As a self confessed Sega fanboy, who owned pretty much ever console until my teens – thanks Mum and Dad – it may surprise you that I didn’t actually own a Dreamcast until 2006. The journey was a rough old road with glimpses of my eventual goal, but much like Ross and Rachel sometimes the chase can be as interesting as the enjoyment of putting one’s penis into the lid of the gleaming machine and slowly poking in and out.As you will be well aware today (09/09/09) marks the tenth anniversary of the Dreamcast’s North American launch and Sega magazines were full of images of the newly localised games from Japan as well as up and coming greatness. At the same time I was just about moved out of the family home with my wife to be, securing a flat deposit from my father. The last thing my missus would have allowed was ‘another bit of plastic under the telly’ and I can’t blame her. Since we had been together I had four different consoles on rotation at different times, and to be honest I had an actual girlfriend, and a big bed. The last thing I really wanted to be doing was playing with something plastic when I had something more real wanting to play with me, and so went the long path as a friend of mine bought the console three weeks before I had a falling out. I played Sonic Adventure and Chu-Chu Rocket before heading back to the flat for some pre-nuptual intercourse of course. Little did I know at the time that that would be the last encounter with a Dreamcast for about six years, when a trip across country to a gaming gathering of retrotsatic reprobates would fill my boots well and truly with the swirly lidded beauty.
Retro Fusion – Kenilworth 2006*
Through my on-going gaming interests I became involved with the site Consoles and Conkers, as mentioned before, and through further chin-waggery and blatant-swaggery I found myself invited to the Retro Fusion event organised by Chris ‘Boyo’ Wilkins, itself following the fondly remembered Retro Ball I was keen to attend and to my awesome amazement the Captain of the site was also willing to travel from the French Channel Islands to windy damp Warwickshire, to stay in a BnB with a near total stranger. Suitably we both brought along mates as rape fodder/human shields. We were a canny pair I tell thee. The event held the near Holy Grail for me, a chipped Dreamcast with some VERY rare Shmups and stuff. In a dizzy haze I played for about an hour non stop wishing all the time that I could elope with it, leave my fiance and marry the pasty little bit of plastic in a shotgun marriage ceremony conducted by someone dressed as Peter Moore, or hell, even Peter Moore himself.
Sadly I didn’t have the bottle to turn professional console thief, for two reasons. 1) I didn’t have a getaway vehicle revving it’s engine impatiently outside ready for me to dive through the rear passenger window as it sped off out of the Cricket Club car park and 2) I really enjoyed the event, so a quick exit would have left me a little disappointed obviously.
And thus time dragged on until my wife came through for me and found a second hand one in – say this quickly and quietly please – Game, in fact to date she has procured me three, which is why she is my wife, naturally.
The Game Dreamcast was advertised by a lonely battered old box with a price tag in the corner, £24.99. To me this was cheap and I did a little giddy jump but the wife wasn’t having that price, for an old machine, instead she managed to get five games thrown in, and best of all, they actually worked! But why would I need more? Well it’s simply a matter of logistics. If you have kidney illness in your family, have LOTS of children… same theory with retro consoles, spare parts are king. With a veritable army of nerds imagineers on the interweb you can find out how to fix anything if you have the means, the motivation, the instructions, the parts and a cigar.**
So Dreamcast two came from a local charity shop bundled with a copy of Jet Set Radio and two light guns, the official Sega one and the Mad Catz Dream Blast. Both very pointy, and possibly lethal if thrown at a meercat, but sadly useless on a big screen HD tv, so they are attached to a small portable telly in holsters for epic House of the Dead/Silent Scope fun! £20 this time, and worth every penny as the first ‘cast was a bit ropey by now. But the best was saved til last as my wife pulled the biggest ‘wool over eyes scam’ since Kelly Brook got that job presenting The Big Breakfast despite not being able to do anything except look pnumatic (saying that it did get me up in the morning). At a local car boot sale there was a former gaming nut selling his collection, with a boxed Dreamcast, two Boxed steering wheels numerous other boxed accessories games etc… he naturally wanted about £100 for it. My wife was sure she could barter it down, I was confident she wouldn’t and took the kids back to the car. Ten minutes later the missus pops her head round the door and asks for help. I look up to see her laden with gaming greatness, and the stallholder carrying the surplus. The price she paid? £15!
The fact that you can pick up a great machine at such a great price shouldn’t come as any surprise really as the world has always been a fickle bitch. We all know that the Dreamcast shot too soon, and despite online gaming being the revolution a short while later it just peaked a little early. Of course there will always be hopes for a Dreamcast 2, and sites will always be posting up tenuous links involving swirly logos, but for me the console represents more than Sega’s hardware swansong, it represents the addage that all good things really do come to those whom wait.
Happy Birthday Dreamcast!
* Want to know more about the Chunder and Lightning trip to Retro Fusion? Head over to the Channel Islands’ Premier Retro Site and read this.
** Cigar is naturally optional, the Lolocaust does not promote smoking, even if cigars are FUCKING AWESOME!