Sega was down, but not out after the catastrophic flop of the Sega Saturn outside of Japan. They decided to get serious about the threat Sony posed in the leadup to the sixth generation. They fired Bernie Stolar, and Segata Sanshiro died to save it. Their next and final system, released on November 27, 1998 in Japan, was the Dreamcast, a system that both kickstarted the sixth generation of console gaming and served as Sega's attempt to put themselves back on top.
It was the first Sega console since the Mark III which isn't colored black (though there was a black-colored variant with Sega Sports branding on it), breaking a tradition held since the Sega Master System. The Sega name was tarnished by the Saturn debacle; advertising and packaging downplayed the company responsible and emphasized the spotless Dreamcast 'brand'.
The DC controller layout was based on that of the Saturn's 3D Control Pad. Eschewing memory cards, the Dreamcast uses "VMUs" (Virtual Memory Units) that insert directly into your controller to save game files (the drawback is that accidentally yanking the controller out of the console port whilst saving will corrupt your file)note . It doubles as a mini-handheld with a watch battery which you can remove and then play mini-games on. It occasionally bleeds into the core games as seen in Skies of Arcadia's Pinta's Quest: Pinta can be encountered during the story and will offer to bestow items that he finds in Pinta's Quest, but it isn't necessary or relevant to progress. Sonic Adventure has a Virtual Pet game like Tamagotchi (Chao Garden) which you can load onto it. Rush 2049 has a goofy Racing Game you can load onto it. It was an interesting idea but wasn't used all that much in that fashion. It can also link up with other VMUs to trade data without being plugged into the console.
In a similar vein to the later Wii U's GamePad, the VMU's screen (typically used as a clock and calendar) could also display game information while plugged in. It was particularly useful in multiplayer games; for instance, players could choose their plays in NFL 2K on their VMU screen rather than the normal playcall screen (which would display the play art for opponents to see), and in Sonic Shuffle, where movement was decided by hands of numbered cards rather than random dice rolls as in Mario Party, players' hands would be concealed on their VMU screens.
Determined not to repeat the Saturn's mistakes, Sega designed it to be a powerful 3D system which was easy to develop for. In the U.S., it launched on the now-iconic date of September 9, 1999 (with "9.9.99" becoming something of a slogan for the system in the leadup to its American release) with a mainline 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game, Sonic Adventure (in Japan, a slightly earlier version of Adventure came out 1 month after the console launched). Microsoft also lent a hand with the system's online capability, which helped pioneer online gaming for consoles with titles like ChuChu Rocket! and especially Phantasy Star Online.
Like the Saturn before it, the Dreamcast had a heavy emphasis on arcade ports, though its capacity to play them was much more impressive than its big brother. While the Saturn's arcade conversions were quite solid, the 2D ones relied on RAM expansion accessories and the 3D titles often had to make noticeable compromises (e.g. a halved framerate) to run on the system. The Dreamcast, being based on Sega's NAOMI arcade board, was able to run Arcade Perfect Ports no problem, and the ports would often turn out even better than the originals. Popular arcade fighting games such as Soulcalibur and Dead or Alive 2 achieved greater acclaim through their Dreamcast versions, and the second (and last) Rival Schools game was only ever ported to this console. The most famous port which isn't a fighting game is the arcade hit Crazy Taxi, which was one of the Dreamcast's killer apps and successful enough to warrant two console-only sequels.
While arcade ports were an important part of the system, the Dreamcast did birth a new generation of IPs like Jet Set Radio and Shenmue. The first sequel in the Grandia series began as a Dreamcast exclusive, as did Resident Evil – Code: Veronica. Both were true 3D leaps for their respective franchises: Grandia I and the previous Resident Evil games used a Sprite/Polygon Mix.
As alluded to earlier, the Dreamcast was the console of choice for 2D fighters, playing host to the most-faithful versions of the Marvel vs. Capcom and SNK vs. Capcom games; indeed, the long-lived Marvel vs. Capcom 2 competitive scene kept the Dreamcast in the public consciousness beyond retrogaming circles after its death. These days it's easier to play MvC2 on Xbox Live Arcade or the Play Station Networknote .
