Editor’s note: I had no idea that the Dreamcast VMU played games. I’m surprised by the variety of these games. Sounds like Sega had a pretty good idea. Matt details his favorite VMU games for the Dreamcast. -Jason
The Dreamcast Visual Memory Unit (known to most Dreamcast players as the VMU) was a great piece of innovative tech. Instead of just being another memory card, Sega created a self-contained device that could play minigames, manage data, show us game information while we played, and serve as a mini personal data assistant (PDA) in some instances. It’s a shame that this idea didn’t catch on in some form in our age of hard drives and cloud computing.
In honor of this little wonder, and as a companion piece to my previous article, I’m highlighting some of the coolest Dreamcast VMU games and apps. Download them to your VMU and celebrate a great system.
Chao Adventure 1 and 2
One of the first VMU apps that many gamers encountered, Chao Adventure 1 and 2 are solid Tamagotchi-style games. You take care of your pet Chao while away from the Sonic Adventure games. You feed, exercise, and train your Chao to raise its stats and abilities. Once you’ve returned to your console, you could transfer the critter back to the game and have them compete in events and other activities. Chao Adventure 2 provides more options and activities.
Sega Pocket GT
The Japanese version of Sega GT features a very cool VMU game, Sega Pocket GT. You could download three sets of tracks for the game: Japan, Europe, and U.S., with each set featuring six tracks. Each track pits you against the clock as you dodge rocks and other cars. It’s surprisingly fun for a VMU title and a cool time-waster. It also has a training mode.
Soulcalibur Game Pack
Japanese gamers get all of the fun. The Japanese version of Soulcalibur featured the three-in-one Soulcalibur game pack. The first game has you bouncing treasure off of Voldo’s stomach à la Circus Atari. The next game is a word puzzle where you match letters to make words, and the last is a full-fledged Soulcalibur text adventure. While the last two games require an understanding of Japanese language, they’re good examples of a developer trying something new.
This is a case of a mediocre game getting a solid VMU minigame. Zombie Revenge has another Tamagotchi-style game where you train your little zombie hunters to gain points, which you could then transfer back to the main game. If you’re Tamagotchi’d out, you can try your hand at some zombie fishing. It’s bizarre stuff, but it’s perfect for the Dreamcast.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 character trader
Capcom pulled out all of its tricks for the home version of Marvel vs. Capcom 2. The game has a VMU app that allows you to trade characters with your friends and other players. Do you really want Juggernaut and don’t want to sludge through the unlocking process? Just trade your Baby Bonnie Hood and you’re on your way.
Along with being possibly the greatest Dreamcast game ever, Skies of Arcadia has a ton of extras to woo role-playing-game fans. One such extra is the VMU RPG Pinta’s Quest. Here you could control sky pirate Pinta as you play through random encounters to earn items and money. As you level your character, you would gain better items and could even get items at a traveling trade post. You could transfer all of this stuff back to the game. It’s one of the best VMU games.
The VMU is a nice piece of hardware and an iconic feature of the Dreamcast’s legacy. While you’re playing your Dreamcast games to celebrate its birthday, grab a watch battery and revive your VMU. It deserves it.
What other VMU games or apps would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments what games you enjoyed on your VMU.