PS4 and Xbox One, please match the Dreamcast’s launch day wow-factor

Posted on Nov 16 2013 - 9:00am by Jeffrey L. Wilson
SEGA Dreamcast1 1024x558 PS4 and Xbox One, please match the Dreamcasts launch day wow factor

We’ll never see this again. And I’m not just talking about hardware.

There’s a stretch of storefronts on New York City’s 32nd St between 6th and 7th avenues that takes me back to kindler, gentler times whenever I’m in its vicinity. A game store which no longer exists pleasantly haunts my memory. Its name escapes me, but I can still see the interior through the fog of time. The store, you see, is where I purchased my Dreamcast during launch week.

Yes, launch week, and not launch day.

I had just started a new gig as a Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) customer service agent, so my first check wasn’t delivered until a few days after the 9/9/99 system launch date. SEGA had blitzed airwaves and print ads with Dreamcast spots — spots that made the Saturn successor look as though it could actually work as a viable gaming platform.

Though I was a SEGA guy during the 16-bit days, I didn’t get burned my the company’s many questionable market moves. I didn’t get a SEGA CD. I wasn’t even sure what the 32X was supposed to do until years later. I didn’t suffer the Saturn’s early death. I went into the Dreamcast’s launch with unbridled optimism.

Now I won’t get into the details of the console’s legendary launch games, or the ones that appeared, shortly afterward. That’s on record. We know of its awesomeness.

What we may not know, however, is if we’ll ever see a system carry such an immediate wow factor like that ever again. The post Dreamcast launch windows — from the PlayStation 2 to the Wii U — have failed to dazzle gamers to the same degree. Sure, many of the tech demos and CGI cutscenes looked great, but once those curtains were pulled back to reveal the truth of incremental, evolutionary changes, the hype lost some luster.

The Dreamcast’s launch was revolutionary. Sonic Adventure, in retrospect, is sullied somewhat by its exploration elements, but the traditional Sonic gameplay felt next-gen in a way that few other games had felt before — or since. Super Mario 64, of course, remains a groundbreaking title that pushed 3D worlds on home video game consoles, but it had to do so within the constraints of the cartridge medium. Sonic Adventure‘s scope, soundtrack, and visuals combined to form a game that was seemingly gifted to us from the future.

Now we’re ready for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and a number of other experimental gaming-related hardware. Between now and the 2013 holiday shopping season, we’re going to have fun speculating, predicting, and debating the merits of each.

But all I want is the magic I felt when I purchased my Dreamcast and launch games from that little import gaming shop on 32nd Street.

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Jeffrey L. Wilson is the former Big Boss of Now retired, he spends his days as a man of leisure. Kinda.

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20 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Welcome2TheNHK November 20, 2013 at 6:03 PM - Reply

    I still rock my dreamcast, Gundam 0079 (best gundam game ever made) and Evolution was a awesome rpg

    • Jeffrey L. Wilson November 20, 2013 at 8:25 PM - Reply

      The Dreamcast is the one retro system that still gets heavy rotation in my crib. Two player Zombie’s Revenge is crazy, silly fun.

      • Weclcome2TheNHK November 20, 2013 at 9:30 PM - Reply

        we have probably done millions of games of power stone and marvel vs capcom 2,
        Have the arcade game pads, not much can be improved upon.
        It’s like how tiger woods golf have all sucked since 2004, We still play 2004 on the old ps2. It’s hard to improve on something that just works and is entertaining.

        • Jeffrey L. Wilson November 21, 2013 at 8:44 AM - Reply

          I know what you mean about Tiger Woods! By crew played NFL 2K5 until our disc just stopped working about four years ago. When something is great, you stick with it.

          • Justin November 21, 2013 at 11:31 AM -

            Zombie Revenge was that DEAL. I completely forgot about that joint!

  2. Maskakos November 21, 2013 at 7:42 AM - Reply

    Dreamcast was such an awesome system. Only console i spend so many hours on. (I am mostly a PC gamer). So many epic and exclusive games and even the ones that got released on PS2 also where much better on Dreamcast. The 2 most sadest moments in my gamers life was when SEGA anounced they are getting out of the console industry and the second when I decided I have to stop playing WoW :/
    If only sega didn’t make the mistake with sega saturn they would still be KING!

