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Sega Dreamcast online gaming as it is today

Updated on February 21, 2012

Pal Dreamcast box cover

Pal box
Pal box

You can still play Dreamcast games online?

Hi everyone welcome to my Hub about Dreamcast online gaming. I am James I have owned a Dreamcast since 1999 and have played online with it from then until now. I can honestly say I was there at the start, during the peak times and still in the Dreamcast scene today.

This Hub will specifically deal with games that are still online now, games that you can still actually play today. With each game I will give a summary of the game its online status and possible connection methods. If you are still wishing to play Dreamcast online this Hub should be a valuable source of information for you.

Ok so Shock horror a console released in 1999 still has online games? Yes it does there are still seven Dreamcast games playable online in 2012. These games require either a dial up internet connection (how retro), Broadband internet connection or if you choose a PC-Dreamcast server popularly known as a PC-DC server. A PC-DC server shares your PC's broadband internet connection with the Dreamcast for online play. I will link to guide on how to set up a PC-DC server in the links at the bottom of this Hub.

Ok so enough with the tech talk lets start with the first game.


Sega swirl

I have started with this one as it the exception to the rule. Sega swirl can still be played by Email via dial up connection. Yes you read correctly, by Email. This is probably the least played game still online for the Dreamcast. Both players will require a Pop3 compatible Email address configured correctly. I will link to a guide on Pop3 email at the bottom of this hub.


Sega smash pack includes Sega swirl

Smash pack with Sega swirl
Smash pack with Sega swirl

Sega Swirl game and functionality


The game was available on the above Sega Smash pack vol 1 for NTSC and Dream on vol 8 demo disc from Official Dreamcast magazine in the UK as well as some browser discs.

Sega swirl is a puzzle game in the vein of Bejeweled blitz. Due to the game play being via Email the online functionality of this game is guaranteed as long as Pop3 email exists. This is the one original Dreamcast game still online that I have no direct experience of playing so I can not comment on how the email game play works.

Sega swirl game play

Doom for Dreamcast


Next up is the second exception to the rule. The classic FPS game Doom is available to play online for the Dreamcast this includes all versions of Doom like Ultimate Doom and Final Doom. This game requires the Sega Dreamcast Broadband adaptor. This is the only game online for Dreamcast that was not an original Dreamcast game. The game has been ported to the Dreamcast by hardcore Doom fans. Therefore the game is not available to buy and would need to be downloaded and burned to a CD. I will include the link to download Doom in the links at the bottom of this Hub.

Doom on Dreamcast

Maximum pool


The next game on our Sega Dreamcast online journey is Maximum pool. Maximum pool was only released on NTSC format though can be played on any Dreamcast with a boot disc such as Gameshark, Utopia or Action replay. Maximum pool is the only game so far to have its online functionality cut off and then later restored. Maximum Pool can be played over dial up internet connection or by PC-DC server. The reason that the Dreamcast version of Maximum pool went off line is because the servers moved IP address. This meant that the Dreamcast save file no longer pointed to the game servers so users only got a blank lobby list. This happened because Dreamcast Maximum pool is compatible with the PC version of Maximum pool and several other PC games such as Cool pool. PC's could easily find the new servers but the Dreamcast could not. Eventually with help from members of the Dreamcast community a programmer was able to hex edit the Dreamcast save file so that the game connected online again. The servers do still change IP address from time to time so it can be necessary to update the Maximum pool save file on the VMU (Memory card) in order to find online lobby’s. I will link to a continually updated version of the Maximum pool save in the links at the bottom of this hub.

Maximum pool case

Maximum pool front and rear covers
Maximum pool front and rear covers

Maximum pool continued

Due to its cross compatibility with the PC version of the game Maximum pool is the easiest game to hop online and play as the game is still fairly active today. Not all modes on the Dreamcast version are playable with PC players who have a different game i.e. Cool Pool. Players must select a mode that is on each game disc to be able to play against each other. All Dreamcast players can play any game against each other.


Quake 3 arena

Quake 3 arena is probably the second most popular online game to play for the Dreamcast. This game can be connected to with any connection method, Dial up, Broadband or PC-DC server. This game is again cross compatible with the PC version of the game as long as the PC player has the correct version. The game was released in all territories however only the NTSC version of the game now works online. The Pal version of the game ceased to work when an authentication server was taken down as Sega Europe turned off services. NTSC Quake 3 can be played on any Dreamcast by using a boot disc such as Gameshark, Utopia or Action replay. Currently the master server for Quake 3 is still online which means players can query a list of games. In the event that the Master list was taken down players can direct I.P. connect to each other from the games menu. This means that Quake 3 arena is effectively online forever.

Quake 3 Arena Dreamcast

NTSC box cover
NTSC box cover

Quake 3 continued

Quake 3 arena on the Dreamcast has some variations to the PC version of the game. Some maps are unavailable and the Maximum amount of players in a game is four. That said the game plays superbly well over dial up as well as broadband. Videos below.

Dreamcast intro video

Dreamcast Q3 online gameplay footage

Starlancer

Starlancer is a space based fighter game and was released in both Pal and NTSC territories and is playable via dial up and PC-DC server. The game is also on PC but this time the two games are not cross compatible. The original master list is hosted by Gamespy and is still online so the game can be played straight out of the box just like any other game.

