Sega Dreamcast emulators

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Revision as of 13:36, 13 June 2018 by ObiKKa (talk | contribs) (Emulators)
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Sega Dreamcast
Developer Sega
Type Home video game console
Generation Sixth generation
Release date 1998
Discontinued 2001
Predecessor Sega Saturn

The Dreamcast is a sixth-generation console released by Sega in November 1998 in Japan and later in 1999 in other territories. Naomi, an arcade system board similar to the Dreamcast, is supported by some Dreamcast emulators. Atomiswave is an arcade system board that is based on Naomi.

Microsoft collaborated with Sega for DreamCast development (which would continue later with the Xbox). The Sega Dreamcast is known for running an optimised version of Windows CE (with DirectX) as an operating system. However, Sega chose to go down a different route than what was originally planned - bundling simple operating systems within the discs themselves. Running games through Windows CE was still an option for developers, but most games used Sega's proprietary software instead out of convenience. This aspect isn't implemented in all emulators.


Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Naomi Atomiswave Windows CE Active Recommended
DEmul Windows 0.7 Build 180428
reicast Windows, Linux Dev builds
libretro (Reicast OIT) Windows, Linux Git
libretro (Reicast regular) Multi-platform Git
nullDC Windows 1.0.4 r150
redream Windows, Linux, macOS 1.3.1
Makaron Windows T12/5
Chankast Windows 0.25
Lxdream Linux, macOS 0.9.1
WashingtonDC Linux Git
MAME Multi-platform 0.209
reicast Android Dev builds
libretro (Reicast regular) Android, mobile Git


Has the highest compatibility and is the most accurate Dreamcast emulator. Supports Windows CE games, but in general, they run worse than standard Dreamcast titles. Tends to be the more demanding option in PC requirements; but one of the best ones if the user's PC has enough power to play the games at fullspeed.
No longer developed and is replaced by Reicast, which is made by the same team. Can run a lot of games at great speed in mid-end PCs.
Nice GUI interface, simplicity of setup, can run without BIOS (but it's highly recommended to use one with it).
One of the only two Dreamcast emulators that can properly play Windows CE games.
The Reicast core of libretro/Retroarch has gained huge advancements in emulation quality as of early June 2018, and is now split into two cores named 'Regular' (Suits mobile devices) and 'OIT' (Order Independent Transparency. Works on PC platforms only). The new graphics renderer in Reicast OIT's core is backported from flyinghead's fork of the separate Reicast emulator. The OIT core has "significantly increased system requirements, but in return you get much more accurate graphics which tend to fix nearly all the issues that plague Dreamcast graphics with the regular version."

Emulation issues

Dreamcast emulation is not very good. For the emulators that are either mature or maturing, a very large percentage of games work well, but many games still have problems and glitches.

Fortunately, the first viable open-source Dreamcast emulator that has a near complete graphics renderer began appearing in June 2018 in two newly split cores inside the libretro multi-system emulator. But the more accurate core works on PC's only. Its graphics renderer can be found in a fork of the separate Reicast emulator which it backported the code from.

VMU Emulation

While current Dreamcast emulators can display the VMU display when the game is running, none of them can be used to play the minigames which were made to run on the VMU. To play those minigames you'll need to use another emulator. There is no complete list of VMU emulators and the ones which can be found are poorly documented and/or closed source.


VMU emulation

Emulating the Dreamcast VMU is possible via use of this emulator: Dropbox link

Link to forum thread about it

Dreamcast logo.png
Consoles: SG-1000Master SystemGenesis / Mega DriveCD32XSaturnDreamcast
Handhelds: Game Gear
Arcade: System seriesModel 1Model 2Model 3Naomi