Necros Says: As noted in last week's horribly late installment, "Friday Rantoid" is now just "Rantoid." All rights reserved, copyright 2007, trademark, Marky Mark, etc. Also, a disclaimer: although I have used a Dreamcast before, I still have yet to buy one of my own, so take that as whatever bias you want it to be.
Hardcore gamers are a sentimental bunch, unable to let go of the past. They sit around all day, playing Turtles in Time and saying things like, "You know what would be awesome? If Capcom made a sequel to Mega Man Legends 2." Some of the greatest wishes have been the revival of classic properties, like Bionic Commando, Street Fighter, and Final Fight. Then, when the game comes out, they are free to complain about how the quality of the game is nowhere near as great as the design of the original. Apparently, no reimagining can ever match up to a game restricted by the ancient technology it was built on. (That said, I'd be the first in line to buy a futuristic Zelda game.)
But there's one property that seems very unlikely to get revived: the Sega Dreamcast. In recent years, the continued growth of hardcore gaming on the internet has led the masses to think "hey, you know, the Dreamcast was actually an awesome system," as opposed to their original thoughts of "haha, Jet Grind Radio is so much worse than Fantavision!" Suddenly, the Dreamcast is totally awesome, with its only fault being that "mainstream gamers" can not recognize the true grandeur of the spiral-labeled system. This naturally causes the true Dreamcast devotee to ask: Where were you when the Dreamcast died for your sins on a cross made of dead PS2s?
Regardless of this squabbling and actual flaws with the system, like the god-awful controller - don't lie to yourself, the thing is a clunky mess of suck - the Dreamcast has become accepted as a diamond-in-the-rough of classic gaming. So needless to say, the excitement was monumental when rumors arose of a new patent that could lead to a second Dreamcast. And why shouldn't they be excited? After all, the Dreamcast was literally the second coming of 8-bit Christ, an island of joy in a sea of despair. So by all the laws of the world created by our God Miyamoto, Dreamcast 2 should be the second coming all over again? That is to say, the legendary third coming, spoken of only in whispers of days long past?
No. It's a terrible idea.
The moment I heard the "news," a question came to mind: where would it fit in the current market? The 360, PS3, and Wii seem to have the market divided up pretty well so far. While there are exceptions on every console, each console has its own defined space. The Wii is having great success in drawing in casual gamers, non-gamers, and the younger audience, along with the vocal Nintendo fanboy movement. The 360 has defined the online standard for this generation and has a large amount of AAA titles from Western developers. In addition, it has essentially become a Dreamcast-like system in Japan, where the hardcore minority has grown attached to it the same way America originally became fond of the Dreamcast, except instead of liking quirky Japanese games and JRPGs, they are drawn to FPS and strategy games. Finally, the PS3 has...well, to be honest, I'm not sure how much strength the PS3 actually has in the industry. It is popular among fans of the Playstation name/corporate branding and is a major draw for cutting-edge technology whores. Still, it is possible to make the argument that the industry can barely support three consoles, much less four. Add in two handhelds that have an increasingly sophisticated library and downloadable arcade-style games on every console, and suddenly, the market looks very crowded.
The basis of succeeding in a market lies in either beating the current offerings in offerings or finding a niche to exploit. It is foolhardy to believe that Sega could introduce Dreamcast 2 and come in anywhere close to second-place. The hope of securing exclusive third-party games for a system is rapidly diminishing as rising development costs take a toll on publishers. Apart from the Wii, the 360 and PS3 are already fairly similar systems, receiving many cross-platform games. A high-powered Dreamcast 2 would likely receive some of these games, but there's nothing special about that. It could attempt to appeal to the arcade demographic, but Xbox Live Arcade and the occasional PSN game already offer this service, with Wii receiving ports of lower-grade arcade games like Ghost Squad. Furthermore, the chances that gamers already owning one of the systems, especially a 360, is very high, meaning that only some of the more hardcore gamers would consider buying a new console that offers most of the features already possessed on other consoles.
Now, the Dreamcast 2 could hypothetically attempt to sustain a life based on being the sole provider of Sega games. In recent years, Nintendo essentially sold the Gamecube as the only place to get Nintendo games, with few redeeming factors beyond that. Using this strategy would by no means rocket the Dreamcast 2 to success, but it would at least distinguish it from other systems. However, I'd like to call your attention to a sad, undeniable fact: Sega sucks. While they once produced great games, playing any of their recent games is a recipe for disaster. As much as I'd like to try NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, I can't help thinking that given their latest track record, Sega is going to drop the ball. Take a look at what they've done to Sonic, their star mascot, the reason for their success. His latest game, Sonic the Hedgehog for 360, was an exercise in poor game design, even poorer presentation, and hedgehog-on-girl action. Sega has lost track of what made their games special, and as far as I'm concerned, their only good games today come from Treasure. So to those who brag about the return of a console devoted mostly to Sega games, I point and laugh, unable to believe that someone would actually desire that.
So to summarize, would I welcome Dreamcast 2 into the marketplace? Once again, no. Sega has fallen from glory and a new console would be Dreamcast 2 in name only. Furthermore, releasing it now would be another example of Sega's legendary bad timing, and it would become a flop in the market. The best thing I could hope for is for Sega to rediscover that magic that made their old games good and try to apply that to any new games. Otherwise, you wind up with games that treat hedgehogs like they are serious characters and lead to overly dramatic furry porn.