Dreamcast is the name of Sega's sixth generation video game console, which was released September 2000. It was the first entry in the sixth generation of video game consoles, preceding its rival, the Nintendo GameCube, by about a year. By the end of its life, it had sold 47 million units.
The Dreamcast was the first notable console built with online play in mind, and was Sega's first console specifically designed to play 3D games.
Although it succeeded the Saturn, it lacked any form of backward compatibility, due to the different format of the discs and Sega's desire to keep system costs low.
By 1997, Sega had begun working on next-generation hardware. Said hardware was first displayed in 1998 as Project Naomi (New Arcade Operation Machine Idea), which would be Sega's main arcade hardware for over half a decade. NAOMI was soon modified to be used as a game console, with very few compromises being made.
The Dreamcast was first released in Japan September 2000, at a cost of $200 for a basic package. Titles out over the first few months included Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, Samba de Amigo, Shenmue, Sonic Shuffle, Rayman 2, and Capcom vs. SNK.
The Dreamcast's launch lineup is often cited as the greatest of all time, including many high quality and classic games. Furthermore, the system had a great launch window, with games like Skies of Arcadia, Onimashu: Warlords, and Phantasy Star Online coming out within a few months of launch. Although there were a few duds, namely the much anticipated Castlevania Resurrection, the Dreamcast enjoyed early critical acclaim and sales, and managed to outsell the Nintendo 64 even despite its price cut to $100, half of the Dreamcast's price, and several major releases.
Although the Dreamcast eventually had a drought of titles in spring 2001, allowing the Nintendo 64 to sell more for a few weeks, the second wave of major releases was ready by August, with Capcom's Devil May Cry leading the way. Other major Dreamcast games of latter 2001 included Super Monkey Ball, Metal Gear Solid 2, Dead or Alive 3, and the multiplatform Jak and Daxter. Therefore, even as the GameCube launched with healthy sales and a respectable lineup, much of its thunder was stolen.
2002 continued the glory days of the Dreamcast. Virtua Fighter 4 was released early in the year, and became one of the system's leading online games. In May, in a series of price cuts, both the Dreamcast and the GameCube's price were lowered, with the Dreamcast reaching $179 to the GameCube's $149. Although this helped the GameCube make up for the Dreamcast's year-long head-start, the Dreamcast continued to hold its own with games like Shining Sun, Super Monkey Ball 2, Shenmue 2, and Shinobi.
2003 marked a turning point, during which the Dreamcast started to truly fall behind the GameCube, leading to its narrow defeat this console generation. Several games for the Dreamcast, including Devil May Cry 2, were disappointments. There was no major Sonic game this year, nor were there any great multiplayer games to match Nintendo's bevy of racers. Topping off the Dreamcast's problems were the GameCube's impressive ability to receive quick Dreamcast ports, including Soul Calibur 2 and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Even a price cut to $149 did little to help matters.
2004 through 2006 were years of being second to Nintendo's GameCube for the Dreamcast, as well as years of preparation for the next console generation. This is not to say that everything went downhill in 2004. The exclusive Ninja Gaiden started a new franchise, Sonic Power Tennis helped push the Sonic Sports series to prominence, and a price cut to $129 boosted sales. Most importantly, two huge games were released at the end of the year: Sega Superstars Smackdown and Metal Gear Solid 3. However, even those two games were obviously hindered by the Dreamcast's limited controller and power.
The next year wasn't much better. Whereas the GameCube continued to have many major hits, including Resident Evil 4, Star Fox: Dark Phoenix, and multiple high-profile RPG's, the Dreamcast's big games of 2005 were mostly multiplatofrm titles. The exceptions were the well-received Devil may Cry 3 and the notorious Shadow the Hegehog.
Although the Dreamcast's devoted fanbase would lead to new games being released well into the next generation, mostly sports games, 2006 was the Dreamcast's last hurrah. Sonic Riders was a moderately well received attempt to reinvent the "Sonic Racing" concept, and a final price cut to $99 encouraged late sales. However, this year was dominated by Nintendo's consoles and Game Boy Nitro.
The Dreamcast was a top-loading system. It had an impressive 56 MB of RAM, along with a CPU clocking in at 200 MHz and a GPU at 100 MHz. Its GD-ROMs held up to 1.2 GB of data, notably less than the full-sized DVDs that were just entering the market could hold.
The Dreamcast was the first console that supported online play, via a removable modem. Players could pay a certain fee a month, depending on their region, to play official titles online, using Sega-maintained servers. Due to the continued popularity of various Dreamcast games, these servers are still operational, although Sega reserves the right to shut them down at any time.
Most Dreamcasts sold were either white or black models.
The Dreamcast was Sega's best selling hardware of all time, with about 47 million units sold. 14 million Dreamcasts were sold in Japan, 21 million were sold in America, and 12 million were sold elsewhere. In general, the Dreamcast outsold its rival, the GameCube, in most non-American markets.
