Ten years ago this week (9.9.99), the arrival of the Sega Dreamcast in the US marked the last attempt Sega was to make at owning the home console market. While it had its day in the sun, it was ultimately destroyed by the juggernaut that was the PS2, and its massive install base. Aside from the NES, which has extreme sentimental value to most people in my immediate age group, the Dreamcast was my favorite system of all time.
It came out at a great time in my life, when I was a year out of college, still young enough to make excuses for myself, but not too old to realize that this practice wasn’t a good idea. I hadn’t yet found my path in life, so I had a lot of free time to spend playing video games, and my God, what games these were. Graphics that would make your eyes melt right out of your skull, but so beautiful that as it was happening, you didn’t even care and were prepared to spend the rest of your life as a blind fool. Some really incredible gameplay innovations were made during this time, too, with Soul Calibur dominating (at least in some people’s minds) the fighting space, and games like Jet Grind Radio (Jet Set, if you were outside the US) changing both aesthetic expectations and introducing new gameplay coupled with fantastic music.
Sure, there were stinkers, and a lot of them, but the smart kids figured out how to either mod their systems or use boot discs to play other games. I started buying all kinds of games and related DC paraphernalia from around the world. Mostly from Japanese eBay sellers, these items became so exciting to find and bid on, I spent almost as much time online looking for them as I did using them when they finally arrived. I think I actually have more import titles than domestic ones at this point.
I could go on for days, but I won’t bore the non-gamers out there with more nostalgic nerdery. This year, 9.9.09 is already marked for an annual Apple iPod event, and people are expecting a lot of things to happen there. But I’ll be thinking of another special day, one when the gaming landscape really did shift to the next level. Dreamcast, I love you.
You can purchase Dreamcasts, new in box, as well as other Dreamcast-related accessories at ThinkGeek. And to hear from the man himself, follow @segadreamcast on Twitter. He’s started a campaign called #therealsept9, to remind people that he was the “OG” of 9.9, back in the day.