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VMU What?!

I mentioned a few posts ago that even though the Dreamcast is 15 years old (or 16, 17 or maybe even 32, depending on where/when you live), I'm still finding out things I never knew. Today, that happened again. I was looking at some of my VMUs whilst trying to find a game save for Sonic Adventure (don't ask - the answer you're looking for cannot be found unless you know the question, and to know that you must build an organic, planet-sized computer), and I noticed something odd about my rather rag-tag band of memory devices:

No, it wasn't that they're all battered and mostly minus their lids. Neither was it that they all have dead batteries (that's pretty standard after a week of use, to be honest). I already knew both of those things. What I actually noticed was this:

"Retinal scan complete, Judge McGruder"

Some of the official ones have swirls and some don't. After a brief flurry of Tweeting on that there Twitter, it became apparent that the ones with swirls are exclusively of the NTSC variety and the ones sans swirl are PAL variants. This is quite odd, as there really isn't any need to differentiate between the two flavours: both will work equally well in either a PAL or NTSC Dreamcast console or controller. It was suggested that the swirl was removed from the PAL VMUs due to the legal ramifications SOE faced due to the whole orange/blue swirl issue, but that doesn't wash as the swirls printed on VMUs are grey, not coloured.

Maybe it was just so that Sega could differentiate and identify stocks between the two regions, but it's still a nice little curio that I was totally unaware of up until now.


Marcone Antelius said...

Well if you think about it, it doesn't really have anything to do with region encoding. Its all about the game programming and Windows CE. I only have 4 VMUs and they're all the US version.

SirTea said...

I just found that out last year as well. I never thought those devices would do such a thing or were designed that way to begin with. I don't know if Sega wanted us to find that out.

Unknown said...

Think it may have actually been due to the legal issues with Tivola. At least with the system, the brand name for SEGA was on the boxes and console, whereas it's not on the VMUs.