An Indiegogo campaign has been announced for the VM2: a modern redesign of the Dreamcast‘s hybrid handheld console and memory card. Like many of the features the Dreamcast is notable for, the original VMU was as innovative as it was flawed—its screen displays useful information in some titles and its ability to play mini-games is a charming novelty, but its paltry storage and extraordinarily short battery life have kept it from aging gracefully. Developed by Chris Diaoglou of DreamMods, the VM2 aims to address some of these longstanding complaints while adding new functionality.
- In addition to having a backlight that can be toggled on or off, the VM2’s display has 4x the resolution of the original (48×32 vs 96×64). Allegedly a higher resolution VMU is something that the original Dreamcast SDK supported but no commercial products were ever released to take advantage of it.
- The VM2 has internal storage equal to a retail VMU, but it can be expanded by inserting a MicroSD card up to 32GB in size. For reference, an OEM VMU’s storage pool is 128KB.
- Instead of running from two small CR2032 batteries, the VM2 has an internal LiPo battery that can be charged either from a Dreamcast controller or through a Micro-USB cable.
- A PC utility (currently Windows only) can manage save files and even stream the VM2 LCD’s output over USB.
- Not really a feature but something worth mentioning is that there hasn’t been any mention of per-game memory card functionality—like you would see from the MemoryCard Pro—which would obviously require support and collaboration from ODE and/or homebrew developers.
While the VM2 seems extremely promising and this doesn’t appear to be DreamMods first hardware project to reach maturity, it goes without saying that treating crowdfunding campaigns like a pre-order has always carried some degree of risk. Any interested consumers should do their due diligence before putting money down for an unreleased product. Still, for the community’s sake I hope this pans out because my ear drums can only take so much of that VMU screech every time my Dreamcast boots up. 😉