The Rant: Ahh, the mighty Dreamcast, what great times we had together... This is the last console Sega has made and is an excellent swan song in my opinion. An excellent system with excellent games that never really got the attention it deserved.
What happened was that after the success of the Megadrive (Genesis) Sega got all kooky and seemed to put out a new system (or variation) every month. They had the Sega CD, the Master Converter, The Genesis 2 and 3, a Megadrive/CD combo, the 32X add on, a Megadrive/CD/32X combo, and (finally after 2 years of waiting from the time it was announced) the Saturn and umpteen million versions of that (well at least 2 or 3,) in addition to several other systems that were announced but never saw the light of day like the Neptune or the Sega VR system. This gave Sega a reputation for vaporware. So when the Saturn got stomped by the Playstation and N64 instead of supporting their already established user base with the Saturn, Sega decided to go one better and came out with a whole new system, the Dreamcast. And while it is a superior system in every way (and still hasn't shown it's age in my opinion) Sega made the mistake of not making the Dreamcast backwards compatible with the Saturn. That meant that all the loyal Sega people had to shell out $250 for a brand new system that essentially did the exact same thing as their Saturn they just bought a year before. I remember quite well the attitude of disgruntled Sega fans, one of my friends refused to buy a Dreamcast because he wasn't going to get "burned" by Sega again. And while the Dreamcast did eventually attain a library of 200+ games (most of which look and play as good as anything on the newer systems today) it suffered greatly from the gaming public's fear that in two years the system would be abandoned as soon as the next big competitor came along. Thus it never sold as well as it could have, and as soon as the X-Box, PS2, and Gamecube showed up people dropped this system like a bad habit.
Sega hung on as long as they possibly could and then got out of the console business. The Sega of today is a shadow of their former selves, and now hang on as a game publisher for the three major consoles (including their once arch enemy, Nintendo.) However the army of loyal followers Sega has accumulated over the years has refused to let the Dreamcast die with a whimper. The Dreamcast homebrew scene is probably the most fanatical there is (next to Atari homebrew people,) the reason for this is that earlier systems also can play CDR's with no problem, which means if you have a system produced before August 2000 you can download a rom from the internet and enjoy it in your Dreamcast. There are always rumors flying around that Sega might actually start supporting the Dreamcast again in a scaled down, cheaper form (like maybe making a "PSone" type of deal with it,) but unfortunately so far this is just wishful thinking on the part of Sega fans.
THE GOOD: The system itself ranks up there with the best ever made. It's simple to use, compact, and looks cool. The Dreamcast gets the award for most variations and special editions as there seems to be a different Dreamcast for every color of the rainbow. Controllers are funky looking (kind of like a pancake with tail fins) but functional and somewhat durable. As with all post N64 systems it comes standard with an analog stick, which means eventually it'll break and you'll have to get a new one. Most games seem to be playable with the D-pad though.
The controllers also have a docking bay for the Sega VMU, which is kind of like the Sony Pocketstation but it's not really a system in itself. It's sort of like a memory card with a screen and a miniature control pad. On some games the VMU added another dimension (like say a football game where the plays were displayed on the VMU, so your friend couldn't see them,) other times a game could install a mini game on the VMU that you could use to influence the big game, like developing stats for a character in an RPG. Not a bad idea, but one that doesn't seem like it's caught on to the newer consoles (There are also seventy gazillion VMU variations.) I'd say out of the consoles made after 1999 this one is of the best quality build-wise, few complaints about it nuking itself or falling apart after a few months, (*cough* SONY *cough*) and Seems to also have tons of add-ons and peripherals to boot. It's amazing just how much stuff a company can produce in only a few years.
THE BAD:Seems like none of the cool RPGs made it over to the United States, and while you can install the usual mod chip to play imported games as the Dreamcast has ceased production it's getting harder and harder to find a place that'll do it for you (if you're into that sort of thing good for you, but for the rest of us who destroy electronics just by looking at them it's a sucky situation.) As with the Saturn, the Dreamcast has a special hook-up cable to your TV, which means that if yours gets lost or broken then your system is useless until you can hunt down another one.
THE UGLY: The fact that you can buy these for as low as $15 in some places. Sega really got obliterated with this machine. It's just sad.