The system did have its share of drawbacks and design flaws. Sega decided that the pack-in modem for Europe and Asia would only be 33.6K at a time when 56K was industry standard (the American release came with a 56K modem) and with ISDN and Broadband starting to emerge. Despite the possibility of replacing the pack-in modem, the high cost and rarity of upgrade units (a replacement 56K modem and a 10/100 Ethernet "broadband adapter"), along with the decision to software-lock the console to a small number of partnered ISPs in some territories (the bundled modem setup disc would only allow settings for these ISPs), severely handicapped the console's growth as a potential online platform. Another point of contention was the controller. While it was generally well received by players and has proven to be quite durable, Sega made the curious decision to only use 4 buttonsnote (3 less than the upcoming GameCube, 7 less than the upcoming PlayStation 2, which has the same amount as the original Dualshock for the PlayStation, and 5 less than the Xbox. And even the Dreamcast's predecessor in the Sega Saturn) and only one analog stick, all chalked up to polling from gamers who remarked that controllers had too many inputs at the time, meaning that porting over certain games from other consoles was difficult or impossible. That's not counting complaints about the jagged D-pad (following the sublime perfection of the Saturn d-pad), the increased bulk, or the odd design of the bottom facing controller cord which effectively reduced its length.
The Dreamcast actually came out of the gate very fast, surprisingly so given the failure of the Saturn. However, in an era when DVDs were about to explode in popularity, Sony immediately leveraged that with the PlayStation 2, which not only acted as a standalone DVD player, but boasted graphical capabilities far beyond what the Dreamcast could offer. A mere eleven days after the North American launch of the Dreamcast, Sony unveiled the PlayStation 2 at the Tokyo Game Show, which dazzled the crowd of journalists with what looked like fancy tech-demo renders of Tekken 3note and Gran Turismonote , until the presenters took the controls and revealed they were actual playable demos. Just like that, the industry felt like the air was immediately out of the Dreamcast's balloon, to be rendered obsolete by the PS2 in a year's time.
There was also the fact that the system's copy protection was quickly defeated. Hackers eventually discovered the console's support for MIL-CDs, a format with a whopping 8 releases exclusive to Japan which adds multimedia functions to music CDs whenever the Dreamcast plays them. For example, MIL-CD music releases can offer enhanced navigational menus, internet capabilities, and full-screen video. Contrary to popular belief however, this didn't leave the Dreamcast completely vulnerable. While MIL-CD support could theoretically leave a backdoor into the Dreamcast, Sega foresaw this and implemented an additional layer of copy protection to stop people from simply re-formatting GD-ROM images into MIL-CD images and burning them onto CD-Rs. The boot sector of a MIL-CD was scrambled from the factory, and when inserting the disc into the Dreamcast and it detected it as a MIL-CD, it would attempt to unscramble the boot sector. If the result came back scrambled instead of unscrambled, it would not boot. This deterred pirates for a while, but unfortunately for Sega, a hacking group obtained a Dreamcast dev kit, which included a scrambler program. They then used it to create a special program to rip GD-ROM discs from a retail Dreamcast via a serial cable or through tunneling software and the modem/broadband adapter and then formatting the data to adhere to the MIL-CD format; early attempts used an MIL-CD boot disc such as the famous Utopia Boot Disc which had to first be inserted and booted up before playing a burnt CD. This also had the benefit of bypassing the region coding installed to the console's BIOS-IPL allowing you to run imports. Towards the end of the console's life, pirates eventually created a workaround in the form of a self-booting disc image which contained the scrambled bootloader built in. The final revision of the Dreamcast hardware removed MIL-CD support completely.
A caveat to this however was the need to strip data from the 1.1GB GDI disc image to allow it to fit onto a standard 700MB CD-ROM. Common sacrifices were compressed audio tracks, textures or FMVs and in certain cases outright removal of these components or to split them across multiple discs. Several early scene releases would also miss entire levels or sequences (A scene release of Sonic Adventure would always crash on the Twinkle Park stage due to missing files needed for the level to load). Later Dreamcast games would start adding their own anti-piracy checks to try and deter pirates, but by that time it was too little, too late.
The most significant factor was the large debt Sega had accrued from their earlier string of failed hardware. Not only did this limit Sega's ability to promote the Dreamcast, it also meant they had to sell it at an unrealistic margin in order for them to become profitable again. Developers, retailers and consumers likewise viewed the console warily given Sega's shaky situation, and Electronic Arts famously refused to support the system at all: they had previously wanted to be the exclusive supplier of sports titles for the DC, and when Sega said no (as they had just purchased developer Visual Concepts for the express purpose of creating sports games), EA exacted their revenge. On the upside, Visual Concepts' NFL 2K and NBA 2K wound up becoming huge hits even after the Dreamcast's demise, and were seen as worthy competitors to EA's sports titles, with EA giving up on basketball entirely for a few years. However, NFL 2K wound up being Screwed by the Lawyers when EA struck a deal to become the NFL's exclusive video game partner.
