So, if you thought about it long and hard, what would be your greatest Dreamcast purchase ever..?
From your first console, to that special game that you've loved to play. From a sought after peripheral that revolutionised your gaming experience, to a rare piece of promotional merchandise or even some Dreamcast branded clothing... For they are all out there, in second hand game shops, on eBay, or in someones attic, laying dusty and forgotten, just waiting for us obsessives to find and shell out hard earned dollar for. Well I know what mine is and it sits like a proud and mighty king, ruling over my Dreamcast collection, undisputed, as my best buy ever.
It is my Treamcast. Thats right Treamcast. With a 'T'. I cant remember how I found it. Through an accidental typing error on my shitty, shitty keyboard? Through spending many a saddo hour trawling through eBay and Google? Through a tragic and expensive obsession with an outdated and technologically trumped games console?Or through the mystic forces of fate and the cosmos, which drew me and my loved one together?
I think it was a combination of all of those things. I searched eBay and a plethera of console and game dealers world wide in an attempt to find one. At first it seemed futile. I persisted like a moth battering itself repeatedly against a 60 watt bulb, sat for days in front of my monitor, with girlish tears in my eyes and blisters on my typing finger.
Eventually one came up on eBay for the hefty price tag of £350 "with over 200 pieces of software" which turned out to be CD re-writes. I didn't want that load of shite, so after much haggling via email and a few strange phonecalls I agreed on £100 and a Raleigh Chopper, which I handed over to a perma-tanned, bleached blonde, tatooed, slightly gay looking behemoth, in a motorway service station car-park in Leicester (I kid you not). I didn't even know if it worked! (Fortunately, after a night of shitting myself that I'd thrown good money away, and nervously heading to Maplin's for a 'step down adaptor', I found out that it did... Sort of...) And I have been in love ever since...
"So where did the Treamcast originate Father Krishna?" I imagine you might ask me if you were at all interested. Very well... Shortly after the demise of the Dreamcast, some enterprising pirates in Hong Kong decided to buy up (or more likely hijack) a load of consoles cheap. They took the cases off, moulded some new ones, and made a few modifications. The first was to add internal speakers and an external volume control.
A small ten inch LCD screen, complete with contrast and brightness adjustment, was attached on a hinge, opening up like a lid from the main body of the console. As well as the mains power lead, the makers added a clever little 'plug in' for a car lighter, so the Treamcast could be played in your 'ride' whilst cruising down the highway (by the passenger obviously...). This meant that it was a "Travel (or Transportable)" Dreamcast which is where the 'Tr' part of the name came from (Geddit?)
God knows where they came up with the controllers, because they look suspiciously like bad white copies of Saturn pads. No VMU action happening with these babies! Finally they chucked in an MP3 adaptor and a little device which allowed the Treamcast to play VCDs. Clever eh?
As if this wasn't enough, they wrapped the whole package up in a lovely little laptop-style handbag-size case, complete with a strange squared spiral motif, not a million miles away from the original Sega swirl.
So how does the little tyke play? I'd love to say perfect, but I'd be a bare faced liar who would burn in hell. It likes Japanese and America games (no need for a Utopia, Codebreaker or DCX disc) , pirate copies and CD-Rs. It doesn't like PAL games, which it shoves to the side of it's little screen putting the top of the visuals at the bottom of the LCD.
The colours displayed are very washed out and tinkering with the brightness and the contrast between games becomes a cumbersome chore. Occasionally it switches itself off, occasionally it won't turn on. It is fickle about the discs it reads and inconsistent even about reading the ones it likes.
You may as well chuck the Saturnesque controllers in the bin and replace them with regular ones otherwise you won't be saving shit. But regular DC controllers work fine. All in all a pretty frustrating piece of kit! Still it's rare, it's coveted, it's a piece of console history, and the first mod for Dreamcast that I ever saw... and I love it. Due to it's slightly tetchy nature I don't play it much. But I like to look at it. And hold it. And stroke it.