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Sega Dreamcast

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Sega Dreamcast (Japanese: ドリームキャスト; code-named Dural, Dricas and Katana during development) was Sega's fifth and final video game console and the successor to the Sega Saturn. An attempt to recapture the console market with a next-generation system, it was designed to supersede the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Originally released fifteen months before the PlayStation 2 (PS2), and three years before the Nintendo GameCube and the Xbox, the Dreamcast was generally considered to be ahead of its time and was initially successful at restoring Sega's reputation in the gaming industry. However, it failed to gather enough momentum before the release of the PlayStation 2 in March 2000, and Sega decided to discontinue the Dreamcast the following year, withdrawing entirely from the console hardware business.


In 1997, the Saturn was struggling in North America, and Sega of America president Bernie Stolar pressed for Sega's Japanese headquarters to develop a new platform which eventually became the Dreamcast. At the 1997 Eģ, Stolar made public his opinion on the Saturn with his comment, "The Saturn is not our future."

When it was announced that Sega would be discontinuing the Saturn permanently in favor of the Dreamcast, many third-party developers in Japan were angered, as it meant that they were putting money into developing titles for what would soon be a dead system.


When the time came to design the successor to the Sega Saturn, the new President of Sega, Shoichiro Irimajiri, took the unusual step of hiring an outsider, Tatsuo Yamamoto from IBM Austin, to head a "skunk works" group to develop the next-generation console. It soon became apparent that the existing Japanese hardware group led by Hideki Sato did not want to relinquish control of the hardware department, bringing rise to two competing designs led by two different groups.

A timeline of the development of the console's GPU may be found here.

The Japanese group led by Hideki Sato settled on an Hitachi SH4 processor with a PowerVR graphics processor developed by VideoLogic (now Imagination Technologies) and manufactured by NEC. This was originally codenamed "White Belt". The first Japanese prototype boards were silkscreened "Guppy", and the later ones "Katana".

The US skunk works group (in a secret suite at the Sega of America headquarters) led by Tatsuo Yamamoto settled on an IBM/Motorola PowerPC 603e processor with a 3dfx Voodoo 2 graphics processor, which was originally codenamed "Black Belt". The first US prototype boards were silkscreened "Shark".

The Japanese hardware was codenamed "Dural", then later, "Katana". "Black Belt" and "Shark" were the only codenames used by the US hardware team (the hardware team was called "Black Belt team"; the "Shark" was in response to the Japanese team's "Guppy").

When 3dfx declared its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in April 1997, it revealed every detail of the contract with Sega. Sega had been keeping the development of its next-generation console secret during this competition, and was supposedly outraged when 3dfx publicly laid out its deal with Sega over the new system in the IPO.

In July 1997, perhaps as a result of 3dfx's IPO, it was decided that the Japanese "Katana" would be the chosen format, renamed Dreamcast. In September 1997, 3dfx filed a lawsuit against Sega and NEC (later including VideoLogic), stating "breach of contract", and accusing Sega of starting the deal in bad faith to take 3dfx technology, although they later settled.[2]


The Dreamcast was released on November 27, 1998 in Japan, on September 9, 1999 in North America (the date 9/9/99 featured heavily in US promotion) and on October 14, 1999 in Europe. The tagline used to promote the console in the US was, "It's thinking", and in Europe "Up to 6 Billion Players".

The Dreamcast was the first console to include a built-in modem and Internet support for online gaming. Previous consoles such as the Genesis/Mega Drive had online capabilities, but these were comparably limited and required extra hardware (XBAND).

The Dreamcast enjoyed brisk sales in its first season, and was one of Sega's most successful hardware units. In the United States alone, a record 300,000 units [3] had been pre-ordered before launch and Sega sold 500,000 consoles in just two weeks (including 225,000 sold on the first 24 hours which became a video game record). In fact, due to brisk sales and hardware shortages, Sega was unable to fulfill all of the advance orders. Sega confirmed that it made $98.4 million on combined hardware and software sales with the Dreamcast with its September 9, 1999 launch. Sega even compared the record figure to the opening day gross of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which made $28.5 million during the first 24 hours in theaters.