Between 1998 and 2003, Sega operated at a net loss. The Dreamcast made them money but the games just weren't selling (usually the opposite is true with home consoles), and they couldn't compete with the PS2 or GameCube. Sega's president at the time, Isao Okawa, held majority shares and fronted $695 million of his own money to keep them from going bankrupt and to pacify investors. He died soon afterward while in negotiations with Microsoft to support Dreamcast games on the Xbox (though not before forgiving Sega's $695 million debt owed to him), and the guy who replaced him was adamant about staying out of hardware from then on. It didn't cover the damages, and riding out the Dreamcast for another year wouldn't have turned it around, so they folded (having made a little under 11 million of the things) and retreated to making software shortly thereafter. The Dreamcast saw its dream die on March 31, 2001. With that, Sega ended nearly three decades as a leading console manufacturer. The last game Sega would ever publish for the Dreamcast—and by extension, their own consoles—was Puyo Puyo Fever on February 24, 2004. Dreamcast consoles were still sold in Japan until 2006, where third-party games continued to trickle out until '07. The final Dreamcast game released that year was Karous.
A common misconception is that the Dreamcast is compatible with Microsoft Windows CE due to the misleading label slapped onto the front of the console, but this is not the case.note Sega and Microsoft partnered to develop a Windows CE-based development kit under the codename of Dragon to allow developers to more easily port over games from the PC platform using an abstraction layer with familiar API's such as DirectX (Specifically DirectX 6) rather than needing to code to the bare metal of the console. The game would then ship with the libraries it would require from this environment rather than the entire operating system. Ultimately however, the Windows CE based SDK fell to the wayside in favor of Sega's own Katana software development kit which was more optimized and easier to work with due to not needing to worry about the overhead cost of the Windows libraries and compatibility issues between the two platform's architecture but that did not stop from around 75 games using the Windows CE based kit (including a cancelled port of Half-Life plus Resident Evil 2, Tomb Raider Chronicles and Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation)
For all its failures, the Dreamcast is still remembered fondly by a subset of gamers and has a cult following. Many Sega fans consider the Dreamcast to be the height of Sega's creative powers: they not only pumped out an incredible number of well-received first-party games but titles like Seaman, Jet Grind Radio, Crazy Taxi, Space Channel 5 and so forth were noted for a je ne sais Sega in terms of art direction and style that made their games stand out from Nintendo and Sony.
The Dreamcast was also known for being a de facto open platform: long before its death, modders had hacked it wide open to the point of being able to run versions of Linux and NetBSD, as well as allowing programmers to write their own games using KallistiOS as a developing environment. So although the GD-ROM format was abandoned in 2007, indie developers still continue to make Dreamcast (and VMU) games. A complete first-person shooter called Paranoia was released in May 2010. Later on, a side-scrolling shooter came out.
The Dreamcast also helped standardize online gaming for consoles; while online play had been experimented with as far back as the Nintendo Entertainment System era and had even earlier pre-internet precursors in the Atari 2600 days, the Dreamcast is what first made online connectivity a genuine and prioritized point of interest within the gaming industry. The system came with a modem, as previously mentioned, and had robust online services based on the region. Asia had Dricas, North America had SegaNet, Europe had Dreamarena, and Australia had Comma. SegaNet required a subscription but ended up being the most successful, quickly reaching over 1.5 million subscribers right after the Dreamcast launched in North America. Outside of online multiplayer and matchmaking, the services also allowed for internet browsing, access to email, and the first vestiges of Downloadable Content. The potential of DLC was very restricted, however, due to memory constraints with the VMUs. Microsoft actually assisted with the creation of SegaNet, and would go on to use the experience they gained from their partnership with Sega on the Dreamcast's Spiritual Successor: the Xbox (Bill Gates was even in talks to consider cross-console compatibility between the two consoles, but the negotiations fell through over the choice of online services). Several games Sega had been developing for the DC ended up as early Xbox exclusives (in an attempt to win Japanese gamers, which failed). Even the Xbox controller layout (which was subsequently improved upon with the Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers) is based on that of the Dreamcast's.
