Sega Dreamcast 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 on November 27, 1998 in Japan and later on September 9, 1999 in NA. It retailed for $199 ($298.72 in 2018 money). It had a Hitachi SH-4 RISC CPU at 200 MHz with 16 MB of RAM and 8 MB of VRAM. It had a PowerVR2 GPU at 100 MHz, which theoretically was capable of pushing 3 million polygons/second on-screen. There is a 2 MB audio RAM, which complemented a powerful 67 MHz Yamaha AICA sound processor, with a 32-bit ARM7 RISC CPU core. The audio chip could generate 64 voices with PCM or ADPCM codec and provided ten times the performance of the Saturn's sound system.. Sega also released the Naomi, an arcade system board with similar components to the Dreamcast. Sammy's Atomiswave arcade board was also based on the Dreamcast and Naomi.

Sega collaborated with Microsoft on the Dreamcast's development, and this partnership would continue later with the Xbox. What came out of this was the possibility for games to be developed for an optimized version of Windows CE (with DirectX) on each disc. However, Windows CE wasn't mandatory to use and most developers opted for Sega's development tools instead out of convenience. Even in major emulators, this aspect isn't implemented (or implemented well).


Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Open-Source Naomi Atomiswave Windows CE Libretro Core Active Recommended
DEmul Windows 0.7 Build 180428
reicast libretro Multi-platform Git
reicast Windows, Linux Dev Builds
redream Windows, Linux, macOS 1.5.0
nullDC Windows 1.0.4 r150 ~
Makaron Windows T12/5
Chankast Windows 0.25
Lxdream Linux, macOS 0.9.1
WashingtonDC Linux Git
MAME Multi-platform 0.248
reicast libretro Android, mobile Git
reicast Android Dev Builds


Has the highest compatibility and accuracy, but is Windows-only. It supports Windows CE games, but in general, they run worse than standard Dreamcast titles. It's also more resource-intensive than other emulators.
Can run a lot of games at great speed in mid-end PCs. It's no longer developed in favor of its fork…
Made by the same team. Runs on Android, Windows, and Linux.
reicast libretro
libretro fork similar to Mednafen's PCE-fast and PCE-accuracy cores that backport changes from flyinghead's fork of reicast. It aims to be compliant with OpenGL 2 and OpenGL ES 2 so that it can continue to run on mobile devices and mid-tier PCs. A graphics feature of the Dreamcast, Order-Independent Transparency, can only be properly emulated using recent versions of OpenGL 4 on supported hardwares and platforms (currently Windows and Linux).[1] This fork also supports Naomi and Atomiswave hardware.
Has a good interface, is simple to set up and can run without a BIOS (though it's better to use one anyway).
One of the only two closed-source Dreamcast emulators that can properly play Windows CE games.

Emulation issues

Dreamcast emulation isn't 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.

In recent times, the open-source community has gotten a better leg to stand on thanks to RetroArch's reicast cores. Their team has been integrating a version of reicast that deals with many graphical issues (elaborated on above).

Poor VMU emulation

While current Dreamcast emulators can leverage the screen of the VMU while the game is running, none of them allow you to play the minigames developed for it so playing those minigames would require another emulator. The problem is there aren't any complete lists of VMU emulators, and the emulators that can be found are poorly documented.


VMU emulators

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

Link to the forum thread about it


  1. Daniel De Matteis. Introducing Reicast OIT libretro core + updated Reicast regular core on June 12, 2018.

Dreamcast logo.png
Consoles: SG-1000Master SystemGenesis / Mega DriveCD32XPicoSaturnDreamcast
Handhelds: Game GearVMU / VMS
Arcade: System seriesModel 1Model 2Model 3Naomi