    • Jeffrey L. Wilson November 21, 2013 at 8:48 AM - Reply

      My two saddest gaming industry moments: Dreamcast goes bye-bye and the NFL 2K series goes bye-bye. That time period, late ’90s to early ’00s, saw so many inventive and fun games. Games that need to be dusted off and given a second shot.

  3. McGygas November 21, 2013 at 8:24 AM - Reply

    I still remember my first day on Dreamcast, was so cool, with Rival School 3, Resident Evil 3, Sega classics, and Sonic Adventure 2 and a Demo Disc with a lot of demos, Tomb Raider, Fur Figthers, THPS, Sonic Adventure 1 and more…

    • Jeffrey L. Wilson November 21, 2013 at 8:45 AM - Reply

      Rival Schools. I would love a new one. Whenever I speak with Capcom reps, I meant it and Final Fight as series that should be brought back from the grave.

  4. Justin November 21, 2013 at 11:30 AM - Reply

    Power Stones, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. All great titles. I also recall that 9/9/99 launch week promo, the first time I saw a working demo of Sonic, I was blown away. Great console.

    • Justin November 21, 2013 at 11:37 AM - Reply

      Ready to rumble, NBA Showtime, Soul Caliber, Virtua Tennis, Spiderman to name a few…Even Spawn had a sick title on on Dreamcast. A lot of great software.

  5. Rob Riviezzo November 21, 2013 at 7:52 PM - Reply

    The name of the store was Game Express. The store was awesome! Best place to get import Saturn and PS1 games. Memories!!

    • Jeffrey L. Wilson November 22, 2013 at 9:00 AM - Reply

      DUDE! Yes! That was the place to get import stuff. Man, I miss those times. There was always something fresh/bizarre on one of the monitors.

      • Rob Riviezzo November 22, 2013 at 6:48 PM - Reply

        Reading your article and seeing you mention Game Express brought a smile to my face. I spent many trips on the A train from Jay Street Brooklyn to get away for a few hours. I really miss that place. There was always something about import Japanese games. Having it early possibly. I miss those days.

  6. gigantor21 November 22, 2013 at 7:49 PM - Reply

    No console launch line-up has matched the sheer wonder of playing Soul Calibur for the first time. I couldn’t believe something like that could actually be played in real time. I don’t expect to feel that way again. :/

  7. JinOntario December 1, 2013 at 5:56 PM - Reply

    Same response here about, “something not being quite as special.” I wonder if it’s because I’m/we’re almost 15 years older?

    • Jeffrey L. Wilson December 1, 2013 at 6:01 PM - Reply

      I think being older play some role, but the technological advancements are more incremental than huge step. I’ve gamed since the heyday of the 2600. The rise of the optical based platforms and polygonal gaming was the last great jump. You can argue online, but if you were gaming in the PC space, you were already hip to that.

      • JinOntario December 2, 2013 at 4:40 PM - Reply

        Same here, Jeffrey.

  8. YoshiKiri December 2, 2013 at 8:16 PM - Reply

    Kinda late on this, but I’m gonna play devil’s advocate and say the original Xbox had a better launch, it’s just that the infamous Duke controller put a lot of people off of playing it lol. I don’t care how big anyone’s hands are, that thing was a clusterfuck.

    Still, the real problem is the weird sense of entitlement everyone has towards console launches. Not every system is going to have GTA VI, Uncharted 4, a true COD4 sequel, Half-Life 3, Gears of War 4, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Zelda U all wrapped together collectively ready and waiting on day 1. I don’t think anyone would object to good launch line-ups, but boy do some people get carried away.

    • Jeffrey L. Wilson December 4, 2013 at 10:20 AM - Reply

      Agreed with everything here. So on point. Though, I don’t recall the Xbox’s launch line up? Anyone remember off the top of the head?

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