Sega Dreamcast

Sega Dreamcast

The Dreamcast (like most other 6th generation game consoles) outputted most games in 480i, with some supporting 240p and 480p.  If you’re not familiar with those terms, I highly recommend you read my 240p page before continuing.

All 480p Dreamcast games look great through VGA and if you have a display that supports a 480p input, then that’s by far the best output method.  If you use an RGB cable, the few 240p games that are available will look great, but all other games will only output in 480i.  As a result, an RGB cable is only a good option if you’re using a display that only supports 240p and 480i.

 

Output Options:

In my opinion, the best cable choice for Dreamcast are any of the newer solutions that allows you to switch between modes:

Boxes made by Beharbros:  http://www.beharbros.com/
I posted a full, detailed review of the Toro that showcases all it’s features.  I suggest reading it if you’re interested in any of their products, as the review would be the same for all, other then the differences noted below:

Toro:  http://www.retrorgb.com/toro.html

Hanzo: It’s the same as the Toro, but without a sync combiner or SCART output.

Kuro: While still a high-quality solution, the Kuro is simply a VGA / RGB output box. 

Kenzei:  The Kenzei is a sync combiner that takes any RGBHV signal (such as what’s outputted by the Kuro and Hanzo) and converts it to RGBs via SCART and RCA outputs. This is extremely helpful for people with monitors or upscalers that only accept 480p via RGBs.  As an FYI, adding an Extron RXi at the end of your signal will accomplish the same thing, but you may end up needing custom cables.  Also, if you’re not familiar with the terms “RGBHV” and “RGBs”, please read the sync page for more information.


VGA / SCART Cable By The Foo:
  https://ebay.to/2OVIFL3

I’ve only started testing this solution, but so far the voltage output is safe in all modes and it performs as advertised.  

HDMI Cables:

Most of the plug-and-play HDMI “cables” I’ve tried for the Dreamcast work very poorly.  Most aren’t compatible with any 480o/240p game, some have a very soft output and others barely work at all.  In my opinion, these are only good if you need a very cheap solution, or if you just need a temporary solution to hold you off. 

In my opinion, the only “Dreamcast HDMI Plug-and-play” that does a decent job are the Akura and Gekko boxes by the Behar Bros, which are simple analog to digital converters;  Using a switchable analog cable and the OSSC will output a better image, but the Gekko is only $55, making it a good contender for people who only need HDMI output from their Dreamcast.

There is a new HDMI solution for the Dreamcast coming soon.  It requires a mod, but is a true digital-to-digital solution offering the best possible video quality…

 

Upcoming Solutions:

Retro Gaming Cables will soon be releasing a SCART cable that supports both 480i and 480p modes.

HDRetrovision will (eventually) have their component video solution, which supports all modes:  https://www.hdretrovision.com/development/

 

Output Options (videos):

 

Progressive Scan (240p & 480p) compatible games:

Not all Dreamcast games are compatible with VGA, but a very large amount are. I found a site that shows which games are compatible and even shows you how to force a VGA mode in most others!:

http://www.epforums.org/showthread.php?56169-Dreamcast-VGA-Compatability-list-amp-Guide

To access the 240p mode in Dreamcast games, a few games ask if you’d like to start the game in a “progressive” mode (Bangai-O) and some Capcom Dreamcast games (Third Strike) can be forced into a 240p mode by holding Start+L (or Start+Z on the Arcade Stick) when you turn the system on, before the Capcom logo appears.  As far as I know, these are the only Dreamcast games that support native 240p:

Bangai-O

Last Hope

Street Fighter Alpha 3

Black Matrix A/D

Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes

Street Fighter Zero 3

Gunbird 2

Neo XYX

Street Fighter Zero 3 for Matching Service

Gunlord

Princess Maker Collection

The King of Fighters Dream Match 1999

Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure

Street Fighter 3: Third Strike

The King of Fighters 99 Evolution

Last Blade 2: Final Edition

Street Fighter 3: Double Impact

Twinkle Star Sprites

 

Forcing Widescreen mode / Aspect Ratio:

Some Dreamcast games have been hacked to run in widescreen mode.  If you play these games on an HDTV, this is definitely worth checking out:  https://segaretro.org/List_of_Dreamcast_widescreen_codes

Also, the aspect ratio of Dreamcast is a bit weird.  I plan on updating this section soon with detailed information.  For now, check out Fudoh’s great post about it and how it can be fixed with the OSSC:  http://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?p=1201520#p1201520

 

Some games aren’t RGB-compatible:

I know that probably sounds crazy, but a few game discs will output composite and S-Video, but not RGB!  Some games can be fixed with an ISO patch, however the very few games which are effected won’t run in RGB from their original discs.  Here’s some games that are effected, as well as a forum link to fixes: 

Effected Games (most):  Giga Wing, Skies of Arcadia/Eternal Arcadia, Street Fighter Alpha/Zero 3, Super Street Fighter 2 X, Touken Retsuden 4 , Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service, Pop ‘n’ Musci (all 4).

Links:  http://www.bordersdown.net/threads/11538-What-NTSC-Dreamcast-games-are-non-RGB-compatible

 

Converting 480p to 240p for a “retro” look:

If you run the 480p VGA signal through an Extron Emotia, you can force a 240p mode. I’ve tested this method and in my opinion (when using a display that doesn’t support 480p), a “forced 240p mode” looks better than 480i. Check out my 240p page for more information.

 

Playing CDr’s:

If the original game is under 800MB and you use good quality (Tayo Uden) discs, you can safely play backups on VA0, VA1 and some VA2 Dreamcast consoles using a software patch.  Using cheap media is very bad for your GDROM drive and will absolutely wear your drive much faster than with regular games!  Also, games over 800MB (GDROMs can be over 1GB) will either have to be compressed or split to multiple discs.  Overall, improper use of CDr’s are not recommended and using an ODE is overall a better choice.

 

Optical Drive Emulators:

You can replace the Dreamcast’s GDROM drive with an ODE that allows you to launch games from hard drives or flash media.  My favorite at the moment is the GDEMU, but here’s a page showing them all:  http://retrorgb.com/dreamcastode.html

 

Hardware Tips and Tricks:

Here’s a video that shows all my favorite tricks for getting the best out of your Dreamcast:

 

Summary:

– At the moment, if you want the best you can get from your Dreamcast, purchase a video output solution that supports both video modes.  You’ll be able to play your favorite games in a way that looks best on every display you use it on.

– Using Dreamcast on a flat-screen can be complicated.  The best way at the moment is using an OSSC, which allows you to toggle between DTV and 640×480 modes.  Cheap HDMI cables should only be a temporary solution, as they don’t work well at all.

– I like using ODE’s to play my DC games, as patching and options are applied much easier.

– If you’d like digital audio, you can try this TOSLINK mod:  https://assemblergames.com/threads/saturn-dreamcast-toslink.57670/

 

 

If you’d like info on mods for other systems, head to the Getting RGB From Each System page or check out the main page for more retro-awesomeness.