Treamcast DreamPhoto DC Photo Hunter is now playable with a standard Dreamcast controller

I know you clicked on this article because you're dying to know what the hell that title means. But first, a confession. This is not a 'new' news story. It's fairly old news - especially for those who spend their time poking around the more obscure corners of the Dreamcast online community. But it's something I saw several months ago while absent-mindedly wandering the lesser-travelled backroads of the information super-highway, and subsequently forgot to write a post about. So now, months later, I'm making amends for that criminal oversight.

What am I blathering about? It's convoluted, but bear with me and we'll get there. Back in 2015 I happened across a rather odd peripheral on eBay and so - naturally - I bought it. Said peripheral was the Treamcast DreamPhoto mouse (pictured above). Treamcast in itself is quite an obscure little device, and for those not in the know, it's basically a semi-portable clone Dreamcast that comes with a 5" TFT screen attached and its own carry case (the image below shows two units loaned to us by Quang of Asobitech at Play Expo Blackpool 2018). They are very cool little units and quite rare these days, and will set you back a healthy chunk of change if you want to own one in present year. Still with me?

The two colour variants of the Treamcast

Relatively little is really known about the Treamcast, other than it originates from China, but what we do know is that the outfit which manufactured the system also released - in very limited quantities - bespoke peripherals and even software designed specifically for the Treamcast. One such peripheral was the aforementioned DreamPhoto mouse, which we investigated here at the Junkyard back when I originally bought one in 2015. The thing is, even though it could operate as a standard Dreamcast mouse and was compatible with official (or rather, genuine) Dreamcast consoles and software, the 'game' that the DreamPhoto mouse was intended to be used with was something of an enduring mystery.

"Dring you play the DC Photo Hunter..."

As detailed in our original DreamPhoto mouse article, the broken English on the sides of the box made reference to something called DC Photo Hunter, but searching online back then turned up practically nothing. Since 2015, more information has surfaced online as to what DC Photo Hunter actually is, and earlier in 2020 the software also miraculously turned up. But not just as the original DC Photo Hunter. No, that would be too simple for this tale. What actually turned up was DC Photo Hunter as a downloadable .CDI, but with the added bonus that it had been reverse engineered and compatibility with standard Dreamcast controllers added.

So in summary, a super obscure piece of unofficial software, designed for use with an unofficial, bootleg mouse designed for use with an unofficial bootleg system, has been released...but with a hack added to allow you to play it with an official Dreamcast controller...which is - as far as I can tell - not a feature that the original, unhacked version of DC Photo Hunter shipped with. Got it?


Anyway, this hacked DC Photo Hunter software is now available courtesy of megavolt85, the same legend responsible for the recent Atomiswave developments, and as I mentioned earlier in this article it was actually quietly released back in March 2020. A video of the hacked DC Photo Hunter software is below (there's a video from March from DC Selfboot here, in case our video is blocked in your country); and there's a link to the file over at Obscure Gamers.

DC Photo Hunter as an experience isn't really much to write home (or an entire blog post) about - it's essentially a 'spot the difference' type affair where you have to move the pointer over sets of images and select all the places where the two pictures differ before the timer runs out. There are three game modes - single player, two-player and a battle mode, but they're all essentially the same: find the differences in the images before the time runs out. Interestingly, the game does punish you with a timer reduction of you decide to try and cheat - if you select an area that has no changes, or just start clicking around randomly because you can't find any differences then you will be penalised.

Ah yes, those familiar blue Treamcast bear mascots. Erm...

In case you were wondering, DC Photo Hunter is not licensed by Disney

The title screen cites an outfit called XingHong Electronics as the originators of the DC Photo Hunter software, but a cursory search gives nothing but a few listings for Chinese company registrations.

The images used are an odd bunch, ranging from scenes from Disney movies to paintings of fruit; and there's also some rather catchy background music, which upon investigation appears to come from Swedish pop group Smike.dk's eponymous 1998 debut album. Whether this soundtrack was included in the original version of DC Photo Hunter or was added by megavolt85 is unclear.

I suppose as a free bundled title with the DreamPhoto mouse it was a nice diversion, and as a Treamcast-specific title it is definitely an interesting curio. Oh, and there's also the whole digital preservation side of things too.

Battle mode allows two players to face off against each other

Some delightfully colourful gourds and grapes

So there we are, then. Five years after my original Treamcast DreamPhoto article, we now know for sure what the enigmatic DC Photo Hunter actually was and is...and as a bonus we can all now sample its obscure delights using a standard Dreamcast controller. Nice.

Have you tried DC Photo Hunter? Do you own a Treamcast or the DreamPhoto mouse? What's with that music? Why Disney screenshots? Why is the sky blue? What is your name? Who am I? What is this? All of these answers and more in the comments please. Or on Twitter if you prefer.

1 comment:

Ray said...

The design of the mouse reminds me of one of the later variants of the Microsoft Mouse: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Mouse#/media/File:Microsoft_Serial_Mouse_2.0A-8521.jpg