The Diary of a New Dreamcast Owner

In February 2010 I filled a gaping hole in my video game collection by buying a Sega Dreamcast. I recorded the events in the form of a two part DC diary which I posted on a now defunct version of toomanywires. I am re-posting it here, as one article, for posterity's sake and in the hope that it will shame me into playing more of the DC games that I bought and still haven't got into. I'm so sorry Shenmue.


That’s right, I now own a Sega Dreamcast, for the first time no less. What follows is a running diary of how that happened as well as my experiencing the games for the first time. It’s just like travelling back to 1999! I have tried to make it more entertaining than it initially sounds. Comments are always extremely welcome.

Wednesday 3rd February

I finally bought a Dreamcast. I was a diehard SEGA fanboy right up to the excruciating final death throws of the Saturn, when I uprooted and began a happy, and continuing, love affair with the PlayStation brand. In Japan, I demonstrated very little self restraint when it came to buying retro consoles, yet I never picked up a Dreamcast. The main reason was that Shenmue 1 +2, the games I most regretted missing out on, were not ones that I would be able to fully appreciate in my broken Japanese. So I held on until I returned to England.

Now that I’m back, there is no excuse. After a week or so of searching Ebay for a bargain, and avoiding what I was supposed to be doing (applying for jobs), I have finally found one - £16 for the DC, power cord, 2 controllers, 2 VMUs, a rumble pack and a copy of Crazy Taxi. Unfortunately, there is no scart/av lead, but I have ordered one elsewhere for an extra £4. Now I wait.

Saturday 6th February

My bundle of joy has arrived! Everything seems to be working, though still being minus the AV lead, I can only listen to the disc whirl round. This is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment. One downside to the purchase is that, despite being in excellent condition, the console is filthy! I have a feeling the charity shop who sold it on Ebay may have found it in a roadside ditch. So, I set to work with my damp cloth, disinfectant wipes and a needle (you don’t want to know what that was for). I do take pride in keeping my things clean, but I don’t think I have ever cleaned anything as vigorously as those controllers. Now, the whole thing looks fresh out the box.

Sunday 7th February

One of my favourite things about buying a retro console is starting to put together a game collection from scratch. That’s one of the main reasons why I had so much fun with my Japanese Saturn. You have all your choices set in front of you, and with a few exceptions, the games are very affordable. Once you have a clearer picture of what you want, you can go about tracking them down, which is half the fun.

Today I started doing just that and I was able to tick off the titles that I wanted the most.

Shenmue (excellent condition, but minus the outer box sleeve) - £21
Shenmue II (pristine condition, but missing one of the manuals) – £20 (this was an absolute bargain, as most retro shops list it at around £60)
Jet Set Radio, Chu Chu Rocket, Sonic Adventure, Space Channel 5 (all excellent condition) - £8 for the lot.

Most of these games came from a very helpful lady up North, who was selling her son’s gaming collection that he had recently stuffed in the attic. I wonder if he knew she was selling it!?

Whilst perusing Ebay I also noticed that the PS1 RPG Legend of Dragoon, is listed in a number of places for £60. I have that game, and it’s as new! Doubt I will sell it though.

Monday 8th February

All work and no Dreamcast makes Matt a dull boy
All work and no Dreamcast makes Matt a dull boy
All work and no Dreamcast makes Matt a dull boy
All work and no Dreamcast makes Matt a dull boy
All work and no Dreamcast makes Matt a dull boy
……..still waiting for that bloody lead.

Tuesday 9th February

Shenmue and Jet Set Radio have arrived and look exactly as listed. Still no AV lead though, but my fiancée is flying in from Japan today, so other things on my mind. Chances are the first thing I will tell her, after a month of being a world apart, is that my AV cable still hasn’t arrived. She will laugh, and that’s a very good thing.

It sounds strange, but while waiting on the Dreamcast, the one thing that I’m most eager to experience is the system load up screen. I have no idea what it will look like when I turn it on. What sound will it make? Will it be similar to the Saturn screen? Why am I even thinking about this?

Wednesday 10th February

My Dreamcast is a fucking dud! This morning, after repeated relay trips to the front door to see if the postman had visited, the remainder of my games and the elusive AV cable finally arrived. I hurriedly unpacked it all, and not even the realization that the VMU needed two (!) lithium batteries could dampen my spirits.

I got it all up and running. I witnessed the loading screen and the nice little tune, informed the internal calendar that it wasn’t in fact 1998 anymore, and then fired up Crazy Taxi. All was going well until, about 2 minutes in, the game crashed and I was returned to the system menu, where I was prompted to insert a game disc. I tried Jet Set Radio, same problem. I then tried all my other games, only now the DC wouldn’t even load them up in the first place. My well informed guess is that the laser drive is on its last legs. I’ve tried blowing on it, moving it back and forth along its tracks, voodoo, and even attacking it with a tissue, but all to no avail.

As far as returns, it’s a no go. I purchased it through a registered charity on Ebay, and as an NPO, they will refund the unit cost but not the initial delivery (£9), or the return delivery fees (a further £9). The final refund would be worth less than the spare parts and peripherals, so it makes no sense to send it back.

I now have a handful of games, but nothing to play them on! This is the last time I put my faith in charity.

Thursday 11th February

After sending a displeased but polite email to the Ebay seller, they have agreed to send a replacement DC console free of cost, which is pretty decent of them. However, it has no wires, so would be untested, and I get the feeling that when people donate their old consoles to charities, they usually hand over the ones that are closest to the video game knackers yard. Still, it’s a result.

There is only one problem though: I completely jumped the gun and bought another DC! I figured that the first one was a loser, and just before going to bed I stumbled upon a good “console only” deal with a “Buy it Now” option, which I just couldn’t resist. It may as well have just said “Matt, Buy it Now”. What do they say about there being no buses, then two come along at once?

Friday 12th February

Another parcel and the postman is starting to look at me strange. He probably thinks I have some sort of cardboard box/parcel fetish, but he’d be wrong. My mental problems revolve around the contents of those boxes, and today it’s my second Dreamcast in a week. And it works like a charm.

I’ve only had a chance to play 1 minute of all my games, just to check that they all work (which they do). So here are my thoughts, 60 seconds into each game. That’s right, video game reviews have reached a brand new low, but it’s a logical progression.

Sonic Adventure – Why are there humans in a Sonic game? And why, oh why is Sonic talking. Still, all was forgiven when I picked up my first shiny golden ring!

Space Channel 5 – This looks like fun. Up, down, up, down, shoot, shoot, shoot

Shenmue – Bad things are going down in Yokosuka. I never realized Nelly got his band-aid-on-the-cheek look from Ryo.

Shenmue 2 – I only went up to the title screen, as I didn’t want it spoiling any of the developments from the first game.

Soul Reaver – Just like I remembered it from the PS1, only this time in a blue box.

Chu Chu Rocket – I have absolutely no concept of what I’m supposed to be doing.

Jet Set Radio – This made so much of an impression that this is based on at least 4 minutes of gameplay! JSR oozes style, and I’m a sucker for these kinds of pretty games, especially when they come from SEGA

I’ll be sure to feature more 60 second reviews in the future, along with previews of games that I have imagined playing.

I finally have a working Dreamcast, an AV cable and beginnings of a game collection. The future is bright, the future is Dreamcast.


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