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Can anyone school me on purchasing a DreamCast console?


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First things first: I understand how people can get frustrated when a post isn't in its correct location. I debated whether to put this in modern or not but given there are no subforums for the Dreamcast I'm putting it here. If this is a problem please let me know / or tell me where it's getting moved to.

 

That out of the way I'm interested in buying a Sega Dreamcast. Other than it probably needing a battery replacement if a listing doesn't specify it - what other things do I need to be made aware of? Obviously any electronics can crap out at any time but what would be considered the more reliable units to look for?

 

Obviously if I buy from Ebay I'm only going to buy from sellers that offer returns.

 

So that's basically it! Also, if there are specific sellers out there refurbishing these or otherwise have good reputations please don't post them here as I don't want this to turn into an advertisement thread. Please private message me this info instead. Thanks!

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The battery is in the VMU unit, the removable memory card that slides into the controller. The batteries are cheap and easy to replace.

 

I think all the Dreamcast versions are equally reliable. Obviously look for a tested unit from a seller with good feedback, because even the nicest one will be eighteen years old.

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The internal battery that keeps the Dreamcast's clock on will likely be dead when you get one. This isn't designed to be user-serviceable, but most systems can still hold a charge, you just need to leave it on for several hours, and make sure to run the system regularly to keep it charged. Even if it's good and dead, all it does is keep the clock on... the system will still work fine, you'll just have to set the date/time every time you turn it on.

 

Dreamcasts are LOUD. Maybe find a Youtube video of one running so you know what noises are normal. I've not heard much about Dreamcasts being unreliable, you shouldn't have an issue as long as it's a good seller. I've had more issues with my VMUs than my system proper.

 

I don't know if you are about imports/burned discs, but don't waste money on a Dreamcast hard-modded for such. They're super easy to hack, all you need is a cheap boot disc & you're good to go.

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Dreamcasts are LOUD. Maybe find a Youtube video of one running so you know what noises are normal. I've not heard much about Dreamcasts being unreliable, you shouldn't have an issue as long as it's a good seller. I've had more issues with my VMUs than my system proper.

 

Yeah, I was gonna joke that if he got one and it made a high pitched beep on start up or a high pitched whine while running, then it was probably bad and he should send it to me. :evil:

 

 

But yeah, mine do both of those things. The start up beep is from a dead VMU battery I think, and the whine is just normal. Runs great.

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My launch Dreamcast died. DC's in general have pretty spotty optical drives; it's not uncommon for them to die. I don't know that there's anything better or worse about one run or another. The Dreamcast is somewhat unusual among modern consoles in that it didn't really have any major revisions - then again, it wasn't really around long enough.

 

If you get one listed as tested/working, then you should be ok for a while. But all the optical-based systems are ticking time bombs.

 

None of my three Dreamcasts will hold a charge anymore; they ask me to set the date every time I boot.

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This is going to sound bananas but if their was only 1 game you wanted to own on the Dreamcast - but said game isn't on other platforms and is very niche - is it worth owning a DC? Or would emulation be a better choice?

 

Keep in mind I plan to own a physical copy either way...

Edited by courtesi96
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Shenmue is the only Dreamcast exclusive game that I have. (But then, I don't have a very big library of Dreamcast games.) And it is a pretty good game, if a bit slow. I think sequels were on other systems.

 

There are other Dreamcast exclusives, but that's probably the most well known one.

 

What is the current state of Dreamcast emulation? I haven't tried to do any Dreamcast games. Also, Shenmue is a multi-disc game, and from what I've read, those can sometimes be hard to work with an emulator. But again, I haven't tried.

 

A used Dreamcast will run about $50 or so on Ebay, it appears. Same for a complete copy of Shenmue. So around $100 or so. Is it worth it for one or two games? Maybe... depends on your collector mentality and resources. If you can find games that were on the Dreamcast on other systems that you already have, I'd say go for those. If it's only one or two exclusives that you'd be playing on the actual hardware, then emulation might be a better (more economical) option.

 

 

Edit: forgot a word

Edited by Eltigro
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This is going to sound bananas but if their was only 1 game you wanted to own on the Dreamcast - but said game isn't on other platforms and is very niche - is it worth owning a DC? Or would emulation be a better choice?

 

Keep in mind I plan to own a physical copy either way...

I don't know ...I guess it would depend on the game. The hardware is cheap, and it can easily play bootleg media. Last I checked, Dreamcast emulation isn't as good as older hardware, and performance varies depending on the game. What game do you have in mind for it? Many of the games on Dreamcast, even exclusives, have modern equivalents and sequels.
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This is going to sound bananas but if their was only 1 game you wanted to own on the Dreamcast - but said game isn't on other platforms and is very niche - is it worth owning a DC? Or would emulation be a better choice?

