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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gaming: Remembering The Dreamcast

     I've been gaming for a long time.

     A very, very long time.

     My first video game system was Pong on a Black & White TV. It was Black & White because that's all we had in the house. Colour was too new and expensive. It had 4 paddle controllers, a light gun and was a blast, literally.

     Several Years later, my world exploded when the Atari 2600 was released. Suddenly the games I was playing in the local Arcade were on my home TV. Colour now. I was absolutely hooked. Now sure, they didn't exactly look like the games in the arcade. More like big slow moving blocks but it was addictive and awesome.

     A few years later I was introduced to something called a VIC 20 which the following year became a Commodore 64 with floppy disk drive for Christmas. Now we were really talking Gaming. Sure it was my first introduction to a home computer and I could type letters and learned basic programming with it but for me it's primary purpose was Video Games. Don't tell my Mom she thought it was for school. The Sprite based graphics that it produced were amazing looking and the machine was rarely turned off.

     After the Commodore which amazingly I used all through University to write papers with, I played some friends NES, SNES and Genesis systems. Sonic and Mario ruled, but I never owned one of the consoles. In 1992 I bought my first PC for an outrageously expensive cost and proceeded to use it to learn everything I could about the hardware but also for Video Gaming. For the next 8 years I was a dedicated PC gamer, Wolfenstien 3D, DOOM, Quake and every EA Sports title ruled my world.

     Then in 1999 I started hearing about this thing called The Dreamcast, remember the ads "It's Thinking". I was impressed, I'd played some Playstation 1 and Nintendo 64 thanks to my future Brother in Law, and it was cool but it didn't compare to the PC, although to be fair many hours were wasted playing Golden Eye multiplayer in the basement. When I started seeing the Dreamcast though I was impressed. Most people remember the Dreamcast for being the First of the Next Generation Console systems. It had terrific 3D accelerated graphics, full rich CD quality sound, real movie quality in game video playback, vmu memory units for game saves, 4 player controllers, and a builtin 56k modem for online gaming, and, eventually, web browsing. All this was ground breaking in 1999 and unheard of on a console. You have to remember here that Xbox, Playstation 2 and Gamecube were still years away.

     This was the system that got me off of PC gaming and back to consoles. There were truly some great games on here, everyone remembers Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, and has at least heard of the legend of Shenmue, but there are some real treasures on this system that get overlooked. Metropolis Street Racer is a fantastic Racing Game that never seems to get remembered as the real beginning of the Project Gotham series. The game that really stands out for me though was Skies of Arcadia. This is truly a unique and fun RPG that had great graphics and a compelling story. If you haven't heard of it, check it out. It was truly a gem for the Dreamcast.

     Over 10 years ago now I bought my Dreamcast. I've still got it downstairs and power it up once in a while. A testament to the longevity of the hardware. Since then I've had Xbox and 360 and Wii but the Dreamcast will always hold a special place in my heart as the system that made Console gaming fun again.

     What's your favourite memory of the Dreamcast or any other system?


  1. Hip memories, John! I had the Atari 2600, too. Did a lot of early sequencing on a Commodore 64. Played lots of Doom, Quake, etc. Still like PC games, but need a better video card. Which current gaming system would you recommend?

  2. Hey Steve, Thanks. PC Gaming got to be too expensive for that very reason. Couldn't keep up with the perpetual HW upgrades. Among the Current consoles, to me the Wii seems pretty much played out and ready for a replacement. XBox 360 has a great library of games and XBox Live can't be beat, yearly subscription needed though. If you're looking for a BlueRay player that's also a pretty decent game machine then the Playstation3 is good too. The wild card here is the New Controllers, Move and Kinect. Kind of Unknown factors at this point that will be expensive to "add on". Personally I've gone with the 360 as more of the games for it were of interest to me.