Update (21 Jan, 2017): And the day after writing this blog post, my Dreamcast’s disc reader can no longer read discs. I have tried a common self-repair fix on the laser, but to no avail. Talk about savage irony.
I don’t know what to do now, whether I should hunt for another used Dreamcast as a replacement. A part of me just wants to let everything go and move on. This has become too much of an investment in both time and money.
Don’t cry because your Dreamcast is dead. Be grateful that you managed to enjoy some of its games while it lasted.
Original: Ever since I spring cleaned my room last month to make way for a new bookshelf and cupboard, I have become quite obsessed with my old Sega Dreamcast console. I had almost forgotten all about it after it was stashed away for years. When I dug it out during my spring cleaning an old, hidden fire was awakened inside me.
The Sega Genesis was my first introduction to videogames as a kid, Sonic the Hedgehog was the first videogame I ever played. So I have a very soft spot for Sega, and especially for their final console, the Dreamcast. I loved Sonic Adventure; the Dreamcast version of Resident Evil: Code Veronica was my first entry to the Resident Evil series; I lost count of how many hours Virtua Tennis has consumed my life, both on the console and in arcades.
Unfortunately, the Dreamcast was originally released in 1998-99. Almost two decades later, technology has evolved to the point where it is difficult to get retro consoles to work on modern screens and LCDs without purchasing special equipment. I want to plug my Dreamcast into my 1080p monitor in my bedroom, but that screen doesn’t have any VGA or Composite inputs — I need to purchase a Dreamcast VGA box to pull out VGA video from the console. I must also purchase a capture box that can correctly convert the VGA signal into HDMI. Both these items will set me back about S$500.
Then there is also one more giant, glaring problem: All of my Dreamcast games are bootlegs. Back then when I was a secondary school teenager with little disposable income, I was quite happy to pirate my games. Now as an older and wiser working adult who understands the full ramifications of what piracy does to the gaming industry, I have abstained from piracy like the plague and insisted that all of my games, retro or not, must be genuine. I am usually fine with reproduction games, which is a weird grey area of the retro gaming scene.
So I have begun the slow and arduous process of (re)building my (legit) library of Dreamcast games by trying to hunt for used copies of them on eBay and Amazon. Japanese Dreamcast games are very easy to find, I travelled to Japan recently and most of the used videogame shops have a reasonable selection of DC stuff.
But my Dreamcast, unfortunately, is North America region-locked, and NTSC-A Dreamcast games are much harder to find at a reasonable price. A used copy of Skies of Arcadia for example, goes for around US$60 to US$100 on eBay, and that’s before counting shipping fees. Used copies of Cannon Spike and Gigawing 2, two underrated gems for the system, are currently going for an average of US$200 to US$300!
I could of course, use a region-free boot disc to allow my Dreamcast to play Japanese import games. My Japanese level is ok enough to play most Japanese games that don’t have too much complicated dialogue. But I am thinking very far ahead and future-proofing my games for other people. What if my future kids, friends, or younger relatives want to play my Dreamcast games? This is why I want to own the English, North American releases as much as possible.
Sometimes I wonder why I spend so much time and money on videogames. Here we go again.