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Dreamcast Modem

From Sega Retro

DreamcastModem US.jpg
Dreamcast Modem
Manufacturer: Sega
Made for: Sega Dreamcast
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Dreamcast
JP
PACK-IN ?
Sega Dreamcast
US
PACK-IN ?
Sega Dreamcast
UK
PACK-IN
Sega Dreamcast
FR
PACK-IN
Sega Dreamcast
DE
PACK-IN
Sega Dreamcast
ES
PACK-IN


The Dreamcast Modem (ドリームキャストモデム) is an accessory for the Sega Dreamcast, allowing it to connect to the internet.

Hardware

All Dreamcast Modems shipped with Dreamcast consoles, being already plugged into the side of the system when unpacked, and were not made available separately. Its existence guaranteed that all Dreamcast users had potential access to the internet from the get go - a first for the video game industry and something not matched by competitors until several years later.

In Japan, all modems had a download speed of 33.6kB/s, which was upped to 56kB/s for North America and Europe. Neither modem significantly changed during the console's run, though there were a number of minor revisions (including Sega swapping chips designed by Rockwell to those by Conexant) dictating whether the power should be drawn from the console or through the phone line.

While slow by today's standards, in 1998/1999 this style of dial-up internet connection was commonplace, and would remain (despite the likes of Sony and Microsoft claiming otherwise with the PlayStation 2 and Xbox respectively) the dominant form of internet connection for years to come. It was also ideal for what most developers wanted to achieve with the device - most online-enabled Dreamcast games are limited to downloading extra content or accessing news, or sending small packets of information such as high scores or emails.

Online multiplayer was more of a concern for the Western world, and while the likes of Quake III Arena were optimised with 56kB/s modems in mind, Sega would anticipate the adoption of broadband with the Broadband Adapter in late 2000, which could replace this built-in modem (though games need to be specifically designed for it, so older online titles are incompatible). Both share an outward appearance, though the Dreamcast Modems has "LINE" printed on the back rather than "LAN".

The first piece of Dreamcast software to make use of the modem was the web browser Dream Passport, which shipped with Japanese consoles at launch. Sonic Adventure is believed to be the first game to make use of the device to download extra content, and by the end of the system's life, roughly 200 games were able to utilise the device in some way.

In a lot of cases, modem support is limited to the Japanese release, with content being included on the disc (or locked off completely) in Western versions (if the game was even brought to the West), presumably to cut costs. There are cases of European or North American-exclusive content, though not on the same scale as Japan.

Most of the Dreamcast's official online infrastructure no longer exists, however the Dreamcast Modem is still functional as a modem. The device continues to work with the Dreamcast's online software and can still be used with a traditional dial-up connection (assuming you can find an internet service provider that will sell you one). Alternatively, projects such as the DreamPi "emulate" a dial-up service, allowing those with modern broadband connections to interface with the Dreamcast.

List of compatible games

References


Sega Dreamcast
Topics Technical Specifications (Hardware Comparison) | History (Development | Release | Decline and Legacy) | List of Games
Hardware Dreamcast consoles in Japan (Special) | Overseas
Add-ons Dreamcast Karaoke | Dreameye
Controllers Controller | Arcade Stick | Fishing Controller | Gun (Dream Blaster) | Race Controller | Maracas Controller | Twin Stick | Keyboard | Mouse | Third-party
Controller Add-ons Jump Pack (Third Party) | Microphone | VMU (4x Memory Card | Third Party)
Controller Connectors DC Tsunaident 123 | Dream Connection 2 in 1 | Dream Connection 4 in 1 | Dream Connection II | Super Converter 3 | Total Control | Total Control 2 | Total Control Plus | Total Control 3 | Total Control 5
Development Hardware Dev.Box | Controller Box | Controller Function Checker | Sound Box | GD-Writer | C1/C2 Checker | Dev.Cas | GD-ROM Duplicator
Online Services/Add-ons Dreamarena | SegaNet | WebTV for Dreamcast | Modem | Modular Cable | Modular Extension Cable | Broadband Adapter | Dreamphone
Connector Cables Onsei Setsuzoku Cable | RF Adapter | Scart Cable | S Tanshi Cable | Stereo AV Cable | VGA Box

Dreamcast MIDI Interface Cable | Neo Geo Pocket/Dreamcast Setsuzoku Cable | Taisen Cable

Misc. Hardware Action Replay CDX | Code Breaker | Kiosk | MP3 DC | MP3 DC Audio Player | Treamcast | Third-party
Unreleased Accessories DVD Player | Zip Drive | Swatch Access for Dreamcast | VMU MP3 Player
Arcade Variants NAOMI | Atomiswave | Sega Aurora