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As humans, we have the ability to learn from our mistakes. That's what makes history so important. Video game companies, though, are not human. They are learned differently and can make bone-headed moves that previous generations of hardware and software have made already. Here's a short list of things that, luckily, they did learn from the 500 or so living days of the once "thinking" Dreamcast. And the one lesson they didn't.
Right out of the gate, Sega's Dreamcast was poised to reign systems in to the online realm. PC gamers were well-versed in the wonders that online play brought to video games while us console folk suffered through split-screen battles — sweetly lag-battered — in GoldenEye. Dreamcast's network might have had a bumpy road but gamers, for the first time, could partake in an online football match (via NFL 2K1) or puzzlin' fun (via Chu Chu Rocket) across the 56K nation from their living room.
Striking Art Design
Pushing a console's tech limit? You don't have to! Sega brought in the notion that your game didn't need to be about having a kajillion polygons flying around on-screen to the detriment of fun. Jet Grind Radio was one of the first games to bring cel-shading into the gaming fold and myriad titles have aped its style from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker to the recently face-lifted Borderlands. Sure, its become a regular fallback to spruce up otherwise boring, uninspired 3D games but it can't be denied that it had a hand in the arguing for "games as art."
In this generation, Xbox 360 has been the king when it comes to a superior port with the likes of Ghostbusters, the bulk of EA Sports titles, and early launch games looking much better on the system than their PS3 counterparts. Dreamcast put up the same fight when the PS2 dropped as evidenced by Grandia II (nigh to unplayable on Sony's console) and Dead or Alive 2 ports. The included network adapter also made it possible to take your games online (say, Unreal Tournament) with the Dreamcast while the same game only supported local play on PlayStation 2.
Now, the following fault is a bit nit-picky about the system but I thought it conspicous enough to mention it. 10 years later!
Wind Tunnel Ambiance
Before the Dreamcast, I don't remember ever hearing a system actually running in the background while I had the TV volume at max levels. Notable for me was when I tried to play Skies of Arcadia — past my bed time — and not having reached a save point, I left it on overnight. I wake up and the console was off. Parentals told me that they were awakened from their deep slumber to hear a WHIZZZ-WHIZZZ-WHIZZZ and went into my room to shut the racket off. Oh, how Vyse suffered. Anyway, the Xbox 360 and PS3 (Phat) are not much better today. Get rid of the noise!