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Could add-on peripherals have increased the Dreamcast’s power?

There’s a simple question every longtime Dreamcast fan has pondered every so often – “Would Dreamcast games have looked better graphically if it hadn’t been prematurely discontinued?” Or perhaps you’ve even wondered if the Dreamcast could have possibly ran games like Grand Theft Auto 3 or Need For Speed?

We might never know the answer, but legendary developer Yu Suzuki did say once in an interview that the Dreamcast’s graphics could have gone “twice the level of Shenmue. However, other developers have said the Dreamcast would have problems with ports of those games because its RAM was very limited compared to the other sixth-generation consoles, like the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

However, a well-known solution used by SEGA in the past could have been used to increase the Dreamcast’s power: add-ons.

Maybe you’re thinking it’s a crazy idea because SEGA had already made big mistakes in the past with others add-ons, like the 32X or SEGA CD, but when you look at the Dreamcast hardware, it’s easy to realize the Dreamcast was made for them in mind.

Some good examples are the Dreamcast Karaoke add-on and the unreleased Dreamcast Zip Drive, both of which attach to the expansion port occupied by the Dreamcast’s modem. So, why couldn’t add-ons have increased the Dreamcast’s power like SEGA did with the Genesis, Sega CD and 32-X? Or what about the Saturn with its extended RAM cartridges?

Of course, this is just a theory, however, if the Dreamcast had had more time, I believe SEGA could have added more RAM, giving way for games like GTA 3 to run gloriously on our beloved 128-bit console.

It’s worth to remember that SEGA had already showed the Dreamcast DVD player. While games on this format were never confirmed, it shows that SEGA was already looking for some solutions to the Dreamcast’s disadvantages.

What do you think? Could add-ons have helped the Dreamcast in its war against the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube? Do you think the Dreamcast could have been like the Genesis with different add-ons to increase its power?

We might never know, but we can have some fun with our imagination.

Luiz Nai

I’m huge fan of Sega, I have been playing Sega games for over 20 years and games like Shenmue, Skies of Arcadia, Panzer Dragoon Saga and also all the Arcades race games are my favorites. Besides of playing Sega games I have a post degree in Game development and I enjoy playing guitar in my free time.

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  • Sh0X

    Dreamcast could have been better with 32 MB of System Ram, 16 MB Video and 8 MB of Sound Ram, even if it was 100$ more expensive from my point of view was worth it. Also there would have been no difference with Naomi which means straight ports from Arcade w/o lifting.

    • TigerGD

      If they were going to upgrade, they might as well have gone more like Naomi 2 and added a T&L unit. VF4 looks so much better in the arcade than on PS4, but an upgraded Dreamcast could have matched the arcade.

  • Pentagen

    Add-ons wouldn’t have helped. Unlike previous Sega game consoles, the Dreamcast had no high speed expansion port. The processing power that the Dreamcast had in the beginning was all the processing power that it would ever have to work with. The best that could have happened was software developers better optimizing their code to make for superior-performing games.

  • TechJunkie69

    A $99-149 expansion like the Karaoki add-on except with DVD and Broadband could have worked, no additional processing power. The expansion bandwidth could easily handle both and could have been released the same timeframe as the PS2. As this relates to games it could have allowed them to support larger games at the expense of exclusivity to the add-on, but the overall cost of the system would still have been competitive with the PS2. Sega’s management however is awful, so of course we never got that.

    • agentboolen

      In the early 2000’s I don’t think a DVD player add-on could have been added at that price tag. That was right at the beginning of that technology and of course that’s when prices are highest. Reason it probably never came out was most likely price and the fact the life span if the system wasn’t that long.

      • Dean Piper

        it doesnt need to be with dvd and broadband, it could of been ram and broadband

  • John Perkins

    I always wondered about this. I would have loved to of seen the full capabilities of the DC even without the expansions. Shenmue and Headhunter really looked great for the time.

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