4X Memory Card

Were you one of the people back in the day who loaded up games like Phantasy Star Online, went to download a quest and found up you didn't have enough space because IT TAKES UP ALMOST THE WHOLE CARD! You were not alone. A common complaint of Sega's Virtual Memory Unit was that while it was a cool concept with some interesting features, with just 128kb of memory, it was just far too small. In response Sega set about designing a peripheral which could be used simply as a memory card unit and not a mobile gaming device as the VMU was originally intended. 

The Dreamcast 4X memory card was released in Japan on December 14 for a cool 4,800 yen (40 pounds), which was also twice the price of regular VMU (2,500 yen). The advantage the 4X is that it holds four times the capacity of a normal VMU (800 blocks of memory as opposed to the standard 200 blocks). However, the Dreamcast can only read memory cards with 200 blocks, so the data is divided into four and you have switch between the 'banks' of data using the switches on the top. These banks are indicated by small red LED and it's only a minor annoyance which is offset by the advantage of being able to keep all of your saves on one memory card. 

Fed up with having VMUs all over the place?

The screen and buttons of the regular VMU have been cut, no doubt to cut down on cost, so you wont be able to watch any of the in-game animations or messages which you would normally receive. This is a shame as it is one system's most unique features but at the same time as the unit does not require any battery power, you will no longer have to suffer the deafening screech due to a dead battery in your VMU when you turn on your Dreamcast. 

Released at the tale-end of the DC these are becoming rare!

Unfortunately, the memory card is not compatible with a small selection of titles. They are, Air Force Delta , F1 Grand Prix , Kita e White Illumination , CARRIER , Sakura momo kogekijo kojikoji, Spawn In The Demon's Hand , Sekaifushigidohatsugen! Trojan . Dynamite Cop 2 , 7 Hikan, Bikkuriman 2000, Maboroshi Tsukiyo, Go Taihei GOLD and Rayman The Great Escape! which aren't the biggest of releases for the system so I can't see it affecting many people.

Although an inherent problem with all memory cards, another slight annoyance is that certain files cannot be transferred to the 4X from a standard virtual memory unit. Luckily, these can easily be identified in the Dreamcast's menu system as the saves are colour-coded.

Black - Normal save file 
Red - Save file which cannot be moved 
Green - VMU application that you can use if you remove the VMU from the controller and have two charged CR2032 batteries inserted.

Sega also released a blue Phantasy Star Online version of the 4X memory card exclusively through their Dreamcast Direct store. Due to its rarity it tends to go for double the price of the regular 4X but can easily be picked up if you shop around.