In the late nineties, a commercial PlayStation emulator called Bleemcast! was released for the Dreamcast. A port of the first PS1 emulator ever, it was able to enhance the graphics of PS1 games by increasing the resolution and smoothing the textures out, which was an impressive feat considering that the PS1 was still being sold. Unfortunately, the huge task of creating the emulator and a lawsuit from Sony meant that only three games were supported: Gran Turismo 2, Metal Gear Solid, and Tekken 3.
- CPU: 32-bit Hitachi SH-4 at 200MHz, with a peak performance of 360 MIPS and 1.4 GFLOPS. It also has a 64-bit double-precision superscalar SuperH-4 RISC Central processing unit core with a 32-bit integer unit using 16-bit fixed-length instructions, a 64-bit data bus allowing a variable width of either 8, 16, 32 or 64-bits, and a 128-bit floating-point bus. The SH-4 also comes equipped with a Memory Management Unit or MMU for managing system memory resources. Although the MMU is disabled by default and must be enabled by the software title running to use it. The MMU was only mostly used in Dragon SDK developed games.
- It had a 128-bit vector unit, which led to a misconception that the CPU itself is 128-bit. This is exactly how Sega marketed it- as a 128-bit console since the belief of "more bits is better" still hung around, though this idea pretty much died during the Dreamcast's console generation.
- GPU: PowerVR2 CLX2 codenamed "Holly" at 100MHz. Holly also acts as the System Bus for all controller input.
- Sound: Custom Yamaha chip called AICA at 45MHz. AICA supports up to 64 PCM channels in 16 or 8 bit at a sample rate of 44.1Khz. It's also split into submodules including a ADPCM decoder and a ARM7TDI at 2.82MHz for controlling AICA. This controller uses small drivers written into S-RAM to control it. AICA is also reponsible for handling the onboard real time clock. Curiously enough, the Dremcast has support for 2 MIDI based inputs through AICA, most likely for development purposes.
- The VMU uses a 8bit Sanyo LC86K87 clocked at 6MHz when attached to the Dreamcast controller and 32KHz when detached.
- 16MB of main memory running at 100MHz on a 64-bit interface.
- 8MB of video memory running at 100MHz on a 4 x 16-bit interface.
- 2MB of sound memory running at 66MHz on a 16-bit interface.
- 2MB of system ROM for the BIOS and 256KB of flash memory (though this doesn't store game saves, it's to save internet connection settings via dial-up or broadband or serial information for online games)
- Games are stored on GD-ROM, a proprietary, high density optical disc format that was incompatible, mostly, with CD drives. The "GD" stood for "Gigabyte Disc", as 1.1 GB was the format's maximum storage capacity.
- Part of the GD disc was CD compatible as the first data track. This was used to either play an audio track informing the person the GD disc is only usable on a Dreamcast or offer some bonus content for PCs. GDROM's read using Constant Angular Velocity (CAV) at a x12 read speed.
- Game saves were stored on a device called the Visual Memory Unit or VMU, which offered a storage space of 100KB divided into 200, 512 byte blocks. The full capacity is 128KB but the first 28KB are reserved by the VMU. Homebrew tools can unlock this extra storage space at the cost of some games becoming unable to read the VMU.
- The VMU itself comes with 512 bytes of WRAM. 256bytes is reserved for the system BIOS, leaving the remaining 256 bytes for onboard programs. The System IPL is stored on a 16KB mask ROM.
- The Videologic Power VR 2 100MHz (GPU). The list of features it supports made it rather advanced for its time and relatively simple to program for, even if it isn't the most powerful or sophisticated. Some of its features wouldn't become standard in consoles or PC graphic cards (barring the one attempt Videologic tried to bring another version of this GPU to the PC market) for at least a decade.
- Capable of rendering 7 million polygons per second. Dreamcast games can be expected to run 0.5 to 5 million polygons (depending on the game engine) per second.
- Hardware (thus at all times, irrespective of software) full screen supersampling anti-aliasing,
- Anisotropic filtering
- VQ hardware texture compression (average 5:1), saving memory on RAM and disk
- Tile based rendering, saving on memory bandwidth and allowing it to only render visible polygons
- Real time lighting through gouraud shading and bump mapping.
- Optimized for 640x480 resolution, capable of up to 1600x1200, though no commercial game ever went above 640x480, as that was the highest resolution television sets of the time supported. Some games also used 320x240, mostly 2D fighters such as Marvel Vs. Capcom. Unlike the PS2, it blends frames together, creating an image with no "shimmering" and less jagged edges at the cost of a blurrier image.
