The Sega Dreamcast is Sega's last console to enter the market, before the company became a third party company. It is a 128 bit machine, and was technically superior hardware at the time of release and development. It is the successor to the less successful Sega Saturn. It was white in color, although special models were made, including the Hello Kitty Dreamcast, the Sega Sports Dreamcast, the Divers CX-1000 and other different console designs. The controller included a VMU, or Visual Memory Unit, which inserted into the top of the Sega Dreamcast controller, in the front slot. There was also a slot for the Sega Dreamcast Rumble Pack, which provided controller vibration.
The Saturn, back in the mid-to-late nineties, was struggling to gain Sega money. Bernie Stolar proclaimed "The Saturn is not our future", and demanded a new console be made by Sega. So work began on the Dreamcast, or it's development name, the Katana. The company decided to use a CPU by the same company who had supplied the Saturn's CPUs, Hitachi, using the Hitachi SH-4. Microsoft was also included in the development of the Dreamcast, developing it's operating system, Microsoft Windows CE. The Dreamcast was then released to the general public. The hardware specifications were superior compared to the Nintendo 64 L and Playstation at the time, and in the United States, 300,000 units had been preordered for purchase. The Dreamcast sold over 200,000 units in the first 24 hours of it being available on US shelves. The Dreamcast also launched with some powerful third party games, with the new 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game, Sonic Adventure, the racing game Hydro Thunder, the popular fighting game Soul Calibur, and many more. But Sony threw a spanner in the Dreamcast's works, with the announcement of their new powerhouse console, the much anticipated Playstation 2. Dreamcast sales started to drop, as the Playstation 2 had amazing technical specifications, much better than the Dreamcast, and thus spawned the beinning of the end for Sega. In early 2001, Sega announced that they had stopped manufacturing the Dreamcast, although support would still continue, and games would still be released on the system. The last official release was 2004's Puyo Pop Fever, in Japan.
There was a development kit for the Dreamcast, named the Dreamcast HKT-001, which was basically a computer with Dreamcast programming capabilities, running the Microsoft Windows CE Dreamcast Development operating system. Homebrew releases are still being released today, including the popular remake, Hypertension. Sega then left the console market after the discontinuation of the Dreamcast.
The Dreamcast had a 128 bit, 200MHz Hitachi SH-4 CPU processor, a Power VR2 chipset, giving out 7 million polygons per second, capable of around 16 million colors. The sound processor Is a Yamaha AICA. The sytem has a 16 Megabyte 64 bit RAM processor. The disc format was GD-ROM, discs that could store more data than standard CD-ROM discs, with the console capable of playing audio CDs, and earlier models of the Dreamcast having no lockout chip to prevent copied games being played on the system.
The Dreamcast was also the first console to include a built in modem, with a 56 kbps rate in North America, but only a 32 kbps rate in Europe. It was later superseded by the broadband adapter.
Other Accessories: The Dreamcast had a VGA adapter that allowed the Dreamcast to be played in 480p definition on televisions and computer screens. The VMU was an LCD memory card. There was a link cable allowing interaction with the Neo Geo Pocket Color. A rumble pack allowed controller vibration. A microphone was included with the game 'SeaMan', allowing the player to talk to the fish. A mouse and keyboard were released, to use either DreamArena or SegaNet for online capabilities, or to play games such as 'The Typing of the Dead'. An arcade/fighting stick was released. A myriad of racing wheels were released. A lightgun peripheral was also released for shoot 'em ups.
The Dreamcast's library contains over 600 games. Popular ones include Jet Set Radio, Sonic Adventure, SeaMan, Shenmue and Shenmue II, Giga Wing, Soul Calibur and more. The game cases were the same size as a CD case in North America, and twice the size in Europe, due to multi-lingual instruction manuals.
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