On May 21st, 1998; the Sega Dreamcast was unveiled at the Sega New Challenge Conference in Japan. Read about it and watch footage of the event here.
Sega’s President Shoichiro Irimajiri hosted the conference, where the physical design of the console was revealed along with the Japanese release date in November 1998. The North American release was announced to be in Fall of 1999..
Most of the event was spent discussing the hardware under the Dreamcast’s shell and not a lot of actual gameplay footage was displayed. The console was on display with controllers and VMUs of a few different colors.
Small clips of Sonic Adventure and Virtua Striker 2 were shown at the event. A unreleased demo with NiGHTS and a car was presented, along with tech demos Iri-san and Tower of Babel. Iri-san can be seen in the conference video above, while an emulated dump of the Babel demo can be viewed below.
Then Sega loyalist Kenji Eno of Warp was in attendance. Warp’s D2 was already under development and being demonstrated by that time.
Also spotted at the conference were Hideo Kojima, Hiroshi Fujioka (Segata Sanshiro), and of course, Yu Suzuki; who directed the Babel demo.
In a Sega of America press release, Bernie Stolar was quoted as saying that the “Dreamcast is Sega’s bridge to worldwide market leadership for the 21st century. The Sega you see today is driven by two important goals: delivering the best new gaming experiences this industry has ever seen, and winning back the No. 1 position in the console category. We’ll do whatever it takes to get there.”
SoA’s full press release can be read below.
SEGA UNVEILS SUPER CONSOLE; “DREAMCAST” SENDS WAKE-UP CALL TO VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY
Sega Partners With Microsoft, Hitachi, NEC, Videologic, Yamaha, on Powerful New Console
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — May 21, 1998 —
Sega® of America’s parent company, Sega Enterprises, Ltd., today revealed its new ultimate video game machine with the power to outperform all in-home gaming platforms and most arcade systems. That power, driven by Sega’s revolutionary system design, will deliver gaming experiences previously impossible on any home entertainment platform. The super console, christened today as DreamcastTM in Japan, launches November 20, 1998, in Japan and in the fall of 1999 in North America.
Dreamcast can also describe Sega’s platform partners – all global leaders in business and technology. Sega worked closely with Microsoft, Hitachi, NEC and Videologic, and Yamaha to customize each partner’s Dreamcast contribution for unmatched 3D gaming performance.
With 128-bit performance from a reduced instruction set computing (RISC) central processor, an independent 3D graphics engine and a dedicated 3D sound chip, Dreamcast achieves a level of total system performance unrivaled by any consumer entertainment product. Dreamcast is also the first video game console to offer standard networking features for multiplayer gaming, bringing the best features of console, PC and online gaming together on one system.
“Dreamcast is Sega’s bridge to worldwide market leadership for the 21st century,” said Bernard Stolar, president and chief operating officer, Sega of America. “The Sega you see today is driven by two important goals: delivering the best new gaming experiences this industry has ever seen, and winning back the No. 1 position in the console category. We’ll do whatever it takes to get there.”
Dreamcast was designed to appeal to the hard core gamer, as well as the casual gamer and people who have never enjoyed interactive entertainment. Polygon counts topping three million per second leave players staring at the whites of their opponent’s blood-shot eyes. A dedicated real-time 3D sound processor surrounds players with 64 channels of music, voices and gameplay sound effects at a quality rivaling professional audio equipment. Dreamcast’s online capabilities will unite Sega fans around the globe with a range of intense action gaming that only a video game console can offer.
Dreamcast can display revolutionary new types of realistic and engrossing 3D graphics. Human movements, fog, water effects, light and shading appear ultra-realistic. With this level of graphic performance, effects such as the passage of time from day to night can be portrayed in real-time.
Another revolutionary feature of Dreamcast is the Visual Memory System (VMS), which is a memory card and the world’s smallest portable game card with built-in LCD screen. Plugged into the Dreamcast controller, the LCD screen lets players set up secret moves against their opponents, such as killer plays in sports games, for which the defensive player will not be able to plan, thus adding an even more realistic feel to the game. Pull out the VMS card and it becomes a portable electronic game card no bigger than a business card. In addition, users will be able to save game features, such as user-created special players or teams, and share them with friends simply by linking two VMS cards together.
In designing Dreamcast, Sega accomplished its two key design goals: 1) a seamless integration of high-performance components, each optimized for a specific game processing and display task, and 2) a scaleable system architecture to take advantage of future technical enhancements and new gaming concepts hidden in the minds of the industry’s most creative game developers.
Microsoft will provide a customized version of its Windows CE operating system with DirectX services that has been optimized for console-style gaming. Windows CE provides Dreamcast developers a flexible, versatile development environment supported by Microsoft Visual C++ 5.0 that makes title development more efficient. Windows CE with DirectX has been hand-tuned to be small and fast to provide superior performance specifically targeted at the Sega Dreamcast hardware architecture, giving developers the confidence that software developed for Dreamcast will take full advantage of every hardware capability in the system.
The central processor in Dreamcast is the video game-customized Hitachi SH4 reduced instruction set chip (RISC). Sega and Hitachi retooled the chip to enhance its floating point operations capabilities – the key ingredient for high-output 3D gaming applications. The Dreamcast processor can perform floating point operations four times faster than the Pentium II chip.
The muscle behind Dreamcast’s high-end graphics engine is a custom-designed version of the PowerVR Second-generation technology developed jointly by NEC and Videologic. With a peak performance of over 3 million polygons per second and customized anti-aliasing technology, the PowerVR Second-generation technology chip in Dreamcast outperforms all other graphics chips today or proposed for use in upcoming PCs. NEC has a proven track record in the chip industry and is a global leader with expertise in chip design and fabrication.
Yamaha is contributing a dedicated, real-time 3D audio chip with more power than some next generation consoles offer in total. Sega also worked with Yamaha to develop a high-speed CD-ROM drive for the platform, which speeds up access time and allows for much bigger games and larger playing fields.
Sega of America is the arm of Tokyo, Japan-based Sega Enterprises, Ltd. responsible for the development, marketing and distribution of Sega videogame systems and videogames in the Americas. Sega Enterprises, Ltd. is a nearly $3.0 billion company recognized as the industry leader in interactive digital entertainment media, and is the only company that offers interactive entertainment experiences both inside and outside the home. Sega of America’s World Wide Web site is located at (http://www.sega.com).