I hated middle school. There’s a whole swath of memories I’d rather do without as far as the years 1999 through 2002 are concerned. There is, however, one memory I hold near and dear to my heart during this time frame. After reading about it in magazines and being really excited for it, my mother took me to Toys’R’Us one evening to get me a Sega Dreamcast. We brought that puppy home with a copy of Sonic Adventure, hooked it up, fired it up, and took it all in. As the opening cinematic played on my TV, Mum said “It’s like playing a movie!”
Boy, if we only knew what games would go on to look like now.
The Dreamcast was, and to this day remains, my all time favorite console. It’s the swan song of a company that was perhaps a bit too ambitious for its own good, a marvel of gaming technology many years ahead of its time, and home to some of the best and most unique games to ever come out.
At the time of its release, the Dreamcast was the most graphically powerful console on the market. Sony’s Playstation boasted 32-bit graphics, and the Nintendo 64 had double that, at -wait for it- 64 bits. Dreamcast had double of that: 128 bits of beautiful graphics, thanks to the GD-ROM, a proprietary disc format born from squeezing every bit of memory out of a regular old CD as was physically possible, before DVDs and Blu-Ray became as ubiquitous as they are today.
Even the method of memory storage was unlike its competitors; the standard memory card for the Dreamcast was the Visual Memory Unit (VMU), a cross between a memory card and a Gameboy that let you manage data and download minigames to extend the functionality of many games. The only other thing like it that I can think of being made is Sony’s Pocketstation, and that never saw the light of day outside of Japan. You would not believe the number of button-cell batteries I burned through caring for Chao on the go.
Of course, all of the fancy tech and cool gadgets wouldn’t amount to much if the games on offer weren’t fun at all. Tiger’s Game.Com bragged of being a versatily console and handheld device, but the games for it all stank like a fragrant dog poop laying on the sidewalk on a hot Floridian summer day. Thankfully, fun games were something the Dreamcast had no shortage of, even in the brief few years that it was on the market, a slew of which I’d like to bring attention to.
Sonic Adventure 1 & 2
Maybe they haven’t aged as well as I’d like to think, but DAYUM if these weren’t some fun games back in the day. Sonic has always struggled with 3D, but the first attempts at true 3D Sonic games remain quite novel. The first Sonic Adventure had different play styles for each character, some of which were great (Sonic and Gamma, for me at least), others…not so much (the less said about Big, the better), in addition to, for its time, an intricate plot with each character’s story intertwining and playing out differently depending on which character you’re playing as.
Sonic Adventure 2, meanwhile, streamlined the gameplay and improved upon some of the first game’s flaws, cutting out the non-platforming related stages (aside from the treasure hunting stages, which are a touch better than in the first game). It’s story was also very compelling, being one of the darkest storylines in the entire series; government conspiracies, weapons of mass destruction, fucking murder! Maybe that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think we can all agree that SA2 handled “dark and gritty” a lot better than Shadow the Hedgehog’s stand-alone game.
Both games also featured a mini-game that could prove to be just as addicting, if not more so, than the games proper: Chao Gardens. Chao were little, adorable water monsters that players could raise like virtual pets, their popularity likely owed in part to the ubiquity of other virtual pets like Tamagotchi near the end of the millennium, as well as how easy-going and casual raising a Chao was compared to a Digi-Pet that would not wait for you to clean its shit up: you can enter and leave Chao Gardens freely, and you wouldn’t have to worry of your Chao dying of neglect in your absence. There’s also very deep mechanics at work for raising Chao, with their growth and evolution depending heavily on how well you raise them, what animals you give them, and what fruits you feed them, all so you can have them participate in races. The aforementioned VMU also expanded Chao functionality considerably, letting you raise them anywhere you wanted.
My relationship with Shenmue, these days, is very much that of a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, Shenmue popularized two aspects of gaming today that I loathe; Quick-Time Events, and over-blown game budgets (this game would’ve had to be bought by every DC owner TWICE before it could break even). On the other hand, there’s no denying that this game was a labor of love by Yu Suzuki. The attention to detail in Ryo Hazuki’s hometown of Yokosuka is staggering. Everything you can imagine can be interacted with, down to the last dresser drawer in Ryo’s house. Every resident of Yokosuka was unique from the others and had their own behaviors that they would go through, unlike every other NPC in the town, or other games for that matter. The story may be a tad formulaic, and most of the voice work left something to be desired, but the world of Shenmue was one that was very fun to explore.
