Thursday, December 07, 2006

Vanishing Masterpiece Unveiled!

Well, whilst still on a high from being a part of Gnome's new project, I thought I'd post again! Now unlike the good Gnome himself, I can't promise the prolific rate of high quality posts that his regular readers are used to.

But in order to make a good impression on my new patron, I thought I'd follow up with my second post in two days! Now as you all know, this site is something of a sideline for me and Gnome... or maybe more like a spin-off T.V. show...

Indeed my main responsibility is ensuring with Teeleecee and The Gagaman(n) that the Dreamcast remains the most revered console of all time!!! "But Father!" you cry..."The Dreamcast has nothing to do with 'gaming on the go!"
"Or does it?" I reply... "OR DOES IT??"

For you see as well as acting as a memory card which slotted cleverly into the Dreamcast's ergonomic controller, the wonderful VMU (Visual Memory Unit) was also a portable game system in it's own right!!

Clocking in at a tiny 47mm by 88mm, the VMU featured a tiny black and white screen displaying 48 by 32 dot LCD visuals. Carrying an impressive 128kb of memory, the unit was powered by two CR2032 batteries... (which unfortunately ware out very quickly and you'll soon find this if you pursue this little beauty.) It also featured a tiny speaker and directional pad. The lucky owner could use the mode button to skip between calendar mode and clock, or more importantly game mode!!!

Innovative compatibility meant that games played on the Dreamcast could hide secret levels where VMU games could be discovered, downloaded onto the VMU, and then played independently of the DC title!

For a full list of original DC titles that featured VMU games visit Wikipedia here.

VMU emulators have continued to produce games for the VMU, and a large selection are freely available on the 'VMU Tool' wonderfully promoted in this Dreamcast Junkyard article by the Gagaman(n).

The best game I personally have experienced for the VMU is 'Chao Adventure'. This little beauty was to be found in 'Sonic Adventure', one of the Dreamcast's flagship titles, featuring our favourite blue Hedgehog, and iconic Sega mascot, Sonic.

Within the game, entranced gamers could often find themselves in a beautiful rendered environment known as the 'Chao Garden'. Within this realm, Sonic could capture, hatch, play with and train, strange little creatures called Chaos. These little creatures could remain in the game, or be magically transported into the VMU to be nurtured and developed.

Once you had your Chao in the VMU it was ready for an adventure of it's own... Playing something like a Tamagotchi on steroids, our little hero would plod on a 2D quest through a variety of lands such as desert, forest, city etc.

Mostly it walked, but sometimes it swam, climbed or even flew!! In order to prove itself, our tiny protagonist would battle other 'Bully Chaos'. In order to land a powerful punch, you would have to stop a side scrolling dot, in exactly the right place by pressing the 'A' button, at exactly the right time. If successful the Chao would punch it's tormentor and wipe out some of it's power.

Failure to hit the button at the right time would mean failure to strike, and the game player would then have to watch helplessly, whilst the Bully swung and struck his little pet, damaging it severely.

Damage or victory would result in the Chao's attributes (Power, punch, health, happiness) ascending in number or descending. One could also increase your Chao's status by playing a memory game. The Chao 'owner' would be presented with a screen showing variously positioned pairs of fruit. These would then be 'covered' and using the direction pad and select button, the player would have to use his memory to find the covered pairs correctly. Do this without making three mistakes and you would be rewarded with fruit or nuts to feed to your Chao, thus increasing his (or her) status.

And gender was important! For there was also the chance to 'mate' the little tykes... by attaching two VMU's together!!! Yes folks there was even the potential for a little Chao 'porn action'!!Owners could also name their Chaos, give them a birthday, choose their gender and so on... Occasionally the Chao would tell it's owner how it was feeling, via a written message which flashed across the screen.

There was only one downside to this addictive mini-game. It never seemed to end!!! Actually on second thoughts, that was a plus!!! And there was only one downside to the's battery sapping potential. Be prepared to shell out regularly if you get one and use it to game...

With a Japanese audience in mind, there were many special edition collectable VMUs in a variety of colours and themes. I own unused see-through red and green one's in their original boxes and they are amongst the jewels of my Dreamcast collection!

The Gnome's Lair has an excellent article recommending all of you to buy a Dreamcast which you can view here.

For all of you DS and PSP owners fear not! I will get round to these esteemed consoles very soon! But I will also squeeze in as many portable/handheld Dreamcast related articles as I can...

Including a soon to arrive post on the wonderful 'Treamcast... 'TRansportable dREAMCAST' geddit??
Until then... goodnight dear children, wherever you are...

Related posts: the Sega Game Gear, TI-85 on the DS, Visiting Day

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  1. Father Krishna, that was another ace post. You've definitely outdone yourself... Brilliant! Tops! Etc!

  2. Why... Thankyou Dear Gnome!
    It's a measure of how thrilled I am to be here!!!
    Just been chatting on AOL IM to Deitrix...
    I reckon we could have a lot of fun if you, me, him and the Elderly all got together to exchange instant bullshit...
    Might distract us from our posting duties however... !!

  3. and instant bullshitting blog..... a subgenre to start a new year.....

    stunned by the thought that went into the dreamcast, but downloadable content from mainstream games at a time when you must pay for miniscule graphics on the 360, the games industry has most definitely gone back to the stone age when it comes to value for your buck

    sorry i've never introduced buck, buck say hello the the nice people


  4. Hi Buck!

    meet Rogers!

    Now, guess we shouldn't waste even more time. PhDs don't write themselves you know...

    We could blog nonsense though...

  5. blog nonsence is good..... habit forming...... though i've anecdotal evidence to suggest too many Phds are written by themselves....

    i blame copy and paste

  6. Are they? Without using foul magic? Anything soul-crushing? No?


  7. soul crushing and foul magic..... you could be onto something... (checks phone book..) some vestil virgins would just fit the bill.....

  8. Can't we have something to eat instead?

  9. ..well we could try a steak.... with a virgin tied to it.....

  10. Wellll.. it's a bit too kinky really... Still, I could give it a try?

    Pass me the pepper Elderly...

  11. fuck u guys r weird..