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SegaStillbirth Revisited, or How Sega Finally Blew It and I Totally Called It
by chris kohler


Allow me to explain, gentle reader, how you came to be reading this article.

It was December 1999. The heady, carefree days of the fall semester of my sophomore year had come to an end. Finals were over, and I was spending my winter break reveling in the lost companionship of my hometown friends. That which brought our reveling to a frenzy was Marvel vs. Capcom for the Dreamcast, with my brand-new ASCII Pad FTs, which were of almost revoltingly poor quality – but still better than those God-awful standard DC controllers.

This is what I had to remind my friends every time they bitched about the controllers. “Well, if you want to use the Dreamcast controllers, be my guest. And if you want to just stop playing this and go back to X-Men on the Saturn, that’s fine too. Oh, how about we play Tekken instead? Will that satisfy you girls?”

This usually shut them up, and we continued to play Marvel vs. Capcom.

Looking back on those days, I am surprised at how much I actually cared for my Dreamcast. But of course I did – I had just plunked down a very non-trivial $200 for it not four months ago, and I wasn’t sure how it would handle abuse. So when it traveled, it was wrapped in a warm bath towel. It sat on a pillow on the floor. It was not to be mishandled.

What a fool my nineteen-year-old self turned out to be. But how could I know then that the price of the system would effectively drop to one hundred dollars by summertime? That Sega, having ruined nearly every piece of hardware they’d ever had their reverse-Midas-touch hands on, would molest the DC earlier, and more brutally, than any of their other children? That “Dreamcast” would be nearly synonymous with “spectacular failure?”

Actually, as it turns out, I did know it. I knew it in my heart of hearts, and I penned an article for Video Zone all about it. I waffled a little when I wrote that piece. Why? Perhaps there was a part of me that didn’t want to believe it. Perhaps it was that same part that put down $200 for the system and didn’t want to see it go.

Video Zone was my fanzine, which I had been writing since 1993, back when video game fans didn’t make websites like this one, we made twelve-page black-and-white screeds that we mailed across the country. But I didn’t have the time for Video Zone anymore, mostly because my freelance writing – that paid money – was taking up more and more of that time. And so it died, and this piece basically died with it.

And every now and then I would look back upon it, and one prediction after another came true. And now that the Dreamcast is but a memory (except in this blasted country of Japan where girl-games come out every month for the damned dinosaur of a system, like they did for years with failures like the PC-FX and will again with the Xbox), I dig this article up and find out how accurate my fears really were.

Now you can find out, too. I have not edited this article from its original 1999 version, but I have inserted annotations to point out interesting parts and make new, 2003-version comments.

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