Sega Dreamcast Accessories & Expansions
Future Proofing to the Max
The idea behind the Sega Dreamcast was that it would continue to be competitive with an on-going release of accessories & upgrades. Things like the broadband adapter, VGA box & VMU were meant to upgrade the already ahead of it's time hardware in short bursts to remain competitive in the sixth-generation of gaming. Ultimately, this plan failed... but it's still interesting to look at the effort that went into keeping the DC alive & salvaging the Sega brand. If the planned DVD-player upgrade had come through, the DC might have survived a little longer & allowed the U.S. to receive an official release of Shenmue 2 and DC releases of Crazy Taxi 3, Jet Set Radio Future & Virtual-On: Marz which I think would have performed a lot better on a Sega platform.
**Note: This list is comprised of the most popular or most relevant accessories & does not necessarily include every accessory released for the console.
The Sega Dreamcast controller can be seen as the precursor to the Xbox controller. It is large, but manageable. It has two expansion ports, a cord that runs from the bottom of the controller (in contrast to the top or front in most other cases) and has a visible hole in the front for displaying the VMU screen. Some people compare it to a sail boat in terms of design, and I admit that by today's standards it is a pretty crude pad & it does tend to cause cramping after extended sessions of play. However, I think we most likely would have gotten the greatest controller of all time had Sega remained in the console market after the DC.
- VMU - The Visual Memory Unit was probably the #1 accessory/upgrade for the DC. In contrast to some of the third-party save-only cards that lacked a screen, the VMU included increased functionality. Users could display graphics during a game, download apps & play games on the go, manage data on the go and transfer files with other players,
- Jump Pack - A proprietary pack that allowed force-feedback in games that supported the feature. Interestingly, this device can also be utilized with the Dream Blaster controller.
- Microphone - A device that was required to fully experience the game, Seaman, this was basically the Kinect back in 2000.
- Light Gun - A must-have for shooters. House of the Dead 2 is just no fun without it.
- Keyboard - Laughable in modern times, the Dreamcast was an internet power house that came with a modem & browser right out of the box. This accessory made the experience that much cooler.
- Mouse - Much like the keyboard, the mouse was an attempt to streamline the online experience on a home console.
- Twin Sticks - I don't know why people seem to think that Virtual-On is unplayable without these sticks. The standard controller works fine and includes the option for vibration.
- Racing Wheel - I've personally never used this. But, racing enthusiasts seem to appreciate it. It might cool to try Test Drive: Le Mans with this controller.
- Fishing Rod - This is another accessory that I've never owned. It is supposed to simulate fishing in Sega Bass Fishing. I'm not sure if there is/are any other game(s) that utilizes this accessory or not.
Shipping with composite cables & a 56k modem out of the box, the Dreamcast had a lot of expansions released in order to enhance the player's experience as well as remain competitive in the upcoming console generation.
- S-Video Cables - A step-up from standard composite. The S-Video format helped to separate certain components of the graphics displayed on-screen, resulting in higher fidelity picture quality.
- VGA Box/Cord - The only way to get the maximum picture quality out of the DC. This device allows the user to connect the DC to HDTVs or computer monitors via the VGA port. Almost all games support a 480p resolution. The difference in image clarity, even coming from S-Video, is mind-blowing.
- Broadband Adapter - Released late in the console's life-cycle, this rare piece of equipment allows faster data speeds while browsing the web or playing games online. If you're lucky enough to own one, there are still private servers held for specific DC games, like Phantasy Star Online.
- SD Card Reader - Did you ever notice the serial port on the back-end of the DC? That port was intended for multimedia expansion. One such device was the SD-Card reader which could be used with the DC to view photos, import/export data, etc.
- Console Link Cables - Similar to the Saturn link cables, the DC is capable of being connected with another DC console in order to communicate for local multiplayer.
After the abrupt discontinuation of the DC in North America, several planned games & accessories that were in development at the time of the console getting axed were immediately cancelled or moved to other platforms.
- DVD-Player Attachment - The main factor many people attribute to the downfall of the DC is the lack of DVD-playback capabilities. Sega did have plans to eventually release an attachment for the console, "when the time was right." Unfortunately, the console was discontinued much earlier than originally planned, resulting in several games & accessories being moved to other platforms or cancelled altogether.
- Higher Capacity VMU/MP3 - This would have been f*cking amazing! The major complaint surrounding the VMU was its relatively low storage capacity. If Sega had gone through with releasing this upgrade, as well as adding music-playback to the VMU (imagine playing your own custom tracks during games!) the DC may have stood a better chance against its competitors.
- Wireless Controller - I'm not aware of any official Sega-branded wireless controllers. I remember seeing some third-party attempts, but if I remember correctly they were infrared-based & very unresponsive (not to mention ugly). Your best bet if you're wanting to chill on your bed or couch while enjoying the DC is to grab some extenders which essentially elongate the cord so that the controller has a wider range of mobility beyond its connection point to the DC. They are very cheap too, going for no more than $2 on eBay: see link below.
[My Final Thoughts]
I truly believe that if the DC had been able to gain assistance from Microsoft & release the planned media expansions, then Sega could have remained competitive in the console race and continued to produce home consoles. The Dreamcast was an absolutely amazing piece of machinery, and it's a shame that a lack of money to continue marketing the product caused my most beloved video game hardware/software producer to become a now laughable third-party developer.
If you're interested in learning more about the DC & its accessories, check out Adam Koralik's channel on YouTube. See the link below.
- AdamKoralik - YouTube
FigureItOut Productions provides various forms of video entertainment. Movie reviews, trailer mashups, videogame overviews, and more.
- sega dreamcast controller extensions | eBay
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- Category:Dreamcast accessories - Sega Retro