Sega Dreamcast emulators

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Revision as of 17:34, 13 June 2019 by (talk) (Removed mention of OIT as a stand-out feature, both Demul and redream also support this.)
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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 $199.99. 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
Beetle DC 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 0.222
Beetle DC Android, mobile Git ~
reicast Android Dev Builds
redream Android {?}


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.
Runs on Windows, MacOS, Linux and Android. Compatible with 80+% of the Dreamcast library (no Windows CE support), has a good user interface, is easy to set up and can run without a BIOS. Runs on low-end machines provided that they support OpenGL 3.1.
Made by the creator of NullDC. Runs on Android, Windows, and Linux.
Beetle DC
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. This fork partially supports Naomi and Atomiswave hardware.
Can run a lot of games at great speed on mid-end PC but is no longer developed.
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


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