More than just an orange swirl

こんばんは! OK, that's the last Japanese I type unless someone asks me to. Good evening, dear readers. For my first post on the hallowed 'yard, I thought I would bring something special. Something from a distant land. Over here, for whatever reason it is (though I have my opinions) we don't seem to give much of a damn about limited editions. Over in Japan, there have been limited edition game consoles and peripherals since the early 90s. Typically, if someone says they've been playing games from Japan, it'll usually be chipped or modded native hardware, playing 'backup' games/CDRs. Rarely, do people import consoles themselves. There's the large postage cost, the language barrier and the question of power sources (see my reply to "modded DC goodness"). There is, however, a beautiful and rarely seen world of limited edition consoles and peripherals...

This is my Sakura Taisen (Sakura Wars) Dreamcast system. Sakura Wars is one of the largest RPG and anime franchises in Japan. In 2006 I went to the Sakura Taisen café in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. Inside, the waitresses were dressed as the very characters printed on this limited edition Dreamcast. For those of you interested in Sakura Wars, I plan on doing a special feature at some point. There have been many limited edition games, including goodies ranging from calendars to music boxes, included with the games. Anyway, this one is pink (yes, girls either love it or worry about your sexuality), there's a matching controller and VMU too. All boxed. Lovely.

Doesn't this thing look evil?? It's my Regulation 7 Dreamcast. This is my console of choice. Sleek, sexy and very rare. Regulation 7 is related to the Pachinko (Japanese slot game) restrictions on gambling. These Dreamcasts were made for pachinko parlours (in the UK these are seedy "arcades" - think Piccadilly Gardens bus stop arcade), for people to get a feel for what the Dreamcast was about. Showing the "edgy" side of gaming, this black limited edition console really has character. Again, matching black VMU and controller. All boxed. Lovely. Running out of room; I will include my Hello Kitty Dreamcast in a Hello Kitty special in the future :)

Now, a weird peripheral this one. The Densha de Go! controller! Yes, you drive a train in the game. Yes, this is the controller. Yes, that space in the middle of the controller is for your pocket watch. Yes, I feel a bit weird owning one, but the plethora of DC stuff I own hides this weirdo controller... which is actually brilliant for Densha de Go! An often overlooked game, "Let's go Train!" is an excellent arcade conversion. More on that another time though... but you'll love it I am sure.

Anyone reading this on a MacBook, iMac or MacBook Pro? How about anyone owning a phone with a 0.3MP camera on it (VGA)? OK, well, the Dreamcast had a webcam years ago. It is a stand alone digital camera; a webcam and also part of a series of games and 'foto-fun' on the Dreamcast. Again, this is pretty rare folks. The build quality is astounding and it genuinely makes me wonder how the Dreamcast didn't crush the PS2 and DC2 (*we wish*) kill off the PS3 and rival XBOX 360 consoles. Only problem with this is that there's no memory card. That means, you have to upload photos to your Dreamcast and email them. Of course, you can save it on your VMU if you have one...

Which brings me onto my last photo and set of comments. Visual Memory Units. Look at them all. So cute. Why aren't we all walking around now, with something similar to a PSP/iPod Touch that plugs into our 360s? The potential of the VMU was huge. Plugged into arcade games, around a friends. Take your gamer profile with you... again, huge potential. As you can see, the bottom left VMU is the dull generic and UK only model. The others are, clockwise from top left: Godzilla VMU; SEGA direct black; SEGA direct camo; SEGA direct leopard; Astro Boy VMU; Reg 7 VMU; Limited Ed Green; Limited Ed Blue; boring-UK-why-the-fuck-don't-we-do-limited-editions VMU.

So there you have it. My first post and hopefully a little colour into the otherwise drab world of western gaming experiences. There's more to import Dreamcast gaming than an orange swirl...

5 comments:

Jeff said...

Nice first post man! I love rare Dreamcast stuff, and your VMU collection makes me miss my red Giant Gram VMU that has been MIA since I left home for college (I still have the red dust cap for it somehow tho...). Again, awesome post and look forward to reading more of your work in the future!

Tomleecee said...

Yeah! Impressive stuff there - I had no idea there were so many types of VMU. I've got a blue one, but that's about at far out as it gets! Also, never seen that train controller either - maybe we could send one to Southwest Trains, might help them get their asses in gear (and on time, perhaps). I almost won an auction for a replacement clear-blue DC shell at the weekend but was outbid at the last moment. Top stuff dude!

Azul said...

Wow, that Densha De Go controller is gorgeous. Would it be easy to find things like this for Dreamcast in Japan?

fatherkrishna said...

Excellent post and quite an awe inspiring collection! Nice one mate!

peteralabaster said...

I think with the VMU's the net and the cloud has taken over. Now people have apps on their phones which are spinoffs of games - i know, not the same, but unfortunately companies aren't going to spend a fortune on something so restricted as this again