- Note that the capabilities supported by the hardware are optional, so some games may sacrifice graphical improvements to achieve adequate frame rate. For instance, its anti-aliasing requires the Dreamcast to render 4 times the pixels for a slightly smoother image, so it was usually the first to go.
- Can output through coaxial, composite, S-Video, and VGA (with a VGA Box)
- There are many, many accessories, but the ones that really stand out are:
- The Dreamcast Controller, noted for its wide variety of color schemes, dual expansion ports and an unusual shape (it's an update to the Saturn's 3D Control Pad).
- The VMU (Visual Memory Unit), which is needed to save games, and doubled as a portable game system. It plugs into the controller via the aforementioned expansion ports (typically the one in the front, which had a cutout so you could see the screen; certain games would display additional information on the VMU screen). The memory is flash, meaning it works even when the tiny watch battery is depleted (which explains the loud "BEEP" heard when you start up a console; that's the VMU telling you it has no battery).
- There was also a higher-capacity alternative called the 4X Memory Card, which, as the name implies, can hold four times the amount of a standard VMU, or 800 blocks (400KB). However, since the Dreamcast was only designed to read 200 blocks (100KB) from a single VMU at a time, the data is split across four 200 block "pages". You switch between these blocks by pressing a button on the memory card, and there are four LEDs that light up corresponding to what page the card is set to. It resembles a standard VMU, but the big difference is that there is no screen or face buttons, so it lacks several VMU-specific features such as the in-game second screen and ability to play VMU minigames. This "4 page design" has some drawbacks, for one, you cannot copy data between pages without a separate memory card as a temporary holding place, and game saves cannot span multiple pages.note In addition, the device also has compatibility issues with some games. Some games don't like it when you hot-swap memory cards (which is essentially what pressing the button on the card is simulating), some won't recognize the card at all, while with others the card will straight up crash the game. Read here for a list of games with compatibility issues.
- Jump Pack: Allowed for rumble support. Yes, you heard that right — rumble wasn't built into the controller, making it the only console of the generation to not have it natively. While the implementation of this accessory was much more friendly than its closest equivalent on the Nintendo 64 — the second port negated any need for pack swapping and it didn't require batteries — this would end up being quite a miscalculation on Sega's part. At the very least, since it was available from launch, nearly every action game supported it.
- Broadband modem, ultra rare but then oh so useful. Nowadays, not so much. This replaced the packed-in modem; both would plug into an expansion port along the console's edge (there was no "filler" door to put in place, unlike the Genesis).
- VGA box. When installed, the produced RGB is not converted to Composite/S-Video/Coaxial and back to RGB for the screen to use and instead goes directly to the monitor, a possible biproduct of the system being based on arcade hardware. This should have been offered as standard, as it allows more color than all of its competitors while in VGA mode which also shortens response time, produces the natural resolution (480p) in progressive mode (i.e. lines don't appear when moving, clearer image), does not require external power source, and it was cheap to make ($20 finds you one). Contact with the graphics port may be faulty though, which makes colored lines to randomly appear on the screen, and there may be compatibility issues with modern TVs. Explanation If your TV lacked a VGA port or if a game didn't support VGA (due to VGA being unable to transmit an interlaced video signal, you will receive an error message and the game will not boot if you're using VGA and the game does not support progressive scan), you could still use the video and S-Video ports.
- A variety of peripheral, and often unusual, controllers, including a fishing rod and maracas, as well as arcade sticks and light guns. A mouse and keyboard were also available, mostly useful for Internet-related games and functions and the occasional Edutainment Game like Typing of the Dead. Side note: Sega didn't actually release their light gun in North America. Sega didn't want to risk a backlash over a gun peripheral in the wake of the Columbine massacre. Instead the third-party Mad Catz "Dream Blaster" was promoted and approved by Sega since unlike the Dreamcast Gun, it could not be mistaken for an actual weapon. Most lightgun games released in the U.S. also prevented players from using imported Dreamcast Guns.
- As noted on a sticker on the front of the console, Microsoft collaborated with Sega to produce a version of Windows CE (a special version of Windows designed for low-powered, single-tasking embedded machines like consoles) for the Dreamcast. Contrary to popular belief, this was not built into the console itself, but was instead available as an option for developers to include with their games in order to make porting from the PC easier.
