Showing posts with label NEC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NEC. Show all posts

GDC 1999: Accessing The Dreamcast's PowerVR Features

If you're anything like me, you'll find documentation on literally any and every aspect of the Dreamcast to be utterly fascinating. From internal emails announcing the demise of the system, to service manuals detailing schematics; it's all part and parcel of the history of Sega's final console.

Next up in this adventure into the robustly obscure annals of Dreamcast history, we bequeath you with the lesser spotted presentation delivered by one Jason Powell to assembled delegates at GDC 1999. The topic of the presentation? Accessing the PowerVR 2 features under Windows CE, of course! As you can probably tell from the title, it's a real thrill ride through the features offered by the PowerVR 2 chipset and was apparently designed to show off the benefits of the graphics accelerator to potential Dreamcast developers.
The guts of the Dreamcast, with the SH-4 and PowerVR taking centre stage.
For those not aware, the NEC PowerVR 2 is the graphics chipset that the Dreamcast shared with the NAOMI arcade system, and which is essentially why arcade ports were so effortless. Paired with the 200Mhz Hitachi SH-4 processor, the two made for a fearsome combination and are the force behind the Dreamcast's awesome graphical prowess.
The presentation was delivered - according to the first slide - on March 18 at GDC 1999. On first glance, it does look very dry and is a far cry from the garish PowerPoint presentations we're all able to ham-fistedly knock together these days. It's not even in colour, for a start. That said, the content is the star here, with a pretty comprehensive look at what the PowerVR 2 offers in terms of specifications and abilities.

Looking through the presentation today, it all looks fairly tame, but by 1999 standards these specs were at the cutting edge of gaming technology, and I dare say many a developer who attended this conference would have been champing at the bit to get their hands on dev kits.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look as though the GDC Vault website has the actual presentation archived, and so we can't share any photos or video of Mr Powell delivering his keynote. For now at least, the slides are all we have as evidence that this event even took place.
If you'd like to download the full 16 page presentation and have a good look yourself, you can grab the Accessing PowerVR 2DC Features Under Windows CE presentation here, or by hitting the big blue magic button below.
Thanks go to our Facebook group moderator Jon Lee for grabbing this file from a (now defunct) news group back in the early 2000s.

A Quick Look At Seventh Cross: Evolution

The Dreamcast library is full of odd games, and really is a testament to how the Sega of yore was quite keen to push boundaries when it came to game design. Stuff like Seaman, Roommania #203, Samba de Amigo etc show how imaginative and downright wacky Sega's in-house development teams could get. But it wasn't just first party developers who took things a little bit left field when it came to the Dreamcast. There are some truly bizarre third party games on the Dreamcast, games that we'll probably never see the likes of again. Titles such as Lack of Love, Bomber hehhe! and Pen Pen Triicelon are all pretty strange by today's standards and for the time they were released offered a glimpse into the imaginations of designers who were doing things in the console sphere that was rarely seen. Another game that should be added to this category is Seventh Cross: Evolution, a game in which you start as an amoeba and literally play the game of life, evolving into new intelligent life forms and eventually shamble out of the primordial ocean and conquer the ancient landmasses of a prehistoric world.
When the Dreamcast was first announced and the console was being shown in magazines of the era, Seventh Cross was one game I vividly remember being really intrigued by, simply because it showed a sort of metallic humanoid walking around a barren archipelago. I'm not sure why it stuck in my mind but it just looked so weird and made me want to follow the development of the Dreamcast closely. Sadly, I never got to experience the game back then because it wasn't picked up for a PAL release and getting imported games wasn't something I was especially interested in back in those days. I would just buy what was on the shelves of Gamestation or Electronics Boutique and Seventh Cross: Evolution wasn't a game that ever made the leap across the pond.
A Japanese launch title, Seventh Cross: Evolution did make it to the US (the NTSC-J version is simply titled Seventh Cross, while the NTSC-U game is called Seventh Cross: Evolution) and it's the American version I recently managed to get my hands on and finally satisfy the curiosity that began all those years ago, after seeing that metallic bloke in those low quality screen grabs in magazines. I also have to be honest here - I went into this game totally blind as other than the few scant details I picked up about Seventh Cross: Evolution through magazine previews, it isn't a title I'd ever really investigated in any depth. So, join me as I try to make sense of what is a truly unique and deliciously bizarre little game...