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Gaming Hacks by Simon Carless

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Find a Hackable Dreamcast

On finding and hacking the versatile Sega Dreamcast.

When considering consoles to hack, it turns out that the often neglected Sega Dreamcast is by far the best bet for intelligent software hackers. You have no need to modify your console to use it for homebrew gaming or utility purposes; there’s a significant development community making interesting games, utilities, and varied hacks; the DC has Internet connectivity; it’s reasonably powerful; and most of all, it’s inexpensive.

With that in mind, here’s some background on the console, as well as where to buy it and what you need to hack with it.

Dreamcast History

The Sega Dreamcast saw a Japanese release on November 25, 1998, and launched in the United States on September 9, 1999, as Sega’s hardware follow-up to the Sega Saturn console. It sported an Hitachi SH-4 RISC processor (200 MHz, 360 MIPS), 16 MB of main RAM, with 8 MB of video and 2 MB of sound RAM, special 1.2-GB GD-ROM discs for the games, and a 56-Kbps modem in the United States (although only 33.3 Kbps in Europe and earlier Japanese models). In some ways, it’s an intergenerational piece of hardware—more powerful than the PlayStation or Sega Saturn, but with weaker hardware than the PlayStation 2, GameCube, or Xbox.

Although the Japanese version of the console has a Designed-for-Windows CE logo on the front, in reality, a very small amount of games actually use the Windows CE working environment, preferring instead Sega’s custom libraries. While ...

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