- The Dreamcast's hardware is known among arcade enthusiasts for being a match with the Sega NAOMI arcade hardware, allowing for the relatively simple creation of arcade ports. If you find an arcade game running on Sega NAOMI, there's a high likelihood it has a Dreamcast port.
- In 2003, Sega's new corporate parent Sammy would release the Atomiswave, which was an attempt to make back the investment in surplus Dreamcast chips by proposing a small, cost-effective arcade platform that was both 2D and 3D-compatible. The Atomiswave used cartridges (in a manner similar to the Neo Geo and other cartridge-based arcade platformers like the PGM) rather than boards. The platform would see some interest due to briefly becoming SNK's arcade system of choice following the discontinuation of the Neo Geo. In 2020, hobbyist would find a way to backport Atomiswave games on Dreamcast consoles, making them playable through homebrew means.
- In 2005, Sega would introduce the System SP, or “Spider Hardware” as it became known throughout the Arcade industry, for powering novelty machines like a giant Tetris machine, their card gacha games and kiddie rides. This would also use the NAOMI as its base design but with a different loader- the system uses compact flash as its storage media. This hardware would be manufactured for almost a decade, until 2014. It was last used for a novelty token pusher machine.
- All DC consoles came bundled with a web browser disc (simply titled the Dreamcast Web Browser) so you could take advantage of the built-in connectivity; when SegaNet was launched the browser discs were updated to be compatible with it. Certain copies also came with the Sega Swirl puzzle game. European consumers had the DreamKey series of browser discs (allowing access to the Dreamarena online service), while in Japan the web discs were known as Dream Passport (unlike in other regions there was no unified online gaming service).
There are many other details; here you can read the complete hardware specs.
- 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker
- <!—index—>Air Force Delta
- Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare
- Blue Stinger
- Bomberman Online
- Border Down
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
- Cannon Spike
- Castle of Shikigami II (Japan exclusive)
- Castlevania: Resurrection (cancelled)
- Centipede (1998)
- Chaos Field
- Charge 'n Blast
- ChuChu Rocket!
- Cleopatra Fortune
- Confidential Mission
- Crazy Taxi
- Crazy Taxi 2
- Culdcept Second
- Cyber Troopers Virtual-On: Oratorio Tangram Ver.5.45
- Dancing Blade: Katte ni Momotenshi!
- Dancing Blade Katte ni Momotenshi II: Tears of Eden
- Daytona USA 2001
- Dead or Alive 2
- Densha de Go! 2
- Dino Crisis
- Donald Duck: Goin' Qu@ckers
- Dynamite Cop
- Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future
- Elemental Gimmick Gear
- Evil Dead: Hail to the King
- Evolution: The World of Sacred Device
- Evolution 2: Far Off Promise
- Fighting Force 2
- Fighting Vipers 2
- Fire Pro Wrestling D
- Floigan Bros.
- Frogger 2: Swampy's Revenge
- Fur Fighters
- Garou: Mark of the Wolves
- Gauntlet Legends
- Giga Wing
- Giga Wing 2
- Grandia II
- Grand Theft Auto 2
- The Grinch (2000)
- Guilty Gear X
- Gunbird 2
- Half-Life (beta, never released)
- Heavy Metal: Geomatrix
- House of the Dead:
- The House of the Dead 2
- The Typing of the Dead
- Zombie Revenge
- Hydro Thunder
- Jet Set Radio (also known as Jet Grind Radio)
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage For The Future
- Kao the Kangaroo
- The King of Fighters:
- The King of Fighters: Dream Match 1999
- The King of Fighters: Evolution
- The King of Fighters 2000 (Japan exclusive)
- The King of Fighters 2001 (Japan exclusive)
- The King of Fighters 2002 (Japan exclusive)
- Langrisser Millennium
- The Last Blade 2
- Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
- Maken X
- Mars Matrix
- Marvel vs. Capcom:
- Metropolis Street Racer
- Mortal Kombat Gold
- Mr. Driller
- Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness
- Nakoruru: Ano Hito kara no Okurimono
- Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream
- NBA 2K and NFL 2K, which launched the companies 2K Sports and 2K Games; critically, they were praised more than the offerings from venerable EA Sports and NFL 2K was a rare Killer App sports game. When Sega's first-party run ended, these two series wound up on the current consoles and continued their run of success, eating well into EA Sports's market share. NBA 2K2, in particular, was one of four games to make it to all four sixth generation consoles. It helped that EA was completely absent from the DC due to their own legal chicanery; Sega had just bought Visual Concepts to produce their in-house Sega Sports titles, which then went on to kick EA's butt. Although NFL 2K came to an abrupt end when EA won the NFL's exclusivity bid in 2005, NBA 2K eventually outclassed Live both commercially and critically. EA didn't offer another game for four years apart from some failed reboots; the company knew they could not compete with 2K and cancelled them.
