This is only fitting, during the week of the 4th anniversary of the almighty Dreamcast. We’ve all heard the whining and complaining from casual gamers who never quite “got into” the Dreamcast:
“The PS2 is better.”
“The Dreamcast is the worst pile of trash I’ve ever played.”
That last one actually came from someone I know. Yet they love their Gamecube, and many of their favorite games are Dreamcast ports! Comments like those listed above really get under my skin. First let me say this: if you say the Dreamcast “sucks,” then you have absolutely no f*cking clue what you’re talking about. I don’t care how many games you’ve played, or how many consoles you’ve owned. Anyone who’s given the Dreamcast a fighting chance has LOVED it. That means sitting down with the system a bunch of games for more than five minutes, and not bitching through the whole thing. Open your mind.
Oh, there’s the usual rebuttal: “If the Dreamcast was so good, how come it died so fast in the US?” The DC’s failure can be pinned on Sega’s earlier marketing strategy. Marketing for Sega’s previous console, the Saturn, was a colossal f*ckup. Along with its inability to compete on a technical level with the Playstation or Nintendo 64, and high price point (it started at $399 while the PSX started at $299), this flushed much of Sega’s image down the toilet, not to mention their profits. The DC was meant to correct that, but they released it a year too early. Most DC diehards will tell you that if the system was released alongside the PS2, it would have done much better, and this is very true. If you want to talk about what matters most to casual gamers—graphics—then the DC is set. The DC is actually more powerful graphically than the PS2. No “jaggies,” and much cleaner textures. The CPU performance of the systems doesn’t mean squat. So what killed the DC? It’s all due to earlier bad marketing, and a healthy dose of “too little, too late;” the DC was marketed well, but it was kicking a dead horse at that point.
Now onto the game library. The DC boasts one of the best game libraries out there, period. The only game library that I rate above it, personally, is that of the NES. Anyways, you can’t deny the staying power of the DC’s library, especially since countless titles have been ported to newer consoles; and badly, I might add. Guilty Gear X for PS2…trash. Sonic Adventure DX and SA2: Battle for GC…fecal matter. Grandia II for PS2…abomination. Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II on the GC…why bother? Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on PS2…vomit. Rez on PS2…insulting. Capcom vs SNK EO on all systems…stab yourself in the eye with a pencil. Coders should be ashamed of themselves. I know the PS2 can’t handle DC games all that well, but the Gamecube and Xbox surely can. It’s not that difficult to port things properly, especially since DC code was design to be very adaptable. Hopefully the next crop of DC ports (including Space Channel 5 and Space Channel 5 part 2) will fare better.
One also can’t deny the DC’s originality. It was online-capable out of the box. It still is. It’s got a built-in modem, and you can swap in a broadband adapter, too. It also came with a web browser and email client. Current systems don’t have that stuff, unless you buy a special bundle pack, and even then, many of the features aren’t there anymore. Plenty of other cool accessories rounded out the system, too, like a mouse and keyboard. Those are just starting to come into play for the newer systems.
One more thing…the DC may be “dead,” but there are still games being released for it, primarily in Japan. You read that right. In fact, one game released last year in Japan was such a monster hit, that it was ported to the Gamecube and released in the US! Yep…you guessed it…Ikaruga. It doesn’t stop there. This year sees the release of another hardcore shooter, Border Down. Sega themselves also plan on releasing Puyo Puyo Fever for the DC, alongside the PS2, GC, and Xbox releases. Take a guess as to which one will play the best. There’s countless other games coming out, too…this was just a short list of the cream of the crop.
So quit your whining, and go find a used DC somewhere. They’re not expensive, and neither are most of the best games. You won’t be disappointed. If for some reason you ARE disappointed, then you probably have the IQ of a frog (and I don’t mean a Frenchman).