I was a bit obsessed with the console as it was the first one that was bought for me new, out of the shop. I didn't inherit it, the console was 100% mine. The Dreamcast was well ahead of it's time for a number of reasons. Ultimately though, this would be the console to cripple SEGA and they have not released one since.
Shenmue (The Game Changer)
I'm going in early with this. Shenmue was and is, one of the greatest games ever made. It was in a genre of its own (quite literally) as the team behind it classed it as a F.R.E.E game (Full Reactive Eye Entertainment). It's what we would probably call an advanced sandbox today. It paved the way for open world gaming as we know it today. I am still agonisingly desperate to play more of the series but it was cancelled after the second installment.
You have to think though. For Shenmue to have been a commercial success, every Dreamcast owner needed to buy it twice. It didn't matter how good it was,
Ethernet Port (Online Gaming)
I remember hearing about online gaming when the Dreamcast came out. Of course it had existed for a while before but as a kid the very concept of setting up a network and so forth wasn't worth considering. It was complicated - or for the people that think otherwise, it wasn't easy for a 10 year old. How did you connect the Dreamcast to the internet? Plug it into the phone socket. It was the first console to have an inbuilt modem, that is a matter of fact,
Granted, I did have to call up my buddy Aaron to make sure his Dad didn't need the phone for a few hours and I also did have a panic attack when someone laid down the cost of a 3 hour phonecall...
BUT ONLINE GAMING GUYS!
VMU (Companion Apps)
Second screen visuals and tablet controllers may seem like a normal occurrence today (I actually think it's completely unnatural and weird but that's another conversation) though the memory cards for the Dreamcast became mini consoles themselves. The best game was a spin off from Sonic Adventure which only really worked of you had a few people that you could play it with BUT if you could do that it was incredible.
It seems normal, syncing data between games and even different devices today, it's easy and common. The idea of playing a game and then taking part of the that on the road, playing a mini game and then uploading your data back into the "main" game was bloody magical.
Sonic (The Mascot)
Oh Sonic. What the hell happened to you?
There was a day when our favourite hedgehog could hold his own in crowded room of gaming personalities rather than tagging along to Mario's Olympic Games. One of the pioneers of side scrolling platformers was always going to have to take the leap into the "proper" 3rd dimension (no, Sonic 3D does not count). Mario had done it successfully for a while now with Super Mario 64 so the Erinaceinae needed to up his game.
Sonic Adventure was released to favourable reviews and introduced a series of new characters including a fat fishing cat & a weird robot. The rest of the gang were there too and it worked! It is the greatest Sonic game since the Megadrive but couldn't save the console. It just didn't have the same effect Mario did and unfortunately he has lived in the Italian plumbers shadown ever since.
Peripherals (Gaming USPs)
Before eye tracking, 3D headsets, motion controllers & haptic feedback - we had the Dreamcast Fishing Controller. It was bad-ass and is the reason "Sega Bass Fishing" got a re-release recently. I'm not going to talk about the peripherals in detail, but just appreciate how this console made your home like a sea-front arcade with unique add ons. Don't get me started about House of The Dead - suddenly I didn't need to spam 50ps into a machine I was convinced was out to get me.
Phantasy Star Online (MMOs)
Not the first MMO but it was certainly the most accessible. Playing like a tame version of Diablo the game only actually had a few levels and could be completed relatively quickly. Like any random drop game though the magic came from one of those rare times you would find a decent rare weapon. I still have fond memories about the Spread Needle which I actually found.
Plug your Dreamcast in, pick a lobby, find each other go into a world, kill stuff, beat monsters and level up.
Oh, and no subscription fees, no downtime, easily switch servers, multiple character slots and quick loading times. Try telling FFXIV on PS3 about loading times.
Dreamkey (Web Browsing)
This is short because in all honesty, it was a bit crap. Still, you could browse the world wide web through your console.
You can't even do that on an Xbox 360?!
The Dreamcast was a great console let down by several factors and the hype around the PS2 was massive. Consumers had lost faith with the Sega Saturn which was expensive and heavy when compared with the cool kid Playstation One and the ever popular Nintendo. Remembered well by all who experienced it, unfortunately this one will go down as a commercial failure and a missed opportunity.
On that note, I'm just off to buy one again :)