Before the launch in the United States, Sega had already taken the extra step in displaying Dreamcast's capabilities in stores nationwide. Much like the PlayStation's launch in North America, the displays of titles such as Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure, Power Stone, and Hydro Thunder helped the Dreamcast succeed in the first year.

Due to its losses from making games for the past generation Sega Saturn, Electronic Arts announced it would not support the Dreamcast unless it sold 1 million units. When this happened within a record 90 days, EA went back on their word and declined to support the Dreamcast in favor of Sony's upcoming PlayStation 2. Although the Dreamcast had none of EA's popular sports games, due in part to EA's losses from the Sega Saturn, Sega Sports titles helped to fill that void. The biggest competition between Sega Sports and EA Sports in the US was their football games (i.e. NFL 2K1 vs. Madden NFL 2001). Both games were highly regarded, NFL 2K1 having the advantage of online play (coinciding with release of SegaNet) and Madden NFL 2001 arguably having a graphics edge. NFL 2K1 outsold Madden NFL 2001 with about 410,000 copies, which was about the number of PlayStation 2's that had been sold in America at the time.


In April 1999, Sony announced its PlayStation 2, designed to be backwards-compatible with the older PlayStation. The actual release of the PS2 was not until March 2000 in Japan, and late October 2000 in the US. Sony's press release, despite being a year ahead of the launch of the PS2, was enough to divert a lot of attention from Sega. With the looming PS2 launch in Japan, the Dreamcast was largely ignored in that territory. The Dreamcast had great initial success in the US, but had trouble maintaining this momentum after news of the PS2's release.

The Dreamcast sales grew 156.5% from July 23 to September 30 putting Sega ahead of Nintendo 64 in that period. For the month of November 2000, the Dreamcast passed the Nintendo 64 as the second best selling system. During that time, the PlayStation 2 was plagued by production shortages, with people often paying in excess of $1000 on eBay for Sony's next-generation console. However, the Dreamcast's online capabilities through SegaNet (the PlayStation 2 would not go online until late 2002, well after the Dreamcast's demise), and a price cut around Fall 2000 (which made it half the price of the PS2) did little to help sales once the PlayStation 2 was launched.

A key to Sony's relative ease for success with the PlayStation 2 was that they already enjoyed brand-name dominance over Sega after the huge success of the original PlayStation, while Sega's reputation had been hurt due to commercial failure of the Sega Saturn, Sega 32X, and Sega CD. In particular, Sega's attempt to quickly kill off the struggling Saturn (which lagged in North America) in favour of the Dreamcast had angered many third-party developers in Japan, where the Saturn had still been able to hold its own.[4] While initial Dreamcast sales were strong, many prospective buyers and game developers were still skeptical of Sega and they held off from committing, possibly to see which console would prevail. By early 2001, game publishers abandoned Dreamcast development en masse in favour of the PlayStation 2 and cancelled many nearly completed projects (notably Half-Life).

In 2000, the announcements of the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube were widely regarded as the last straw for the Dreamcast, which fueled speculation that Sega did not have the resources for a prolonged marketing campaign.

Sega's decision to release the Dreamcast early, or even at all, is still debated. While it was largely regarded as a risky gamble, the Dreamcast was initially successful in repairing the company's reputation. Ultimately, anticipation of competitors' newer consoles resulted in stagnation of Dreamcast sales and the eventual loss of third-party developers.

Outside USA and Japan

Sega had problems choosing suitable companies to promote Dreamcast outside the USA. Marketing in European countries was done somewhat poorly, whereas Sony marketed the PlayStation 2 in each country's local medias, such as newspapers, street shows, etc. Sega recruited third-party companies to promote Dreamcast, some of which did not allocate sufficient money for advertising.

