The Sega Dreamcast was home to a number of unique and essential peripherals. Sega went all out to make their groundbreaking console an innovative experience, releasing quite a few accessories to enhance player experience. We'll take a look at some of the most noteworthy Dreamcast accessories - everything from your basic memory card (with a twist) to some of the more bizarre and innovative controllers and peripherals ever released.
VMU (Visual Memory Unit)
Obviously you're going to need at least one of these if you want to be able to save your games. Sure, you can get a basic memory card for a little cheaper, but you'll miss out on the iconic little screen that displays graphics and important information on your controller while you play. It's really handy for a game like Resident Evil: Code Veronica in particular, as you can quickly look down to see your health status rather than having to pause the game by entering the menu. And there's also the fact that the VMU is basically a little handheld console that lets you play mini-games on the go, like Chao Adventure (Sonic Adventure) and Pinta's Quest (Skies of Arcadia), that come included with some of your favorite games.
VGA Box/VGA Cable/HDMI Converter
In order to get the very best picture quality you can out of the Dreamcast, you're going to need one of these. Using a VGA box, VGA cable, or HDMI converter is the only way to get that sweet 640X480p image that the Dreamcast was known for. The VGA box is quite expensive these days, but VGA cables are usually cheap - Just keep in mind that not all games are VGA compatible so you'll need to keep a set of composite or S-video cables on hand for those games. You can also mod your Dreamcast with something like DCDigital HDMI, but this is expensive and requires taking your Dreamcast apart and some soldering skills - it's much easier to just buy an HDMI converter if HDMI output is the direction you want to go in.
If you're planning on playing one of the many fishing games on the Dreamcast, you're definitely going to want one of these. Sega Bass Fishing plays so much better with the fishing controller than it does with the standard controller. And that's not all - there are even a few non-fishing games that are compatible with this motion-sensing controller. You can also use this to play Soul Calibur, Zombie Revenge, and Virtua Tennis too if you so desire. So yeah, Virtua Tennis on the Dreamcast was basically Wii Sports tennis 6 years before the Wii was even a thing.
Samba de Amigo Maracas
One of the weirdest peripherals perhaps ever released, you're going to need some of these if you want to play Sonic Team's classic rhythm game Samba de Amigo. These motion-sensing maracas bring the arcade experience into the home and are a lot more responsive and accurate than the Wii remote controls for the Nintendo Wii version of the game. Honestly, you're probably going to want to want to buy two sets of these so you can play multiplayer - they're fairly expensive but well worth the cost.
The Dreamcast was obviously home to a ton of great arcade games, and the official arcade stick is the best way to play a lot of them if you're seeking an authentic arcade experience. If you're a fan of fighting games in particular the arcade stick is a must, as the standard Dreamcast controller just wasn't well-suited for 6-button fighting games.
You can't play Seaman without the Dreamcast microphone! Sega's iconic and bizarre virtual pet simulator where you talk to a fish-human hybrid is one of the must-have games in the Sega Dreamcast's library, and it requires this very unique-for-its-time and somewhat groundbreaking peripheral. You can also use it for online voice chat in Alien Front Online and Planet Ring, and even as a voice-activated button in Mr. Driller to drill the blocks.
Dreamcast Keyboard & Mouse
You're going to need the Dreamcast keyboard (or a keyboard adapter) if you want to play Sega's absolutely bonkers edutainment title The Typing of the Dead, so it's worth having for that reason alone. But you can also use it to communicate in online games like Phantasy Star Online or even browse the web if you're so inclined to attempt to do that on a Dreamcast these days. It's also great when paired with a mouse for some of the few first-person shooters released on the Dreamcast like Quake III: Arena and Unreal Tournament.
Jump Pack/Puru Puru Pack
The Dreamcast controller unfortunately didn't come with any rumble functionality out of the box, so you're going to need the Jump Pack if you want vibration feedback from your games. It's a pretty inexpensive accessory that thankfully doesn't require any batteries (unlike the Rumble Pak for the Nintendo 64), and the vibration feedback provided by the internal motor is strong, helping to provide just a little bit of extra immersion during gameplay.
Broadband internet was still in its infancy and hadn't managed to get many early adopters by the early-2000's, but that didn't stop Sega from releasing this forward-thinking peripheral. The Broadband adapter upgrades the standard 56k modem included with the Dreamcast to a blazing fast 100 Mbit per second for the few games released that actually supported it. Since it was released fairly late in the system's lifespan, it's fairly rare and pricy nowadays.
The Dreamcast Karaoke attachment turns your Sega Dreamcast into a karaoke machine! This peripheral was only released in Japan, where karaoke is extremely popular. The unit has support for two microphones, so you and a friend can sing some sweet duets together; Well, theoretically you could, as the Dreamcast karaoke unit is completely useless without being able to connect to Sega's online servers, so this is just a cool collector's item (although fans have been working on getting it functional again, so who knows, maybe someday you'll be able to drunkenly sing some karaoke in your living room on the Dreamcast!).
Neo Geo Pocket Dreamcast Link Cable
This little-known and barely-utilized accessory allowed you to transfer data between the Neo Geo Pocket Color and Dreamcast in a few games like Capcom Vs. SNK, The King of Fighters, and Cool Cool Toon. If you happen to have both a Dreamcast and a Neo Geo Pocket Color and the compatible games for both systems, this is a really cool little device which sadly didn't see many games released that took advantage of it.
The DreamEye camera was another forward-thinking device released by Sega for the Dreamcast, allowing users to take pictures and send them through e-mail, and also functioned as a webcam for video chat. There were plans for games that would utilize the DreamEye like Sony would later do with the EyeToy, but unfortunately this never came to fruition. It's still a really cool peripheral for its time that takes pictures at an amazing 3 whole megapixels!
Densha De Go Train Controller
If you ever dreamed of being a train conductor, this is the peripheral for you! Taito's Densha de Go controller is a must for any would-be conductors out there looking to play Densha de Go, a Japan-only train simulator. Two levers and a brake pedal are all you'll need to drive your train from station to station, picking up and dropping off passengers while trying to keep to a strict schedule. Think you can make the trains run on time?
|Dreamphone photo courtesy of estarland.com
Unfortunately this isn't a Dreamcast version of the Milton Bradley board game where you call guys to guess which one has a crush on you; Instead, it's a phone that you could connect to your Dreamcast to receive calls while you were using the internet. It was only released in Japan direct from Sega, so it's a very rare collector's curio that doesn't really serve any useful functionality today.