The Visual Memory Unit (VMU) is the Dreamcast’s primary saving device it features 200 blocks of available memory which is more than enough to hold a dozen or so games some games are unoptimised for the unit (Shenmue 80 Blocks) data can also be exchanged with other players when connected together via the top socket and also special mini games can be played from the unit as well as special data displayed whilst docked to the controller.
The Dreamcast controller is instantly familiar to any Sega fan, it shares many of it’s design cues with the earlier Sega Saturn 3D Controller which was an 11th hour alternative to the standard flat Saturn pad, the Dreamcast controller features one analog stick that made ports of games quite difficult it also features one of the best D-Pads for beat-em-ups, 2 analog triggers, a triangular start button and four face buttons configured in an Y,X,A,B set. Worth noting is the Dreamcast’s controller cord is located at the bottom of the controller this was because there are two expansion slots on the top for various accessories.
The Dreamcast Jump Pack (Puru Puru Pack) was the second accessory most players bought after a VMU for their Dreamcast controller, it added a little weight to the pad and really made all the difference in-game. Many games used the pack to signify heart rates of various characters such as Illbleed and Resident Evil : Code Veronica.
The Dreamcast Microphone was released in Europe, Japan & America in 2000 it played a bigger part in the USA where it was used to voice command a game called Seaman, the game was well ahead of it’s time. Alien Front Online, a USA only release used it for online voice chat which was a first for a console game, the Microphone was also to be used for the same functionality in Propellor Arena too. In Europe the Microphone was bundled with Planet Ring which was also an online enabled title used with Dream Arena, the accessory can also be used with Mr Driller where the player shouts ‘Drill!’ and the main character does just that.
The Dreamcast Race Wheel is probably one of the least popular accessories for the machine due to it’s gargantuan scale it was a very hard to store heft of plastic when not in use. It’s possibly one of the most supported though due to the sheer amount of racing games the DC has in it’s library one notable title that made the Race Wheel a joy to use was Daytona USA 2001 – well worth seeking out that combo.
The Dreamcast Keyboard was essential when using the console online, it made using the Internet more fun than chore and featured full-sized, responsive keys with the familiar layout of a PC keyboard. The device could also be used with certain games too!
The Dreamcast Mouse was a key partner for the Keyboard in Internet smoothness, the accessory featured a scroll wheel and also a page down button on the side there weren’t many game it was used for but with a combination of this and the Keyboard, you’d soon become a Quake III Arena ‘top fragger’
Okay, so there were only going to be a set amount of uses for the Dreamcast Fishing Controller and yes, you guessed it; most of them were fishing titles. The Dreamcast spawned the funnest take on the sport due to it’s arcade roots though. Worth taking note it that the Fishing Controller can also be used in some other Dreamcast games to mixed results!
The Dreamcast 4X Memory Card was a bigger capacity storage device that as you guessed, was four times bigger than the VMU. The memory card was only released in Japan and America so it’s quite alien to those living in Europe. the 4X Memory card is quite a rare device since it was released in 2001 when the Dreamcast market had started to disband, the memory card is often mistakenly labelled as the 4X VMU – clearly not right due to it lacking a screen.
The Dreamcast Broadband Adaptor is possibly the most sought after device available for the Dreamcast, changing hands for around £100 it’s certainly an expensive luxury and something Europeans were once again left out in the dark with. Some online DC games can still be played via private servers with the BBA and although the Modem can also be used, this is certainly the easiest way to play online.