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Sega Dreamcast Turns 10 193

traycerb writes "It's been 10 years since 9/9/1999, when the Dreamcast launched on American shores. The hardware was ahead of its time; online capability, web browser, a visual memory unit, and a controller that anticipated the much-loved Xbox 360 controller. The games were amazing: Jet Set Radio (the first popular 3d cell-shaded game on a console), Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (still the apotheosis of 2-d fighting; just try finding a copy on ebay), Soul Calibur (still looks good compared to the recent Xbox/PS3 versions), NFL 2K (came out of nowhere, and was so good that it shook EA into spending tens of millions of dollars to seal up exclusivity for NFL rights), and many others. No doubt some of the reasons for the Dreamcast's demise lay with Sega, whose dubious hardware decisions (ahem, 32x) finally caught up to them, in the form of ambivalence from both developers and gamers, just as the console-making world was shifting to the multinationals with big pockets who were willing to spend it on pricey hardware design (or could absorb the cost of faulty hardware design). It was also one of the first consoles widely used for homebrew. In honor of the 10th anniversary, a new game is being released for the Dreamcast, called Rush Rush Rally Racing. The Dreamcast is dead! Long live the Dreamcast!"
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Sega Dreamcast Turns 10

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  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:11PM (#29367061)

    I must admit I have very fond memories of the Dreamcast. It debuted during the first semester of my Freshman year in college. All my previous consoles had technically been joint gifts to me and my brother so I left them all at home for him to play, and the Dreamcast was the first console I bought with my own money - which I bought on launch day so that I'd have something to play at school. Soul Caliber was a blast, as was Resident Evil Code Veronica and Sonic, as was Skies of Arcadia, but I really, REALLY liked Grandia II on that system.

    Despite it's early death, I think that the Dreamcast still held it's own against all the consoles of that generation (Gamecube, PS2, Xbox - I owned them all eventually).

  • Re:ahh good times (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Canazza ( 1428553 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:14PM (#29367093)

    that, sadly, no-one really took seriously. It was a wonderful console with some wonderful games. No-one really took the Dreamcast seriously after the flagging failure of the Saturn, expecting the same thing this time around. All the big developers went to PS2/Xbox (With the PS2 winning that round) and utterly burying the Dreamcast.

  • Re:ahh good times (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toolie ( 22684 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:16PM (#29367109)

    The developers went to the PS2 and XBox because the Dreamcast was stupidly easy to pirate games for. If the developers weren't making money, why support the system?

  • Controller sucked (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:16PM (#29367119)

    Should have kept the saturn type 2 controller, other then that best system ever.

    PS3 is basically DC now since you can hack it so much without modding it.

  • A great console (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wintergr33n ( 1369379 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:17PM (#29367137)
    This is true, it was a fantastic console and such a shame it didn't last the race. I remember playing Phantasy Star Online over the 56k modem before the term MMO even existed. And I still would rather play that than WoW. With Soul Calibur, Jet Set Radio, Power Stone, Crazy Taxi and of course Shenmue it seems that the Dreamcast proved that quality games is not enough to survive in this particular market. RIP!
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kipin ( 981566 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:17PM (#29367141) Homepage
    Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (still the apotheosis of 2-d fighting; just try finding a copy on ebay)
    Hmm, ok.

    That was Hard... [ebay.com]

    And to think, I own this game and it is collecting dust somewhere. Perhaps I should list it on ebay and retire to some faraway country.
  • Re:ahh good times (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JonJ ( 907502 ) <jon.jahren@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:19PM (#29367183)
    Yeah, because it's clearly impossible to pirate games for the xbox.
  • Re:ahh good times (Score:5, Interesting)

    by toolie ( 22684 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:25PM (#29367263)

    There is a difference between 'possible' and 'stupidly easy'.

  • Re:ahh good times (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Steauengeglase ( 512315 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:26PM (#29367281)

    A proper keyboard and mouse are enough to make me agree. Dammit, 10 years and no one else has bothered to get that right since. I want to play my UT3 Black, BioShock and Rage like a civilized human being, not like I'm an 8 year old with Nintendo thumb.

  • Re:A great console (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:26PM (#29367283) Homepage
    Phantasy Star Online was amazing; it was basically networked Gauntlet with great graphics and music. Very atmospheric. Unfortunately the old timey game cheating devices worked on it, so it was unplayable online because there was unlimited weapons, money, etc. floating around.
  • Re:ahh good times (Score:4, Interesting)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:29PM (#29367319)

    I would have to say Xbox was way easier to pirate the games. Heck with the dreamcast you had to burn discs, with the Xbox you could copy them to the hard drive.

    Besides the dreamcast was 2 years old when the PS2 cameout and 3 when Xbox came out.

  • Re:ahh good times (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:08PM (#29367939) Homepage
    For most people, burning a CD is much easier and less risky than opening up the XBox to mod it, and copy the content to the hard drive than it is to just burn a CD. If the CD doesn't work, you lose $1 (at the time of the dreamcast), if you bork up your XBox by opening it up to mod it, you are out the price of a console.
  • by SynbiosVyse ( 1398873 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:10PM (#29367957)
    When I woke up this morning and looked at the calendar, the first thing that came to mind was flashbacks of buying my Dreamcast on 9/9/99 at Sears. I still have it and it's box, close to new condition, along with 4 controllers and a plethora of games and accessories (4 VMU's, Tremor packs, keyboard, mouse, I even had the BROADBAND adapter aka a NIC). Dreamcast is probably my favorite system of all time. Favorite games: 1) Skies of Arcadia (one of the best RPG I have ever played) 2) Shenmue 3) Soul Caliber Sonic Adventure, Jet Set Radio, Phantasy Star Online, and many many others were great as well. People don't realize how revolutionary Dreamcast (and SEGA) was and how much it influenced the other future consoles. Look at Saturn, the first console to support internet-based play. I stil have my 28.8k NetLink modem. Dreamcast pushed online gaming even further by supporting 56k and having an optional LAN card. Games like PSO set a benchmark for many other MMORPGS like WoW. Although SEGA failed at marketing and spent way too much time trying to improve one of my other favorite systems, the Genesis ( with the 32x and SEGA CD), they were still on the cutting edge of console technology, and set an example that many future consoles and games followed.
  • Re:ahh good times (Score:5, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:19PM (#29368135) Journal

