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Last year, VICE published a piece titled "The SEGA Dreamcast Was Weird, Fun and Gone Too Soon". It got people nostalgic. It got people happy. The Dreamcast, born in late 1998 and discontinued by the spring of 2001, was SEGA's revolutionary final console, a machine that pioneered with its built-in modem for online play and featured a memory card that doubled as a miniscule handheld console. It was an awesome, arguably ahead-of-its-time piece of hardware – but it bombed, tragically, against the might of the PlayStation 2, ultimately selling just over ten and a half million units globally. For comparison, Nintendo's "underperforming" GameCube shifted twice that number, and the PS2, well.
But now, in 2015, people are once again buying Dreamcasts, reports MCV. Sales of pre-owned systems have spiked, according to second-hand retailers, who told the trade magazine that it's "the announcement of Shenmue 3 that's really piqued everyone's interest".
Alex Bowness, of Level Up Games in Canterbury, told MCV that his store had sold 20 Dreamcasts in a single week – which is probably more than Microsoft sold Xbox Ones in Tokyo over the same period. (Oh dear, Xbox, oh dear, oh dear.) David James-Turvey of Llanelli's Retrobution store is quoted by MCV thusly:
"I've had more customers hyped about Shenmue 3 than [the new] Call of Duty, and I am glad there are gamers out there like this, because it proves that gaming is not as disposable as other forms of entertainment. Indies should be confident in their physical stock."
Well, indeed: had the recent PS4-exclusive indie release Everybody's Gone to the Rapture – which we covered here – been a physical as well as/instead of a digital release, it'd have topped the UK all-formats chart; but that's a wholly different discussion for another time. What's important right now: people are buying Dreamcasts again, and presumably in some cases discovering their delights for the very first time.
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And if you're one of these people: bravo, you. You might have got your not-so-new console to play Shenmue and its sequel (which also came out for Xbox, and is playable on a 360, if you want to skip straight to that), but let me tell you: there's a plethora of superb games available, a lot of them dirt cheap, for the Dreamcast, so don't stop at Yu Suzuki's slow-moving but effortlessly enveloping adventure titles.
Shall I list a few? Sure: Jet Set Radio (which we featured here), Virtua Tennis, Power Stone, Metropolis Street Racer, Sonic Adventure, Rez, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Crazy Taxi, Daytona USA (careful with the control sensitivity, though), Space Channel 5, Skies of Arcadia, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2.
There, that should be enough weird fun to keep you busy until Shenmue 3 actually comes out, sometime (hopefully) in 2016. It won't be available for the Dreamcast, mind, so if you've not done so already, you might want to get yourself one of these PlayStation 4s that people seem to like so much.
Loads more games articles are available in VICE's dedicated section, here.