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The Dreamcast VMU is one of the most innovative peripherals ever created for a games console, and I feel that Sega have designed more than a mere memory card here, and everyone will incorporate this idea in some way or other! The VMU stands for Visual Memory Unit, and is currently the only Official Sega product offering the save game facility, but it is also the best memory card available for your Dreamcast.
It can save 200 blocks (1MB) worth of memory, which will enable you to save around 10 different games on average, depending on the type of file you're saving! Soul Calibur, for instance, only takes up 9 blocks, with only the VMU mini style games and racing games taking up a fair amount of memory. And that leads me to my other point - gaming on the move!
The VMU is much more than a memory card. It has to buttons, and a D-pad to allow you to play games on it. The games don't have amazing graphics, but they consist of clever animations, and there are a few classics available for you to download to the VMU via the Dreamcast Internet. There's Pac-Man, Tetris, Godzilla (very confusing as it is in Japanese), Various football games, Space Invaders, Etch-a-sketch, and all the mini games that are included with many Dreamcast games. There is the Chao adventure from Sonic adventure, a Sega GT racing and training mini game, some Soul Calibur games (online only - not from the game), some from Quake 3, and many more!
The games aren't that complex, and don't really require much thought, but they're certainly worth playing a couple of times. I think the bets mini game is from Sonic adventure.
The VMU is only £19.99, and there are various online shops that will sell them at a pound or two off this price. It's packaged well (as usual), and fits comfortable in the palm of your hand. Batteries are included, but they will run out within 3 months if you remove the white 'pull' tab from the back of the unit. So only remove this when playing games and keep it in a safe place!
The VMU is only available in white/grey for the UK and Europe, but we should soon get some of the more colourful and exciting colours like the Japanese gamers currently have. I own 3, although I don't really need this many. I'd recommend buying 1 VMU for gaming, and purchasing 3rd party memory cards for game saving.
It's the most inventive memory card on the market, and is well worth the money. Available at most high street stores!
I recommend the following for VMU game downloads (please note this will only work through the Dreamcast): www.booyaka.com and www.VMU-centre.co.uk
I have been thoroughly impressed with all 3 of my VMU; each has served, and is continuing to serve its purpose, which is of course to act as a memory card. I cannot think why no there games companies have 'borrowed' this idea from Sega, as it is a sure-fire winner. Perhaps, with the X-Box there will be the same sort of thing - after all the Sega man who created Space Channel 5 is redesigning the control pad for the machine, and maybe it will incorporate similar style memory cards, as there appears to a slot with a screen space available!
I've been playing a lot of etch a sketch recently, as my TV has been unavailable, so I thought I'd use the little VM to play some games on! I managed to draw a tree! How nice!! Anyway, Sega GT is VMU compatible, as is Quake 3 Arena, and I've played a lot of the mini Chao adventure (virtual pet) style game, and the best thing is that it's only £19.99 making it the most affordable machine on the market - superb! Just find a mate with a Dreamcast if you haven't got one and then start downloading the games to your hearts content. It only takes a minute; you could be playing Pac man in no time at all!
The VMU is as dinky as it is impressive, and although it can only recreate 8-bit graphics, it has a superb control system and is easy to use. The packaging is very smart as well – a small box with the usual Dreamcast livery, and a nice see through plastic part so that you can see what you’re buying, is also included. The instruction manual is also very useful, you can really tell that they made an effort to make it as detailed as possible – they had to fold it up as it was bigger than the box!
You can get them at auction sites all around the country, but they don’t depreciate in value that much so expect to pay around £15.00 for a second hand unit, and you will need to buy a new battery for it too. The best prices I’ve seen have been at www.gameplay.com where you can get them for £17.99.
You may well have heard that there will be a new VMU memory card, but you may as well drop the U because it won’t implement an LCD screen! Instead you’ll be treated to a full 4MB worth of space, so you’ll probably only need one card! I still recommend you keep you’re VMU though as it’s worth just playing games on it anyway! The most useful Dreamcast device other than the controller - excellent stuff!
Thanks for reading, I hope this update is as good as you'd expect - it's pretty hard to find what to say about a memory card!
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