Gary Eng Walk
January 08, 1999 AT 05:00 AM EST

Et tu, PlayStation? The videogame industry’s high-stakes arms race heated up considerably when the Dreamcast player — Sega’s latest bid to win back the fickle thumbs of gamers — went on sale in Japan at the height of the holiday season. Hardcore customers in Tokyo lined up at the crack of dawn to snatch them up; stores sold out of their initial shipment of 150,000 units in less than a day. After its last console — the Edsel-like Saturn — was handily run over and left for dead by PlayStation and Nintendo 64, the House That Sonic Built isn’t kidding around: The compact Dreamcast has four times the graphics muscle of Sony’s reigning gaming unit, can output 64 booming channels of sound, and is Internet capable, all for under $250. Few titles are available now, but expect a large selection when Dreamcast makes a high-profile U.S. debut in fall 1999. By then, will gamers care about another game box? ”Players are looking for the next level,” says a Sega spokesman, ”and we’ll have a dozen [titles] available at next fall’s launch that’ll blow them away. This isn’t a one-hit platform.”

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