Even if you've never played a Sega console before, you're probably familiar with the company's iconic mascot: a certain super-fast, chili dog-loving, too-cool-for-school blue hedgehog. Although his first major appearance was on the Sega Genesis back in 1991, some of Sonic the Hedgehog's most iconic games, for better or worse, appeared on the Sega Dreamcast, which turned 17 years old last week.
Released on 9/9/1999, this was the system of the future. The Dreamcast had LAN adapters before the XBOX, miniature screens built into its controllers long before the Wii U, and even its game pad was advanced. It offered internet connection for online gaming, portable memory cards, motion and voice control, and even the first capability for gaming in high definition.
Sega brought the future of gaming to the present for gamers across the globe. So, what happened?
Sega couldn't keep up. Sony and Nintendo kept pulling ahead with new innovations and systems, and even the features that made the Dreamcast special couldn't hold water at the start of the 21st century. Online gaming wasn't up to speed yet. Developers weren't making games for the Dreamcast. Sega's marketing couldn't compete with the bigger players. Just like that, the Dreamcast was collecting dust after a few short years.
The system, however, is not completely irrelevant, boasting some incredible games like Soul Calibur, Jet Set Radio, Phantasy Star Online, Crazy Taxi, and Shenmue. And, of course, the Dreamcast helped Sonic the Hedgehog make incredible strides with Sonic Adventure (the console's best-selling game and Sonic's first appearance in five years) and Sonic Adventure 2. While both games are highly outdated and arguably unplayable, they were among the most popular of their time, not to mention among many gamers today. These games gave way to a whole new generation of Sonic games that players around the world still love (and hate) to this day (hey, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle for GameCube is still my favorite game of all time).
Despite its short lifespan, the Dreamcast is still an important, innovative milestone in gaming history. Happy 17th birthday, Sega Dreamcast!