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The Dreamcast: an anniversary to remember

The end of a console signals the end of a childhood

Published: Monday, September 17, 2012

Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 15:09

It’s hard for me to believe that, as of Sept. 9, it has already been 13 years since Sega’s Dreamcast was released. The Dreamcast was the swansong console for Sega and one that had an impact on my life.

It’s also bit scary for me, as the Dreamcast’s life coincides nicely with the end of my childhood.

Sega swiped the market out from under Nintendo and rose to prominence in the early ‘90s, but by the latter part of the decade had fallen to a distant third behind Sony and Nintendo.

The Dreamcast was Sega’s last great venture at making a home video game console.

A year ago, its birthday was the subject of one of the very first articles I wrote for this esteemed publication, so I feel like I’ve said my piece on it as far as what it meant to the gaming community at large.

This year, I’d like to explain what it meant to me.

For a geeky kid, a new gaming console carries with it such a special feeling. I vividly recall the adrenaline as I hoisted the Dreamcast over my head on Christmas Eve 1999.

There’s a picture of that moment, and the insane joy in my eyes rivals that of even the Nintendo 64 kid. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, YouTube it, trust me.)
“The memory card has a little screen and plugs into the controller,” I thought. “It comes with a modem and will be able to play against people online! SONIC ADVENTURE IS THE MOST AMAZING THING I’VE EVER SEEN.”

The Dreamcast seemed like more than just another console. It seemed like a revolution. And in many ways, it was.

Nowadays, the fun of buying a new console just doesn’t carry the same weight or meaning to me. I still enjoy it, but I know it’ll never be the same.

The Dreamcast was the last console I ever had as a child, and it’s the last one that gave me that feeling. Hearing the system start up, holding the controller in my hands and just having this whole new experience was magical, and nothing since then has ever replicated it.

Two years later, it was over. On Jan. 31, 2001, Sega announced the end of Dreamcast production and began making games for other platforms.

It was a watershed moment for the video game industry.

That year, Microsoft’s Xbox would usher in a true revolution, as “Halo: Combat Evolved” proved that a console mascot didn’t have to be a cartoon character.

“Grand Theft Auto III” succeeded where the Dreamcast’s “Shenmue” failed, popularizing the open-world sandbox genre.

Sonic the Hedgehog showed up on a Nintendo system.

That was the year I turned 13.

The video game industry was growing up, and as the absolute bastion of my childhood faded into memory, so was I.

 

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