The box contains one controller, a user guide, the
console itself, and the necessary cables (power and AV) to hook you up.
The Dreamcast console itself is very dense. You would not expect
it to weigh as heavy as it did. It even comes with a fan blowing out from the right edge
of the console. In front, there are 4 controller ports a la Nintendo 54.
||"It can get quite annoying
because the only way to reset the machine is to hold down A+B+X+Y and press Start on the
controller (which sounds oddly enough like Ctrl-Alt-Del). A sign of Microsofts
At the back resides the power socket, the AV-plug and,
interestingly enough, a serial port, which I suppose plugs to the modem. I was told that
the Dreamcast in Japan comes with a modem built-in. I dont think the Singapore
version has that feature.
The controls on the console itself are quite sparse too.
The top only has two buttons: for power and eject - and a light too.
I quite missed the Reset button on my old Saturn and I have
no idea why this was not there. It can get quite annoying because the only way to reset
the machine is to hold down A+B+X+Y and press Start on the controller (which sounds oddly
enough like Ctrl-Alt-Del). A sign of Microsofts influence? =)
Also missing are the expansion port at the back (used for
VCD/MPEG cartridge) and the expansion cartridge (used for extra RAM in MSH vs SF, Netlink
modem, savegame memory, etc.) on the Saturn.
Powering it up without a CD opens up the control options,
similar to the old Saturn. You get 4 menu option icons, each animated in 3D.
The first option allows you to play games, and is
represented by the gamepad. The second allows you to manage the savegame files in the VMS,
a memory backup device that plugs into the controller and also functions like a small
Tamagotchi toy on its own.
The third option is a music CD player, and it is quite
boring, compared to the Saturn version, which gave karaoke facilities (key/tone change as
well as vocal muting), in addition to having a cool animated spaceship that moves through
space in time with the music.
The Dreamcast CD player merely depicts a 3D spinning CD,
with track and time info displayed prominently. You dont even get to program the
tracks. I guess Sega decided to skip all the frills this time around. The only concession
Sega made was to introduce some rotating lights that lights up the spinning CD, which
doubles up as a screen saver.
"The Dreamcast console itself
is very dense. You would not expect it to weigh as heavy as it did. It even comes with a
fan blowing out from the right edge of the console. In front, there are 4 controller ports
a la Nintendo 54."
I also tried popping a VideoCD into the player without any
luck though. This is quite odd since VF3 ships with a MPEG decoder to show some FMV
sequences, and they look quite good.
The last option allows you to change system settings, such
as language, date and time. It also allows you to enable autostart, or to disable it.
Another sign of Microsofts influence? =|
The console itself does get pretty warm, even with the fan
on. Just for your info, the fan is fairly quiet... way quieter, say compared to that found
in my Microsoft Force Feedback Pro joystick.
I am not going to go into the hardware specification of the Dreamcast,
since it seems like every review I read already included it.
The GamePad Controller
The original Dreamcast gamepad feels like a
step backwards to me, having gotten so used to the Saturns excellent gamepads.
"Setting aside the seeming
lack of buttons (not really needed in the first two games I bought), the pad itself is
quite ergonomic and I had no problems using it to play VF3 for long stretches at a
I grew up on the Street Fighter games, having played my
way all the way from the World Warrior incarnation, and the Saturn gamepads with 6
top-facing buttons seemed just right for the game, allowing me to access all six punches
and kicks at my fingertips.
|I could never quite get used to the Playstation
and Super Nintendo gamepads when playing SF games, since these only had 4 buttons on top.
I had to contort my fingers just to reach two additional buttons at the top.
The Playstation and Saturn also upped the button ante from the older 16bit
consoles, each providing 8 gamepad buttons.
This is why I find it odd that the Dreamcast only has 6
buttons! In Capcom beat-em-up games like Street Fighter Collection/X-Men, the extra two
buttons can be used as macro buttons (simulating all three punches or kicks), and comes in
real handy in getting the super combos out on demand (OK, so I cheat a little! =P )
A lot of people have likened the Dreamcast controller to
the N64s original controller, but I feel it is much closer relative to the Saturn
analog controller, which first debuted with Sega Nights, right down to the grips for your
left and right hand.
Setting aside the seeming lack of buttons (not really
needed in the first two games I bought), the pad itself is quite ergonomic and I had no
problems using it to play VF3 for long stretches at a time.
"The original Dreamcast
gamepad feels like a step backwards to me, having gotten so used to the Saturns
Sega also markets two other controllers, an arcade stick
(such as those found in VF3 cabinets in the arcades) and a steering wheel. Both devices
also allow you to plug in VMS devices. In Singapore, the stick retails for S$95 and the
wheel for S$105 (approximate), but they cost less in Japan (5,800 yen and 5,000 yen
The arcade stick is almost identical to the real version
found in Sega VF3 cabinets but offers more buttons (six instead of four). However, the
wheel is a far cry from the force feedback wheel in Daytona/Rally/Scud Race cabinets).
Anyway, I cant afford them yet, so I cant give a proper review of them... yet.
Coming soon, is a light gun that will come bundled with
House of the Dead 2. This conversion should be spot on since it is based on the
Memory cartridges have really come a long way, since
I bought my first Saturn memory cart.
The Saturn utilised a single memory cart that plugs
to the console itself. The Playstation refined it further by allowing each
player/controller to have a dedicated memory cartridge to save player-specific
information. The Nintendo 64 then leapfrogged the Sony by allowing the memory cartridge to
plug directly to the gamepad.
So, it is inevitable that Sega would take the concept of the
memory cart further in their next console. =)
First, the Dreamcast gamepad allows you to plug in
TWO separate devices. This is useful if you wish to have vibrating/rumble pack device in
addition to the memory cart. But thats not all (gee, beginning to sound like a
Sell-A-Vision ad), each memory unit is actually programmable. In fact, prior to the
Dreamcast launch, the memory unit (VMS) was sold as Tamagotchi-like module, containing a
In future, you can even bring these VMS cartridges to Sega arcade
machines, to store user specific information (gear/suspension settings for racing games?
or even RPG characters?). This is because Segas next-generation Naomi arcade
machines, which replaces the older (and costlier but slightly superior) Model 3
technology, is also based on the PowerVR second generation chipset used in the Dreamcast.
||"In future, you can
even bring these VMS cartridges to Sega arcade machines, to store user specific
information (gear/suspension settings for racing games? or even RPG characters?)."
"So you can finetune your Daytona car
at home, then bring it to the arcades to compete with your buddies. I believe this way,
Sega can maintain a competitive edge in both the arcade and console gaming scenes."
I managed to see the last Model 3 arcade game (Star Wars
Trilogy) side by side a Naomi arcade machine (House of the Dead 2), and quite honestly,
the Naomi was not too far behind in terms of video quality.
One of the problems with the Model 1/2/3 architecture was
that it used very expensive technology (originally developed for the US armed forces), and
it was costly for arcade owners to purchase many of these units (such as for multiple
So you can finetune your Daytona car at home, then bring it
to the arcades to compete with your buddies. I believe this way, Sega can maintain a
competitive edge in both the arcade and console gaming scenes.
All this is merely pure speculation at this stage of
course, since there are no such games. A thought just occurred to me though. Wonder if
viruses can get passed along these VMS devices?
OK, enough of the preamble. Lets get on with the
games, which is why you came here, right?