The Sega Dreamcast is quite possibly one of the most versatile console of all time. They also happen to be quite affordable and plentiful. If you don’t already have one, you need to pick one (or two) up. If you already have one, take a look at some hardware and software that will maximize your experience with the White Box.
One of the best ways to increase your overall Dreamcast experience is to make some hardware enhancements/modifications. Most of these are quite simple and inexpensive, but once you try them out, you many wonder how you ever lived without them.
With the growing demand for high-definition displays and optimal picture quality, classic gamers may have a hard time getting their older consoles to look good. There are also people (especially college students) that are staying away from traditional TV and opting to have their entertainment piped through their computer monitors. Fortunately, the Dreamcast has native VGA support that will accommodate both of these demands. With an affordable VGA cable (which replaces your traditional AV cables) you can connect your Dreamcast to any VGA-compatible computer monitor or HDTV. It results in extremely clear picture quality that is only rivaled by an XBox 360 with an HDMI cable.
This puppy will set your wallet back quite a bit, but if you want to be able to connect your Dreamcast to a high-speed internet connection, or just want to experiment with hooking your Dreamcast to your local LAN, you will need a Broadband adapter. This expensive add-on replaces your Dreamcast’s modem with a LAN connection. While most of Sega’s servers have been taken down, there are still ways of getting your Dreamcast online.
By now, most Dreamcast owners have learned that nearly every Dreamcast can play ripped backup games. However, it isn’t quite as easy if you have official retail versions of games you imported (and their are a lot of good games to import). In order to play games of a different region, you can check out this guide which will show you a couple different options on booting games from a different region.
If I had to pick one main disappointment about the Dreamcast, I would have to complain about the noise the console makes when running. When compared to some beautiful hardware creations such as the Sega Saturn or Nintendo Gamecube, the Dreamcast is downright noisy. Both the GD-ROM drive and the system fan combine efforts to force you to turn up the volume of your game a bit higher. While we can’t do much about reducing the GD-ROM’s noise, you can take a look at this guide for putting in a quieter system fan.
While its quite a shame that there is not any high-quality wireless controllers available for the Dreamcast. That disappoints me just about as much as the noise level. Our one work-around is a set of controller extension cables. The cables will essentially double the length of your controllers cords so you can have your console tucked away and have your seating further away from your system.
This little addition will probably only apply to you if you enjoy old-school arcade games like fighters and shooters, but I know I could never live without my trusty Arcade Stick. I’m a big fighting fanatic, and in case you never noticed, the standard Dreamcast controller really sucks for fighting games that benefit from a six-button layout and require quick and precise joystick movements. Personally, I own an Agetec arcade stick (mine has a green joytick) which was promoted as the “official” Dreamcast arcade stick. However, racketboy member, Jemsic has made a number of high-end arcade sticks specially designed for the Dreamcast. He uses real arcade parts in order to have the best durability, comfort, and control in addition to adding custom artwork.
Once you have your ideal hardware setup configured, you may want to work on building the ideal software library for your gaming and entertainment needs.
The Essential Games
Sega’s creativity really showed through with a number of exclusive games. To get you started, check out The Games That Defined The Sega Dreamcast. If you have some more specific tastes, you may be interested in the Dreamcast impressive 2D Fighters and 2D Shooters libraries. And finally, if you need something a little more exotic, check out the best of the Dreamcast imports. There is something to please everyone.
There are a number of emulation projects for the Dreamcast (see DCEmulation.com), but NesterDC is at near perfection in terms of both actual game emulation and its simple and enjoyable interface. With NesterDC its so incredibly easy to have all the best NES games on a single self-booting disc and switch between games with very little effort. It works so well, there is little reason to own an actual NES instead of a Dreamcast other than to experience the true NES “feel”. If you like boxy controller and blowing into your cartridges, keep your NES. Otherwise, look into NesterDC running on a Dreamcast.
When the existing Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo emulators for the Dreamcast were still struggling to run the majority of the games perfectly, Dreamcast enthusiasts scoffed at the idea of the Dreamcast being able to run larger Neo-Geo games well at all. However, you should never underestimate the creativity and skill of the best Dreamcast homebrew developers. Neo4All is a remarkable emulator that manages to run quite a few Neo-Geo games surprisingly well. As you can tell of my review of the Neo4All emulator, it is not perfect, it is a great solution for playing a lot of my favorite SNK titles. Not only is the emulation excellent, but the developers actually produced an interface that models itself after the best aspects of NesterDC.
Beats of Rage
There have been homebrew games for the Dreamcast for quite some time. However, once Beats of Rage hit the Dreamcast scene, a whole new burst of development took off. The original Beats of Rage game modeled itself after Sega’s side-scrolling brawler series, Street of Rage, but inserts SNK character sprites into the game. Overall, Beats of Rage has a very professional feel to it and plays quite well. Not only was the original Beats of Rage game good, but it also allowed other developers and enthusiasts to easily create their own mods for the game. The result is a number of additional brawlers featuring a variety of characters and settings. You can find a collection of Beats of Rage games over at DC Evolution.
Changing Game Music
Are you getting tired of constantly listening to The Offspring while playing Crazy Taxi? Would you rather listen to trance music instead of Marvel vs Capcom 2’s elevator music? You’re not alone. Some games have really great gameplay, but sometimes the music just irritates you or bores you to tears. Fortunately, with certain Dreamcast games (primarily Capcom titles), you have the opportunity to take a ripped version of the game and replace the music with something you actually enjoy. The process can be a tad complex and the results can be hit or miss, but when it works well, you will be some much happier. I don’t have complete documentation of editing every game, but here’s a look at Marvel vs Capcom 2.
System Hacks and Guides Collection
What Should I Add?
We’ve already started the discussion of our favorite uses for the Dreamcast over in the forums. What are yours? (You can also use the comments section below)