|Fast facts on Sega Dreamcast|
|Variants: Sega NAOMI, Atomiswave, Sega Aurora|
|Main processor: Hitachi SH-4|
The Sega Dreamcast (ドリームキャスト), code-named "Katana" and "Dural" during development, is a video game console manufactured by Sega as a successor to the Sega Saturn. It was the first machine released in what is now known as the sixth generation of video game consoles, with its sixth-generation peers being the PlayStation 2, the Nintendo GameCube and the Xbox. The Dreamcast had an arcade counterpart, the Sega NAOMI (which, in turn, was succeeded by the Sega Hikaru and NAOMI 2).
The Dreamcast was Sega's last home console, and developed primarily to detoxify the Sega brand. Western trust in Sega had been reduced following the dismal performance of the Sega Mega-CD, Sega 32X and Sega Saturn, and Sega were keen to regain the trust seen in the days of the Sega Mega Drive. Faced with increased competition from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, the Dreamcast landed in a distant fourth place, and Sega largely pulled out of the console business as a result. By the end of its lifespan, it sold 10,6 million consoles worldwide.
Many of Sega's games still in development for the Dreamcast at the time of its discontinuation were eventually released for other platforms, leading to the Dreamcast Diaspora. However, the innovative features of the Dreamcast along with a strong library of games means the console still has a large, dedicated fanbase, to the extent that Dreamcast games are still being released commercially today.
The Sega Dreamcast lays claim to being a "128-bit" video game console, although like many consoles of the era, this concept was mainly used as marketing jargon to assert a position above systems like the 32-bit PlayStation and "64-bit" Nintendo 64 (and save for a few handhelds and the PlayStation 2, it was the last mainstream console to make these sorts of claims). It is widely considered to be the console which ushered in what is now known as the "sixth generation" of video game consoles, beginning in 1998 and ending around 2007 when the major industry players began to focus their attention on seventh generation systems.
The Dreamcast is a small, white box with four control ports (taking design cues from the Nintendo 64), 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 foil software pirates, 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 stoage space, allowing for bigger games (though the initial run of PS2 games used a blue CD-ROM format).
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. They later packaged the Dreamcast into an arcade board as the Atomiswave.
Though the Dreamcast was officially discontinued in early 2001, commercial games were still developed for it and worldwide software support continued until 2002, terminating in the USA with the February 12th release of NHL 2K2, and in Europe with Cannon Spike and Freestyle Scooter on May 3. In Japan, software support continued for much longer. On February 24, 2004, Sega released its final Dreamcast game, Puyo Puyo Fever. The final new third party game for the system was Karous, released on March 8, 2007, and the final official release was a reprint of the 2003 title Border Down released exclusively through the Messe Sanoh store on January 17, 2008.
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.
For a full list of special edition Dreamcasts, see Special Dreamcast Models.
|1.004||Sega Dreamcast (Commercial-Early)||1.004 (Japan) (info) (912 kB)|
|1.01d||Sega Dreamcast (Commercial)||1.01d (North America) (info) (886 kB)|
|1.01d (Europe) (info) (886 kB)|
|1.01d (Japan) (info) (885 kB)|
|1.011||Sega Dreamcast (HKT-0120 Devbox)||1.011 (HKT-0120 Devbox) (info) (992 kB)|
|Sega Home Video Game Systems|
|SG-1000||SG-1000 II||Mega Drive||Mega Drive II|
|SC-3000||Mega-CD||Mega-CD II||Genesis 3|
|Sega Mark III||Saturn|
|Master System||Master System II|
|Sega Dreamcast Hardware|
|Dreamcast Variations||Special Dreamcast Models|
|Console Add-ons||Dreamcast Karaoke | Dreameye|
|Game Controllers||Controller | Arcade Stick | Fishing Controller | Gun (Dream Blaster) | Racing Controller | Maracas | Twin Stick | Keyboard | Mouse|
|Controller Add-ons||Jump Pack (Third Party) | Microphone | VMU (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||Dreamcast Dev.Box | Controller Box | Sound Box | GD-Writer | C1/C2 Checker | Dev.Cas | Dreamcast GD-ROM Duplicator|
|Online Services/Add-ons||Dreamarena | SegaNet | WebTV for Dreamcast | Modem | Modular Cable | Dreamcast Modular Extension Cable | Broadband Adapter|
|Connector Cables||5-Pin Cable | Audio Cable | RF Adapter | Scart Cable | Stereo AV Cable | VGA Adapter|
|Misc. Hardware||Action Replay | Code Breaker | Kiosk | MP3 DC | MP3 DC Audio Player | Treamcast|
|Unreleased Accessories||Dreamcast DVD Player | Dreamcast Zip Drive | Swatch Access for Dreamcast | VMU MP3 Player|