NullDC 1.0.3, Dreamcast emulation returns on PC. Carrying NAOMI with it
After nine months of waiting and the recent foray in the meanders of the technologically gifted (but maybe not enough) handhelds, nullDC returns on PC with version 1.0.3 released in these days. The plug-in based emulator that has renewed the glories of the Sega Dreamcast console, offering its most advanced and accurate emulation available by now, is for this time coupled with its arcade counterpart, that is the NAOMI system supposed to be impossible to emulate in the past years and now turned into the nth technological wall knocked down thanks to the work of drk||Raziel & fellows.
As stated by the “manager” of the team behind the emulator PsyMan, nullDC 1.0.3 brings a remarkable amount of changes in regard of the almost contemporary release of the 1.5 and 1.6 test versions of the last November, first of all the disappearing of the “beta” wording from the version nomenclature. Of course must be cited the performance improvements and the bugfixes applied to single videogames, thanks to which the already strong compatibility of the emulator with the Dreamcast games stock is further increased.
The other changes worth of notice include: the added support to Visual Memory Units (some sort of advanced memory cards capable of hosting from savegames to minigames playable with the console shut down); the emulation of the fog effect, only available with Pixel Shader 2.0 specifications enabled graphics cards; the experimental emulation of DSP effects of Dreamcast sound subsystem; the possibility to load and directly run original CDs with no need to get the related ISO images; a version of the emulator compatible with dumps of the NAOMI board-based arcade games.
The last novelty is obviously the one that gets more noticed under the spotlights: even if the technical result itself doesn’t amaze (in essence NAOMI is a Dreamcast with much more memory on-board), the second last proprietary arcade system by Sega is regarded as one of the most successful platforms in the field, and it’s still used to develop new videogames.
In spite of the many changes, nullDC continues to have the typical traits of a work in progress: version 1.0.3 has been totally deprived of the gamepad support with the related plug-in, and the official forum doesn’t lack discussions on the problems that one could face by chance to let the software and the videogames run in a satisfying manner. “Yeah, this release is a bit rushed up. In fact, it’s a lot rushed up. Still, better than waiting til the next vacation period to release isn’t it?” admits drkIIRaziel himself, the brain behind the nullDC project.
Even in these conditions, anyway, the diverse feedback of fans and, if one would, as well that of the unavoidable trolls dedicated to complaining always and forever without a due “thanks” directed to whom devotes part of his time to tasks as complex as software simulation of the 128 bit console from Sega, doesn’t miss to highlight the qualities of what certainly is, together with PCSX2, the most advanced emulator out there by now.