Sega's final home console is one that many people hold close to their hearts, and for good reason. The Dreamcast was home to some incredible arcade-perfect conversions – including Crazy Taxi 2, Virtua Tennis 2 and Power Stone 2 – as well as epic adventures like Shenmue, Skies of Arcadia and more. In fact, many of the console's best games still look amazing even by modern standards, so it's little wonder that fans keep their Dreamcasts hooked up and continue to use them, even in 2022.
Like so many retro systems, the Dreamcast is capable of taking quite a few upgrades to make it shine a little more in the modern era, and in this guide, we've outlined the ones you'll want to invest in if you're looking for the ultimate Dreamcast setup.
What You Need To Build The Ultimate Dreamcast
Optical Disc Emulator
If you want to gain access to the entire Dreamcast library, then an Optical Disc Emulator is the way to go. These basically replace the disc drive on your console with internal solid-state storage, allowing you to effectively have every single Dreamcast game at your fingertips without having to change a single disc.
We recommend the Terraonion MODE, not only because it's a breeze to use but also because its installation is totally reversible, so if you want to go back to using GD-ROMs, you can. The MODE supports USB thumb drives and SATA SSDs, and can also be used in the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation (although the installation on those consoles is a little more involved).
The big issue with the MODE is that it's often out of stock due to the low quantities produced and the high demand; alternatives include the GDEmu and USB-GDROM.
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If you own a console that's 20 years old or more, then the power supply it came with is already functioning beyond its operational lifespan. If it fails, it might damage the console and could even result in more serious damage to its surroundings if a catastrophic failure were to occur.
The answer is to swap out the console's internal PSU for a PicoPSU, which replaces it with a modern ATX power supply. Not only will this keep your Dreamcast ticking along for a good few years, but it also dramatically reduces the internal temperature of the console and comes with a modern 12v external switching power supply – so you can use your console anywhere in the world without having to worry about buying a voltage converter.
Installation requires some effort, so you might want to find out if the store you're buying from offers it as a service.
Getting the best picture possible out of your Dreamcast is one thing most fans will be concerned with, and thankfully there's an excellent HDMI solution for the system. DC Digital gives a crisp and crystal-clear image on modern TVs via HDMI and is a must-have for any Dreamcast owner – the catch is that the installation is tricky and the parts expensive. The end result, however, is more than worth the cost.
You might find that the retailer you purchase the mod from will offer installation as well, for an additional cost. This really is one of the best mods you can get for your Dreamcast; don't be fooled by cheap HDMI cables – while they do improve the picture on modern TVs when compared to the standard composite / RGB connection, they don't come close to this.
The Dreamcast controller has always been something of a divisive beast, but the good news is that there are modern replacements available.
Retro Fighters Striker DC
Retro Fighters is famous for producing some of the best third-party controllers for classic systems, and its StrikerDC is no exception; it's more comfortable than the stock controller and has a vastly superior D-pad, making it perfect for the many one-on-one fighting games on the Dreamcast.
It also has two digital shoulder buttons alongside the usual analogue ones – again, these are helpful in fighting games where digital input is more desirable than analogue. If it offered six face buttons, it would be absolutely perfect – but as it stands, it's amazing.
- Further reading: Retro Fighters StrikerDC - The Only Dreamcast Pad You Need
Brook Wingman SD
We'd also recommend the Brook Wingman SD, which allows you to connect modern-day controllers to your Dreamcast (it also works with the Sega Saturn). PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Switch Pro Controllers are supported, and there's even internal memory within the device for 240 blocks of Dreamcast save data.
If you love the Dreamcast controller and fancy upgrading it, then you might want to try out the DreamConn+ mod. This is only offered as a service (you'll need to send in your own controller) but it enables wireless control and adds in a rechargeable battery. It's also not cheap; the mod and Bluetooth dongle cost 170€, plus shipping.
The VMU that launched alongside the Dreamcast was something of a revelation, but it didn't come without its drawbacks – the most pressing of which being the small amount of storage and the need to have a fresh battery installed at all times.
Back in the day, third-party accessory makers produced VMUs which lacked the LCD screen but offered four times as much storage, and these can be picked up fairly cheaply today. However, we'd advise waiting for the VM2, a crowdfunded successor which will offer a backlit LCD, high res screen, MicroSD storage and a rechargeable battery. This will be the ultimate Dreamcast VMU, for sure.
I was looking at that VM2 the other day and fingers crossed they'll sell them when the campaign is over. As for the Dreamcast it's actually my main console right now and things like DC Digital and retro fighter pads are definitely on the shopping list for it.
Going back to it I've just been having a ridiculous amount of fun with it
Ι still can't believe how good and clear the digital image that Dreamcast outputs even with a cheap hdmi connector. As much as I love the Dreamcast I am not that fan of the controller so I bought this adapter that also has 200 blocks of DC memory
Using this I connect my PS4 controller to DC and Saturn (which I also not a big fan)
I have a MODE and it's really fantastic. It's pretty easy to install and works perfectly, although I highly recommend getting a 3D printed mount from LaserBear Industries. It makes it much easier and safer to use, and the external SD slot gives you the ability to run software you may not have put on the HDD without disassembling everything again.
@belmont Yeah, I've fussed around with a lot of output options. I have an Akura from BeharBros which is nice, but I'm honestly not sure the image is appreciably better than the one I get from a simpler and cheaper Pound HD cable.
A good quality hdmi conversion is what I want to get around to doing just to future proof my DC but to be honest I use vga through a Toshiba tv and it looks stunning also anyone wanting to do a PSU upgrade it’s worth spending that little extra and getting a decent one like the one shown above I bought one of the cheap ones of eBay and it gave a swirling effect on screen which becomes distracting it’s a shame cos the console ran really cool had to put the original PSU back and it can get quite hot at times
8 Bit Mods is a great website. Just be nice if they had something in stock
@Razieluigi can you transfer data from the external SD slot to the internal HDD?
@d0c No, unfortunately. You can run software off it, and it can be used for firmware updates. So it's nice for new homebrew games or titles you just forgot to put on the HDD.
I keep hoping an update will add that functionality, but I haven't seen much evidence that Terraonion is actively updating the MODE anymore. I think it's been over a year since the last firmware release.
It's a solid device. But I wouldn't hold my breath on it learning any new tricks.
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