Used Dreamcast games in Houston, Texas?
June 11, 2006 12:15 AM   Subscribe

Is there a used games store in Houston, Texas that still deals in Dreamcast stuff? (also, am I killing my Dreamcast?)

After wanting one since they came out, but not buying one, I finally e-bayed myself up a dreamcast. I've been happily playing Jet Grind Radio and Mr. Driller, but I'm looking to pick up some more games, and maybe some accessories. E-Bay is always an option but I really prefer going to a brick and mortar. I've called around to the two used game stores I frequent and neither carry Dreamcast stuff anymore. Does anyone know of any holdouts in the Houston area?

A tangentially related follow-up question: Dreamcast owners; I've heard playing burned games can cause damage to the Dreamcast's drive. Is this a certainty? How much burned game usage are we talking about? I ask because my copy of Mr. Driller is a backup and I'm playing it quite a bit.
posted by raygan to Technology (9 answers total)
I can't really help you on the used game store front, but I can definitely tell you that a lot of the concern that gets bandied around about burned CDs damaging Dreamcast drives is crap, effectively. In the vast majority of cases, as long as the game you're playing is dummied, playing a burned CD shouldn't cause the drive any significant amount of wear over and above the normal amount from playing any game at all.

To unpack that a bit, what I mean is that anything you burn should more-or-less fill the CD. Games like Mr Driller or Ikaruga are absolutely tiny - around the 20mb mark or so in Driller's case - and if you burn just that 20mb of data to the outside edge of a CD, you're making the DC's drive do an awful lot of work. As the link above mentions, the way to avoid drive damage is to pad out the file with meaningless data, pushing the real game stuff into the middle of the disc. Most selfboot DC isos you'll download will be artificially inflated to around the 700mb mark when you unrar them (the junk data compresses to practically nothing, so you might download a 21mb file and have it expand to 700mb), so you don't need to worry about doing it yourself, and running a burned copy of one of those shouldn't do the drive any noticable harm, ever.

I've run burned discs (occasionally in the old days, regularly now as a means of avoiding paying collectors ridiculous prices for out-of-print games) on three different Dreamcasts, and I've never experienced any drive damage when using properly dummied disc images (and I've only done it myself once or twice - the pre-inflated files most release groups have put out there are absolutely fine). Basically, if you're running a game that's hurting the drive, the DC'll make a sort of anguished squealing noise. If it's not doing that, you're in the clear.
posted by terpsichoria at 1:16 AM on June 11, 2006

Dummying a DC image has nothing to do with preventing drive damage. A CD-R is burned (and read) from the hole to the outside edge. However, the read speed along the outside edge is a little better than the read speed near the hole. Dummying the image writes a bunch of unused space from the hole toward the edge before writing the actual useful data, so that when the CD-R is read back most of the reads occur on the outside edge.

In any case, no, you can't damage a Dreamcast whatsoever by using plain old CD-R in it. I have CD-Rs burned by Sega (a friend worked there and gave me a bunch of stuff on CD-R and GD-R when they closed the console game QA department down) and they work just fine. I have burned DiscJuggler images myself, and they work just fine. I have ripped images over the BBA, and it works just fine.

A poorly ripped game can cause some additional wear on the drive by requiring it to seek back and forth.

If you're concerned about making sure your Dreamcast lasts a long, long time, there one thing you should pay attention to is to never, ever, ever plug in or unplug controllers or VDUs while the machine is on. The Dreamcast's MAPLE I/O chip is especially fragile about this; it was (according to my friend at Sega QA) the number one cause of broken consoles at Sega. One of my kids killed a Dreamcast by carefully unplugging a controller while the machine was on.

Sorry I can't tell you about the Houson game market. Around here, the last few Dreamcast holdouts stopped carrying products a year and a half ago. There are a few used game stores that have DC games and basic gear like controllers and VDUs, but it would now be impossible to replace my keyboard, mouse, fishing controller, maraca controller, Ethernet adapter, VGA adapter, rumble packs, or modem from a retail store. Hopefully your local market is better than mine!
posted by majick at 6:26 AM on June 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

(er... when I say "VDU", of course, I actually mean "VMU." Except that it's ridiculous o'clock in the morning and I'm prone to such simple errors. My apologies!)
posted by majick at 6:27 AM on June 11, 2006

I don't know Houston at all, and if you're looking for a Brick & Mortar store for the browsing/purchasing experience, this is probably not very helpful as more than an ebay alternative, but there is an absolutely excellent game store in Southern California called Game Dude that I love. I've never had a problem finding old, random games there for any of my 11 systems, including the Dreamcast, at a decent price. I think they do a lot of business online.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:03 AM on June 11, 2006

All GameStop and EB Game Stores sell Dreamcast games and accessories still. I looked up and found several stores within the Houston area. Games are usually very cheap and I still play my DreamCast all the time. JETGRIND Radio ROCKS!

Playing a burned game will cause no damage to your DreamCast system.

Pick up a rumble pack at GameStop and you will get the game controller to buzz and rumble like the Xbox and PS2!
posted by randomthoughts at 8:07 AM on June 11, 2006

I'm sure there's no shortage of GameStop and EBGames in your area, and their selection varies a lot. I've seen some with only current-gen used games, and some with racks and racks of games as far back as NES. If you ask around, I'm sure some will have Dreamcast games and other supplies.
posted by Sibrax at 8:12 AM on June 11, 2006

You may find this link interesting.
posted by sourwookie at 9:27 AM on June 11, 2006

Sorry, a little off topic & just a note I hope will help you get the most out of your dreamcast: if you get an alternate bootloader, you open up your DC to import games and sources like lik-sang and Play Asia, which offer a lot of great stuff for fairly staggering prices. Under Defeat, for example, came out in March(!) and is awesome enough to justify a hefty import price in most financial situations.
posted by moift at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2006

Been playing burnt CDRs (games and music) on my DC for a few years now - no problems whatsoever.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:40 PM on June 13, 2006

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