Friday, 22 January 2021 08:00

MTG and SEGA: Remembering the Japan-exclusive 'Magic: The Gathering' Dreamcast game

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MTG and SEGA: Remembering the Japan-exclusive 'Magic: The Gathering' Dreamcast game SEGA/WOTC

On June 28, 2001, the SEGA Dreamcast got a console-exclusive Magic: The Gathering video game.  The thing is, the game wasn't just exclusive to the Dreamcast but to a single country.

Released only in Japan, the game came out a few months after the final Dreamcast came off of the assembly line (SEGA discontinued the console on March 31, 2001) and features a modest selection of cards from 6th EditionAlliances, and Tempest.

Want to learn more?  You can find out all about it in the video below.

Video transcript:

Ah, the Sega Dreamcast. Sega’s final attempt at its own stand-alone video game console.

The thing came out in 1998 in Japan – 1999 here in the States – and had a number of hit titles including Virtua Fighter 3, Sonic Adventure, and even kicked off what’s now known as the 2K Sports series before the console had its early demise in 2001, just three years after its launch.

So, why am I taking to you about the Sega Dreamcast on a YouTube channel? Well, in those three short years that the Dreamcast was a current video game console, Sega itself published an official Magic: The Gathering video game as a first-party title.

Doesn’t ring a bell? Maybe that’s because it was a Japan-only release.

More on that in just a moment…

Released in June of 2001, the official Magic: The Gathering Sega Dreamcast game is a 3D adaptation of Wizards of the Coast’s flagship collectable card game.

Considered by those who are familiar with it as the precursor to the more modern Magic: The Gathering console adaptations such as the Duels of the Planeswalkers series, the game is presented in a mix of Japanese and English despite the game only being released in Japan. Even still, the game can be easily playable so long as your knowledge of the cards is good enough (though navigating the menus will probably take a little bit of trial and error). Even the game’s audio is a mix of Japanese and English.

A single-player title, the game has some semblance of a story and takes place in the town of Magic Heart as well as its surrounding areas: Murg, Camat Island, Ludar Forest, Yeluk, and Tornell. Each area is tied to one of Magic: The Gathering’s five colors. Clearing each area unlocks one final location, The Balance Tower, at which you face three boss battles in succession in order to beat the game, after which the only area available for post-game play remains the tower as you’ll need to start a new game in order to replay any of the game’s other areas.

For those wanting the more traditional Magic: The Gathering experience of going one-on-one against other human players, Dreamcast game unfortunately doesn’t feature any network support despite the console supporting online connectivity. Playing peer-to-peer or through a lobby online is not an option. Of course, that also means that the modern practice of microtransactions isn’t an option either.

The computer AI for this game is far from perfect and overall considered to be relatively easy with some opponents seemingly playing on a pattern. It’s also been observed that the computer doesn’t often hold cards back, often emptying its hand as often as it can. It will also make misplays, misjudging when to use cards and sometimes causing self-harm through the misuse of cards like Armageddon, Nevinyrral’s Disk, and pain lands.

As for the actual cards found in the Magic: The Gathering Dreamcast game, there is a modest collection of 369 cards from across three sets: Alliances, Tempest, and 6th Edition.

While the roster does include some “ho hum” entries such as Obsianus Golem, Vodalian Soldiers, and Anaba Bodyguard, there is a good variety of strong, useful cards that players can unlock and use in their decks such as Vampiric Tutor, Greed, and Doomsday in black, Counterspell, Mystical Tutor, and Lord of Atlantis in blue, Giant Growth, Birds of Paradise, and Worldly Tutor in green, Jokulhaups, Hammer of Bogarden, and Goblin Recruiter in red, as well as all five Circle of Protection cards, Crusade, and Wrath of God in white.

The game also features a number of decent colorless cards such as the artifacts Teferi’s Puzzle Box, Phyrexian Vault, and Ashnod’s Altar, as well as lands City of Brass and the five pain dual lands that debuted in Ice Age: Adarkar Wastes, Brushland, Karplusan Forest, Sulfurous Springs, and Underground River.

In addition to already-existing Magic: The Gathering cards appearing in the Dreamcast game, there are also ten cards that are exclusive to the game software. Like with the exclusive cards that are only playable in the Magic: The Gathering computer game that came out in 1995, these digital-only cards include mechanics that would be all but impossible to replicate in the paper game such as numbers or other card characteristics being chosen at random.

Overall, the game only received a lukewarm reception with so-so review scores from publications such as Dorimaga, which rated the game a 67 out of 100. That said, for an early video game console adaptation of the Magic: The Gathering card game, it’s not that bad.

So now that you know about the Magic: The Gathering Dreamcast game, where can you pick up a copy? Well, it’s not exactly easy to find (or cheap, for that matter).

Used, you can find it on websites like eBay and Amazon in the $65-100 range. New, well you’re going to have to shell out at least $120 or more for it – and that’s assuming don’t also need to find and buy a Dreamcast on which to play it.

Oh, and one little Easter egg: If you put the game disk into your computer’s CD-ROM drive, you can access a bitmap of the game’s world map, which is kind of neat.

For Magic Untapped, I’m Barry White.

Thanks for watching.