How To Play Imports on a Dreamcast

 If you’re looking to play imports on your Dreamcast (see the DC’s best import games), you have a few options.

If you want a flawless importing experience and are willing to tinker with your Dreamcast’s guts, a modchip may be your best option. I have not installed a Dreamcast modchip myself, but it is supposedly pretty easy — just solder 4 wires into place.
Once the modchip is installed you will be able to boot imports from any region just like your domestic games.

Your second option is to obtain a boot disc. There are a number of retail boot discs availible, but I have heard that the Utopia book disc (download here) is able to boot some imports. To use a boot disc, you simply place the bootdisc in the drive, start up your Dreamcast and then swap in the Dreamcast import when instructed. Pretty easy, but a little more work in the long run.

The other method is about as easy as they come, but many people will frown on it. As many people know, most Dreamcasts will boot burned CDR backup games just like the original games. The extra-nice thing about this is that when booting CDRs, the system does not pay attention to the region.

Because of this, you can obtain a ripped copy of your import game and then boot the burned CDR into the system and play it like the real thing. I want to stress the fact that you should purchase a real retail copy of the game so that we can support the developers — ESPECIALLY with these latest Dreamcast releases that are just coming onto the market.

Developers like G.Rev only continue to release their new 2D shooters on the market when people buy them. We are lucky enough to still be offered Dreamcast releases in 2006 — we don’t want to blow it by only pirating the copies. Bottom line is, if you like these shmups and other new imports, purchase them so developers have a reason to keep making them.

One downside about using rips to play your imports is that you can’t copy your Dreamcast games with your PC. The most practical way is to obtain a rip online via file sharing networks or somebody you know.

Anyway, I hope this helps you in your journey of discovering many of the foriegn gems the Dreamcast has to offer. If you have anything to add or have questions, feel free to leave a comment.

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Maddog says:

Some comments since I have some good DC experience and collection:
I have a PAL DC but also lots of imported JAP/USA games for it. Utopia isn’t sufficient, nearly half the imports won’t run on it. The only bootdisc that has proven 100% reliable so far (tested with over 70 different original imports, including most of the “must haves” you list) is CodeBreaker and DC-X is very good too. Gameshark on the other hand is about as good (bad) as Utopia and definitely not sufficient.
As for backups, the reason imports work is NOT that the DC doesn’t check the region when reading from CDR, only that the hacking groups have them hacked so that they work in all regions. This isn’t always applicable, some JAP releases need fixing to work in PAL at least. But generally, 90-95% of the scene releases are region free.

racketboy says:

great — thanks for the clarification 🙂 Very helpful!

Anonymous says:

hey, maddog,

would u know if burning ripped dc games works when burning on a mac?


Anonymous says:

I was wondering if theres a way to burn DC games on the Mac

racketboy says:

Unfortunatly, not any that I am aware of…

Anonymous says:

anybody have any clue about using a jap controller (light gun) on a us console?

would installing a mod chip fix this?
theyre both ntsc right

racketboy says:

I just posted your question in the forum
Read Here

gloogun says:

I’ve tried using all the boot disks I could get my hands on. Utopia, ActionReplay, and CodeBreaker. Everytime I boot one of these I get the music player. I have a stack of failed discs piling up now. I remember once reading that some DCs were simply unable to use the boot disk without a mod chip. Any truth to that? I’ve also heard the media quality is a big factor as well. Using Memorex now, but will pick up more CDRs in the morning and give another brand a try. Was just curious if anyone has had similar experience.

Jim says:

Can anyone help me out? I have a Japanese DC and I want to use it to play all my games, Jap and US alike.

Is there any way that I can get a Japanese Regulation 7 Dreamcast to play them all? Thanks!!

David says:

Have a problem, not sure what..
Just burned me a copy of StreetFighter Third Strike, the game loads, I got the SEGA logo appear, but after that, the game loads but I get a blank screen!! – I can hear the game working though..

Can anyone tell me what this problem could be down to?
Much appreciated

racketboy says:

Quick thoughts:
It could just be a bad game image.
Otherwise, if you’re using a burning program that doesn’t play well with the format you downloaded, that could cause issues.

For further support, you might want to try the forums

David says:

Just thought I’d also mention I have a PAL Dreamcast..
Please can anyone shed any light on why I am getting a blank screen and only the audio? Is there a way around this problem? PLEASE HELP!!!

David says:

Im using discjuggler and I burnt the CDI image with WinRAR..only my first attempt – nearly there!!
Thanks for the reply much appreciated

racketboy says:

I don’t think the region should matter.
And discjuggler should play nice with a CDI, although, you could try Alcohol 120% I suppose.
Otherwise, try posting your question here:

soldierspy says:

There is a great way (the best) to fix this problem.If you have a dreamcast that will not play imports or burned games,there is a disc that can help.The people at sega had a disc they used to make ANY dreamcast play ALL games.It was only for developers,but a copy or two have made it out there.It’s called “System Disc 2.”I know it sounds strange…if it wont read burned disc,how can it read it?It does,and it does work.Wish i could remember where i seen it at.

Chris says:

Hi there. Great guides you have on this website.

I just wanted to ask, if you use a mod chip, does anyone know if you will have to use different VMUs for saving game data from different regions? For instance keep all your UK PAL saves on one VMU, and then all your JAP NTSC saves on another one? or can they be kept on the same one without corrupting the files? Thanks!

racketboy says:

You can use the same VMU, but from my experience, you can’t use an American save on a Japanese/PAL game and vice versa.
Thanks for your support!

Anonymous says:

whoever was talking about the system 2 disc,

drew says:

heres my story on playing jap games on my DC. i have been really wanting to play some darkstalkers recently and knew that i had got the jap version a long time ago. then i found a way online to open on the DC, rig the open tray lever, and there was a way that i had to remove the white ribbon from the board and replace it. it would then beep at me and then i could play jap DC game on my US console. no mod chip at all. i know it sounds way too easy but it worked. last night however i tried to do the same thing. but it didnt work at all. the weird thing is that once the jap game is in and i start it up from a fully off position i would hear the beep and it would read the disc. starts up just fine like any other game. i think it may have to do with the internal battery being dead. ( not too sure and i have not looked into it very much to figure it out. just my guess) it plays US and jap games from start up. its weird.

segadream131 says:

IT is the dead battery causing this to happen for sure!
I used to go to great length to make sure I only bought 1999 version dreamcasts from online sellers.
(i was hoarding them since they seem to die from my constant gaming)
well i was having problems playing a shenume disc and found one dreamcast played the scratched disc better than another i had (probably due to the laser getting weak/disc drive motor burning up ect.)
Anyhow, the one i was using first was a good ol 1999 launch system,and the other was a 2000.
well then i never changed the systems back in order to play my backups.
LO and behold it didn’t matter anymore since the battery had died while in backup in my closet!
now it and the launch system play backups and homebrew like there was never a difference???
Oh well at least I have enough casts to never be without though…
on another note when i was a kid i used to try and try to get megadrive games to work on my genesis2 American system…… guess what one out of 15 times i got them to run without a region cart!
not my greatest achievement (that was playing a backup of guardian heroes using a swap trick)….

segadream131 says:

Or maybe it was because of the Mil-CD feature,but it wasn’t apperantly used on the last models???

Otto says:

In case you are comfortable with the audio of each and every click and chips being put in every jackpot, then you
can certainly have the loudspeakers on.

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