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Dreamcast: The dream system lives on

By ROBB GUIDO

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 2001


A little life remains for the Sega Dreamcast.

Dead is such a harsh way to look at the Dreamcast, my favorite video game system. Instead, we should look at the good times we had playing with Sega's dream machine, and even at the good times ahead.

Some might question the value of buying a Dreamcast now that Sega has announced it will stop making the systems March 31. Usually, ending console production means an end to games, but Sega says the games will go on for its once-hot system.

While the PlayStation 2 disappoints with mediocre games, players can pick up great Dreamcast titles, such as Crazy Taxi, Samba De Amigo, Sonic Adventure, Chu Chu Rocket, Jet Grind Radio and Shenmue.

The hours I've spent with these games are too numerous to calculate. I remember tearing though the streets as a punk taxi driver, taking out phone booths and catching my passenger's ire. It seemed like everyone I had over liked Crazy Taxi, probably for the chaotic ease of play and funny sound bites.

Then there was Samba De Amigo, the strange maraca game that was as riotously addicting as it was expensive. For $80, you could buy these cool, orange maraca controllers and (after purchasing the game of course) you could step on the mat and start shaking your shaky things to Ricky Martin and the likes. Sure, you looked really stupid playing it, but after one round of Take On Me by A-ha, you could care less.

Then there were the online games. The first time I jumped online, with NFL 2K1, was a complete rush playing against a real person. With friends, you know who is good and who stinks, and their plays flash up on the same screen as yours, but not this time. Conversations with the other player were just plain, fun trash talkin'.

Sure, the Dreamcast cost more for things such as keyboard, Internet access (if you didn't already have it), guns, maracas and memory devices. But as a die-hard gamer, I've never had a problem paying for something if I got my money's worth.

Even if Sega never made another game for the Dreamcast, there's more than enough reason to shell out $100 for the best system on the market right now. And there's more to come. This year, Sega is poised to top its 2000 lineup with an even better batch of games: Sonic Adventure 2 and Crazy Taxi 2. And recent fab releases include Phantasy Star Online and The Typing of the Dead.

The time will come when Sega stops making games for Dreamcast. But I recall fondly the fun I had with previous systems that flopped, such as the 3DO and Sega's Saturn. And Sega says its games will be available for other systems.

We have months to wait before Microsoft's Xbox hits the market, and Sony is playing catch-up to meet demand for the PlayStation 2. Nintendo's Game Cube may be ready next year.

But there's something about the Dreamcast I'll miss and mourn: a game system that is fun and exceeds expectations.

- Robb Guido is an avid gamer who lives in Tampa.

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