three sides are visible at a time. The PowerVR chip is smart enough to not render the hidden sides. Right there, it only has to render half as many polygons as the PS2.

Now think about a real scene, like a crowded cityscape. Many of the buildings might not be visible at all because they're not obscured by other buildings. For the visible buildings the Dreamcast only has to render half as many polygons as the PS2 and for the obscured buildings the Dreamcast doesn't have to render any polygons at all. To render the exact same scene the Dreamcast might only have to render 1/5 as many polygons as the PS2.

Ultimately, yeah, after a few years, PS2 programmers were coming up with tricks that just couldn't be done on the Dreamcast. No way Zone Of Enders 2 happens on a Dreamcast. But the hardware discrepancy wasn't nearly as big as sorta-knowledgeable nerds made it out to be.

By the way, PowerVR lives on. It was bought by another company and that same technology is found in a lot of mobile devices like the iPhone where efficency is really crucial.


#2

I was thinking about how the light-colored SNES was seen as a kids' toy and how the jet-black Genesis was something dudes weren't too embarrassed to play in college and beyond, and how that trend was reversed with the friendly pastels of the Dreamcast and serious business look of the PS2.

Making your game system look "serious" isn't exactly a guarantee of success (see: Saturn vs. Playstation 1) but I think it was something of a factor for the Dreamcast.

I'm talking about public perception, of course. Obviously we're all fags here and dug the Dreamcast's aesthetics.
PS: Oh and...

#3

When nerds write about the Dreamcast dying before its time they mention how it had online gaming built right in and how awesome and groundbreaking that was.

Fuck that. Nobody fucking used that shit. People did not want to play games on modems. Playing a game over a 56K modem is like slamming your fucking nuts in the door. Even in 1999 that shit was retarded.
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LORD AWESOME 8 years ago on 09/09/09
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We are getting so tore up tonight.
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Johnny Landmine 8 years ago on 09/09/09
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Man, the Dreamcast. So many good memories - Project Justice, Skies of Arcadia, the rare moments of the Sonic Adventure games where you actually played as Sonic. And above all, the best shmup on the system... Mars Matrix.

Yeah, it's better than Ikaruga, what
PS:
administrator said:
Fuck that. Nobody fucking used that shit. People did not want to play games on modems. Playing a game over a 56K modem is like slamming your fucking nuts in the door. Even in 1999 that shit was retarded.


uh XBAND CREW represent
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Ulyth 8 years ago on 09/09/09
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The saddest fact for me is that I knew about the Dreamcast, but I never had the chance to own one and I never had the chance to play on one. None of my friends around me had a Dreamcast. Sad times.
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Johnny Landmine 8 years ago on 09/09/09
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I never actually owned one of my own until it was about thirty seconds before they officially said "we're canning it" and they were fifty bucks if you could find one in stock somewhere.
PS: This feature on 1up is a pretty good read about the rise and fall of the Dreamcast in its game-biz-historical context.
http://www.1up.com/do/feature?cId=3175865
PS: It is true that the jump from PSX/N64 to Dreamcast was one of the most dramatic generation jumps I can think of. I mean SNES/Genesis to PSX was pretty big but that's just because suddenly everything had to be polygonal and 3D for a while all of a sudden.
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Nowhere Man 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Ramune Bottle Broken From Frustration named "I will cut some bitches!"
When I bought my DC it was just before the final price cut of the system and when they announced they were stopping production. Literally the next day price cuts were made and the fucking EB dude didn't tell me.

I regrettably sold it just so I could fucking go to senior prom. What a fucking mistake that was. Need to find a system on eBay or something and hook that shit up.
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Nurse Chapel 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Lightsaber named "for trick-or-treating with Logan"
I bought a used dreamcast at funcoland not long before EB bought them out, I think. I had no desire for one until they were practically obsolete because my mom's boyfriend's son has a sega cd that I was playing sonic on all the damned time.

I just remember buying DOA2 because it was cheap and I needed a game to make sure the system worked, and then playing for like a week straight.
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Moonage Daydream 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Link's Boomerang named "I wish I knew how to quit you"
It always felt to me like there were two big reasons Dreamcast didn't catch on:

- The fact that Sega couldn't compete with Sony's marketing muscle. They just couldn't get a message out about what Dreamcast was and why anyone should care about it.
- Bad timing. Came out too early in the cycle, people were still playing their PS Ones and weren't ready for the next big hardware investment.

Also, when PS2 came along, remember that it had one huge advantage at exactly the right time: it played DVDs just when DVDs were exploding. It was my first DVD player.

