Requiem for a Dreamcast

Russ Pitts | 20 Feb 2007 07:00
Sega! - RSS 2.0

We were having the office debate to end all office debates.

Granted, debates are fairly typical, most occurring over who moved whoever's cheese, what Accounting thinks about Accounts Payable's new stationery or which team has a better chance of winning what game; perhaps who'll be the next to die on Lost. This, however, was no ordinary office debate, nor any ordinary office. This was TechTV, bastion of nerd television and repository of all that was holy in the world of emergent technology media. The debate: PlayStation 2 or Dreamcast?

Sides were chosen, technical specifications examined, large words tossed around, marketing double-talk scoffed at, discarded and redistributed as "accepted fact." It was an all-out nerd war. Wide swaths of work weeks were leveled in favor of poring over every last detail to be dredged out of the gaming press and all of the evidence was tried in the court of nerd.

The PS2 had beefier tech specs, a faster processor and the ability to wrangle almost twice as many polygons, making for far more detailed graphics. The Dreamcast however, through some programming voodoo, looked better. The lines were smoother, colors slightly brighter; it couldn't bench as much, but it had legs. It also had internet connectivity out of the box and a long list of launch titles. The scales, in other words, were fairly well balanced however you looked at it.

Besides, the Dreamcast had an obvious, irrefutable advantage: It was currently available. The PS2 wasn't due for another month and would be hard to find on store shelves, we all knew, for the remainder of the year. Meanwhile the Dreamcast, which had launched the previous fall, was readily available, as were over 100 games for it. And here's another kick in Sony's shins: It was cheaper, too. About half of what the PS2 would cost at launch. And yet, the numbers didn't lie: The PS2 was a powerful machine. Or would be, when it came out.

In the end, after weighing all possible pros and cons (real and imaginary) all that was left were personal allegiances. Most of the office, raised on PlayStation, remained loyal to Sony's second effort and praised the machine as, not only a true next-gen game console, but a cheap DVD player to boot; leaving only a stalwart few to wave the Dreamcast flag, pointing crooked fingers at the Sega name, harbinger of awesomeness from the days of yore. And by "few," I mean me. After weeks of debate, it had come down to the entire Screensavers staff versus me, with one undecided. That undecided was Leo, our fearless leader, and the only one whose vote actually mattered.

Leo had a nose for nerdity, a taste for tech and an ear to the ground of what really mattered in the dork dimension. When Leo liked a product, everyone liked that product, not just because we were kissing his ass (although that was often the case) but usually because he was right; the stuff he liked, he liked for good reasons, and they were usually reasons we could all get behind. Reasons like "this doesn't suck," or "it's utterly awesome," and more than just our office listened when he talked about tech. His prowess was the foundation upon which the whole of our empire was built. Leo was, in a word, TechTV, and if he went on the air saying something rocked his world, it wouldn't be long before that something was rocking the worlds of everyone who watched our show. Needless to say, a lot was riding on his decision, and with the fate of our console gaming lives - nay, the console gaming lives of our entire viewing audience - in the balance, the stakes were incredibly high.

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