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.
Original Sega Dreamcast “VGA boxes” have gotten quite expensive, but excellent alternatives are now available. You can get basic RGB or VGA cables (links on the right) very cheap, but they vary in quality. In my opinion, the best choice for Dreamcast are the 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:
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.
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!:
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 I’ve read that a the Capcom Dreamcast games 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 (if you know of any more, please let me know):
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Black Matrix A/D
Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes
Street Fighter Zero 3
Street Fighter Zero 3 for Matching Service
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! This 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).
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.
– If you want the best you can get from your Dreamcast, purchase a Toro and start experimenting with the different .iso hacks available. You’ll be able to play your favorite games in a way that looks best on every display you use it on.
– If you’re just a basic Dreamcast user and only need RGB and VGA output, I’d still recommend a solution like the Kuro. Cheap Dreamcast RGB / VGA cables are hit-or miss: I’ve tested some that outputted a noisy, awful signal and others that were fine. Unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll only be using your Dreamcast on a 240p/480i-only RGB monitor and want to try a good RGB cable (no sync combiner needed), it’s worth the money to get a higher-quality solution.
– If you’d like digital audio, you can try this TOSLINK mod: https://assemblergames.com/threads/saturn-dreamcast-toslink.57670/