- There were also the NHL 2K and MLB 2K series, but those didn't take off the way the other two did.
- Neo Golden Logres
- NFL Blitz 2000
- NFL Blitz 2001
- Nightmare Creatures II
- Omikron: The Nomad Soul
- Panzer Front
- PenPen TriIcelon
- Phantasy Star Online
- Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2
- Pier Solar and the Great Architects HD
- Plasma Sword: Nightmare of Bilstein
- pop'n music 1-4
- Power Stone
- Power Stone 2
- Prince of Persia: Arabian Nights
- Pro Pinball Trilogy, consisting of Pro Pinball: Timeshock!, Pro Pinball: Big Race USA, and Pro Pinball: Fantastic Journey on one disc
- Propeller Arena: Aviation Battle Championship (unreleased prototype)
- Psychic Force 2012
- Project Justice
- Puyo Puyo:
- Puyo Puyo~n
- Puyo Puyo Da!
- Puyo Puyo Fever, among the four titles that were released on all four sixth generation consoles. The game also became the final first-party title release on a Sega console.
- Quake III: Arena
- Railroad Tycoon 2: Gold Edition
- Rainbow Cotton
- Rayman 2: The Great Escape
- Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
- Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
- Record of Lodoss War
- Rent A Hero No. 1
- Resident Evil:
- The Ring: Terror's Realm
- Sakura Wars:
- Samba de Amigo
- San Francisco Rush 2049
- Sega GT
- Sega Rally Championship 2
- Sega Smash Pack Volume 1
- Shadow Man
- Silent Scope
- Skies of Arcadia
- Slave Zero
- SNK vs. Capcom:
- Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000
- Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium, one of four games that manage to see a release on all four sixth-generation consoles.
- Soldier of Fortune
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Soul Calibur
- South Park Rally
- Space Channel 5
- Space Channel 5 Part 2
- Spawn: In the Demon's Hand
- Spider-Man (2000)
- Star Wars:
- Street Fighter:
- Street Fighter Alpha 3
- Street Fighter III: Double Impact
- Street Fighter III: Third Strike - Fight for the Future
- Super Street Fighter II X for Matching Service
- Super Puzzle Fighter II X for Matching Service
- Super Robot Wars Alpha
- Super Runabout: San Francisco Edition
- Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage
- Tech Romancer
- Test Drive:
- Test Drive 6
- Test Drive Le Mans
- Test Drive V-Rally
- Time Stalkers
- Tokyo Xtreme Racer
- Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2
- Tomb Raider:
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
- Toy Commander
- Toy Story 2
- Triggerheart Exelica
- Twinkle Star Sprites
- Under Defeat
- Unreal Tournament
- Urban Chaos
- Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service
- Vigilante 8: Second Offense
- Virtua Cop 2
- Virtua Fighter:
- Virtua Fighter 3tb
- Virtua Fighter 4 Passport
- Virtua Fighter History
- Wild Metal
- Wind And Water: Puzzle Battles
- Worms Armageddon
- Worms World Party
- WWF Royal Rumble
- Zero Gunner 2<!—/index—>
- Arcade-Perfect Port: The Dreamcast's hardware was basically Sega's NAOMI arcade board as a console, making it extremely easy to make accurate ports of arcade games. And the Atomiswave hardware is also near-identical to a Dreamcastnote , allowing for some easy, if unofficial conversions, of Atomiswave games, including games that never got an official port.
- Beeping Computers: This system is somewhat remembered for the amount of noise it makes. For starters, the VMU emits an elongated beep if its batteries are dead when the system is powered on, and it beeps whenever you save your game. Its disc drive — the motor used to move the laser pickup back and forth is obnoxiously noisy, making a very loud grinding sound. It's so noisy in fact that many people have initially been misled to believe something was wrong with their console.
