I imagine it was in 1997 when I first came across the next generation Sega console, but I cannot be sure. I wish I’d kept those issues of Computer and Video Games that I used to get every month, but I didn’t. However, at somepoint in the late 1990s I started reading computer game magazines, moving from C&VG and PC Gamer to Gamesmaster to DC:UK and then finally, to Edge, where I stopped pay attention to games. Buying a magazine seems so quaint now when almost all promotion for computer games comes from online blogs nows, but that was the way it was when I grew up – if you wanted to play a Demo you needed the Demo Disc issue. If you wanted to know cheats or the latest news on consoles you needed to get the most recent issue. There were whole sections of “previews” that basically were the precursors to today’s screenshots and game reveals. It was a simpler time.
I remember reading about the Sega Katana, the replacement for the Saturn, before it was renamed “Dreamcast”, a name that at first sounded ridiculous. This was a time when the PS2 was a rumour – something called the Sony Oracle was in development, Nintendo were planning on releasing the Nintendo 64DD in Europe, and even more crazy there were rumours of a Microsoft built “Direct-X Box” console. Very strange times. The more details that came out of Sega about the Dreamcast the more interesting it became. And then it was officially confirmed to be launched in September 1999. I managed to get my parents to agree to buying me my first console (with the £50 deposit paid by myself) over a dinner at the Crooked Lum in East Kilbride.
Today, in 2013, the gaming community is pretty much set on the fact that the Dreamcast was the most ahead of it’s time console to have ever been released. It’s graphics were stunning for the time, it’s games (first part and third party) still today rank as some of the best games to have ever been made and some of the most influential too, and the console’s features are now standard. The Dreamcast came with something unique – internet access. A dial-up modem built in allowed for online play, a first for gaming, and the portal that Sega had set up (Dreamarena in Europe) was fantastic, with email (!!) and a web browser (!!) that worked on your TV. The console also had downloadable content for games, unheard of at the time, and even had a second screen on the controller, a concept only just recently revisited with the 2012 Nintendo Wii U console.
So yeah, I hold the Dreamcast in high regard, and with great fondness, and also with sadness due it’s short life and limited commercial success. I backed the wrong horse – the PS2 winning that race. I even canvassed friends at Scout Camp to try and get them to buy into the console and some did. They didn’t regret it, I don’t think.
This wave of nostalgia came across me when I stumbled on the memory of my high school Homework Diary – I don’t even know if they still do this, but each student was given a book at the start of the year and in that book, which they had to get signed each week, you were supposed to note down due dates for tests and homework as well as other things like telephone numbers for your friends. I actually believe that my homework diaries could still be at my parents, hidden away in boxes up stairs in the attic, and one day I suppose I’ll have to entirely empty my parents house of those things and take them for myself, and explain them to Connie who doesn’t have the references that I did, much like the News or Diary stories and drawings that I did during primary school.
I have always planned to scan in my News jotters and post the best on this blog (or another blog). Maybe I will one day. I think it’d be fun.