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Sonic Team
PLAYERS:   1-4
January 30, 2001
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 Written by Cory Ker  on January 19, 2001

Special: No wait, it does. Or does it? Yes. Or no.

While the Dreamcast is just entering the foray of online gaming, it's certainly nothing new; PC gamers have been laughing madly at us poor local-game-only putzes since the 80s. Thankfully, Sega has remedied our cries of help, and finally brought us what the Dreamcast was born to do - Play games online, and with much smoother 56k access than generally all PC gamers get. And while 56k is more than adequate, for whatever reason, you cannot hop on a SegaNet session. Maybe you don't have a dial-up ISP, maybe you live in Canada (or Hawaii or Alaska), or maybe you simply are too speed-hungry to settle for anything less than 100 kbps for online gaming. Or perhaps (like me) all three.

Unfortunately, Dreamcast online gaming is still in a period of infancy, and the transition hasn't been too easy. Well, at least for those of us NOT in the previously mentioned class. 56k gamers have had access to all the online-compatible games released, and at least for now, no games have been announced to be broadband-exclusive.

But adversely, many, in fact, most, of the Dreamcast's online library up till now has been completely anti-broadband. As of this time, the only supported titles are Quake III Arena, and POD Speedzone (to the best of my knowledge). That leaves me and many others craving the online-goodness of NFL2K1, NBA2K1, and countless other games.

One of, if not the most, anticipated games is already hot off the production line in Japan, and will be out stateside soon, Phantasy Star Online. The first console online multiplayer RPG. Ever. And it doesn't support broadband.... Or does it?

The official response from Sega is that it might. It all depends on your ISP, or something like that. Sega keeps saying crap like "Phantasy Star Online does not officially support broadband". Officially. It doesn't officially.... But does it unofficially?

As of yet, I haven't been able to pick up either Phantasy Star Online, or the Broadband adapter. So I can't tell you whether it works or not, and I'm afraid it seems like no one can these days. Sega's stance on this situation is fair, and completely understandable. They maintain their position that the time spent on adding "official" (there's that word again...) broadband support would delay the release WAY too much. Apparently there are too many companies offering broadband access over here, and with varying standards. The amount of high-speed providers is much less over in Japan, and so Sega was able to establish a glitch-free driver for all services.

But what about us poor souls without 56k internet? It's rather ironic to feel pissed off that my speeds are as much as 100 times faster than a dial-up user, that I don't have to go through a tedious connection process every time I log on, that I have a dedicated, fast pipeline to the vast amount of knowledge encompassed by the internet. It's ironic because at times I long for a regular, run-of-the-mill dial-up connection. Because I'm potentially missing out a definitive moment in gaming, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

The big problem is that I literally need broadband with my Dreamcast to get a good connection. Imagine phone ISP versus phone ISP, from Canada (Southern Canada, to be fair) to, say, California. And it's not even SegaNet on at least one of the sides, as the gaming Super-ISP won't be available in Canada, at least for a while. Think of the speed. It would be laughable. The ping would be more than the word count on this column, and a ping of more than 250 can be incredibly irritating.

So think about it - I need broadband! Dammit, I'm just getting sick of getting screwed over online with my Dreamcast. Every factor that could add up to one unhappy-pappy is present, and I'm getting tired of it. So tell me Sega... What are you going to do? I have two options for you: Find a method of bending the time-space continuum so that any point on Earth exists next to any other point in the 4th dimension, or put in a little overtime and configure some broadband drivers for us North Americans... I'll leave you to figure out which is easier.

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