Sega Dreamcast

From Sega Retro

Dreamcast logo.svg
Manufacturer: Sega
Variants: Sega NAOMI, Atomiswave, Sega System SP
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Dreamcast
¥29,80029,800 HKT-3000
Sega Dreamcast
$199.99199.99 HKT-3020
Sega Dreamcast
DM 499,-499,-[5] HKT-3030
Sega Dreamcast
Sega Dreamcast
1,690F1,690[4] HKT-3030
Sega Dreamcast
£199.99199.99[3] HKT-3030
Sega Dreamcast
10400 Kč10400 [9]
Sega Dreamcast
Sega Dreamcast
Sega Dreamcast
Sega Dreamcast
Sega Dreamcast
3.999 DH3.999 DH
Sega Dreamcast
Sega Dreamcast
Sega Dreamcast

The Dreamcast (ドリームキャスト) is a home video game console manufactured by Sega as a successor to the Sega Saturn. Dubbed as Sega's "Super Console"[12], it is a "128-bit" machine designed with then-cutting edge hardware and a focus on the internet. The Dreamcast was originally released in Japan in November 1998 before seeing a Western release the following year.

The Dreamcast was Sega's seventh and final home video game console, and was discontinued in early 2001[13][14] due to financial constraints within the company. It had sold at least 8.2 million hardware units and 51.63 million software units by March 2001,[15], with estimates suggesting 10.6 million hardware units in total.

An arcade counterpart to the Dreamcast exists as the Sega NAOMI.


The Dreamcast is a small, white box with aesthetics designed to appeal to a wide-ranging audience. It was envisioned as an "128-bit" "super console", designed to leapfrog "32-bit" and "64-bit" contemporaries in the form of the PlayStation and Nintendo 64, respectively (although from a technical standpoint, its main processor deals in 32-bit or 64-bit instructions, with the 128-bit figure coming from the graphics hardware). Incidentally the Dreamcast was the last home console to use "bits" as a selling point, with processing capabilities now typically measured in other ways.

Taking design cues from the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn, the Dreamcast contains four control ports, a removable modem, disc drive and an extension port (as well as the expected AV and power inputs). It is not backwards compatible with any prior Sega hardware or software (although its controller derives from the Saturn's 3D Control Pad), and operates in much the same way as the Saturn (and PlayStation) does, with a configurable settings and memory management accessed through a BIOS screen.

The Dreamcast uses a proprietary format of storage called GD-ROMs for games in order to circumvent software piracy, a strategy that ultimately backfired when the first run of discs had a high rate of defects. The format was also cracked fairly quickly (and in some cases, the pirated games were released before the legitimate versions). Sega largely had themselves to blame for the high levels of Dreamcast piracy—their use of the GD-ROM format was completely undermined by the console's support for the Mil-CD format, which allowed the console to boot from a standard CD-R. Mil-CD support was removed from the final Dreamcast revisions toward the end of the console's life.

The GD-ROM format also put the console at a disadvantage when competing against the PlayStation 2 - the PS2 used DVDs, and could therefore run DVD videos making it an inexpensive DVD player as well as a video game console. DVD-ROMs also have more storage space, allowing for bigger games (though the initial run of PS2 games used a blue CD-ROM format). Sega looked into DVD technology during the Dreamcast's development but claimed it was too expensive.

The Dreamcast was the first video game console to ship with a built-in 56k modem, with broadband adapters being made available later on in certain regions. This allowed the system to connect to the internet using a custom, fully-functional web browser and e-mail client. Many games released for the Dreamcast shipped with online play modes, the most popular being Phantasy Star Online and the Sega Sports lineup (now published under the ESPN label). Although other consoles before the Dreamcast had network gaming support, such as the Sega Saturn's NetLink and the Sega Mega Drive's XB∀ND, the Dreamcast was the first game console to include this ability out of the box and is therefore considered the first internet-enabled home game system.

The Dreamcast has a modest hacking enthusiast community. The availability of Windows CE software development kits on the Internet—as well as ports of Linux (LinuxDC) and dreamcast NetBSD operating systems to the Dreamcast—gave programmers a selection of familiar development tools to work with, even though they do not really support the high speed graphics. A homebrew minimal operating system called Kallistios offers support for most hardware, while not offering multi-tasking, which is superfluous for games. Many emulators and other tools (MP3, 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 write a CD which is bootable by an unmodified Dreamcast.

Sega released an arcade board, using the same technology as the Dreamcast, called Sega NAOMI, leading to many Dreamcast-exclusive games with a high level of arcade quality.

The Dreamcast's PowerVR CLX2 was the first GPU for a home system with hardware capabilities such as bump mapping, volumetric effects,[16] order-independent transparency, and Dot3 normal mapping.[17]


Main article: Dreamcast consoles.