Starlancer covers

Pal and NTSC
Pal and NTSC

Starlancer online forever

Whilst working on other games homebrew programmers have been able to backwards engineer the Starlancer online functions. In the event that Gamespy do stop hosting the master list then anyone will be able to host a Starlancer server on a basic PC. The game is effectively online forever.

Starlancer playing in offline mode

4x4 Evo

4x4 Evo is an off road racer with much depth. The game was released in NTSC territories but can be played in any region using a boot disc. Connection is by dial up or PC-DC server. The running of the online servers has been taken over by member of the PC community as this game is also on PC and Mac. Dreamcast players are able to play with PC and Mac users as long as game is on a standard map not a custom map. If a custom map is being played by PC players then the Dreamcast user must have it saved on their VMU to play in that race.

4x4 Evo cover

4x4 Evo cover NTSC
4x4 Evo cover NTSC

4x4 Evo servers

Over the last year the 4x4 Evo servers have been up and down a lot. This is not a major concern as the game servers have been back engineered in the same way as Starlancer and can be hosted on a standard PC. The game also supports a direct IP connect option as further back up. The game is effectively online forever.

4x4 Evo video from IGN

Phantasy Star online

Last but by no means least Phantasy Star online. Both version 1 and version 2 are still playable online by any method, Dial up, Broadband, PC-DC server. Due to the closure of an authentication server you must own The Pal copy of Phantasy star online version 2 as the NTSC copy will not connect online. NTSC version 1 functions normally. Phantasy star was and probably still is the most played online game on the Dreamcast. At peak the numbers on the servers were in thousands for this epic story based adventure. Online four players can team up as various characters to follow the story of the disappearance of Red ring Rico on the planet of Ragol.

Phantasy star box's

Left NTSC ver 1 box and right Pal ver 2 box
Left NTSC ver 1 box and right Pal ver 2 box

Online hosting for Phantasy star online


All official servers for Phantasy star online for Dreamcast have been terminated. Somehow a PC programmer was able to integrate Dreamcast play into the servers for the PC version of the game called Blue burst. The server code is now open source and can be downloaded so anyone can host a server. There are various communities around at which you can play Dreamcast Phantasy star online though they vary greatly. The largest PSO community is cross platform in the lobby’s i.e. Dreamcast players can mix and talk with Nintendo Gamecube and PC players in the lobby’s however you are not able to play together. These larger communities are still rife with Phantasy stars age old problem of cheating and hacking which alters the game experience in various ways. There are small communities around devoted to playing the game with no hacking to experience the game the way the developers intended. I will link to several types at the bottom of this hub. Connecting online is typically achieved by adding an altered save file to the Dreamcast VMU (Memory card)


Phantasy star menu screen and opening movie

Phantasy star ver 1 forest gameplay online

Summary


This concludes the list of Dreamcast games still playable online in 2012, I hope you enjoyed it.

If you are interested in Playing Dreamcast online then I will link to places where you can find the information you need and feel free to ask questions though note I am not a technical expert. It is important to say that playing Dreamcast online is no longer a plug and play experience with the exception maybe of Phantasy star and Maximum pool. Playing online will take a small investment some minor technical know how and some patience. For most of the games you will have to join a Dreamcast fan base and arrange games with other players. You are unlikely to find players to play by just hopping on the servers due to the age of the games. The two games you may be able to hop on and play are Phantasy star if you join a large community and Maximum pool if you play with PC players. 4x4 also has a lot of PC players on but it is difficult to play with them as they are often playing on custom maps which you must source and download to your VMU before you can play.

Below any links promised, thanks for reading.

James

Extra's if your interested


If you are thinking you might like to play Dreamcast online here are a few little extras you might find useful

  1. Dreamcast keyboard. None of the remaining games support voice chat so a Dreamcast keyboard will be almost essential.
  2. The Dreamcast has quality graphics for its time and you can make them a look almost as good as today’s consoles with the addition of a VGA box. A must if you like great graphics.

Broadband

A speedy little number
A speedy little number

Sponsored by

This page is sponsored by Cashblaster. Cashblaster promoter of free retro console games. If you are interested please take a look at some of my websites below. Many thanks.

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    • profile image

      bottmint 3 years ago

      I would like to point out that BlueCrab found a way to disable the Hunter's License check for US and JP V.2 of Phantasy Star Online. His site is located at sylverant.net

    • profile image

      Mark Vickers 4 years ago

      Just bought a dreamcast for £15 Need a broadband adapter. see you all soon :-)

    • profile image

      Geo 5 years ago

      I still think of the Dreamcast as a new modern console. I guess it's my age!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for the information however I don't have time to play games online. Too busy hubbing! :))

    • cebutouristspot profile image

      cebutouristspot 5 years ago from Cebu

      A blast from the past :) Good trip on memory lane. Thanks for sharing

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Interesting, retro gaming is becoming quite popular now.

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • jimsmillions profile image
      Author

      jimsmillions 5 years ago from Bristol south west england

      A lot of people do not know we still play hence the reason for the hub. You know its never too late don't you? Dreamcast ..... The legend will never die.

    • onthegrind profile image

      onthegrind 5 years ago from Florida, United States

      This brings back a lot of memories. I had a Dreamcast around 2000. I had no clue that people were still playing with this system. It really was a great system - glad to see enthusiasts still playing on it.