 

Keep in mind I plan to own a physical copy either way...

 

I don't think any system is worth owning for just 1 game. If you're really, REALLY set on that game (what is it anyway?), go check some best-of/hidden gems lists. I imagine you'd find more games to justify the unit.

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Well word has it you need a system from around Oct/Nov of 2000 or back to get one that's happier with burns, and built of perhaps a little more solid parts since Sega wasn't scrabbling against the bankruptcy shut down quite yet so you know corners get cut for cost cuts.

 

The Dreamcast has 2 battery issues. The easy one, and likely better to just not bother with are the VMU batteries (2xCR2032) and they're battery vampires eating them up in a matter of months. If it's dead/missing you can not detach them from the powered on controller and transfer data or play the few mini games that exist on some titles. The problematic one, it's the idiotic internal battery they used (a throw back to the Saturn) in an even more backwater way that sits on the sub board the 4 controller ports are attached to with 3 prongs into it on a thin weak metal base. About 2 weeks ago I got fed up having to reset the clock every power up, so I ordered a battery bracket and a LIR2032(rechargeable battery) and popped the sub-board out and did the work. My luck sucks, damn bracket lost 2 pins of 3 in the holes and took me an hour to heat up and poke out with heat, solder, and ultimately a safety pin. Once it was in though with the bracket, just slid the battery in and it was set. Easy fix next time, pop four screws to remove the top and slide in a new cell (should last minimum of a decade.)

 

Your system can read burns, you can follow various ways about it online, but certain methods are better than others. Some will require a boot disc, others will just boot almost like normal (system will reset then fire up the game.) There are annoyingly multiple dumps online, find some by a guy who goes by TUX, his have been compressed where needed to fit a normal CDR disc, but keeps the data aligned so it actually will not wear on the laser any worse than a retail game, and in some cases it's more gentle and will fire up the data quicker on some games which is nuts but true.

 

Unless you loathe cases and paper, buy complete, outside of a very select few US releases that are not Capcom titles (as all but 1 or 2 of those) go over the $50 mark. Most games will run you $5-30 complete with minimal wear to the disc or clamshell/papers. Be aware that the GD ROM format is more or less like a double sided DVD or BluRay, but as Sega did it their way, they are very sensitive to damage more than any CD burned game or DVD title too. Be sure you have minimal wear or consider it a crap shoot buying the games as they may just be a lost cause. You could have a game with a hundred micro scuffs and be fine, but get one light-moderate scratch any other system (or PC) would fine with, and it's toast.

 

 

As to your interesting question about emulation. DEMUL is the the best running of the lot out there, but it's not perfect. Find out if your game works, then go find the best burn of it you can in ISO format and fire it up. If that works out fine for you, then sure buy a real copy to feel legal about it and call it a day. DC is fairly easy to get a gamepad that works out well for it. You just need a common PC controller with analog L/R buttons, and then a standard single joystick and 4 face buttons on top of a start button and you're good.

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As you are at it get one with the BIOS mod so it's region free and mil-cd enabled from the get go.

I piggyback mounted the chip on mine, a little more of a pain in the ass than it should have been (damn short legs on the new BIOS) but the BIOS chip already programmed set me back only 7US$.

 

The main "problem" with CD burns is that they usually are rips of GDROMS in CD form with something taken out to fit and that always drove me nuts (usually are cut off movies, downsampled music etc...), given as mentioned that many games are quite cheap it's not such a big deal to buy originals (or at least it wasn't such a big deal, haven't checked in a while).

 

It's loud as already stated, not unlike the first PS2 fat models if you know what I mean, just a tad louder.

The good thing about it is that for a console released in 1998 (in JP) it had very nice visuals, Soul Calibur is really good looking.

A pity that Daytona USA 2001 is marred by the "progressive" control turdomatic crap that ruins an otherwise good game (kinda like Sega Touring Car Championship for Saturn but maybe even worse).

Also Virtua Fighter 3tb is a little underwhelming, not terrible mind you, just it didn't do me any good either.

 

All in all it's a pretty solid console with good games but I confess I only bought it because my wife had memories of it but I never grew attached to it .... it may be one of the next systems I consider for downsizing, it's been sitting idle for long enough and I don't see me going back to play Shenmue 1 (although at a point in time that was the plan).

 

Ahhh almost forgot, to enjoy the fighters I suggest you buy one of those Saturn to DC pad converter and a JP Saturn Pad (or an US second coming) .... that makes a lot of difference .... I'm definitely not a fan of the stock DC controller, too bulky and uncomfortable for my hands (like the Saturn 3D ctrl but a tad worse), your mileage may vary.

