DLC (downloadable content) is a ubiquitous part of gaming these days. Many companies are announcing their DLC — and allowing customers to buy it — long before the actual game is released. Sometimes it adds up to more than the original game. For whatever reason, players seem to love it, and developers can’t seem to announce a AAA title these days without fans clamoring to know what else they’ll be able to buy for a game that’s still in the concept phase.
But that wasn’t always the case, as many gamers know. Before the advent of the internet (and before high-speed connections made it practical) what came in the box was what you got. If you were a PC gamer and you were lucky, the company kept patching bugs after release. If you were very lucky, the developer might release an expansion or two for your favorite titles, something that was more or less pioneered by Blizzard Entertainment with (relatively) massive early hits like Diablo and Warcraft. Console expansions basically didn’t happen until console drives and internet connectivity were a thing, so, original PS2/Xbox era, around 2001-2002.
There is a rather obscure exception to that rule, though.
The Sega Dreamcast was a very short-lived console. Released in 1998, it was discontinued in early 2001, months before the Xbox would hit the market. Even though it didn’t last, the Dreamcast came with some very unique features, such as a 1 GB optical drive, a powerful (for the time) GPU, a unique controller, and relatively high-storage memory cards.
It was also the first console with a built-in modem that could connect to the internet. And in spite of (or maybe because of) its short-lived glory, the Dreamcast developed something of a cult following.
Finally, it was likely the first console to introduce the concept of DLC. It’s up to you whether to praise or curse its name for that one. But most of the DLC never actually got released.
Flash back to 2001, four months after the Dreamcast ceased production. A new game for the console, called Floigan Bros., by a developer called Visual Concepts, was released. Turns out that it was developed during the cancellation, and it promised some pretty nifty features, including a once-a-month unlockable piece of content, called “Fun Moigle Things” (FMTs). Typically, it was a piece of clothing for the main character. April’s was a new mini-game. But only the first, the January, 2002, “Knitted Hat” DLC, was ever released. The Dreamcast died an ignoble death, the online servers went down.
Now, back to the present day.
It turns out that, according to CinemaBlend, all of the DLC for Floigan Bros. was present on the game disc all along, locked by a security code embedded in a special save file users could download once a month. But the developers were a little too smart for their own good; the security codes were essentially unhackable, leaving the content essentially inaccessible forever. Part of the problem was that some of the security measures were implemented by SEGA themselves, rather than the Visual Concepts team.
This is the cool part. Enter Tim Meekins, John Elliot, and Nick Jones, former members of the Visual Concepts development team. They got together recently to crack their own security, a decade and a half later, laboriously hacking the original codes by manipulating the January file to create a copy of the game with all of the DLC unlocked. It wouldn’t have been possible if that one DLC had never been released, or without the help of the original developers.
Dreamcast Live has a full list of available DLC, and where to get the hacked files for owners of the original game. Sixteen years later, Floigan Bros.’s ahead-of-their-time DLC promises have finally come to fruition.
[Featured Image by Visual Concepts/SEGA]