    I think people over-emphasize the piracy aspect. Yes DC games were relatively-easy to copy, but still not as easy the CD-ROM based playstation 1. To copy DC discs required some hacking to remove extra videos and make the 1-gigabyte game fit onto a stand 0.7 gig CD. The PS1 did not require that, making it easier to pirate, and yet the PS1 seemed to do moderately okay (120 million sold).

    Dreamcast was killed by mistrust. After buying The Genesis, then the 32X, then the Saturn, and getting screwed on the last two deals, I made-up my mind that I would never again touch a Sega console. So I ignored the DC.

    Sega, like Atari and Commodore before it, made stupid decisions that made them lose consumer confidence.

  • Using the modem (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nolife ( 233813 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:26PM (#29368267) Homepage Journal

    I don't remember the exact specifics because this was in 2000 but I used a USR modem in my Linux router and attached the DC modem directly to it. I configured pppd and mgetty there to accept a blind "dial" from the DC to get internet access through my cable connection. I guess using the DC broadband adapter would have been easier but they were too costly at the time. That was probably the last time I ever used pap-secrets file.

  • by TejWC ( 758299 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:33PM (#29368385)

    Think Geek still sells brand new Dreamcasts [thinkgeek.com]. Maybe I should pick one up now there are some "new" games ;).

  • My PSO hacking days (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Myria ( 562655 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:38PM (#29368461)

    I was actually one of the most well-known cheaters in PSO. A few friends and I disassembled the game and figured out how various parts worked, making GameShark cheat codes in the process. I had a serial cable between my PC and Dreamcast that let me dump memory and target-debug PSO.

    My favorite trick that I would do with the debugger is overwrite my own character with the data from another character in the lobby, then rejoin the lobby. I would appear as an exact clone of them. I even would do things like start listing the items they had in their inventory, as that was broadcast to every other client. Until Sega's servers started detecting it, I would also run around the lobby as Sonic.

    When the GameCube version came out, we applied our knowledge from the Dreamcast version to break the new encryption it used on the protocol. We didn't have a way to remote-debug the GameCube, so instead we wrote a transparent proxy server that let us mess with the packet stream instead.

    PSO for Xbox is what led to GameCube homebrew, and eventually sped up GameCube piracy. In the Dreamcast days, because of our cheating and bugs, Sega added a packet in "version 2" known as RcvProgramPatch that would tell the client to execute arbitrary SH4 assembly code. The GameCube version had this feature too. Because the GameCube packet encryption was then unknown (to homebrew; we knew it) and the disks were unreadable, there was no obvious way to break it without disassembling the game. The same encryption algorithm was used in the Xbox version of the game - big mistake. Xbox disks were readily dumped, and by disassembling the Xbox version's encryption they got the GameCube version's encryption. From there they simply sent PowerPC assembly code to the GameCube via RcvProgramPatch and it was all over.

    We actually cracked the encryption before the Xbox version came out using an elaborate trick involving misuse of stream ciphers by Sega. They violated two rules of stream ciphers and cryptography in general: always have both the server and client provide pieces that hash to the session key, and never let the server session key equal the client session key. This led us to get about 1 MB of the encryption stream for a particular key that we could repeatedly use. From there, we tried RcvProgramPatch, but it was broken. (We later figured out that it didn't flush the instruction cache before executing code. We later worked around that, as did the homebrewers.) Instead, we took advantage of another feature of RcvProgramPatch: the ability to request a CRC32 of an arbitrary chunk of memory. We asked for the CRC32 of every 2-byte word of memory, and from that we were able to get a copy of the game's RAM, and thus the assembly code containing the encryption. It was just disassembly from there to get to the algorithm.

    I spent waaaay too much time in that game, to the point that I've heard its lobby music far more than any other song in my life. Maybe someday I'll write the story of PSO hacking.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:40PM (#29368511) Journal

    I agree on the Atari Lynx being ahead of its time, but the Jaguar had lousy graphics, especially when compared to the PS1 released just one year later. No wonder it flopped.

    Also despite Atari's last-ditch attempts to rename Jaguar as "Jaguar 64", nobody was fooled. Everyone knew it was a 32-bit 68000 CPU - same thing that ran the five-year-old Sega Genesis and the 10 year old Macintosh or Amiga. The Jaguar has a better GPU, but that was its only advantage over those other machines.

    And you mention Super Nintendo which you are correct required an extra chip to make 3D Starfox, but so what? It still produced three-dimensions at no extra cost to the consumer. People were willing to stick with the SNES and then jump to the PS1, and ignore the Jaguar as nothing of note.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @03:03PM (#29369781)

    Well! Here's a prime example to tell you that you're a prick and you should FUCKING DIE.

    Thanks for ruining the game by being too much of a pussy TO JUST FUCKING PLAY IT.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford