To most of the world, Sega's Visual Memory Unit has been been dead for the better part of a decade, forgotten as a footnote in the annals of videogame history. It was a memory card, shaped mostly like a Tamagotchi, that slipped into the giant controller of a Sega Dreamcast, with its tiny, 1.5-inch greyscale screen peeking through a little cut-out. If players wanted to, they could pull it out of the controller and, using two buttons and a control pad, play rudimentary mini-games. It was a smallish element of a failed console released 13 years ago from a company that no longer even makes hardware.
But with the release of Nintendo's Wii U, the internet's collective memory began bubbling, and the VMU popped up from the depths. There's a GameFAQs thread entitled, "Is the WiiU controller like an upgraded VMU ?" There are YouTube videos pointing out the connection. Did Nintendo reach back into its past to swipe an idea from a vanquished foe?
The VMU is a not-uncommon topic in certain hobbyist corners of the internet, and the posters are, amazingly, often doing more than talking about the gadget. People make games for the VMU, there are sites for downloading emulations of VMU games, there are recent YouTube reviews with non-negligible hits, and, inexplicably, someone has created a portrait of the gadget done in the oil-painted style of George Washington crossing the Delaware.