SegaNet was a fiasco in Finland because the cost of connection was more than three times the amount of a normal ISDN internet connection. This was due to the fact that Sega gave open pricing for third-party companies. The companies stated that the price was steep due to a lack of potential customers, but most believe that the companies were just using the open pricing to their advantage.

Some important games also lacked European releases. Many important titles were never released outside of Japan, and many were hard to find without importing them to the United Kingdom. Sega put most of its efforts into fighting the console war in the USA, disregarding European markets. While the Dreamcast did receive a price cut in the USA to coincide with the PlayStation 2's American release, the European pricing remained the same, even when the PlayStation 2 was released in Europe.

End of production

On January 31, 2001, Sega announced that production of Dreamcast hardware was to be discontinued by March of that year, although the 50 to 60 titles still in production would be published. The last North American release was NHL 2K2, which was released in February 2002. With the company announcing no plans to develop a next-generation successor to the Dreamcast, this was Sega's last foray into the home console business. By the time Sega decided to cease development of the Dreamcast, about 10 million consoles had been sold.

Unfortunately though, in some countries such as the UK, many shops discontinued their Dreamcast range immediately which led to those who owned the console, having great difficulty in finding the latest releases throughout the rest of 2001 (especially when the shelves in question had been filled afterwards with budget Playstation 1 games).

Though the Dreamcast was officially discontinued in early 2001, commercial games were still developed and released afterwards, particularly in Japan. Many though consider the critically acclaimed arcade shooter Ikaruga, developed by Treasure, to be the Dreamcast's swan song. It was released in September 2002 in Japan only after a large amount of speculation on the game's fate; its US release was on the GameCube in April 2003. Hacked, unreleased games like Propeller Arena and Half-Life continued to become available to the public through warez groups such as Echelon.

On February 24, 2004, Sega released their final Dreamcast game, Puyo Pop Fever. A small number of third-party games are still being released, such as Chaos Field released in December 2004, Trizeal released in April 2005, Rajirugi released in February 2006, Under Defeat released in March 2006, and most recently Radium, Last Hope to be released January 2007, Trigger Heart Exelica to be released February 2007, and Karous to be released March 2007.

Despite its short lifespan, the Dreamcast is still a very popular and highly-regarded console among many fans due to its impressive library of both mainstream and more offbeat titles. It is even starting to gain a cult following, as the system is becoming harder to find. In fact, although the Dreamcast was officially discontinued in January 2001, Sega continued to produce the console for a short time afterwards due to rising demand, especially among collectors and hardcore fans.

Several Dreamcast emulation projects have emerged after the Dreamcast's end of production, with Chankast being the most notable.

Return of the Dreamcast

On February 16, 2006, Sega once again began selling Dreamcast consoles through its online store, Sega Direct of Japan. The package deal included a refurbished Dreamcast, a cell phone card, and Radilgy — a new 2D shooter game by developer Milestone. A short time later, developer G.rev followed that game with a second new 2D shooter game called Under Defeat in March. Both releases were for the Japanese market alone. While the refurbished package has been discontinued, Sega Direct does still sell several Dreamcast software titles.[5]

On May 20, 2006, Sega of Japan went live with free Phantasy Star Online servers.[6] A translated excerpt from the article reads, "I would like "Phantasy Star Online" to play forever in users. [...] Please continue your favors toward the degree in which 'Phantasy Star Online' is patronized."

On May 30, 2006, the gaming website IGN officially relaunched IGN Dreamcast with the goal of revisiting the 243 North American-released Dreamcast games and give "new impressions, screens and videos" and compare them to the gaming experience provided by PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii games.

In October of 2006, new games were announced for release including a notable game called Radium, which is also to be released on the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox and PocketPC. [1]

In December of 2006, a port of the Neo Geo game Last Hope, developed by NG:DEV.TEAM and published by redspotgames, was released via and various other stores. GOAT store has planned other games which will be released in the 2007.

On February 22, 2007, a port of the Naomi powered 2D shooter Trigger Heart Exelica, developed by Warashi, will be released on Dreamcast for the Japanese market with both a current and a limited edition release. Despite rumors going around the internet, the game will not be retitled to Trigger Heart Extension for the Dreamcast release.

Milestone announced that Karous, their new NAOMI vertical shooter, would be making its way to Dreamcast on March 8, 2007.



Front view of a Dreamcast developer unit (Set5)
Front view of a Dreamcast developer unit (Set5)

The Dreamcast used a proprietary format called GD-ROM or "GigaDisc" for storing games and software. Sega chose the GD-ROM format for its increased capacity while using inexpensive compact disc technology. All Dreamcast consoles could play audio compact discs.

Windows CE

Microsoft co-operated with Sega in hopes of promoting its Windows CE operating system for video games. Windows CE offered easy porting of existing PC applications, as it came along with a special version of DirectX 6. However, compared to the Dreamcast's native operating system, it offered limited capabilities. When developers took advantage of the easy development offered by Windows CE, the resulting games (e.g., Sega Rally 2) lagged in performance and framerate. The only Windows CE applications known by most users were on a pack-in CD containing a CE-based dialer and web browser. Windows CE was not an integral part of the system. Instead, each game that ran on Windows CE had its own Windows CE version on the game disk which was loaded before the actual game.


Much like the GameCube, the Dreamcast had the ability to connect to a handheld game console. Using a special cable, with specific games, the Dreamcast could connect with the Neo Geo Pocket. SNK and Capcom took advantage of the connectivity to allow players of Capcom vs. SNK and The King of Fighters to trade points between the console and handheld versions of their games.

Graphical output

The Dreamcast is able to output true 640x480 VGA (480p60 EDTV), which set it apart from other consoles of the time. The system, when combined with the VGA adapter accessory (mentioned below), had the ability to display high-res, non-interlaced video.

The feature was shunned by the public despite the potential for improved video quality with the use of a PC monitor or HDTV set. This was likely due to a lack of knowledge on the subject, particularly as HDTV 'vocabulary' had yet to disseminate towards the general public. Also, a few notable games were not compatible with this mode, including certain Capcom fighting games and 2D shoot-'em-up games.

Other well known video effects such as cel-shading and bump mapping were first seen on Sega's console. In fact, the first completely cel-shaded animation game was Jet Set Radio (Jet Grind Radio in US), released in 2000 on the Dreamcast. These features were all powered by the PowerVR2 chipset.


Dreamcast consoles came with a disc containing web browser software allowing dial-up Internet access. Dream Passport was the Japanese browser, Planetweb was used in America, and DreamKey in Europe. Version 3.0 of Planetweb included broadband capabilities, Java, Flash, and mouse support.

While Planetweb was a browser created specifically for the US market, Europe's DreamKey was in fact a translated version of the Japanese Dream Passport. It was used on some American game releases (such as Metropolis Street Racer), though renamed to Internet Viewer.

The Dreamcast was one of the first home console systems to offer online Internet gameplay with the game ChuChu Rocket!, which was distributed free to Dreamcast owners in Europe. Sega also has the honors of making the first online console sports title, NFL 2K1, as well as the first ever online console MMORPG, Phantasy Star Online. The SegaNet online dial-up service, (with a USD$29/month fee), attracted 750,000 subscribers in America alone. About twenty-two games, including Quake III Arena and Phantasy Star Online, supported SegaNet. Other major online games included 4x4 Evolution (the first cross-platform online game), Starlancer, and Ferrari F355 Challenge. Although the online features of most commercially released online-capable Dreamcast games are no longer supported, some games are still playable online in Japan. In addition, fans have developed their own servers for playing Phantasy Star Online, Starlancer, 4x4 Evolution, Maximum Pool, Sega Swirl, and the North American version of Quake III Arena.

In Europe, Sega's online service was known as Dreamarena. This was created and operated for Sega Europe by a partnership between ICL and BT. ICL developed the web sites and software, with BT providing the dial-up capabilities and network infrastructure. The service was free and the game servers hosted within it could not otherwise be accessed from the Internet. Dreamarena ran until the beginning of March 2002. As the DreamKey web browser was customised to only work with Dreamarena, Sega subsequently offered a free replacement version which would allow connection with the user's own Internet service provider.

The modem module in the Dreamcast could easily be replaced with a broadband module to allow networked gaming over Ethernet. Phantasy Star Online, Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament, Outtrigger, Bomberman Online, and POD SpeedZone included support for this device. It should be noted, however, that not all of those games supported the Ethernet adapter. The US release of Phantasy Star Online only officially supported dial-up connectivity, although it was possible to use the Japanese version of the game to configure usage of the Ethernet adapter (or, alternatively, another Japanese title that configured the same settings in the system BIOS) and then play the US release of the game with the Ethernet adapter.

As of late 2006, the "Planetweb" 3.0 web browser software is still available direct from their website. Psilocybin Dreams is a free web browser software based off the "Dream Passport" with some modification. It allows US and Japanese users to connect online with the BBA as well as the dial-up adapter. This software supports both English and Japanese languages.


The Dreamcast used the same technology as the Sega NAOMI arcade game hardware platform, meaning NAOMI-based games such as Crazy Taxi could be easily ported to the Dreamcast. However, the Dreamcast had less memory, and games loaded from GD-ROM discs were slower compared to NAOMI ROM boards.

The Dreamcast supported audio CDs, GD-ROMs, and CD-Rs.

Contrary to popular belief, all Dreamcasts recognize and play CD-R's, however, Mil-CD support was removed from later revisions of the Dreamcast hardware. The manufacturing and distribution of these revisions were extremely limited, none being shipped and sold by Sega outside of Japan, with the first and one of the few models of the revised Dreamcasts being the limited Sakura Taisen model.


The standard Dreamcast unit was made of white and grey plastic. The power light, like the Dreamcast logo in NTSC regions, was orange (this color was chosen because the Japanese consider it to be lucky). Games were sold in jewel cases. In North America, these initially had the Dreamcast name and logo on a white background, but later games used a black background. Japanese games used an orange-and-white scheme, and European and Australian games used blue.

The unit was packaged with a video cable which supported composite video and stereo sound. Available separately were an RGB SCART cable, an S-Video cable, an RF connector (included as standard in the UK and Portugal), and a VGA adapter (see accessories below).

In North America, a black Dreamcast was released in limited numbers with a sports pack which included two Sega Sports titles. Electronics Boutique offered a blue Dreamcast through its website. Similar offerings were sold through the Lik Sang website. Cases of different colors like blue, red, orange, and green were sold for replacements of the original casing. In Japan, Sega released many varieties of the system, including a limited edition Sonic anniversary version, a pink Sakura Taisen version, and a Hello Kitty version released in 2000 in Japan which, due to its limited production, has become an extremely rare collector's piece. The package contains a keyboard, controller, VMU, mouse, and a Hello Kitty trivia game. The console and accessories came in both translucent pink and blue in color with some printed designs.

The Brazilian version, manufactured by Tec Toy under license, was essentially the same as the North American version, but its video output was converted to the PAL-M standard and did not come with the modem, which was available separately.

The Dreamcast in Europe had a blue spiral logo, similar to the logo on earlier Sega systems. This change is thought to have been for copyright reasons. A German company, Tivola, had been using a similar swirl logo years before Sega branded the Dreamcast with the orange swirl. As well as the VGA mode (again using an adapter), the European Dreamcast supported PAL video, in both 50 Hz and 60 Hz modes. This was a first for game consoles, as no previous PAL console had offered the option to play games at full speed, using the ability of more modern PAL televisions to operate at 60 Hz. This became a feature of all major consoles released since. The 60 Hz option had to be enabled on the game disc, however, but only a small number of games lacked this. Games in Europe were sold in jewel cases exactly twice as thick as their North American counterparts, possibly to enable the inclusion of thick instruction booklets containing instructions in multiple languages.

