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Showing posts with label Virtual On Force. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virtual On Force. Show all posts

Expanding the Dreamcast Collection: Part 2 - The Hikaru Seven

In part 2 of my Expanding the Dreamcast Collection series, we’ll be covering one of the other systems in the Dreamcast family, the Sega Hikaru. Much of the information from part 1 (such as how to play Naomi games) applies here, so if you haven’t already, I suggest you go and read part 1 now.

Back now? OK, great  - let’s get started.
Part 2: The Hikaru Seven
The Sega Hikaru was released into the arcades in the year 1999 becoming the third system in the Dreamcast family (the first and second being the Naomi and Dreamcast respectively). Development of the Hikaru was born out of the necessity to convincingly recreate fire, water and the subsequent lighting and particle effects required for such a task in the game 'Shouboushi Brave Firefighters.' Rendering such effects in a semi realistic manner was cutting edge at the time and beyond the capabilities of the original Naomi hardware, so a beefed up version of the system was hastily developed at the request of the game's development team.

The specs of the Hikaru differ from the Naomi in that it utilises a custom Sega GPU and doubles-up on many components; 2 x Hitachi SH-4 CPUs and double the amount of RAM and VRAM. Furthermore, Hikari units are standalone systems not designed for games to be easily interchangeable like the carts seen on the Naomi. Each unit comes with a ROM board containing a specific game fixed in-place inside a heavy duty metal case, much like the House of the Dead 2 board and the predecessors to the Naomi, the Sega Model 2 and 3.
Left: Model 2. Right: Hikaru
The word 'Hikaru (光/ひかる)' means 'to shine' in Japanese, and comes from the system’s ability to generate lighting effects far superior to other gaming hardware at the time. Hikaru was in fact the first piece of arcade hardware cable of rendering scenes with phong shading and Brave Fire Fighters was the first EVER game to use the shading technique. On a side note, the first game for home consoles to use this kind of shading (albeit on far more limited scale) was Space Channel 5, giving a shimmer to Ulala's dress. So there you go, another example of the Dreamcast family leading the pack in terms of advancements in the games industry.