I never developed for the Dreamcast but that PS2 was nightmare hardware. Every generation Sony is the throttling factor on any multi-platform game, and in spite of all the talk about what their hardware can do in the hands of dedicated developers, I never see it justified in any of their first-party games.
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Deebo 8 years ago on 09/09/09
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administrator said:
Fuck that. Nobody fucking used that shit. People did not want to play games on modems. Playing a game over a 56K modem is like slamming your fucking nuts in the door. Even in 1999 that shit was retarded.


This. I mean, NEVER MIND the fact that the last time I tried (long before I had access to DSL) I couldn't get on. Moreover, servers started to die out by that time, anyway. I've got modems on both of mine, but they're really nothing more than just novelties. Plus, they look a little more sophisticated than the "serial port" protector.

And one more thing that coulda been mentioned... The NeoGeo Pocket (Color as well, I believe) linked up to the Dreamcast! Who else remembers that?

JZA said:
Yeah, it's better than Ikaruga, what


I will fight you.
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LORD AWESOME 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Yummy Ice Cream named "Melting in your vice dreams, sport."
JZA said:
uh XBAND CREW represent


FOUR USER SLOTS PER MODEM IN THE HOOOOOOOOOOOOOUSE
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Lord_BullGod 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Triforce named "ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL!!!!!!!!"
(raises hand) hahaha but I always thought they were playing NHL 95 for some reason.

I think everyone will always remember the first time they saw Sonic being pursued by the whale.
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John Booty 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Banana named "Can you hear me now?"
JZA said:
It is true that the jump from PSX/N64 to Dreamcast was one of the most dramatic generation jumps I can think of.

Yeah! This.

The Saturn and PS1 were ten steps forward and nine steps back.

Were there any bigger generational jumps than the Dreamcast? In my mind, the only real rival is the leap from Atari 2600/5200/7800 --> NES.
PS:
Phantom of the J.C.Penney said:
- The fact that Sega couldn't compete with Sony's marketing muscle. They just couldn't get a message out about what Dreamcast was and why anyone should care about i...

You're so right about the DVD playing capability on the PS2. That's a gaping hole in my initial article. It's easy to forget in retrospect now that DVD players are like twenty bucks.
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Johnny Landmine 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Devo Hat named "Effective non-streaking protection from Space Junk"
AT_SpitFire said:
I will fight you.


Man, see, Ikaruga is Buzz Lightyear and Mars Matrix is Woody. Buzz is all flashy and has neat gimmicks, while Woody is like the apotheosis of a toy. Buzz appeals to more kids, but he alone just doesn't cut it for kids that're really into cowboys. I mean shmups. I mean whoaaa what if there was a cowboy shmup
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Cognac Jack 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Magus Statue named "Oscar"
9-9-99

NEVER FORGET!

Also
AT_SpitFire said:


This. I mean, NEVER MIND the fact that the last time I tried (long before I had access to DSL) I couldn't get on. Moreover, servers started to die out by that time, anyway. I've got modems on both of mine, but they're really nothing more th...


What are you guys talking about?!? I had little to no problems playing online on the Dreamcast modem. The only problems I had was that I used to pirate dialup accounts so they would sometimes work and sometimes not. Dreamcast games played fine online. The only game I had some performance problems was NFL2k1 but console online games would have a problem for a while.

The Dreamcast console online factor was groundbreaking not only for that, but for being the first console to offer a web browser. And believe me as a HS kid who could not get on the computer unsupervised this meant alot! I could look at porn pictures online, and i had those websites bookmarked on my vmu.
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The Kareem of Wheat 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Bad Mother F*cker Wallet named "Shut yo mouf!"
I can't begin to tell you how many hours I dumped into Phantasy Star Online the summer of 2001 after I got my DC as a high school graduation present.

I think later on I'll fire the old girl up and play some Virtual-On.
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Johnny Landmine 8 years ago on 09/09/09
Equipped: Devo Hat named "Effective non-streaking protection from Space Junk"
administrator said:

The Saturn and PS1 were ten steps forward and nine steps back.


Even as a die-hard PSX kid I can admit that in a whole lot of ways the Saturn aged much more gracefully, if only because well-done 2D looks good forever and well-done 3D is basically left to the whims of the wind blowing through the uncanny valley.

But yeah, I'm trying, and basically since systems were able to display sprites that actually looked like things I still can't think of a bigger jump. (Excepting portable systems, in which case I'd have to give it to GBA-to-DS/PSP; I was hit with a huge wave of cognitive dissonance about what they could do when I first picked up a DS.)

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