A third-party company from China named Treamcast released a portable modified Dreamcast which used the original first-party Dreamcast components with a custom made plastic casing. This small system with its fold-down display resembled the later PS One. Many companies included software and a remote with the unit that enabled it to play MP3s and Video CDs. When the internet import videogame store Lik Sang contacted Sega to ask permission to sell a modified version of the system with Sega trademarks on the system, they were told that Sega did not approve of the unit, and felt that it violated their trademarks. In reality, this system is no different from a Dreamcast pre-modified with a third party shell, as the system's internals still use first party hardware, and the only modifications are the outside casing and internal sound and video adjustments.

In 2005, the internet import store Lan-Kwei started selling a "Treamcast" portable modified Dreamcast with a 16:9 widescreen LCD. Aside from the cosmetic differences in the case to accommodate the larger screen, there are no differences between the original Treamcast and the newer widescreen model.


Visual Memory Unit

The Visual Memory Unit, or "VMU", was the Dreamcast's memory card. It featured a monochrome LCD screen, a D-Pad, and two gaming buttons. The VMU could play mini-games loaded onto it from certain Dreamcast games, such as a Chao game transferrable from Sonic Adventure. It could also display a list of the saved game data stored on it, and two VMUs could be connected together end-to-end to exchange data.

Standard memory cards could also be purchased without the additional features of the VMU. Most of these were manufactured by third-party companies, (such as the Nexus Memory Card), although Sega eventually released a 4X memory card. The 4X cards did not have the VMU screen or stand-alone abilities, but they had four times the space thanks to the ability to switch between four 200-block sectors.

Controller and Rumble Pack Most Dreamcast games supported a rumble pack, or "Jump Pack", which was sold separately and could be plugged into the controller. In Japan, the Jump Pack was named the "Puru Puru Pack".

The Dreamcast controller offered an analog stick, a D-pad, a Start button, four gaming buttons (labeled A, B, X, and Y), and two analog triggers on the underside. It also contained two slots which could hold memory cards or the rumble pack, with a window on the front of the controller through which the VMU's display could be seen. The Dreamcast controller was somewhat larger than many other controllers, and some players found it difficult to hold.

VGA Adapter Unique to the Dreamcast was a VGA adapter for output to a computer display or HDTV compatible sets, providing much better quality than a standard television set. Not all games were compatible with the VGA adapter, but work-arounds existed to trick all but a handful of games into working with it.

Dreamcast mouse and keyboard The Dreamcast supported a mouse as well as a keyboard, which were useful when using the included web browser, and also supported by certain games such as The Typing of the Dead, Quake 3, Phantasy Star Online and Railroad Tycoon 2. Other games such as REZ offered undocumented mouse support.

Fishing Rod A motion sensitive fishing rod was released for the few fishing games on the system.

Microphone There was a microphone peripheral used for version 2.6 of the Planetweb web browser (providing long distance calling support), the European Planet Ring collection, Alien Front Online, and Seaman, the first console game to use speech recognition in the US.

Lightgun Sega also produced a light gun for the system, although this was not sold in the US, possibly because Sega did not want its name on a gun in light of recent school shootings (e.g. Columbine High School massacre). American versions of light gun games even blocked out using the official gun. Several third parties made compatible guns for the few light gun games released, including The House of the Dead 2 and Confidential Mission. The only other light gun compatible games were Death Crimson OX and its Japanese prequel Death Crimson 2, Virtua Cop 2 on the Sega Smash Pack, and a light gun minigame in Demolition Racer No Exit.

For more details on this topic, see Dreamcast light guns.

Arcade Stick A heavy-duty Arcade Stick was put out by Sega, featuring a digital joystick with six buttons using the same microswitch assemblies as commercial arcade machines. Although it could not be used for many Dreamcast games due to the lack of an analog joystick, it was well received and helped cement the Dreamcast's reputation for playing 2D shooters and fighting games. Adaptors are now available to use the Arcade Stick on other hardware platforms.

