A Casio Game Console With A Sticker Printer? Why Didn’t We Get It!

To work in the computer games business in the mid-1990s was to have a grandstand seat at a pivotal moment. 32-bit gaming was the order of the day and 3D acceleration was making its first appearance in high-end PC graphics cards, so perhaps the fastest changes ever seen in gaming happened across a few short years. It’s a shock then after spending that decade on the cutting edge, to find a ’90s console we’d never heard of from a major manufacturer. The Casio Loopy was a Japan-only machine which targeted a female gaming demographic, and featured a built-in sticker printer as its unique selling point.

On the face of it the Loopy was up there with the competition, featuring a similar 32-bit SuperH processor to the Sega Saturn paired with a megabyte of RAM, but staying with cartridges as the rest of the industry moved towards CDs led to its games being space-limited and expensive. At the same time the original PlayStation was winning developers from the cartridge model with a lower-cost barrier to entry, so the Loopy failed to capture a market and was off sale by 1996. We can see that its graphics may have been a little dated for the 32-bit era and that sticker printer would have driven parents crazy with requests for expensive cartridges, but we can’t help wishing it had made it out of Japan like their portable computers did.

Thanks [Stephen Walters] for the tip.

Header: Incog88, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Dreamcast Linux: Looking Back At Linux On A SuperH-based Gaming Console

The Dreamcast is probably best known as the swansong of Sega’s ambitions as a gaming console manufacturer, but perhaps lesser known is the fact that you can run Linux on it. In a deep-dive by [Cameron Kaiser] over at the Old VCR blog, it is demonstrated what it takes to make this feat even work in 2023, and what one can expect from a system with a 200 MHz HItachi SuperH SH-4 CPU, 16 MB of RAM and the luxuries of VGA and network interfaces.

What’s interesting about Dreamcast Linux is that it was among the first times that Linux got put on a gaming console, even if it wasn’t entirely official or remotely supported by Sega. In fact, the fact that it works at all has its roots firmly in an exploit that was discovered shortly after the Dreamcast’s release. While Dreamcast discs are generally in a format called GD-ROM (Gigabyte Disc), early on it also supported the MIL-CD standard, which was Sega’s ill-fated attempt at creating multimedia CDs with MIL-CDs.

Not only did MIL-CDs flop in the market, the support form in Dreamcast units also provided a juicy exploit via the firmware that handles detecting and switching between GD-ROM and the much more constrained, audio-only MIL-CD mode. Later Dreamcast models dropped MIL-CD support and will thus also not boot Dreamcast Linux, which is an important gotcha to keep in mind when dragging out a Dreamcast for some Linux action.

As for running Linux on a Dreamcast, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from running it on such a constrained, RAM-disk only device. While [Cameron] was able to use workarounds such as swap-over-NFS to increase functionality, a lot more work remains to be done. Linux SuperH support seems to have petered out around the 2.6.x era, which would seem to have cemented the fate of Dreamcast Linux and similar SuperH platforms.

We’re curious, would double the RAM make a difference to this Linux platform?