Sega Dreamcast Review: 1st Look

By Krank
Hardware One

After a year of speculation and hype, Sega delivered their latest console on late November 1997. Their new console system was touted to be revolutionary, powerful and fast, its name? The Dreamcast. Never mind the Japanese way of giving funny English names, although by now its already become all to familiar to every avid gamer. With a Hitachi SH-4 RISC processor, a PowerVRNG graphic chip and Yamaha sound system, even the Saturn had to take its final bow. Hardware-One is proud to bring you Singapore's 1st review on the Dreamcast!

The Dreamcast Unit
At first we imagined the unit size to be similar to the Saturn, boy were we wrong! Measuring at 18.3cm  by 18.5cm with a height of 4.8cm, the Dreamcast base was really REALLY small. But don't be fooled by its small footprint, its very heavy! I guess all the new technology is really packed in there.  The Dreamcast comes in pure white with a little grey here and there and it looks cool overall. In front, 4 joypad connectors are neatly laid in a row with a "Designed for Windows CE logo" on the right of it. Top wise, the CD hatch which feels very solid when opening and closing also a small triangular power light adds to the overall aesthetics of the unit, a power button to the lower left corner and a CD-hatch open button to the lower right completes the functionality. Sega has decided to forgo the dual indicator (Power/Access) that was present on the Saturn for 1 single Power indicator. Also on the front right side of the unit houses a ventilation grill with a small fan visible, its main function is to draw heat out of the unit. For those who worry that the fan being loud, its not that bad actually, you'll probably notice the sound when you're not playing games or you turn off the sound on your games totally! Behind of the unit houses 1 AV port, 1 Serial port and 1 power supply port. The AV port uses those new unified connectors, that the newer playstation uses.

Control Pad
The Control pad is reminiscence of the Sega Saturn's successful Nights Analogue Joypad, but the difference lies in the functionality of the pad. What's gone are the 6 buttons, replaced by 4 buttons with a layout similar to the PS. Also the lightweight pad has two cavities on the top of the pad, this means each pad is capable of holding 2 VMSs, so with 4 ports the Dreamcast can support up to 8 VMSes all together! Well the ports are well suited for such uses, with each port capable of having a throughput of 2Mb/sec! The slots also support a variety of other addons like the up coming Puru-Puru Pack which is the equivalent of a Force-Feedback Rumble Pack. Even with 2 VMSes loaded into the pad, its weight is still light enough to be held comfortably because the pad has excellent ergonomics to start with. The wire connector to the pad has shifted from the top to the bottom which is puzzles me, but luckily there is a small notch that allows you to hook the wire from bottom up to top.

Visual Memory System (VMS)
The VMS is the memory storage/multi-purpose device, that connects to the Control Pad. By itself, the VMS looks pretty functional with a large Dot-Matrix Display with a directional pad and 2 buttons. The buttons and control are very responsive for such a small unit. Actually if you really see it on a whole, you'll be amused that its kinda like a Digimon+Tamagotchi+Memory Card+Clock all stuffed into one small package.

Well the Dreamcast unit is really a simple pleasant system to look at, all white with grey. Sleek, small yet feels as if it has a lot of power (try holding one and see for yourself!). I will be going indepth with the system and its workings really soon so look out for it!