Dreamcast's Dismal Aussie Outing

The Dreamcast finally launches in Australia, and, so far, it isn't what gamers dreamed about.

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Eager Australian gamers were forced to wait an extra long time for their Dreamcasts, thanks not only to an unexplained two month delay, but its distributors', Ozisoft's, insistence that any retailer that sells the machine before the Nov. 30 release date will be fined. However, it's finally out for players to enjoy.

Of course, it's not exactly flying off store shelves, thanks in part to the amazingly high price point ($500 Australian / US$350) and the complete lack of mainstream media advertising. If you didn't know any better, you would never know the machine existed. Besides the different-colored swirl (blue instead of orange), there are no physical differences for the console - oh, unless you count the 33.6k speed modem that replaces the 56k modem, which is standard everywhere else.

What do you get for your money? Besides the machine, connection cables, and a standard pad - nothing. No demo disc, no Internet software - nothing. The absence of the demo disc is never explained, and a small leaflet informs buyers the online network won't be available until February. Unlike the American system, the Australian Dreamcast will only let you connect through one ISP - the ridiculously expensive and under-powered Telstra Big Pond. At press time, no first-or-third-party VMU's, controllers, or keyboards were available. No first-party software, either. Thankfully, Acclaim and Activision managed to get five games on store shelves in time for the launch - TrickStyle, WWF, Blue Stinger, Ready To Rumble, and AeroWings. Ozisoft claims that Sega's games are stuck in Customs - quite ironic, considering that Ozisoft threatened to prosecute anyone importing Dreamcasts from overseas.

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