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This is going to sound bananas but if their was only 1 game you wanted to own on the Dreamcast - but said game isn't on other platforms and is very niche - is it worth owning a DC? Or would emulation be a better choice?

 

I think this is impossible to answer and is certainly not unique to the Dreamcast - it could be a forum topic all to itself. "Is a system worth owning for only one game?"

 

That said, the DC has *many* games that are unique to it and are great games. The key is the same as it always was, to look off the beaten path a bit. Part of the reason the DC got killed in the market is that it couldn't compete in mainstream games... so just don't buy it for mainstream games. Buy it for Capcom shooters and fighting games and Sega's JRPGs and and arcade games. Not to mention the couple amazing games Treasure released for it. If you like racing games, there's really no better system that I know of - it's got like a dozen amazing racing games. A bunch of publishers also did just one or two games but somehow they turned out great.

 

I really wouldn't second guess buying a DC. You may buy it for only one game and then find yourself collecting for it without meaning to.

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This is going to sound bananas but if their was only 1 game you wanted to own on the Dreamcast - but said game isn't on other platforms and is very niche - is it worth owning a DC? Or would emulation be a better choice?

 

Keep in mind I plan to own a physical copy either way...

 

It's not absurd if you feel the price you will have to pay is worth it for that game alone. However, I highly suggest doing some research and discovering more of the Dreamcast library. There are over 250 games released in the USA alone, not counting European and Japanese import exclusives that will work on it with a boot disc. Chances are there's going to be more than just that single game that will interest you. Overall it's an excellent system with a high ratio of good versus bad games.

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This is going to sound bananas but if their was only 1 game you wanted to own on the Dreamcast - but said game isn't on other platforms and is very niche - is it worth owning a DC? Or would emulation be a better choice?

 

Keep in mind I plan to own a physical copy either way...

I say get it even for one game. The system isn't that expensive plus you might get inspired to get more games later on. I bought the original Xbox solely for Halo. Then I bought Halo 2 when it came out and that was it. I simply wasn't interested in anything else but it was worth it for just the one game for me.

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This is going to sound bananas but if their was only 1 game you wanted to own on the Dreamcast - but said game isn't on other platforms and is very niche - is it worth owning a DC? Or would emulation be a better choice?

 

 

I don't know ...I guess it would depend on the game. The hardware is cheap, and it can easily play bootleg media. Last I checked, Dreamcast emulation isn't as good as older hardware, and performance varies depending on the game. What game do you have in mind for it?

 

 

I don't think any system is worth owning for just 1 game. If you're really, REALLY set on that game (what is it anyway?), go check some best-of/hidden gems lists. I imagine you'd find more games to justify the unit.

 

 

I think you owe us the name of the one Dreamcast game you really want. Don't worry, we won't judge ...much

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I know you'll chuckle especially since it doesn't fall into anyone's Top 50 lists (and in some cases is at the back of the bus on the Top 200's):

 

The game title in question is Armada.

 

I do want to state that I'm not excited about the standard DC controller and don't think this title will work with the alternative "pad" controllers; but I can manage.

 

As far as other titles that "speak" to me, I went back through the aforementioned lists and came up empty. Yes there are a lot of good games but my tastes have changed over time. Also these days I've got a bit of obsessive decluttering going on. I think when all is said and done I may wind up with a total of 20 games across 10+ consoles. :D

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I remember that, it's not laughable at all. Top-down 2D Asteroids-type shooter with RPG elements, later ported to the PC as Armada Online.You probably won't find much of a multiplayer community for either one, so I assume you want to play by yourself. It won't cost much to get that game!

 

I feel like there are probably quite a few games like this on Steam if you didn't want to commit to a dead retro console, and keep the clutter down.

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Perfectly decent game. But man o' man, there are a bunch of fun games for the Dreamcast. Outrigger, Shenmue, ChuChu Rocket, Virtua Tennis, Jet Set Radio, Crazy Taxi, Metropolis Street Race, F355 Ferrari Challenge... expensive stuff like Mars Matrix (love this game) and Power Stone... fighting games up the wazoo... lots of fun to be had.

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Armada that's a favorite of mine I picked up probably 2-3 weeks ago now. It has aged ok but not excellently as it's a little more grating trying to level up compared to 15 years ago...tolerances and game design updates since then. It's still solid, and fun, just expect a lot of flying in circles or doing the escort mission popups because if you attempt taking down any mini to full size bosses(and their escorts) at even one LV under them, you're nearly instantly dead.

 

Get demul, it runs the game just fine if all you care about is that.

 

I'm into the decluttering thing too the last few years, but that said I'm up to over 20 DC games (mostly due to a bundle I picked up with 11 games I kept in it) a month ago. They take up so little room it's not much of an issue.

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