|The System SP. Picture taken from www.system16.com - a great resource for|
all things arcade related, so check it out.
|This is how the Dreamcast ended up. A sad/hilarious sight indeed.|
First though, a reminder to check out the previous parts in our 'Expanding the Dreamcast Collection' series:
- Part 1: The NAOMI Connection
- Podcast: DreamPod Episode 30 - NAOMI Special
- Part 2: The Hikaru Seven
- Special: The Sega Driving Simulator
- Part 3: NAOMI 2
- Part 4: Atomiswave
- Special: A Quick Look at Dolphin Blue
As with the Atomiswave before it, the System SP came into existence as another means to make use of Sega’s excess stock of Dreamcast and NAOMI components. By 2005, Sega had already moved their flagship titles away from NAOMI/Dreamcast related arcade hardware onto newer systems such as the Chihiro and Triforce. Moreover, the true follow up to the NAOMI, the Lindbergh was only a matter of months from release; so rather than use the System SP for their big hitters, less graphically intense titles such as those marketed for children found a home on the on the younger sibling.
|Before the DCJY, Sega struggled to find a festering hole big|
enough for their excess SH-4 and Power VR2 chips.
System SP or Aurora?
When my attention was first drawn to the system, it was known online as the Aurora. Why this was so, I can’t explain but it seems to be a case of mistaken identity. You see, one of the many Saturn code-names was Aurora. Since then, scans of official Sega produced manuals have surfaced online confirming the name as 'System SP.'
|Picture courtesy of Sega Retro|
Here are the tech specs for the System SP, as listed over at System 16:
- CPU: Hitachi SH-4 32-bit RISC CPU (200 MHz 360 MIPS / 1.4 GFLOPS)
- Graphic Engine: PowerVR2 (PVR2DC)
- Sound Engine: ARM7 Yamaha AICA 45 MHZ (with internal 32-bit RISC CPU, 64 channel ADPCM)
- Main Memory: 32 MByte
- Graphic Memory: 16 MByte
- Sound Memory: 8 MByte
- Network: CPU - AMD AU1500-333MBD, BOOT - 2MByte Flash, RAM - 8Mbyte, Ethernet PHY
- Game Media: Compact Flash 256Mbyte
- On Board Program Storage: 128Mbyte (8x128MBit or 2x512Mbit) or 512Mbyte (8x512Mbit) Flash Memory
- Security IC: PIC16 Dongle
- Simultaneous Colors: Approx. 16,770,000 (24bits)
- Polygons: 2.5 Million polys/sec
- Rendering Speed: 500 M pixel/sec
- Additional Features: Bump Mapping, Fog, Alpha-Bending (transparency), Mip Mapping (polygon-texture auto switch), Tri-Linear Filtering, Anti-Aliasing, Environment Mapping, and Specular Effect.
For those big Thomas the Tank fans among you, I’ve got a bit of bad news – the System SP Thomas game never did make it to a home console. It's not all doom and gloom however, as there were a few ports/ spin off games released on portables, so with nothing else to fill this space with, I may as well tell you a bit about those. Yawn.
|A few of the System SP ports and spin offs.|
From what I can tell, Mushi King and Dinosaur King are Pokémon like affairs where you travel around collecting, training and battling beetles and dinosaurs respectively. Oshare Majo on the other hand is a rhythm action game that allows players to customise the appearance of their character with clothes and accessories corresponding to collected cards. There were two more Mushi King games released on the Nintendo DS, but judging by the user reviews on the official Famitsu website, all five games range from bad to average. Probably not worth learning Japanese to play these then.
|Oshare no Majo cards and card reader.|
The only game of the five that doesn't utilise the card reader is Dinosaur King for the DS. It also happens to be the one that got a western release, so there you go - enjoying an obscure System SP spin-off is within your grasp! Or maybe not, as the case may be; the game currently has an average critic score of 61/100 on Metacritic after all. Perhaps using the word enjoying is giving far too much credit to the game.
