|The DC was the first Sega console that really grabbed me, and I suppose it will be the last; they broke their bank on the thing, poor souls.|
Although it isn't stackable, the streamlined flip-top design looks charming just about anywhere, and the system's tile-rendering graphics system achieved beautiful graphic performance when utilized correctly; the most oft-sited case of this being Soul Calibur, a launch title, which still blows away the visuals of many games on systems a half-generation later. Furthermore, the system did brilliant 2D, and garnered a considerable 2D fighting game library--and deservedly so.
The DC supports a VGA progressive video-out, which is still ahead of its time, even now. While many DC games do not support VGA output, the ones that do look stunningly crisp and clear when viewed on a proper monitor.
The DC has several expansion ports, but only one was really used for much, and that's the one that takes the network adapter. Sega made a big push for Internet gaming with the DC, but again, were a little too ahead of their time--most people still had dialup, and dialup ain't that great for gaming. A broadband adapter came along later, but too late in the system's life, and only a few games supported it. This was a real missed opportunity.
The system's default controller is a real mixed bag: it's got nice shoulder buttons and a good d-pad, but the long vertical grips and hard plastic analog stick aren't nearly as comfortable as they should be. And the power cord comes out the bottom, getting in the way.
The situation was not helped much by the memory cards. Their initial cards sport tiny B&W LCD screens and even a tiny d-pad and buttons, and some DC games let you upload little minigames to them for play on the go. An interesting idea, but unfortunately the cards do not have the CPU power or graphic capability to support anything but the simplest of block games, and even so they suck your batteries dry within a matter of hours. This wouldn't be so bad, except that if you don't have live batteries in the things, they make this loud beep every time you power on the system. Ugh!
The worst thing about the cards, though, is that they really store very little data--some sports games, for instance, could take up an entire card. Fire Pro D is the most amusing example of the storage space problems: if you want to have all the optional downloadable play and move expansions available to the game, you have to have four controllers plugged in, each with two memory cards devoted entirely to Fire Pro saves--that's 8 memory cards for one game! Although Sega came out with cards with four times the capacity late in the system's life, this didn't help as much as it should have, because they have to divide the space up into four separate units, and the user has to switch between them manually via toggle button.
Still, wacky peripherals would be one of the real strengths of the system, as Sega pulled out all the stops in trying to attract a fresh gaming crowd. You've got to love things like the Twin Stick (see entry 804), the Fishing controller, and the Samba de Amigo maracas. The system also benefited from some really good arcade stick controllers.
Yeah, it's a fun system, with some great action games, thanks in no small part to Sega's affinity for the arcade industry--and that the DC was basically a Naomi arcade system with less RAM. Four controller ports standard helped fuel a fair pool of multiplayer games. The file-manipulation OS is clean and functional. I wish the GD-ROM drive mechanism wasn't so noisy--but if you crank up the volume on those lively arcade ports, you'll hardly notice it. Hah!