Sega Dreamcast First Impressions

Edwards Bros. Reviews
Jun 25 · 8 min read

Hey, Chase here. I know I haven’t blogged in a while, but I had to write about this topic. My brother and I went thrifting recently, and while doing so, we struck gold. We saw a console that we had been wanting for a long time for a pretty good price. What was the console? The Sega Dreamcast, the console that predated the PlayStation 2 in the sixth generation of gaming consoles. That generation had both the PS2 and Nintendo GameCube, two consoles very close to my heart, so I was pleased to see a Dreamcast, two controllers, and a game for around $20 total! Now all I need is an OG Xbox and I’ll own every console from this generation.

Anyway, since we got the system, we decided to buy some more games for it at a local gaming store. A Virtual Memory Unit was also acquired from Amazon, and it’s good that we got one, too. Saving is possible, and it may be the most unique thing about the Dreamcast. This is the system’s memory card, but unlike a PS2 or GameCube memory card, the VMU has a screen on it, which displays graphics and other information on it. For comparison, it’s kind of like how a pinball machine has a screen that displays the score and has little animations on it. It also has some buttons on it for functions outside of the controller.

The VMU goes into the center of the controller, which is a fine controller in its own right. The buttons feel good to press, and the analog stick isn’t the best I’ve ever used, but it’s far from the worst — that unfortunate honor goes to the Nintendo 64. The only two things I don’t really like about the Dreamcast controller are that the start button is too low and isolated from the rest of the buttons and the triggers are too thin, but to be fair, none of the games we got (apart from Sega GT) really use them.

Controller with VMU inside

The system’s design is similar to the original PlayStation, but it’s a bit taller and thinner, resulting in a more pleasing design. The logo is one of the coolest for a console ever, and when I mention the logo, I have to mention one of the coolest console startups ever.

Now, let’s talk about the games that we got. First, there’s Sega GT, a racing simulator similar to Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport.

For 1999, the graphics must have been revolutionary for a console, and they still hold up today. The right trigger accelerates, and the analog stick, shockingly enough, turns. It took some time to get the steering down, but this is a fun enough racing game. However, for racing sims, I’ll stick with Gran Turismo 4.

The next three games are all from Sega Sports, and their titles may seem a little familiar. First, there’s NBA 2K, and it turns out, yes, this is the first entry in the modern series of the same name.

The series was originally published by Sega under the Sega Sports name, but they sold the developer, Visual Concepts, to Take-Two Interactive. Take-Two then created 2K Sports as a result, and 2K Games’ founding soon followed, becoming the company’s second publishing brand name after Rockstar Games. Besides the NBA games, 2K have also given us games such as Bioshock and Borderlands.

Sorry for getting off track there, how’s the first NBA 2K? Well, it still holds up! It’s obviously not as realistic as later entries, but it’s still quite fun. The controls are basically the same as the newer ones, but I couldn’t quite get dunking down. The graphics and sound are both great, setting the stage for later entries to improve on. Honestly, I had more fun with this game than the later ones that I’ve played.

Next up is Visual Concepts’ other big series of the 2000’s, NFL 2K, and honestly I don’t have much to say about this one.

It plays like just about every football simulator I’ve ever played. The graphics, like the rest of these games, still hold up pretty well. The controls were good enough, but during my time playing, I found that it was almost impossible to get a good run. This game is classic defensive football. Unlike NBA 2K, NFL 2K didn’t survive the sale to Take-Two, as EA made a deal with the NFL to be the only officially licensed NFL game publisher. However, 2K later published a different football game with NFL legends in it.

Now it’s time for World Series Baseball 2K1, and unlike NFL 2K, I actually have quite a lot to say about this one.

Developed by WOW Entertainment, who also developed Sega GT, this game is one of the most baffling baseball games I’ve ever played. For starters, you know how in baseball games after the ball is hit, you actually control the players on the field to get the ball? Well, in this game, the players are automatically controlled, similar to baseball in Wii Sports, but here you can manually throw the ball to a base by pressing A while holding the direction of the base. I have no idea why you can’t control fielders’ movement, but you just can’t.

How are the rest of the controls? It actually took a little while to figure out. How do you swing the bat? A? B? No, it’s the right trigger. Not only that, you have to hold it down and release it as the ball approaches the plate. This wasn’t known until later, so I blindly pressed the trigger and struggled as a result.

Now for pitching, you move the stick in a direction to choose the pitch, and press A when the pitching meter is full for maximum power. At least, that’s how I think it works.

Like these other games, the graphics are excellent for the time, but how’s the audio? Well…

It’s not good. Not only is that song horrendous, but the announcer was average, and the away team scoring results in some of the funniest booing I’ve ever heard in a video game. It’s like if the ghosts of children could boo; you have to hear it to know what I mean. With all this being said, World Series Baseball 2K1 was immensely entertaining. It’s probably the worst-made game so far, but me and my brother had a fun time playing it.

Oh, and former Red Dante Bichette hit a home run, and the game said it travelled 568 feet. No joke.

His virtual self must have lifted a lot of weights…

We all know the Tony Hawk games, but they started with the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which surprisingly had a Dreamcast version.

Remember earlier how the VMU was compared to a pinball machine’s screen? This game uses that the most, as adjectives to describe your performance are displayed on it as you play.

Indeed.

Obviously the graphics are better than the other versions, and the soundtrack is great. The game is more limited in terms of gameplay than its sequels, however. As someone who grew up on Tony Hawk’s Underground, the lack of manuals and lip tricks took some time to get used to. Here, it’s just basic tricks, special tricks, and grinding that’ll rack up the points. It’s still fun to play, and I have a lot of respect for it, but I’ll take T.H.U.G. over this any day.

The final game that we got was Chu Chu Rocket, which I’ve wanted to play since seeing it featured on Game Grumps years ago, and it happens to be developed by Sonic Team, who in case you couldn’t tell, are responsible for the majority of the Sonic the Hedgehog games.

I’m really glad I got it, too, because this game is a blast! There is a maximum of four players, each player has a rocket, and mice are swarming the playing field in four possible directions from a couple sources. Also from these sources come a few cats, which just like in real life, can kill mice. Your goal is to place three tiles at a time to guide them to your rocket, and you press the corresponding button to put a direction arrow down (A for down arrow, B for right arrow, etc.).

This one screenshot captures this game’s chaotic nature really well.

If a cat reaches your rocket, it takes away mice. When they’re coming, you can guide them to others’ rockets to lower their scores. Some of the mice even have a question mark on them, which triggers several events ranging from an influx of mice, an influx of cats, moving the rockets, and slowing the game down. Needless to say, this game is very fast-paced. The music is insanely catchy, but the graphics are pretty simple, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My brother was overwhelmed, but I was into it.

Well said, game!

So far, I’m loving the Dreamcast! The games we got are all fun for one reason or another, and the system itself is interesting. The VMU is fun, the design is cool, and that startup is iconic.

Thanks for reading! The YouTube clips I used were uploaded by DreamStoped and bostonman45. The Dante Bichette trading card picture was taken from http://redcardboard.blogspot.com/2015/09/get-to-know-your-reds-part-44-dante.html. The information on Visual Concepts’ sale and 2K Sports’ founding was from https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2796233-inside-nba2ks-journey-to-the-top-of-sports-gaming.

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