Aside from these DS/GBA games, there were three more titles released on the Pico and Advanced Pico Beena Systems. Member? Member those? Them failed Sega consoles that looked a bit like one of those books for babies with thick cardboard pages? Yeah, me neither. My fellow Dreamcast Junkyard writer Aaron 'The Gagaman' Foster has one though...the saddo.
Of all the titles, Dekarisu is perhaps the most well known in the west, as photos of this beast of a cabinet seem to get shared periodically among the gaming and weaboo communities online. It also happens to be one of the few games on the list, I’ve had the pleasure (or displeasure) of playing myself, so I can tell you with quite some confidence that the game doesn’t live up to the grandeur of its gargantuan pair of rigid joysticks. You see, rather than the traditional 10 x 16 Tetris grid we’re all used to, the game squashes things down to a 6 x 10, making games feel claustrophobic and shortening their length considerably. Sure, chuck 100 yen in the slot to get your greasy mitts all over those massive joysticks, but after one quick go, you’ll be done. Alternatively, save that 100 yen and simply pretend to play like when u woz a likkle kiddy winkle.
|Look at those joysticks! Shame about the game though...|
While clearly designed with the family in mind, Brick People remains one of the more interesting titles on the system, largely due to the the rather ingenious way its mechanics break the fourth wall. Players stack physical plastic bricks in front of the screen to help the onscreen 'brick heads' eat various items on screen. Periodically, the 'brick bully' destroys the carefully built wall by violently shaking the cabinet, toppling the player's bricks in the real-life-world. Check out this YouTube video for a better sense of how the game works. While a mobile version of the game was released, it paled in comparison to using the original cabinet and has since been removed from sale anyway.
|Brick People, worth a try just for the novelty of it all.|
So there you have it, the System SP. I told you not to bother reading this tat and you probably listened to be fair. I'm just talking to myself at this point...here's the usual list of crap at the bottom for those that like lists and stuff.
Battle Police (2009)
Beetle DASH! (2008)
Block Pipo/Brick People (2009)
Dinosaur King (2005)
Dinosaur King Operation Dinosaur Rescue (2006)
Dinosaur King 2 (2005)
Dinosaur King : D Team vs The Alpha Fortress (2008)
Disney Magical Dance (2008)
Future Police Patrol Chase (2009)
Isshou ni Turbo Drive (2005)
Isshou ni Wan Wan (2005)
Maniac Panic Ghost (2007)
Marine and Marine (2008)
Mirage World (2005)
Monopoly: The Medal (2005)
Mushi King 2K6 (2006)
Mushi King 2K7 (2007)
Mushi King: Battle Terminal (2005)
Oshare Majo: Love and Berry 1st and 2nd Collection (2006)
Oshare Majo: Love and Berry 3rd, 4th and 5th Collection (2007)
Tetris Dekaris (2009)
Thomas the Tank Engine (2006)
Brick People (2011) - iOS
Kodai Ouja Dinosaur King: D Kids Adventure Dino Slash! Dinosaur Battle!! (2007) - Advanced Pico Beena
Kodai Ouja Dinosaur King: Nanatsu no Kakera (2007) - DS
Mushi King Greatest Champion he no Michi (2005) - GBA/DS
Mushi King Atsumete Asobou Kouchuu Zukan (2005) - Pico
Mushi King Mori no Tami no Densetsu: Minna de Tanken! Kouchuu no Mori (2005) - Advanced Pico Beena
Mushi King Greatest Champion he no Michi 2 (2006) - DS
Mushi King Nebu-Hakase to Kazu Katachi ni Challenge! (2006) - Advanced Pico Beena
Mushi King Super Collection (2007) - DS
Oshare Majo Love and Berry (2004) - DS
And that concludes out 'Expanding the Dreamcast Collection' series. Hope you enjoyed it! Any time you want to revisit this glorious series, just click on the orange ribbon under the page header and you'll have all this wondrous information at your finger tips. Eye tips. Whatever.