In case you were unaware, the Sega Dreamcast turned 10 years old earlier this month. Much was written from gamers about their love of the system, and about its tragic demise, but nobody seems to care about the characters who called it home.
Sure there have been interviews with former Sega executives about what went wrong and how they feel about it, but you'll never get a straight answer from those big shot suits. Nope, if you want the real scoop, you have to go to the bottom rung on the ladder. In this case, that means the video game characters themselves.
Not wanting to bother with a bunch of characters that wouldn't know a thing, I decided to start right off with the guy who would know the most dirt, Sonic. I've been on the line with his agent for an hour now, waiting to get an interview so I can ask the tough questions.
*** 9 Hours Later ***
So, I guess Sonic has some hot new game coming out that's supposed to take him back to his classic style and everyone will love it? Either way, I couldn't get an appointment. I guess I'll lower my standards for the moment and try to find out some gossip from a less beloved character, Ulala from Space Channel 5.
I called beforehand but I got the feeling I didn't really need to with how quickly she agreed. I glance at the note I had scribbled the address on to make sure I have the right apartment before knocking. She answers the door in a matter of seconds.
I hardly recognize her. She's no longer the skinny, peppy girl she used to be. She's dressed in a stained covered t-shirt that's way too tight and a pair of sweatpants. She's probably gained at least 150 lbs since her Space Channel 5 days, is eating from a bag of Cheetos, holding a beer, and clearly has no bra on. This should be an interesting interview.
I open my mouth to ask my first question, but I barely get the first word out before I am interrupted.
Alex: "I was jus-"
Ulala: "Yeah yeah, we can get to your questions later. I wanted to ask you something that I've needed an answer for. Being one of these people that play the games I used to star in, you should be able to answer."
Alex: "Uh... OK. I guess I could try to an-"
Ulala: "Whats she got that I don't?"
Alex: "....um. I'm afraid I don't understand who you're talking about."
Ulala: "Lara. What the fuck was so great about her?! The tits?! I've got those! They might not be as big BUT THEY'RE THERE!"
I hear a pounding coming from the other apartment and shouts muffled by the wall.
Alex: "...uh, well. I would argue you were just as desirable as he-"
Ulala: "Bullshit! She made me want to get into that video game shit! You nerds cream all over her! What about me?! She's in the Guinness Book of Records as Most Successful Human Video Game Heroine!!! I'm a fucking human video game heroine!! WHAT ABOUT ME?!? SHE WAS IN FUCKING PLAYBOY!! THAT'S JUST FUCKING WEIRD!!!
I quickly realized I wouldn't be getting much information out of her and made up some reason that I had to leave. As I tried to dash out of the apartment, she grabbed me by my arm. I turned and saw that she was rubbing one of her fingers around a nipple and licking her lip. I yanked my arm free and cupped my hand over my mouth as I burst out the apartment door.
I bent over, clutching my knees and gasping on the dirty wet street. I could hear her shouting from the window, "WHATEVER! ALL YOU NERDS ARE THE SAME! YUR PROLLY INTO FURRYS OR SOMETHING! DISGUSTING FUCKS!"
Already regretting this article, I was about to call it quits when I noticed a flyer for an autograph signing Sonic was doing the next day. I wrote the address and time down on my hand and walked off to the sounds of Ulala and her neighbor, who were now screaming at each other.
Freshly showered, though no amount of water or soap could ever get me clean again, I arrived at the game store where Sonic was to appear. To my surprise there was a line around the block. I guess I should have arrived earlier but I had spent most of the morning on the shower floor in a fetal position, weeping. I stepped in line behind a group of pre-teens excitedly chattering back and forth.
***4 Hours Later***
I had just about had it with listening to the kids in front of me talk argue over which shitty Sonic friend was the best, and the 30 year olds behind me arguing over who was legally married to Sonic, when I reached the front of the line.
Sonic quickly signed the pre-teens games, and a guard shoved them off as they tried to ask some stupid question about Charmy the Bee and Amy Rose being in love. I stepped up and Sonic glanced up at me.
Sonic: "Where's your game? Whatever, I'll sign this stupid card. Here ya go."
Alex: "Wait, I wanted to ask you what you think killed the Dreamca..."
I was violently shoved out the door by a burly security guard and left with nothing to show for the entire thing but a flimsy card with Sonic's signature. As I walked off, the 30 somethings came out the door behind me.
Loser 1: "Did you hear that? He said "Hey" to me like a married person would say to their spouse!"
Loser 2: "Hah! How stupid do you think I am? He said "Hey" to you like he did to every one else. He looked at me like we were married! You HAD to have seen that!"
