As a gamer we are always presented with a choice of what to buy, it's tough not to pick a side. Especially when you're a kid, we fall prey to becoming strict fans of the console we decide to purchase during a console generation cycle. This is a form of expression we all undergo due to our financial situation, the social group we surround ourselves with, our faith in the product we just purchased and the hope that this product will be successful. I say this because that is exactly where I fell when I bought the Sega Saturn. I had looked into which console to buy during this console cycle and making that decision as a kid was not easy. The PSone was out but it was the first time Sony did a console, to my knowledge. The Nintendo 64 was being announced, I remember Nickelodeon was giving one away on some sweepstakes. A lot of my friends were still playing their SNES during this time, which to my eyes it meant a Nintendo console would sound like the logical decision for the next console purchase.
This by no means was an easy decision to make, I was always attracted by the novelty being presented by Sony. I had played Pandemonium on the PSone and I was very impressed, but where I lived the console that they always had on display in Blockbuster or Babbage's was the Sega Saturn, and I loved all the games I played on the Saturn at the store. In the end I went with my gut and said "The Saturn is the place to be, if it's always on display for you to try it must be good". I played Virtual Fighter 1 & 2, Virtual Cop, Daytona USA, Panzer Dragoon, Tomb Raider, and many more, but in a short period of time I noticed I was running out of games to rent or buy... mostly rent. The Sega Saturn aisle in Blockbuster stopped growing, but the rental library for the PSone was growing quickly. I started to get disappointed with my purchase, because money wasn't easy to come by at this chapter of my life. The fact that I had committed so much money and saw that games were not being brought in for rentals or that the library kept diminishing meant only one thing... The Saturn is getting close to its end. As a fan of the console that made me feel angry, nobody wants their home team to lose.
In the end, the flow of new games started to run dry and I realized that it was time to move on. I kept my Sega Saturn for one more year and then decided to sell it. Time passed and most of my gaming took place at my friends. Owning a console was not something I was looking forward to, then my cousin came from Texas during his Christmas break and he brought the Sega Dreamcast. As soon as he started showing me the console, I was stoked. He put on Soul Calibur, and I was just amazed at how great it played and all the mini games the game had to offer. We then went and rented Phantasy Star Online, I had never played an online game, especially on a console. We put the game on and it blew our minds, we were there playing with other people. A game that allows us to chat, collect loot and fight bosses together, that was our new addiction. All of this was integrated into the system, you didn't need to pay any additional subscriptions, or buy any extra software, just a console with its standard accessories. That was what did it for me, I had to get a Dreamcast.
After I bought my Dreamcast I was so happy with my purchase, playing games as fun as Power Stone, as novel as Shemnue, and as weird as Sea Man. But all that came and went so quickly, the Dreamcast's flare started to run dry as soon as the games stopped coming out. In retrospect I could have probably seen it coming, in my opinion, only Nintendo has shown the ability to extend the life of a console with first party games. Sega had not shown this pedigree before, but man did they try. Every technical specification of the Dreamcast was way ahead of its time. It set the tone for what is to be expected of a next gen console and next gen game design. Whether it's true or not, I personally feel the dreamcast influenced the game industry and was the catalyst that allowed us to have the features we had in the next console generation.
So why take a risk on a new console? For me it has always been the intrigue behind a new console and what it can become. Many companies make many promises, which leave many people disappointed when they are not delivered. This was the case for my last console purchase, the Playstation Vita. Don't get me wrong, I love my Vita. It came in a time when I was constantly on the road and I wanted to keep up with console games. I felt and still feel that the Vita bridges this gap. That being said, I feel Sony misled some of its buyers into believing the Vita had certain features. This can be confirmed by the class action suit against Sony for their Vita release. Additionally, the handheld consoles are a tough sell given we live in a generation where almost everybody has a multipurpose handheld device like a phone or a tablet.
That being said, I no longer feel disappointed over the lack of games or app support on the console, because as a parent I no longer have the time to play every day. Although not many games have been released for the system, I'm still playing games that came out 3 years ago. Additionally, I didn't buy the Vita to play YouTube videos or watch Netflix, I bought it to play games... and occasionally browse the Internet for gaming guidance. The Vita fills a gap whenever I'm on the road by providing a certain niche I can't get anywhere else.
The Vita has allowed me to reconnect with games that are more focused. It is my indie game console of choice, I would love for all indie games released on PS3 and PS4 to also be released on Vita. Even if I may not play them as soon as they are released, if they have decent reviews (7 or above) I will buy it just to support the developer and continue increasing my Vita game library. Adventure games are a must have for this console, I never truly enjoyed this genre but once these games were accesible on this console it was tough to not be enticed to try it.
My experience as a gamer and a parent has changed my perspective on how I view video games. It's no longer about picking a winner, unlike before I will not get rid of my console just because it was this generations "loser". Instead I have taken to cherishing the great gaming moments provided by the console, at this point of my life its all about the experience and not so much the console that delivers it. I look back at the Saturn and the Dreamcast and no longer view them as losers. In the end it's not the console that makes the experience, it's the games and I'm happy to have enjoyed these great games on these three consoles that are considered to be failures by the general public.