A Quick Look At The Dreamconnector

For some reason, the notion of using peripherals designed for another console with the Dreamcast has always fascinated me. Much like emulation, it's the idea of tricking the hardware into doing something it wasn't intended to do. Stupid machine. Look at it, doing my bidding. Oh how I laugh at the stupidity of machines. And, until Skynet gains self awareness and smites me for my hubris I shall continue with my arrogant taunting. To this end I recently purchased the Dreamconnector, a cool little device hailing from China that promises to allow the user the God-like power to trick the idiot Dreamcast into accepting Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation, PC PS/2 keyboards and even steering wheels as legitimate input devices.
Who's 'thinking' now? Eh?! And as I stand here in my pants screaming hysterically at an inanimate console, I find myself and return to a reality in which I'm aware that a device called Total Control also exists, but as far as I know it doesn't allow for the use of a PS/2 keyboard as well as controllers.
Much like the Game Heaven controller I looked at a few months ago, the Dreamconnector comes in a sort of blister pack with a removable cardboard backing and this is completely covered in Engrish of the highest standard. The little notice stating that it is not 'provided by the sega company' [sic] is probably not required, as you can tell this thing has come straight from the back door of a sweat shop. That said, after using the device for a while now (well, a couple of hours) the back of the packaging is probably the only negative I can find with the Dreamconnector.
From the images, you'll note that the Dreamconnector looks a bit like a tiny SNES. Albeit one with a Saturn port on one side, a PlayStation port on the front, and a PS/2 connector on the other side. You plug the Dreamcast connector into the console (adding a VMU in a vertical position, much in the same way as you do with a lot of these Chinese knock-off DC peripherals) and then connect your chosen controller. I started with the Sega Saturn pad and played a number of games including Capcom Vs SNK, V-Rally 2, Sega Rally and King of Fighters '99. It functioned perfectly and - dare I say it - actually enhanced the games I played!

Executing specials in fighting games is made so easy with the Saturn's D-pad and even in the two racing games, the digital control actually made it easier to control the vehicles. The button layout of the Saturn pad is pretty much the same as the four face buttons on the Dreamcast pad (A, B and X,Y arranged in a diamond) so that's taken care of, while the triggers are handled by Z and X. Obviously, these aren't analogue but it doesn't really matter. Quite literally, playing Dreamcast games with a Saturn controller enhances the experience no end. I also tried the NiGHTS 3D controller but the Dreamconnector didn't recognise it.
Moving on to the PS1 and PS2 Dual Shock controllers I used, they both worked perfectly well too. The only odd thing is that the right trigger is mapped to both L2 and R2, while the left trigger is mapped to L1 and R1 meaning in racers you have to have your trigger fingers at different heights on the back of the controller. The best bit about using the Dual Shock though, is that the analogue stick (the left one, anyway) is fully supported and when using the Dual Shock 2 the analogue triggers are also utilised. As with the Saturn controller, everything I played with the Dual Shock worked perfectly and again the buttons are in a diamond and so are mapped logically to the Dreamcast's face buttons.
I haven't got a PS/2 keyboard or a steering wheel for either the Saturn or PlayStation so I couldn't test the functionality of those, but from what I've seen so far of the Dreamconnector I have no doubt that it works exactly as you'd expect. Considering this is a cheaply made, unofficial product from China I have nothing but praise for it. Sure, it's hardly doing anything amazing (simply converting button commands), but it just works. And for the price of £19.99 I can't recommend it enough.

Thanks to James from the DCJY Facebook Group for the heads up on the eBay listing for the Dreamconnector.

3 comments:

Mongroovy said...

A device like this what would work for my old wireless xbox controllers would make my frickin' day.

fearanarchy said...

Where can this be ordered?

Tom Charnock said...

Got it off eBay - was a buy it now, and I don't think there are any left now. Get yourself on eBay and have a hunt around - you're bound to find one somewhere.