Third-party sticks were also made, like the ASCII Dreamcast fighting pad, which some regard as having a more comfortable 6-button configuration and a more precise digital direction pad.

Twin Sticks A twin stick peripheral was released specifically for use with the game Virtual-On. This add-on mimicked the original dual arcade stick setup and made gameplay much more precise. They are extremely rare and often quite expensive.

Dreameye Sega developed the Dreameye, a digital camera for the Dreamcast, but it was only released in Japan.

Samba de Amigo controller Sega developed a special maraca controller for the Samba de Amigo music game.

Cancelled Accessories Toward the end of the Dreamcast's lifespan, Sega created and displayed prototypes of a high-capacity VMU/MP3 player, DVD player, and Zip drive peripherals. None of these items became available to the public.


The proprietary GD-ROM format was the only means of piracy protection and was quickly defeated. Using a combination of reverse-engineering and insecure firmware, one piracy method was made possible by the existence of regular-CD booting code in the Dreamcast BIOS to enable multimedia functions (called Mil-CD) for music CD releases on the Japanese market. Mil-CD support was removed from the final Dreamcast revisions, but piracy is often cited as one of the major reasons for the failure of the Dreamcast.

Despite this discovery, making perfect copies was not possible. While most games never came close to using the full capacity of a 1.1 GB GD-ROM, other games did and sometimes required more than one disc to contain the entire game. Games that did take advantage of the GD-ROM's extra capacity required some tinkering from hackers; the most common method was to downsample the video and audio portions of the disc to a lower bitrate, so they would take up less space. Although this method was usually successful, a few games, most noticeably Shenmue II and Sonic Adventure, were missing sound and sometimes video on pirated versions through the process of "ripping", used in this context to mean completely removing some parts of a game's audio and video, because they were simply too large to downgrade with any success.

However, downgrading or removing audio and video streams wasn't the only method used by release groups. Some even denote a high amount of hardware and software knowledge, like the method used on the Echelon release of Skies of Arcadia. Because the game came on two GD-ROMs, featured no pre-rendered FMV, and all audio was chip generated, there was nothing to be ripped or downsampled from it. Therefore, the game was reprogrammed with a decompression program that actually handled data management on the fly (see:

One of the least successfully pirated games on the system was WARP's D2. Shipping on four GD-ROMs and each filling the 1.1 GB capacity, the game required the user to swap discs without saving to continue on. Swapping to a new disc initiated another disc security check by the system, which would then fail. Pirates eventually circumvented this by using 99 minute CD-R's, but because of the rarity of the discs, the method was not widespread. Other multi-disc games like Shenmue 2 let the user save before swapping discs, whereby they would then power down and load the next disc if it wasn't a legitimate copy.


The Dreamcast continues to have a modest hacking enthusiast community. The availability of Windows CE software development kits on the Internet, as well as ports of Linux [2] and NetBSD/Dreamcast [3] operating systems, gave programmers a selection of familiar development tools to work with. A homebrew minimal operating system named KallistiOS offers good hardware support (though it does not provide multitasking, which is generally unimportant for games anyway). Many emulators and other tools such as MP3 and DivX players and image viewers have been ported to or written for the console, taking advantage of the relative ease with which a home user can burn a bootable CD by an unmodified Dreamcast.


Main article: List of Dreamcast games

As of September 2006, the Sega Dreamcast has 298 games available in its library.[7]

The Dreamcast features games with the following ratings from the ESRB[citation needed]:

  • Everyone: 151
  • Teen: 93
  • Mature: 32

Some of the more popular games that were made for the Dreamcast were Third Person Shooters or Arcade style fighting games.