Plus, this game introduced me to Space Harrier. If that’s not a good thing, you tell me what is.
Jet Set Radio
I had to convince my mother this game wouldn’t turn me into a graffiti-painting delinquent. It was a hard sell, but it paid off, and boy am I glad it did.
Jet Set Radio is very much unlike other games, then and today even. This was the game that helped to popularize cel-shaded graphics; the thick black outlines around the character models made this game look like an anime come to life, and eventually paved the way for the wicked-awesome graphics we see today from Arc System Works with Guilty Gear XRD and Dragonball FighterZ. The idea of playing a roller-blading hooligan throwing tags around the city and evading the police was also unique, and kept players on their toes as techno music accompanies their shenanigans. The game was a bit on the short side, but was challenging and fun enough that multiple playthroughs were warranted.
Making my own graffiti tags was also quite the timesink.
Phantasy Star Online
I may be a late bloomer to the Phantasy Star series, but it has become one very dear to me for helping me meet some of my closest friends (Hi, Tara!).
Phantasy Star was a series of JRPGs by Sega meant to compete with other big franchises like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. The original PSO, on the other hand, is an online multiplayer dungeon crawler that would change the course of the series from that point forward. As interstellar colonists investigating mysterious phenomena on an alien planet, players would delve into unique locals with characters they would create themselves to slay monsters, collect valuable items, and unravel the mysteries of the planet Ragol.
The original PSO is also very notable for its attempt to break the language barrier with a unique conversation system. While good ol’ fashioned keyboards remained in vogue, players also had the option of constructing sentences to transmit to other players in the area or party in those players’ native languages. Using this system, you could send a message saying “Help! This dragon is too powerful!”, and your friend in Japan would read it as “助けて！この龍は強すぎる！” It may not have seen much use, since players are more likely to congregate and play with those that can speak a common language fluently, but it was very kind of Sega to provide the option.
One thing that gets me straight in the feels is something from the original beta trailer for this game: “The world of Phantasy Star Online lasts for an eternity!” It is not uncommon for trailers and developers to hype games up with hyperbole (just ask Peter Molyneaux), but this is a statement that has held true for PSO! Even after the last official server for the last iteration of PSO shut down in 2008, private servers continue to run the game to this day, ensuring that the world of PSO truly remains eternal. Even with a proper sequel Phantasy Star Online 2 proving to be a pop culture staple in Japan, the original PSO remains one of the most beloved and enduring MMOs in history.
Skies of Arcadia
I’ve got friends who would skin my hide and leave me to hang like the Predator if I didn’t mention this.
Just about every console since the NES has a JRPG, and the Dreamcast is no exception. While Phantasy Star shifted towards MMO territory, those hoping for a sweeping single-player adventure still had Skies of Arcadia. As the daring sky pirate Vyse and his motley crew of adventurers, players fought to stop an evil empire from awakening an ancient evil while flying across a world of floating continents in a kickass airship. This game is among the most challenging JRPGs in the genre; a clever mind and strategic acumen are needed to survive battles with other pirates, monsters, and rival airships. The world of the game is also incredibly beautiful; I personally think it has much in common with Castle in the Sky, my favorite Hayao Miyazaki film. The soundtrack compliments the game incredibly, and is a joy to listen to by itself.
There are plenty of other games that made the Dreamcast incredible, but this article is long enough as it is, so I’ll have to give those games their proper due later. Suffice to say, though, the Dreamcast is a historical console that remains one of the most beloved in the history of the medium, not only by myself, but by hundreds of thousands of gamers the world over. It may have only been on the market for a few years, but it is said that the brightest stars are the ones that burn out the quickest.
And make no mistake, the Dreamcast is one of the brightest stars there ever was.
The next morning you got to the lobby early to make some pancakes that the hotel provided. You left Dean to sleep. You just wanted to feel independent again, not like having someone care for you was a bad thing.
Roman lazily walked past you to grab some cereal to start his morning. “You have..pups,” he stated like you didn’t already know. “Yea, Rom I know. Last night was something else,” you said pouring some maple syrup on your pancakes. Roman grinned, you didn’t expect him to be so happy about the news. “You better start eating for two or more now,” he said pouring milk into his chocolate cereal.
