Turning a Dreamcast VMU Into Its Own Portable Console

Sega’s final home video game console, the Dreamcast, has become somewhat legendary in the gaming world. Only nine million units were sold (compared to 155 million for the PlayStation 2), but most of us at least got to play one at some point. The games were great, but the hardware is what really stood out. Among the innovations the Dreamcast introduced, the VMU (Visual Memory Unit) was probably the most unique.

For those of you that don’t remember, the VMU was a memory card that fit into the Dreamcast’s controller. But, it wasn’t just a boring static hunk of plastic, it was interactive and had a built-in LCD and control buttons. I’m sure you can see where this is going: it’s perfect for turning into a portable console, and that’s exactly what sudomod forum user “kite” did.

To make this happen, kite managed to shove an impressive number of components into the VMU. There is a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a 128x128 pixel LCD display, an 850mAh battery, a charger, speaker, and all of the usual complementary components. All of that is connected through a custom made PCB in order to slim things down and take advantage of the original buttons.

The great part of this build is that, cosmetically, the VMU is unchanged. The screen fits perfectly in place of the original, and the control buttons are perfect for playing retro games on a RetroPie install. If you want to build one yourself, kite is planning on selling a kit!