Technology comes and goes as we move through life. Gadgets appear for a time, only to be replaced by newer and more advanced pieces of equipment. Consoles, however, endure the test of time. We might be playing with the newest Nintendo Switch Lite accessories and the latest handheld models such as the Clockwork Gameshell, but classic names like the Nintendo SNES and the PlayStation 1 still make gaming fans excited whenever they spot one on a shelf or dust off their favourite cartridges and discs to relive some of their favourite games. The only thing that is more interesting than a console that had mass success is one that failed, one that could have had the potential to go onto to greater heights and will always be surrounded by the phrase ‘what if’. Well, today we’re here to pose a question to all of our Retro Dodo readers; what if we were to see the revival of SEGA’s last console before they returned to third party software creation? What if we could own a revived version of a prodigy that was made for a gaming world in another time, in another place. What if we could get our hands on the rumoured Dreamcast Mini? Would it revive SEGA’s console hopes? Would it fill the hole that the Dreamcast made and give new fans a chance to experience the heartache we all felt when the Dreamcast was discontinued or is it destined to head the same way as it’s older brother and drown in the market of ‘reborn mini consoles’ whose predecessors knocked it out of the race all those years ago?
The Dreamcast Mini – Would It Work In Today’s Market?
Gamers all over the globe are going mad for the Mini Classic console series, and why shouldn’t they. Who wouldn’t want a SNES or a SEGA Megadrive with all of your favourite games included, one that’s small and streamlined enough to fit in your backpack? They can be played on newer televisions without having to scout around for one of those SCART converters at the back of a drawer; what’s not to love! SEGA are already experiencing some great feedback from the new Megadrive/Genesis Mini Classic, so it would make sense for them to take a look at creating a Dreamcast Mini as their next move. But would it be a gamble? With the 20th anniversary of the North American release upon us, the reminders of this consoles failure to win over the hearts and minds of gamers over the pond might hold the gaming giants back. We’ve come up with some ideas as to why we would like to see a Dreamcast Mini on the shelves, and also some opinions on how to make this Mini Classic console the best on the market.
For starters, SEGA has some of the best characters and titles out there. Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure, Skies Of Arcadia; who wouldn’t want to see epic titles like this make a resurgence on a Dreamcast Mini! The list of titles that had the potential to make waves on this console is longer than I can fit into this article, but the back catalogue goes way beyond our blue-spiked friend and his pals. Shadow Man, Sword Of The Beserk, Project Justice; these games deserve to be brought back with some new hardware for new generations of gamers to experience.
A Second Chance
Don’t you want to see what could have become of this console? Just think about the possibilities of newer titles that SEGA and third-party developers could have created if it had carried on going. We could have been on the Dreamcast 4X or something by now, and Sonic might have been battling Mario and Dark Souls sales on his very own console instead of appearing on other non-SEGA machines. We’d like to see SEGA opening up the doors to developers such as Capcom again and adding some new titles to the mix as well as some of the existing classics that we’ve already mentioned. The Dreamcast Mini could be the device that ignites new interest in this console, and if it’s done right, then it might be enough to get SEGA back on the console-creation bandwagon. Here’s how we think the Dreamcast Mini should look and some of the features that we’d like to see.
Reworking the Controller
Of all of the gaming console controllers out there, the Dreamcast had the chunkiest and the most awkward to hold. Compared to the classic SNES controller, it’s got a heck of a lot more going on. This is mainly because of the addition of the VMU within the controller itself, but that’s a whole other section that we need to cover in this article (and it’s coming up shortly!). The buttons on the Dreamcast controller itself were so spread out to make space for the VMU that you almost needed a platform for it to stand on and four pairs of hands to work the controls. We’d want to see a much smaller version, ideally without the VMU inside this time, but still very much a part of the console. Shrinking the controller would make it easier to use and more enjoyable to play our favourite games. Yes, the VMU had some cool features that showed playable characters and allowed you to play some mini games, but if we could see a DS-style dual-screen system where the VMU could be attached and removed on the top of the controller at will, well now that would be something!
Let’s talk about the VMU in greater detail, because this thing was never just a removable memory card. It has all the features of a mini-portable handheld device, so much so that gaming fans are making ROM emulators and other handheld devices out of them using RaspberryPi technology every day, pushing the boundaries of this ingenious bit of hardware. So what could we see the VMU do in a Dreamcast Mini set up? Well, we’ve already seen its use as a sort of Tamagotchi when the special Godzilla edition Dreamcast was released, which brings old-school trading and battling themes while on the go to mind, the kind you’d see with two GameBoys and the connector cable. The VMU has it’s own speakers, control pads, and networking capabilities; it’s practically a controller and console in one as it is, so why can’t we see this as a bigger feature? Make this an integral part of the Dreamcast Mini; allow users to take it on the road and connect to WiFi or 4G internet, carrying on gameplay while out of the house or using it as a multiplayer device where
The NES classic with it’s one remote was a big mistake; how can you enjoy gaming with others with just one controller? If the VMU can be used as another controller entirely, then that could solve the problem, but if the Dreamcast Mini shipped with two as standard, then we’d be very happy gamers indeed.
The Dreamcast was one of the few consoles with a built-in modem, trumping the N64 and Playstation back in the day with potential online capabilities. This always opens the door for ROM ripping and all sorts of complications, but it would be nice to see the Dreamcast Mini using online play as a selling point against all of the Mini Classic consoles that didn’t have online functionality when they were big, grown-up consoles and still don’t have the ability to hook up to WiFi now. This could open doors for downloadable gaming like the Nintendo Classic Library on the Switch, and also other features such as being able to hook up to social media to post scores and game stills etc. The VMU could also connect to your smartphone via a Dreamcast Mini app, allowing you to change console parameters or access hidden cheats and features. That last point may be a little bit out of the box, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
I for one would love to see the Dreamcast Mini come to life, if only to see where this console could have gone if it had been a success. The most important point for me is that it can’t just be a scaled down version of the older console; this needs to be a chance for SEGA to add a few extra touches and to try out some of the ideas that they might have wanted to put into the Dreamcast mark 2 and 3. It’s a chance to open up a door to the possibility of SEGA getting back onto the console market, and who wouldn’t love a new SEGA handheld or console after all these years?
The Dreamcast has always been a bit of an enigma, which makes it even more of an interesting collectable and also more unpredictable to guess how well a Dreamcast Mini might do in today’s market. Only time will tell, but you can be sure of this – if SEGA does bring out the Dreamcast Mini, then we’ll have all of the information here for you first. Will they take on board some of our ideas? I hope so. T
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