You giggled and nodded. You sat at the closest table. Roman of course joined you, “honestly I didn’t expect Dean to let you down here without his protection. Or let you be so near to me. My scent my rub off onto you.” You circled a piece of pancake in syrup, “yea, well he’s asleep. I wanted him to rest after the excitement.” You ate the very syrupy piece of pancake. You tried to eat another piece but your gag reflexes started acting up. Roman saw you go pale, “hey, hey, Y/N you’re having morning sickness, don’t eat anymore or you’ll just uncontrollably vomit it all back up. I remember the times my wife had her’s.”
You sat down your fork and sighed, “god. I didn’t know morning sickness starts the NEXT morning.” “Just keep calm. Drink some water,” Roman got up and walked over to the little hotel kitchen and handed you a bottle of water. “Thanks Rom,” you said as you twisted the cap off and took a drink.
“It’s fine. We take care of our expecting mothers. No need to disrespect a goddess that brings life to Earth,” Roman explained.
“Everything just kinda happened so fast..like I didn’t ask for this. But I love Dean,” you said getting emotional. “Oh I know. Dean did a rookie mistake and..” Roman trailed off shaking his head, “that’s what happens when you don’t have much self control.”
Roman looked up quickly seeing someone approach, “speak of the devil.” Dean walked up to the table and grabbed your arm tight and brought you up from the seat, “Get the fuck away from her!” He yelled with a growling undertone.
Roman raised his hands, “hey I didn’t touch her, I only helped her with morning sickness. And is that how you talk to your bro?” Dean was shielding you by this point as if Roman was going to jump up and attack. “You have no right to talk to the mother of my pups. Unless I give you permission.” Roman burst out with laughter, “I’m not mad right now because I know how you feel, I’ve been there. You get super protective once you find out. But god Dean, I wouldn’t do shit. I respect that you’re breaking off and making a new pack.”
You grabbed Dean’s shoulder, “come on, he’s ok, he didn’t hurt me. Don’t be the tough alpha.” He looked back and gave you a kiss on the forehead. Roman still had his hands up, “come on Dean my cereal is getting soggy!” Dean turned away and led you back to the room.
“Why did you go alone?” He asked. “I just wanted breakfast babe. But then morning sickness hit” you replied looking down to feel where the pups would be. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be the asshole alpha. The wolf was afraid. I panicked when I woke up. I followed your scent to the lobby.” “Well you found me.”
I’m sorry. But we need to start packing right now. We have to hop two towns over for tonight’s show. But uh, you said you felt sick?” He questioned. You nodded, “yea morning sickness.”
He chuckled and touched your stomach, “be good to mommy you little shits!” You smiled at his dad moment. “I’m pretty much ready to head out Dean,” you said. “Okay. Let me just grab our bags and load up.”
Another hotel room, in a different city. You were accustomed to traveling and never calling a place home. You unpacked and sat on the bed to rest. “When do you think I need to go to the doctor?” You asked. Dean turned around from unpacking, “we don’t go to the doctor. We’re afraid that our pups will actually be in their pup form instead of human. It happens. They also uh grow faster than normal. Normal people have their little rascals at nine months. Since the wolf’s gestation period is faster, we’ll have our pups at three months.”
“Seriously? That fast?” You asked in shock. “Yeah. But I don’t want you to shift during the next moon. I don’t want to put that strain on them. You know?” Dean said going back to unpacking. “Yea,” you simply said.
You stood backstage right before the gorilla position, waiting with Dean. He was behind you giving your neck gentle kisses and rubbing your tense shoulders. The Miz and Dolph came out of the gorilla position. Dean patted your back and started getting into the mentality that he needed before his music hit. “Good luck Lunatic,” you giggled. Dean headed up to gorilla position and got ready for tonight’s street fight against AJ.
Dean came down from the gorilla position sweaty and beat down. And the first thing he did was come to you with open arms seeking a kiss. “You ready to leave?” He asks. “Yea, don’t you wanna take a shower before we go?” You asked. “No, we gotta go now. The wolf is being a little aggressive right now,” he said trying to rush you. AJ came down the stairs of the gorilla yelling, “you fucking bitch, control yourself! You scratched my forearm pretty bad!” You looked back to AJ, “He’s sorry y’know!”
AJ ran over and grabbed Dean’s shoulder.
Dean turned around, then doubled in pain.
Let me out! No one challenges me!
“NO!” Dean yelled fighting back the urge to change.
