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The Dreamcast: Ten Years Later

Ten 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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