Critically speaking, the Dreamcast has received somewhat mixed reviews, especially in retrospective. On one hand, its early lineup is considered possibly the best in the history of the industry, its online functionality was revolutionary, and the wide diversity of niche games, particularly arcade ports, made it many hardcore gamers' system of choice.
However, critics have noted that the GameCube had more games sell more millions of copies, had a superior controller for many genres, particularly those in 3D environments, and more powerful hardware save for the Dreamcast's slightly higher RAM. Critics have also pointed out that the Dreamcast's use of GD-ROMs, rather than DVD's, even the miniature ones the GameCube used, limited the size of games.
The Dreamcast had a total of about 1,300 games released for it over its life, not counting unlicensed or fan-made titles.
List of Best Selling Games
The following Dreamcast games have sold a million or more copies worldwide. Note that this list is incomplete, and may never be completed.
- Sonic Adventure - 7 million
- Sonic Adventure 2 - 5 million
- Metal Gear Solid 2 - 4 million
- Sonic Heroes - 4 million
- Sega Superstars Smackdown - 4 million
- Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex - 3 million
- Madden NFL 04 - 3 million
- Madden NFL 06 - 3 million
- Metal Gear Solid 3 - 3 million
- Spider-Man: The Movie - 3 million
- Super Monkey Ball - 3 million
- Super Monkey Ball 2 - 3 million
- The Simpsons: Hit & Run - 3 million
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 - 3 million
- Tony Hawk's Underground - 3 million
- Crazy Taxi - 2 million
- Devil May Cry 3 - 2 million
- Enter the Matrix - 2 million
- FIFA 07 - 2 million
- FIFA Soccer 2005 - 2 million
- FIFA Soccer 2006 - 2 million
- Jak & Daxter - 2 million
- Jak 2 - 2 million
- James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire - 2 million
- James Bond 007: Nightfire - 2 million
- Madden NFL 02 - 2 million
- Madden NFL 03 - 2 million
- Madden NFL 05 - 2 million
- Madden NFL 07 - 2 million
- Madden NFL 08 - 2 million
- Need for Speed Underground 2 - 2 million
- Need for Speed: Underground - 2 million
- Onimashu - 2 million
- Pro Evolution Soccer 2 - 2 million
- Pro Evolution Soccer 3 - 2 million
- Pro Evolution Soccer 4 - 2 million
- Pro Evolution Soccer 5 - 2 million
- Pro Evolution Soccer 6 - 2 million
- Pro Evolution Soccer 7 - 2 million
- Resident Evil: Code Veronica - 2 million
- Shadow the Hedgehog - 2 million
- Shenmue - 2 million
- Soul Calibur 2 - 2 million
- Spider-Man 2 - 2 million
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - 2 million
- The Simpsons: Road Rage - 2 million
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 - 2 million
- Virtua Fighter 4 - 2 million
- Sonic Golf: Green Hills Zone - 2 million
- Capcom vs SNK - 1 million
- Dead or Alive 3 - 1 million
- Devil May Cry - 1 million
- Devil May Cry 2 - 1 million
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai - 1 million
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 - 1 million
- Dynasty Warriors 3 - 1 million
- Dynasty Warriors 4 - 1 million
- FIFA 08 - 1 million
- FIFA Soccer 2003 - 1 million
- FIFA Soccer 2004 - 1 million
- Finding Nemo - 1 million
- Jak 3 - 1 million
- King Kong - 1 million
- Lego Star Wars - 1 million
- Lego Star Wars 2 - 1 million
- Madden NFL 09 - 1 million
- Max Payne - 1 million
- Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance - 1 million
- Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary - 1 million
- NBA 2K5 - 1 million
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted - 1 million
- NFL 2K2 - 1 million
- NFL 2K3 - 1 million
- NFL 2K5 - 1 million
- Ninja Gaiden - 1 million
- Onimashu 2 - 1 million
- Phantasy Star Online - 1 million
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - 1 million
- Prince of Persia: Two Thrones - 1 million
- Prince of Persia: Warrior Within - 1 million
- Pro Evolution Soccer - 1 million
- Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 - 1 million
- Ratchet & Clank - 1 million
- Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando - 1 million
- Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal - 1 million
- Shenmue 2 - 1 million
- Shenmue 3 - 1 million
- Sonic Mega Collection - 1 million
- Star Wars: Starfighter - 1 million
- The Incredibles - 1 million
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - 1 million
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - 1 million
- The Sims - 1 million
- WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2007 - 1 million
- WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain - 1 million
- WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006 - 1 million
- WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It - 1 million
- Yakuza - 1 million
- Yakuza 2 - 1 million
- Sonic Power Tennis - 1 million
- Soul Caliburn - 1 Millon