“Oh boy, here we go, the big bad Alpha has to prove his territory,” AJ mumbled, he was ready to turn the second Dean did. You heard a ripping of clothing before you, as you did you were pulled back by Seth, “careful sweetheart, you don’t wanna get mixed up in this shit.” Dean wasn’t turning into the feral wolf you’ve seen before.
Dean’s black tank ripped as his back enlarged; his denim jeans were shredded as large hind legs formed. The rusty light brown fur sprouted as the rest of his body changed into a large bipedal werewolf. He gave a short howl and snarled towards AJ. Seth stood in front of you, like how Dean shielded you earlier.
AJ was surprised by the monster that stood over him. “You’re going down!” AJ yelled as he shifted into a normal four legged wolf, unlike Dean, AJ has yet to master his bipedal form.
AJ went straight to the weakest spot, the throat. His fangs hooked around Dean’s neck; the pair fell back onto the floor. Dean viciously clawed AJ’s back, causing the feral wolf to release his hold to cry. Dean in turn went for AJ’s throat.
“Okay, we have to stop this right now!” Roman shouted. In desperation you screamed from behind Seth, “Dean down!”
She said stop. Stop!
Dean released the little wolf from his mouth and whimpered, knowing you were disappointed. You slowly walked up to Dean. You rubbed his head, “good. Good boy.” Dean panted in approval.
Her touch is so relieving. Sweet pups.
Dean shifted back to his naked form in front of half of the roster. You knelt down, “I love you.” He grabbed you into a strong hug, “I’m glad you’re ok.” You laughed, “of course I am honey, no one came near.”
AJ shifted back with what looked to be deep fang marks around his throat. Roman lifted AJ’s head to inspect. “Shit we need a medic!” He yelled in an urgent tone, “he’s not healing like he should be.” Bray and Kane carried AJ to the nurses office.
“Dean!” Roman growled, “if you fucking risk someone’s life again. I’ll have to come in and you sure as hell don’t want that!” Dean didn’t answer. You and Dean both got up and walked to the locker room to change.
You stared into the full body mirror in your room, “I think I’m showing a little.” You ran your hand down your stomach to go over a small bump. Dean stretched on the bed and motioned for you to come to bed.
Such an early glow about her. Pups are growing fast.
“Yea, they must be growing fast doll,” he said moving the covers out of the way for your entrance. You rolled into bed and covered yourself. His hand slipped down to your belly, “they’re going to look like you,” he said smiling. You giggled, “nuh uh. They’re going to look like their daddy!” You nuzzled into his chest, “I can’t wait to meet them.” “I wanna see them RIGHT now,” he said impatiently; you felt the rumble from his chest. You looked up to his blue gray eyes. Dean caressed your cheek, “god you’re too good to me Y/N. You’re everything I’ve ever needed. You keep me from being such a wildcard.” You smirked, “but I like the wildcard side.”
After a long pause and stare, you decided it was time for sleep. “Goodnight, I love you,” you said. “Goodnight, I love you too. Give the pups some good dreams.”
||Yes, there’s gonna be a fourth part! I’m going to wrap it all up (or try to and fail) Keep the many great comments coming, I’m in love with you guys, seriously!||
I'm so happy to hear you are working on TBW again! can I just say that I love 90s rom-coms ;)
Thank you so much, anon!!!! I’m happy to be working on TBW again too! I want so badly to give y’all a conclusion before NaNo happens and I disappear for a month. Haha! I just hope it turns out okay. Thank you so much for being excited! <3 <3 <3 (And for assuaging my worries about rom-coms. I toned down some of the ridiculousness, but there’s one scene that has made me realize that I just love torturing Sarek, apparently, and surrounding him with humans. XD
I feel like I know everything you have written!! So... Have you ever written a romantic comedy AU?
Hmmm rom com… I’m never sure what the definition or elements of that are but maybe The Exes? That had angst but a lot of comedic elements in it as the two exes figured out they still loved each other and especially when they were out at the club and Jack intervened to help them figure things out.
I don’t think it’s my area. You are the go to for Rom Coms!
Even though Christmas was the fucking worst, Derek had a moment to hang his hopes on — Scott coming into the coffee shop and gracing him with his smile. Little did Derek know that rescuing Scott from hunters would lead to him convincing Scott’s family they were engaged. This might not have been such a problem if Scott’s step-brother Stiles wasn’t so suspicious and oddly charming.