Back in 1999, SEGA was on the ropes. Their 32-bit console, the SEGA Saturn, had been a failure everywhere but Japan. The SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis was long dead. The arcade market was struggling. Japan was in the midst of a decade-long depression. The SEGA Dreamcast was its last hope at remaining a contender as a console maker.
Of course, we all know how that went by now. The Dreamcast struggled in Japan, initially selling out when it launched on November 27 1998, but then failing to meet subsequent sales targets. The Dreamcast had a record breaking launch in America, where it sold 500,000 units in just two weeks. The system also did very well in Europe, where it managed to sell 400,000 units in about 5 weeks. Unfortunately, this success would not last, and on January 31, 2001, SEGA announced that the system would be discontinued.
Despite its short life, the Dreamcast has become something of a cult hit among hardcore gamers. It saw many acclaimed releases, like Soul Calibur, Skies of Arcadia, Jet Grind Radio, Grandia 2, and Shenmue. It pioneered console online gaming, becoming the first system to feature a built in modem, which allowed many developers to inject online functionality into their games, including DLC, leaderboards, and online multiplayer.
Around here, the system is probably best known for being the machine that powered Sonic’s first true 3D outings, permanently changing the franchise forever.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the system’s iconic 9.9.99 US launch. Do you have anything memories of that launch? Or the system? Or its games? Feel free to share them in the comments below!
This won’t be our only Dreamcast article marking the occasion. Keep an eye out for a few more articles over the next month!