Expert Opinion: Early Release / Debug Dreamcast

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Please check the other forums in the Dreamcast section before posting here to see if your topic would fit better in those categories. Example: A new game/homebrew release would go in the New Releases/Homebrew/Emulation section: http://dreamcast-talk.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=5 or if you're having an issue with getting your Dreamcast to work or a game to boot it would go in the Support section: http://dreamcast-talk.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=42
Chrono8
noob
Posts: 1

Expert Opinion: Early Release / Debug Dreamcast

Post#1 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:55 am

Hi there,

I am new to the forum and wanted to pick your collective brain if possible. I have a Dreamcast console that was given to me as a prize from Midway Games many years ago. A ‘System Disc 2’, ‘Boot Disc’, ‘2 x visual memory units’ and ‘2 x controllers’ also came with the console at the time. This was at a time when the Dreamcast was being phased out and the company was no longer developing / publishing for it. As such it would have previously been used by their production department.

As such there is a possibility that this console may be a debug / developer unit and might be considered rare. It is a NTSC-US version. I know that the release date for the Dreamcast in the US was apparently on 09.09.99.
From the label on the back of the console, the manufacture date is ‘May 1999’, so well ahead of official launch, which makes sense as Midway Games would have needed the console prior to mainstream release, so that they could already start working on game development (eg. Hydro Thunder, Ready 2 Rumble, etc.). I believe that early versions of the console would have been made available within the games industry for this purpose.

I have looked online for other examples of NTSC-US consoles and cannot find any other instances of such an early manufacture date, they are all typically in September 1999 or beyond. There is also a ‘TK’ next to the manufacture date on my console on the label. I assume that this may represent the area that it was manufactured in, I’m guessing Tokyo perhaps? Again, I can’t find any other examples of this online. Other consoles seem to have ‘WK’ or ‘AE’ on the label instead. Finally, on the back label there is a small rectangular box on the bottom right which states ‘NTSC – U’. To the left of this is a circle with a zero inside. Once again, this is the only example of this that I can find online, other Dreamcast consoles have either 1, 2, etc.

I would be grateful if anyone could tell me anything more about this item and whether it is likely to be a debug console. I would imagine that there must have been a pre-release limited run of Dreamcasts allocated to the games industry and that this may be one of them. Any information or thoughts on value on this and the system disc would be very welcome.

Best regards,

Daniel
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mrneo240
Toy Commander
Posts: 563

Re: Expert Opinion: Early Release / Debug Dreamcast

Post#2 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 3:04 pm

whats on the "dc boot" disc ?

|darc|
undertow
Posts: 29

Re: Expert Opinion: Early Release / Debug Dreamcast

Post#3 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 5:26 pm

May 1999 is an extremely early date for a U.S. console, but I don't know the date distribution well

TK is normal (there are a bunch of codes like WK, AE, SD, GS, SA, UD, TK) -- this is manufacturer
SD is Seiyo D, SA is Sanwa Denki, AE is Asahi Electron, TK is TKR, UD is Ugo Denshi, etc.

I doubt it is any kind of debug console. Can you tell me the BIOS revision?
To find it, insert the System Disc 2, insert a controller on port D, and hold the Y button as the software boots.

You will get a menu screen that displays the BIOS revision:
Image



if it's not one listed here: https://dreamcast.wiki/BIOS
then you have a currently undumped version firmware

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CD AGES
Shark Patrol
Posts: 2367
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Re: Expert Opinion: Early Release / Debug Dreamcast

Post#4 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:42 pm

I have looked online for other examples of NTSC-US consoles and cannot find any other instances of such an early manufacture date, they are all typically in September 1999 or beyond


I actually own multiple US Dreamcast consoles with manufacture dates before September launch. I have units with manufacture dates of May 99 as well as August 99.

From the label on the back of the console, the manufacture date is ‘May 1999’, so well ahead of official launch, which makes sense as Midway Games would have needed the console prior to mainstream release, so that they could already start working on game development (eg. Hydro Thunder, Ready 2 Rumble, etc.). I believe that early versions of the console would have been made available within the games industry for this purpose.

Yes, but there are more reasons for early manufactured US hardware beyond the publishing/dev industry.
The system had a multimillion dollar campaign to promote the system well ahead it's official street date. We're talking US Road Tours, Concerts, Retail Kiosks, Magazine publications, and more importantly the Rental Industry. Thru a collaboration with most Hollywood Video chains across the US, gamers where able to rent the system and be able to play it at the comfort of their own home well before the official launch release.
It's just early release US Rev 0 DC. Tho it's pretty cool that it has the Midway property logo on it. I have one with the TDK logo when I used to work at one of their subsidiary studio many years ago.
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Bob Dobbs
Sub Genius
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Re: Expert Opinion: Early Release / Debug Dreamcast

Post#5 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:21 pm

Wow, no modem, just a blank panel instead.
Regards,
Bob Dobbs

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Wombat
Power Stone
Posts: 586

Re: Expert Opinion: Early Release / Debug Dreamcast

Post#6 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 3:55 am

I second what CD AGES is saying, this is a really cool kit. The same units (albeit with a kiosk sticker) also ended up in kiosks (same mfd) etc.

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runkthepunk
Anarki
Posts: 96

Re: Expert Opinion: Early Release / Debug Dreamcast

Post#7 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:03 am

Bob Dobbs wrote:Wow, no modem, just a blank panel instead.


Yeah they are pretty cool, I have an early 'Asian' console that a friend of mine imported from Hong Kong way before the UK release date and it also has the blank modem panel along with the cooling pipes inside.

I was under the impression that blank modems were on these asian machines, kiosk units and possibly rental machines a well so it's good to see another type of machine rocking the blank!

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