Dreamcast debuts with a glitch

Tens of thousands of gameboys in the US and Canada flocked to retail outlets early on the morning of Thursday, September 9 as the Sega Dreamcast videogame console was made available for the first time in North America. As Sega expected, sales for the console during the first 24-hours set a new record for biggest 24-hours in entertainment retail sales with a total of $97,904,618.09 (about 500,000 players at a retail price of $199). The previous record was held by STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE, with its $28 million boxoffice on its first day of release in May 1999. Several retail outlets opened their doors at 12:01 am to allow consumers who just couldn't wait until normal store hours for the chance to get their hands on the new videogame system. KB Toys held one of five midnight retail Sega Dreamcast launch parties at its store in Atlanta, Georgia, featuring the cheerleaders from the Atlanta Falcons, a football team. Other events took place in San Jose, California, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Las Vegas, Nevada and Toronto, Canada. However, for some new Dreamcast owners the celebration did not continue for long after they discovered that some of their Dreamcast games would not load. The titles include "Sonic the Hedgehog," "Ready 2 Rumble," "Blue Stinger," "Hydro Thunder" and the Dreamcast web browser disc. Jennifer Walker of Access Communications, Sega's PR firm, said that "the affected software equates to .9 percent of first and third party games and .9 percent of web browser discs." According to Walker, Sega has identified a defective batch of software and it is being replaced. Sega Dreamcast features an advanced 128-bit architecture that is designed to evolve and grow with advances in technology and the changing needs of the consumer market. It is built atop a 200 MHz Hitachi SH-4 CPU and the NEC PowerVR 2DC 3D graphics chip, the most powerful 3D technology ever developed for a console system. The Hitachi SH-4 gives the Sega Dreamcast 15 times the power of a Sony PlayStation, 10 times the power of a Nintendo 64 and four times the graphics processing power of the fastest Pentium II processor. It is also the first console to enter the market with Internet capabilities. Its built-in 56k modem ensures full Internet functionality, including chat, e-mail and browsing through the Sega Dreamcast Network, an online gaming portal accessible only through Sega Dreamcast. Sega will introduce full online gaming for the system early next year.

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