We’ve all seen around the Internet over the last few days that the Dreamcast has hit it’s 19th birthday, that’s right – let that sink in; 19 years ago on 09/09/1999 (October 1999 for us Euros) the first 128 bit system to hit the market would appear and of course with Sega’s dwindling finances, consumer support and lack of faith and communication internally we saw the tragic end of the machine in 2001 with the year coming and going and the console not missed by those moving on to the other choices at the time, it’s in the death of the console that a real fanatical movement happened, much in the way an artist is at their most popular post-death, the Dreamcast’s fire burns stronger today than anytime before.
Recent years have been especially kind to the console, support is at an all-time high, perhaps based on the foundations of lofty Kickstarter campaigns in previous years, the promised software count is perhaps at it’s highest since say, 2002. We’ve certainly had more ups rather than downs, the console has seen the once pioneering online aspect resurrected via Dreamcast Now!, the console’s alternative and updated idea based around the foundations of DreamArena many years before.
Game releases have become more and more high profile, who could have predicted that your almost 20-year-old hardware would be playing host to a port of Fade To Black? What about a port from the PSP in the shape of 4×4 Jam? Perhaps a selection of Neo Geo games thrown into the mix… Maybe even it would be a seeing is believing scenario to expect a licenced title based on Saber Riders? It’s all here thanks to dedication from publishers like JoshProd, with a continual stream of diverse software filling the console library (and our gaming shelves) long after Sega decided to leave the Dreamcast in the hands of the gamers. In previous years, RedSpotGames, NGDev.Team and Hucast have picked up the support for the console where times have been quiet but these teams have all but faded away, leaving JoshProd and to a lesser extent, GOAT Publishing to pick up the reigns with the former actually crafting some of the best boxed product we’ve seen since the demise of the machine.
So ultimately, rather than looking back, let’s look forward – where do we stand in 2018? Well, we’ve been lucky enough in recent memory to finally resurrect machines with tired and burnt out GD drives with the GDEmu SD solution, and although these have proven hard to obtain, this year has seen the biggest breakthrough with reverse engineering this sort of product to allow a more mainstream penetration, keeping consoles out there on the market. Also we have seen Sega team up with RetroBit to release a range of retro-inspired controllers based around Sega’s legendary pads.
As we mentioned earlier in this post, the highlight has to be the support which has been building steam since 2017, in the old days, we’ve have to put up with lengthy crowd-funding campaigns with sometimes no sign of any actual product at the end of it or information being dangerously sparse perhaps due to real life getting in the way and high ambitions, one would question when games like Elysian Shadows will become a tangible product, although lengthy blog posts show plenty of progress, whether the product can match the tech-packed development remains still a mystery, the same could be thrown in the direction of SlaVe, having almost forgotten about this one, it is still a hangover from the days of massively unfinished projects being prematurely announced with nothing but a lengthy to show for this to date, Hypertension and Scourge sit comfortably in this area too.
This is perhaps what makes JoshProd with their partnership with Rushongame and Play-Asia a unique approach for Dreamcast gamers, taking games that have already been on the market or ports of existing software with a maximum of 6 months waiting time between announcement and product really restores the confidence that was in danger of being lost by even the most die-hard Dreamcast consumer in recent years whilst not drowning the market in re-releases, we’d love to see Piko Interactive follow in these footsteps since they have dipped their toes into Dreamcast interest recently.
So there we have it, the Dreamcast is still very alive today, the games are there, the repair parts are coming along leaps and bounds, online support is there again and respect for what this machine achieved both yesterday and today is discussed in greatly fond detail in today’s market. Happy birthday Dreamcast – we’ve all still got your back.