Technical specifications

  • CPU: SH-4 RISC CPU with 128 Bit FPU functions for 3D graphics computations (operating frequency: 200 MHz, 360 MIPS, 1.4 GFLOPS)
  • Graphics Engine: PowerVR2 CLX2, 7.0 Mil polygons/second peak performance, supports Trilinear filtering. Actual maximum in game performance (with full textures, lighting, gameplay, etc...) of 3-5 Mil polygons/second. Tile Based Deferred Rendering eliminates overdraw by only drawing visible polygons. This allows more efficient use of polygons and can make games appear to have 2-4 times their actual polygon count (depending on amount of overdraw eliminated).
  • Memory: Main RAM: 16 MiB 64 Bit 100 MHz, Video RAM: 8 MiB 4x16 Bit 100 MHz, Sound RAM: 2 MiB 16 Bit 66 MHz
  • VQ Texture Compression [4]
  • Sound Engine: Yamaha AICA Sound Processor: 22.5 MHz 32-Bit ARM7 RISC CPU: 45 MHz [5], 64 channel PCM/ADPCM sampler (4:1 compression), XG MIDI support, 128 step DSP
  • Yamaha GD-ROM Drive: 12x maximum speed (Constant Angular Velocity)
  • GD-ROM: Holds up to 1.2 GB of data. A normal CD-ROM holds 700 Megabytes.
  • Inputs: USB-like "Maple Bus". Four ports support devices such as digital and analog controllers, steering wheels, joysticks, keyboards and mice, and more.
  • Dimensions: 189 mm x 195 mm x 76 mm (7 7/16" x 7 11/16" x 3")
  • Weight: 1.9 kg (4.2 lb)
  • Color: Majority are white. Some late models from a sports package are black.
  • Modem: Removable; Original Asia/Japan model had a 33.6 kbit/s; models released after September 9, 1999 had a 56 kbit/s modem
  • Broadband: these adapters are available separately and replace the removable modem
  • HIT-400: "Broadband Adapter", the more common model, this used a Realtek 8139 chip and supported 10 and 100 Mbit speeds.
  • HIT-300: "Lan Adapter", this version used a Fujitsu MB86967 chip and supported only 10 Mbit speed.
  • Color Output: Approx. 16.78 million simultaneous colors (24 bit)
  • Storage: Visual Memory Unit ("VMU") 1 Mbit (128 KByte) removable storage device and 4x memory cards that hold four times as much data.


  1. ^ Russell Carroll:Good Enough: Why graphics aren't number one. GameTunnel (2005). Retrieved on 07 August 2006.
  2. ^ Jim Turley:MicroDesign Resources --- August 10, 1998 #8. Embedded Processor Watch (1998). Retrieved on 07 August 2006.
  3. ^ Maclean's 24 September 1999.
  4. ^ Nick Gibson:Sega exits the console business. Games Investor (2006). Retrieved on 15 September 2006.
  5. ^ Sega Direct (2006). セガダイレクト. Sega Direct. Retrieved on 19 August 2006.
  6. ^ Sega (2006). 『PSO』『PSO Ver.2』オンラインサポートHP. Phantasy Star Online. Retrieved on 19 August 2006.
  7. ^ MobyGames Staff:MobyGames Game Browser - Dreamcast. MobyGames (2006). Retrieved on 07 August 2006.

See also

  • List of Dreamcast games
  • List of Cancelled Dreamcast games
  • List of Dreamcast network games
  • List of Dreamcast arcade ports

External links

  • IGN Dreamcast - IGN's Dreamcast section
  • Sega Dreamcast at the Open Directory Project
  • Dreamcast at GameFAQs
  • SegaBase - comprehensive history of the Dreamcast
  • SegaHub A great Sega Community with over 3,000 members dedicated to releasing games for the now extinct Dreamcast
  • Dreamcast Scene - DC advocacy group with large database for home development and other DC subjects
  • Dreamcast News - The Worlds most up to date Dreamcast News, Homebrew and Emulation community.
  • Dreamcast Emulation - Great source for emulation on the DC
  • Online Consoles - A Great community that revolves around online play for the Dreamcast
  • HwB - Connector pinouts


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