Their high pitched argument grew inaudible as they shoved and pushed each other in the opposite direction I was walking. I decided to see if I could get a straight answer out of someone who wouldn't be able to brush me off, or try to rape me, Seaman.
Uuuuh... yeah. Apparently that thing is dead. It was floating upside down in it's little tank. Smelled pretty bad. Alright. The 'Typing of the Dead' guys James and Gary? Meh. Why not?
I tracked down the house that James and Gary lived in rather easily. All the neighbors pointed it out as the one that was falling apart and emitting weird smells. I knocked a couple times but when no one answered I let myself in. My hand darted to cover my nose when I caught wind of the smell.
I stepped over piles of trash and made my way through the house calling out their names. It wasn't long before I found James sitting in the kitchen in a rickety looking wooden chair, behind an over-turned table. He startled awake when I stepped next to him.
James: "Aaah! Uh. Who are you? A zombie? Huh!?"
Alex: "Uh, no. My name's Alex, I just wanted to interview you... where's Gary?"
James jerks his head in the direction of the living room.
James: "They got him awhile ago."
I look over the counter and see the rotting corpse of Gary lying on the floor, head blown off, shotgun in hand.
Alex: "AAAH! WHAT THE HELL?! DID HE KILL HIMSELF?!"
James: "The zombies were gonna get 'im. Wanted to go on his own terms."
Alex: "What uh... what zombies James? There aren't any zombies. That was a video game."
His hands are stuck in claw like shapes.
Alex: "What happened to your hands?"
James: "Carpal tunnel. No one was fighting the zombies anymore. We had to."
Alex: "Uh... right. So you guys have just been in here playing the game for all these years?"
James: "SOMEONE HAD TO FIGHT THE ZOMBIES!"
At this point I decided it would probably be best if I didn't work him up anymore then I already had. I stepped quietly out of the house as James started to fall back asleep, mumbling something about zombies.
After taking the questions from the police, I drove home with a new found determination to end these interviews. I was going to get that interview with Sonic if it was the last thing I did. I climbed into bed with plots and schemes running through my head.
I looked up at the fancy apartment complex where Sonic reportedly lived. It turns out it's actually pretty easy to find that information online. In fact, there are 24 hour web cams positioned in windows of the apartment building across the street, angled in a way that they can see inside Sonics bathroom, most notably his shower.
It's slightly disturbing, but at least it helped me track down this hot shot once and for all. I walk through the lobby of the lavish lobby with all it's sterile whiteness. It's a very IKEA-esque design. The elevator is solid glass and attached to a track running up the wall so that everyone can watch you slowly raise out of the lobby and out of view.
I walk down the hallway of floor 17 until I find apartment number 69. I knock and wait...
***5 Minutes Later***
I knock again, more loudly this time, and wait...
***10 Minutes Later***
This time I pound as hard as I can.
Sonic: "YEEEEEEEAH! I'M COOOOMING! JESUS CHRIST!
He finally opens the door, wearing some sort of feminine looking bathrobe that looks to be made of silk.
Sonic: "Yeah? Whadda you want kid? Autograph? Picture? Do blow off my ass crack? Hurry it up, I've got things to do."
Alex: "Well, no. I just wanted to ask you a question."
Sonic: "Shoot. I've got a meeting with those suits at Sega in an hour to talk about my new FPS."
Alex: "Well... I just wanted to know why the Dreamcast failed. I mean, it was the gamer's system right? What went wrong?"
Sonic: "Really? And you think I'll have a good answer for that? Didn't you ask anyone else?"
Alex: "Well yeah. I asked Ulala from Space Channel 5, James from Typing of the Dead, and I tried to ask Seaman but he couldn't exactly answer anything."
Sonic: "Stop and think about those games you just listed kiddo."
Alex: "... Hmm?"
Sonic: "Think reeeeeeal hard now. Don't hurt your head, but really think about it. The Dreamcast failed because...?"
Alex: "uuuuh, the games were fucking weird?"
Sonic: "THERE YA GO! Only nerds like you who track me down to ask about a console that died 10 years ago ever gave a shit about it. Next time, think a little harder before bothering me about stupid shit? Thanks."
The door slams in my face.
As I stand in the hallway with nothing but the heavy, nasally breathing of some tween kid hiding behind a big potted fern, I start to ponder my answer. He's probably right, the Dreamcast was weird. I doubt we'll ever get another system like it. As I turn and begin to slowly walk out, a security guard passes me. I point toward the fern as I step into the elevator. Was it all worth it? I guess I got some sort of answer, thats as much as we'll probably ever get.