Years of the Dreamcast Part 1: Genesis

Years of the Dreamcast is my first stab at autobiographical writing. It is long and is largely a tribute to the Dreamcast’s effect on my life. For those of you brave enough to read a bit about my boring life, my hat goes off to you. I hope you enjoy reading about my Dreamcast experience, and are willing to share yours with the community as well.

Believe it or not, I didn’t really get into gaming with the SEGA Genesis. Or the SNES. Or any other old school console for that matter. Sure, I PLAYED games on my Genesis and Game Gear back in the day, like Sonic, Lion King, and Ecco, but as soon as the Genesis croaked in 1996 I nearly left gaming all together in favor of other interests, including something that got me to buy a Genesis in the first place: Archie’s Sonic comics. I completely passed over the 32 bit generation, something I now sincerely regret given SEGA had some of its best games during that era.

It wasn’t until 2000 that a game console again caught my interest: a SEGA Dreamcast in a Target demo kiosk. I had been playing the N64 and Playstation in kiosks for years, and as much fun as I had had with them, this new system, this Dreamcast, felt like something special. The game on display, Sonic Adventure, was immediately playable. There was no wandering around or collecting of trinkets required to progress: an entire level was immediately opened up to me after the title screen.

This wasn’t like the other games on the N64 and Playstation kiosks. This one had beautiful, incredible music. Bright and colorful graphics, complete with a sun that flared on the game’s camera lens. The slow plodding pace of Banjo Kazooie and Spyro paled in comparison to what was on display here, with Sonic blowing by everything at a blistering pace.

As the 2000 holiday season approached, I decided I wanted to get a new game system. I had no interest in the Playstation, which left the N64 and the Dreamcast. After my time with Sonic Adventure, I immediately looked up what games were available for the platform, in search of much of what I had enjoyed on my SEGAs and my sister’s Nintendo systems: platformers, licensed Disney titles, and of course the only two SEGA franchises I had experience with, Sonic and Ecco. After coming up with a list of five titles, I decided that there was enough greatness on the Dreamcast to make it worth asking for. So on New Year’s Eve, my parents drove me to the Funcoland. Being the fiscally careful Jewish boy that I was, I of course went for a cheaper, more practical refurbished console.

While I had no game to go with it, thanks to the GameStop being sold out of copies of Sonic Adventure, I still took it out of the box just to experience what little I could of her. She was indeed unlike anything I had ever seen before. I was greeted by an impressive boot up sequence as I flicked her on. It says something about a system when even its boot up screen leaves an impression. This was a huge step up from the Genesis. I stuck in the demo disc and immediately started the Ecco demo. I wasn’t expecting anything too impressive. What I got was a game that almost looked real. Even to this day Ecco is still impressive, but back then it looked absolutely unreal.

The Dreamcast as a whole was unreal. Swimming through Ecco’s demo sized bay was only the first of what would be many great, unbelievable experiences the Dreamcast gave me. A few days later I finally got a copy of Sonic Adventure. I popped it in, and was immediately blown away by the scope of the game. Cutscenes, voice acting, and it even opened with a boss battle! I had skipped the generation before it mind you, and what experience of the fourth generation I did have came from Mario 64, Clayfighters, and Cool Boarders: games not exactly known for their cinematic excellence. Looking back, the storyline and cinematics of Sonic Adventure was largely a hokey experience. At the time though, it had seemingly raised the bar from what I could expect from a game forever more.

Months passed. I didn’t follow video game websites or magazines, so the Dreamcast’s death flew over my head for a few months. I bought a few games, like Sonic Shuffle, Star Wars Pod Racers, Star Wars Demolition, and Sonic Adventure 2. Overall my selection of Dreamcast games was still quite small. I was still largely a Sonic fan, so Sonic and Star Wars was really all I needed as far as I was concerned.


One response to “Years of the Dreamcast Part 1: Genesis

  1. frank says:

    I was in line on 9/9/99 at my local Game stop (maybe it was still electronics boutique) when I bought my Dreamcast….probably best console I ever owned. Then the bottom fell out of my heart when news broke that Sega bowed to Sony and pulled the plug. On a side note, what they did to Sonic since then is short of criminal.

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