Japanese Dreamcasts can be identified by the triangle at the front of the unit. Though the power LED is identical across all regions, the piece of plastic attached to the lid of the Japanese model is transparent, while in North America it is grey. The Japanese models also have the text "Designed for Microsoft Windows CE" printed on the front right, whereas Western versions say "Compatible with Microsoft Windows CE".

For a full list of special edition Dreamcasts, see Special Dreamcast Models.

Technical specifications

Main article: Sega Dreamcast/Technical specifications.

Hardware comparisons

Main article: Sega Dreamcast/Hardware comparison.


Main article: History of the Sega Dreamcast.

Localised names

Also known as
Language Localised Name English Translation
English Sega Dreamcast Sega Dreamcast
Japanese ドリームキャスト Dreamcast
Hebrew דרימקאסט


Main article: Sega Dreamcast games.

Production credits

A list of names, likely the various people involved with console's creation, can be found at 0x1A1A0 in the flash ROM.

ROM text[18]

Developer mentions[19][20][21][22]

Magazine articles

Main article: Sega Dreamcast/Magazine articles.

Video coverage

Main article: Sega Dreamcast/Video coverage.

Promotional material

Main article: Sega Dreamcast/Promotional material.

Digital manuals


Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
{{{{{icon}}}|L}} Division by zero.
Based on
0 review
Sega Retro Average 
Publication Version Score
GameZine (UK)
Komputer Świat Gry (PL)
Man!ak (PL)
Play (PL)
PSX Extreme (PL)
PSX Extreme (PL)
Sega Dreamcast
Based on
6 reviews

Sega Dreamcast

Official photographs

Logos by regions

Logo Region
Used in Japan, Asia and South Korea
Used in North and South America
Used in Western and Eastern Europe,
Asia, Africa, Australasia



External links


  1. Press release: 1999-09-02: Sega Dreamcast Launch Titles and Peripherals
  2. Computer & Video Games, "November 1999" (UK; 1999-10-13), page 52
  3. Computer & Video Games, "October 1999" (UK; 1999-09-15), page 59
  4. File:ConsolesMicro FR 01.pdf, page 15
  5. File:NextLevel DE 1999-0910.pdf, page 6
  6. Hyper, "September 1999" (AU; 1999-xx-xx), page 29
  7. Dreamcast (Tectoy) (Wayback Machine: 2000-03-03 16:07)
  12. Press release: 1998-05-21: Sega Unveils Super Console!
  13. Press Release: 2001-01-28: Dúvidas e confirmações no futuro da Dreamcast
  14. Press Release: 2001-10-29: Dreamcast não desiste e mostra novos trunfos
  15. File:AnnualReport2001 English.pdf, page 16
  16. Gamers' Republic, "August 1998" (US; 1998-07-21), page 29
  17. [PC Magazine, December 1999, page 193 PC Magazine, December 1999, page 193]
  18. The Cutting Room Floor: Dreamcast
  19. File:Sega_Consumer_History_JP_EnterBrain_Book.pdf, page 23
  21. (Wayback Machine: 2023-10-29 15:09)
  22. JW Szczepaniak (2014). The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers: Volume 1
  23. GameZine (UK) (+0:00)
  24. Komputer Świat Gry, "Czerwiec-lipiec 2000" (PL; 2000-xx-xx), page 72
  25. Man!ak, "Grudzień 1999" (PL; 1999-xx-xx), page 10
  26. Play, "Wszystko o Konsolach" (PL; 2001-xx-xx), page 2
  27. PSX Extreme, "02/99" (PL; 1999-0x-xx), page 18
  28. PSX Extreme, "03/2001" (PL; 2001-0x-xx), page 42
Sega Home Video Game Systems
83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11
SG-1000 SG-1000 II Mega Drive Mega Drive II
SC-3000 Mega-CD Mega-CD II Genesis 3
Sega Mark III 32X Dreamcast
Master System Master System II
AI Computer Game Gear
Pico Beena

Sega Dreamcast
Topics Technical specifications (Hardware comparison) | History (Development | Release | Decline and legacy | Internet) | List of games | Magazine articles | Promotional material | Merchandise
Hardware Japan (Special) | Western Europe | Eastern Europe | North America | Asia | South America | Australasia | Africa
Add-ons Dreamcast Karaoke | Dreameye
Controllers Controller | Arcade Stick | Fishing Controller | Gun (Dream Blaster) | Race Controller | Maracas Controller (Third-party) | Twin Stick | Keyboard | Mouse | Third-party
Controller Add-ons Jump Pack (Third-party) | Microphone | VMU (4x Memory Card | Third-party)
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 | Official Case | Treamcast
Third-party accessories Controllers | Controller converters | Miscellaneous
Unreleased Accessories DVD Player | Zip Drive | Swatch Access for Dreamcast | VMU MP3 Player
Arcade Variants NAOMI | Atomiswave | Sega Aurora