Tower of Babel Dreamcast Tech Demo

The story of this technical demo:

May 1, 1998, 4 hours in the afternoon. In front of the New Otani, a luxury hotel in Tokyo, crowds of journalists crowd. In the ranks, the pressure is mounting. In a few minutes, SEGA will unveil its future console and its ambitions for the future. What could be better than this symbolic place to organize such an event? The New Otani was built in 1964 to coincide with the Olympic Games of that same year and its prestigious setting perfectly reflects SEGA's wishes for years to come. The winds of change are blowing in the corridors of the imposing building of the company. Located in the Ôta district, and more precisely in the Haneda district, SEGA's parent company is only a stone's throw from Haneda airport. It is also in this district that we find the Namco companies or the giant Canon. On this day, the President of SEGA, Shoichiro Irimajiri is about to live an unforgettable moment. At this exceptional assembly, more than 1,500 people, publishers and actors of the “Katana” project, are present. The most important (CEOs of NEC, Yamaha and Hitachi) are called to take the stage alongside the President of SEGA. The opening, the much desired opening is there and revealed to the press. That day, a speech by Bill Gates (for the partnership with Microsoft and his Windows CE) and several demos are displayed, one by one, on the giant screen installed in the large conference room. The first, created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi (SEGA Rally, REZ, Child of Eden, etc.), is a technical demo revealing the visual capabilities of the console. Shoichiro Irimajiri's modeled head can be seen slipping off a screen, before spinning around and speaking to the assembly with startling lip sync and realism (for the time). With this demo, SEGA shows the console's capabilities in terms of distortion of textures, visual effects, transparency, zooms, rotations… a real slap in the face that required a lot of work from the small team responsible for its design. Moreover, many had fun with the little nod to the title screen of a certain Super Mario 64. Then, the journalists were able to discover the Babylon demo (or Tower of Babel, Babel's Tower in English). Concocted by the great Yu Suzuki (with music, it seems, by Kenji Eno). Everything then runs at 60 images per second, with a resolution of 640 X 480, a nice technical demo for the time. Here is what the man was able to say about this tech demo.

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“We started working on this tech demo when I was asked to do something for the Dreamcast event. We started working on Monday, a week before the console presentation! To design this “Babel's Tower” demo, I was inspired by “Eight Man” and “Babel Niseil” (old Japanese anime) of which I am a fan. I prepared the sketches and other sketches as well as the storyboard [this consists of drawing the sequence scene by scene to know what is happening] in order to define the “scenario”. From that day on, it took us ten days to complete this demo. ”

“The team consisted of a designer and two programmers and with this very small sample of people, we managed to set up this demonstration. If we had called in a specialist in cinematic scenes, it would have cost us between 10,000,000 and 20,000,000 yen (roughly, between 88,000 and 177,000 euros) for three minutes but we managed to do it ourselves- even without preparation. The Dreamcast is much easier to program than most machines, since everything is already in place (understand by that, libraries). Without being from the middle, it is even possible to understand how it works. If the demo includes around 1,000,000 polygons per second, the machine is able to hit triple without flinching. Obviously, it takes time and a lot of effort, but if you want to push it, the Dreamcast is capable of reaching 3,000,000 to 3,500,000 polygons per second. But we are still to see if the Model 3 is able to reach such a figure. In fact, the Dreamcast is superior to Model 3. When we designed the Dreamcast, we wanted to make sure that conversions between Model 3 and Dreamcast were easy and stress free. I really think we have designed the machine that will make us achieve this goal. It's true that the Dreamcast is a powerhouse for 3D, but don't imagine it can't handle 2D. It can produce very large 2D. This machine is truly amazing. I can't wait for the players to find out. ”

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Shenmue Dreamcast magazine corver

Text taken, with his agreement, from the article by Régis Monterrin to be read on his site http://www.terredejeux.net/2015/10/lhistoire-de-la-dreamcast-14-october.html

Particularities :

There are several versions of this technical demo. I was able to count 2. I will not be surprised if there are still others including the one with the music of Kenji Eno. For the latter, I doubt its existence, I will rather see a video recorded with the music on top.

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If an emulator version had already been offered in 2018, the mount that you will be able to download today seems new, older, to be confirmed. System information is present in the game which is not on the 2018 demo. The dates of the BIN are different, 01.02.2000 for the first, 13.07.1998 for the second. The best way to start this demo is to use the "Demul" emulator. You can find them in the files of all the GD-Rom Checkers under the heading: Dreamcast SAV discs, repair documents .

2018 version

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2021 version

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Thanks to the directional cross of the joystick, it is possible to move the camera as desired. By keeping the left or right triggers pressed, you pivot on yourself, you reverse the screen. To return to the initial position, just press START.

A debug menu is present. To open it, you must press button B with a controller plugged into port 2 of your Dreamcast (emulator).

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You can download it below, the hack was performed by ShindouGo (thanks to him):

Tower of Babel Tech Demo Dreamcast version 2

To see other technical demos, SDKs or development documents, visit the page: Dreamcast SDK release, technical demo and development document