Recently, I have been immersing myself in retro games. It may be due to the fact that no current generation titles have excited me lately, or it may be the recent rise of nostalgia I have felt over the last few months, but whatever the reason, retro gaming has been my focus as of late. Typically, when someone says “retro gaming” you immediately think of Atari, NES, SNES, Genesis, etc. I’m 25 now, so I did not play Atari at all as child, and I played very little NES. SNES and Genesis definitely have a bigger role in my gaming history, but the two systems that make me most nostalgic are the Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo 64. In this post, I’d like to share my Sega Dreamcast memories with you.
To fully understand the gravity of my Dreamcast love, first you need a little background on me. Gaming is a huge part of my life, and it has been since I can remember. My brother is the one who introduced me to gaming at a very early age. After school at our grandmother’s house we would rush through homework to get to the SNES. Well, he would get to the SNES. If I was lucky enough, it would be a co-op game and I’d be allowed to play, but forget anything even slightly challenging, because that would occupy him for hours and he was not willing to give up that controller. If my cousin was there I lost my player 2 spot pretty quickly. I think that’s why I suck at Super Mario Bros. 3 to this day. Naturally, I was tired of always playing second fiddle to my brother. I wanted my own system to enjoy. Somehow, we had managed to get both an SNES and a Sega Genesis from our parents. My brother gravitated toward the Nintendo titles, so I was often left alone with the Genesis. When I heard about the Sega Dreamcast, I knew that was what I wanted.
I got my Dreamcast for Christmas in 1999 when I was 9 years old. I can remember being told, “Ok, Andrea. Open this up with your cousin.” My cousin and I both got Dreamcasts from our incredibly generous grandparents. They gave me a box containing the Dreamcast, a red VMU, an extra controller, Sonic Adventure, and 102 Dalmatians (I know, I was a 9 year old girl, ok). I couldn’t believe this would be mine! It was going to go in my bedroom for me to play when I wanted. No more waiting for “one more continue,” “one more level,” or “if you beat me, you can play.” If my brother wanted to play, he would have to ask me! Luckily, my tastes even at that age were pretty good, so I went for Sonic Adventure first. I remember that game completely blowing my mind. We were all amazed by the graphics, the music, even the sort of “autoplay” feature that exists in the game. It was unlike anything I had seen or played at the time, and I credit the Dreamcast for giving me my most treasured hobby. I even finished that 102 Dalmatians game. In fact, that game holds a lot of nostalgia for me, because it’s one of the first games I taught my little sister how to play. As soon as I see that red squiggle, all the hours spent cross-legged on my childhood bedroom floor come back to me in a wave, and it’s a great feeling.
There were several titles on Dreamcast that were very good, but if I’m honest I didn’t own many titles. I rented a ton from Blockbuster video, but at that time I wasn’t hungry for new titles. I enjoyed mastering the few titles I did have. In an age where there was no Twitch or walkthrough tutorials, you had to invest more of your own time into figuring out the Easter eggs and most efficient ways to conquer a level. That was part of the fun. In retrospect (pun intended) maybe one of the reasons I’ve gone back to my roots is the simplicity of it all. Sometimes I don’t want to be traversing a huge map with an unreal arsenal of weapons, abilities, and tech. It could be argued that part of the rise of popularity in mobile games is due, not only to the convenience, but also to the general simplicity of the games. In today’s world where we use every minute of every day, it can be a challenge for people to set aside time to play a game that requires strategy and concentration. We can’t all make a living streaming, so for those of us who need to work a 9-5, it can be refreshing to return to simpler time in gaming.
The last point I want to make about the Dreamcast is that the hardware was subpar. The Nintendo 64 that my family got in 1997 has never had one hardware problem. My beloved Sega Dreamcast? It broke three years after I got it. In my research, I have found that it had something to do with overheating and pins needing to be bent back. It would also randomly reset to the main screen during gameplay. These failures made me reluctant to ever go back to Dreamcast, even though it has a special place in my heart. For my birthday last year, I was gifted a Dreamcast by my fiancé. When I saw it, the emotions I felt were ridiculous. I know how cheesy that sounds, but it’s the truth. I love it for its good points, and I love it for faults. I love the fact that I had a terrible “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” game that I actually played for months that I now own again. I can remember being extremely frustrated with it as a 10 year old trying to hone my skill. My Dreamcast sits right next to my Sunset Overdrive White Edition Xbox One and it does not pale in comparison. Now all I need to find is another red VMU.
What are your memories of the Dreamcast? Let me know if you share my feelings below.