- Book Ends: Some of the later ads, including the SegaNet launch commercial, reused the old "SEGA!" scream from the Genesis days.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The swirl icon was colored differently depending on the region, In Japan and North America it was red/orange, whereas in Europe and Australia it was blue. This was due to German game developer Tivola using a similar orange swirl logo at the time (and to this day still); as a consequence, the swirl was removed from the PAL-region system menu and some accessories, including the VMUs. Brazil wound up using both versions due to mixing-and-matching imported games and accessories.
- Easter Egg: Puyo Puyo Fever contains a unique "Dreamcast Main Menu Screen Setting" option that allows you to save a special file to your memory card. Doing so enables a "real mode" for the Main Menu that turns on shading for icons and a reflective water surface below the menus, and also allows you to tilt the perspective.
- Ghost in the Machine: Early ads after the launch depicted tons of characters from the initial launch games all inside the Dreamcast, talking and interacting with each other (such as the ad for Crazy Taxi depicting characters in line at the DMV, including Sonic, for some reason), hence the tagline "It's thinking....".
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The console was officially branded as just the "Dreamcast" worldwide - nonetheless, the cover artwork of earlier North American games (and, incidentally, this very page) referred to it as the "Sega Dreamcast".
- Moe Anthropomorphism:
- Neptunia introduces Uzume Tennouboshi/Orange Heart, who in her human form is a rough-and-tumble Tomboy who secretly is a childish daydreamer in her CPU form. She also plays up the "dream" aspect of the Dreamcast by being able to make her dreams/wishes into reality. In her past, she was also a goddess filled with hopes and dreams before she ultimately sealed herself away into a console (that looks very much like a Dreamcast) when her people turned against her for how dangerous her powers could be, and split into two beings: her original self going crazy and evil while her inner goodness became a new Uzume.
- Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls: Dreamcast is depicted as a Cute Clumsy Girl who lives in perpetual poverty (a reference to Sega's financial troubles) and can access the internet (but only through dial-up, and preferably at night for the best connection speeds).
- Pop-Star Composer: Bizarrely the case for the system's startup sound of all things, composed by acclaimed Electronic Music artist and Yellow Magic Orchestra member Ryuichi Sakamoto.
- Product Facelift: Outside of internal revisions, the console's short lifespan meant that, aside from the aforementioned logo coloration issues there wasn't much variation in the models; though Japanese consoles had a slightly different Windows CE logo, and the gray triangle on the disc lid was translucent plastic instead of solid. There were some unique versions, including a limited-edition black "SEGA Sports" model which came prepackaged with two games. Another model, the Diver 2000 CX-1, can best be described as a CRT television with a Dreamcast built into it (and it was designed to look like Sonic's head). The North American packaging for both the games and hardware underwent a change: going from a blurry, blue-orange shot of the console to a "horizon" or "eclipse" design. The coloration of the spines of the GD-ROM jewel cases switched from white to black, which makes them tougher to distinguish from PS1 games.
- Release Date Change: The system was originally scheduled to be available in Europe just two weeks after its American launch, but a variety of factors led to it being delayed at the last minute to 14 October.
- Vaporware: Several add-ons, including a Zip Drive (which made it to prototype stage) and a proposed Dreamcast/DVD player combo which may have been nothing more than a shell. Bernie Stoler wanted to roll out three features when he was in charge: Online play, DVD support, and an internal hard drive. He focused his energies on the first one, but there were unused connections in the console for a hard drive, which ended up being the basis for a failed European project involving a mix of the Dreamcast and a Sky Digibox. A small team of hackers rediscovered the unused IDE like connections in 2004 and designed several hardware mod's to install IDE hard drives or CompactFlash card readers to run a custom OS known as DreamShell and load GDI's without needing to burn discs or sacrifice the GD-ROM drive for an ODE (Optical Drive Emulator). He was also apparently involved in a pitch with an "early DVR company" (likely TiVo or ReplayTV) to have an on-demand games service delivering DC, Saturn, Genesis and Master System games via their box.
- What Could Have Been: Stoler initially pushed for a controller with two analog sticks à la the PlayStation's DualShock. Sega was also involved in talks to bring games like Grand Theft Auto III to the platform.
- The aforementioned Half-Life port is this - originally, the game was going to be ported to the system with a new bonus campaign developed by Gearbox Software focusing around the Black Mesa security guards, much like how the PlayStation 2 version of the game had Decay as a bonus campaign. However, the Dreamcast version was ultimately cancelled. Gearbox opted to release the bonus campaign as a PC expansion, and the result was Half-Life: Blue Shift.
- It's (Still) Thinking.
Sayonara, Troper... until we meet again!