So, you're on your way home from the local game store, with your brand new console sitting in its box in your lap.
You're pondering how much fun you can have with your new system...but unless you're an idiot, you know that what's inside that box is basically an empty silicon and plastic shell. You can't have fun with a shell; you need things to fill it with. But what? That system has so much stuff available for it, it can be overwhelming. That's why, periodically, I'll be writing up lists, in no particular order, of five of the most essential, necessary, or recommended items that you NEED to have to truly enjoy all that your console has to offer. Every system has at least 5 things that justify owning it; these lists are here to help sort out the cool from the crap. Below each lists are the Alternatives lists, with runner-up goodies that are also worth considering (if you can't find something in the first 5 that you like).
The Dreamcast... so misunderstood. Anyone who was along for the ride from the beginning understands just how truly ahead of its time it was. You think Xbox was the first system that offered online play and downloadable content? Ha! DC did it almost 5 years ago. Just one of the many unsung innovations that Sega put so much energy into, only to see them forgotten when gamers moved on to the "next big thing". Sega did everything and more to make their DC the best it could be, and for a while it was- but a few key errors in judgment caused Sega's last tower to fall, taking down one of the most innovative and misunderstood consoles of all time with it.
1. Sonic Adventure 1 & 2: If you were alive during the Dreamcast's launch, you know why SA and its sequel have their own slot. Sonic Adventure was the flagship game for the DC launch, packing in with millions of DC's worldwide. There was such a HUGE hype surrounding this, the first real Sonic game in years, that making it a pack-in seemed a natural fit- millions bought the DC when it launched, if only for the chance to play SA. And the majority of those who got to play, weren't disappointed. SA took the Sonic series into a whole new dimension (the third one) and transitioned the gameplay in such a way that rivaled Mario 64. It took all the best things about the original Sonic series, and from there, Sonic Team went wild, using (at that time) cutting-edge technology to introduce some concepts that, back in the Genny days, were impossible. They put in some new ideas (some good, some not so good), and mixed it together to create what would be the start of the "New Sonic" era. Sure, in some aspects, the game wasn't as groundbreaking, almost mediocre (like the Adventure portions in between Action sequences), and Sonic Team wasn't able to stretch themselves enough to reinvent the wheel with the in-game camera they used, but you have to be a real Sonic cynic to consider those game-ruining faults. If you've ever enjoyed any Sonic game, this is the Sonic game you need to play next.
Sega inevitably made a sequel, Sonic Adventure 2, which was basically more of the same (not a bad thing), with a little extra icing on the top. Sonic Team obviously had their ears open when feedback for the first game started spreading, and they took it to heart, changing the focus of the game from the decidedly un-Sonic adventuring aspect, back to action, Sonic's true element. The result was a more streamlined and fast-paced game, a worthy sequel to SA. I think it goes without saying that it's your responsibility as a DC owner to at least check out both of these titles (that's why they're on the list). You should try both, because each has its own identity. If you like a slower-paced, less linear game, you'll love SA; but if you play Sonic games because you love the trademark Sonic speed, play the second Adventure first.
2. Something to Put In Your Slot (On Your DC Controller): The DC controller wasn't the first to come with a memory slot built into it- that was clearly a cue taken from the N64. And like Nintendo, Sega found some creative uses for it. First, and most important, was the VMU, or Visual Memory Unit. It was Sega's new-age Tamagotchi-style Memory Card, and its name and image quickly became synonymous with the Dreamcast. Undoubtedly one of the most unique "official" Memory Cards on any system, it contained it's own screen, buttons and D-pad, and was capable of several features on its own, such as minigames, like the Chao Gardens in the SA games. It also displayed in-game data on its screen, visible through the controller, when inserted; data which only you and your controller are meant to see- useful for viewing play options and stats in sports games. It's also pretty much required when you buy a DC, because it's the only method of saving game data (other than buying a lesser "regular" memory card). And since VMUs can be found dirt-cheap in any game store ($2.99 or free with a used DC purchase at GameStop, for instance), there's no excuse for settling for less. Other items that were designed to use the card slot: standard 3rd-party memory cards, the obligatory "Rumble Pak"-type devices (called Jump Paks on DC), and another, fairly cool item: a microphone. It was only compatible with one game that I know of (Seaman- see Alternatives), but a microphone accessory is always cool, no matter how useless. There were a few more, released in Japan only, including a camera; but they're hard to come by and expensive, too.
3. ALMOST ANY Sega Game: Sega and it's in-house's learned from their mistakes in the past with Saturn, and pulled out all the stops to diversify and intensify the DC's first and second-party game roster. From arcade ports, to a big handful of big-name sequels, and the occasional "experimental" game (Samba de Amigo, Rez, etc.), DC's game list is littered with big-name games from Sega- but not all of them are greats. There was the occasional "dud" (Virtua Fighter 3tb was bashed as a huge letdown by some fans), some games were met with less-than-stellar reviews. But unless you're the picky type, you should be able to find something you like in almost any of Sega's DC selection.
4. Internet Access: One of the biggest focal points of the Dreamcast was the fact that it was the first console to truly embark into the online realm. Gamers that stuck around for DC's final days were treated to valiant (i.e. insane) last-ditch offers from Sega ($200 rebate, free online service plus a keyboard), and got to see the first online console gaming community. Believe it or not, some games' servers actually lasted up until recently. Whether or not any are still around when you read this, however, I can't say. Then there's the other part of the online strategy- Sega beat MS to the punch by offering downloadable content for games like Sonic Adventure and Samba de Amigo. Again, when you read this, the accessibility of these features isn't known, but it's still an important part of the Dreamcast experience. Try as hard as you can to make at least some use of DC's online capabilities.
5. ANY Sega Accessories: Sega made a bunch of really cool peripherals for DC, much like they did for Saturn, including a really nice Arcade Stick, a cool Fishing Rod controller, a Lightgun that's near-arcade quality, not to mention the handful of "game-specific" paraphenilia, such as the Samba de Amigo Maracas or the Seaman Microphone controller plug-in. There are a few wheels available, but nothing too spectacular, which is a shame because there are some really great racing games out there. Several 3rd-parties offered a variety of nice gear, like Blaze's Arcade Stick. There isn't really any terrible-quality and way-too-easy-to-find gear for Dreamcast, of the variety that bloats other platforms' used-shelf space, so feel free to take a chance if something looks cool.
- Samba de Amigo- The maraca-shaking DC game mentioned above. It's an awesome game, but the only real reason it's included here is the maraca controllers (sold separately). Without them, you're only playing a small part of the game
- Seaman w/ Microphone- Without a doubt one of the most BIZZARRE DC games ever conceived (the game's narrator is Leonard Nimoy), and also one of the most fun. If you come across this game, get it (and make sure to get the microphone, because the game won't work without it). Using the mic, you can talk to the in-game Seamen, and they talk back to you. But first, you'll need to raise them. It's like 128-bit Tamagotchi on crack with a microphone
- ALMOST ANY 2K Game- Some of Sega Sports' greatest efforts were put into the 2K series, and it shows. From NFL 2K, a DC release title, to the 2K2 games, almost every entry in the series has been a welcome one, with few exceptions (like World Series Baseball 2K and 2K1, the series' black sheep). If you want great sports action on DC, start with a 2K game
Remember, these aren't the ONLY things worth getting for your new console; just a short list of some of the cream of the crop, to help you get to know your new investment. I'm sure a lot of people would disagree with some of my inclusions, and argue that maybe I forgot something, or shouldn't have added it, or whatever..so remember, these lists are open for your own interpretation. If you need more info regarding these items, look them up in the database. Or even better, see if anyone else here wants to trade/sell it to you.
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