When it comes to getting your Dreamcast online (and playing games online), there are a lot of common myths and misinformation out there. Much of this misinformation originated in old, outdated forum posts and may not apply today. In addition, certain information may only apply to certain connection methods or games. In this article I want to cover some of these myths and clear up any misinformation that you may read online.
I need a broadband adapter to play online.
Not true! While the broadband adapter is one way to get online, it's not the only way and certainly not the best way. Due to the broadband adapter being released late in the Dreamcast's life, it isn't supported by many games. This makes it an inferior connection method to using dial-up which is supported by all games. "But I don't have dial-up service" you say? This is where DreamPi comes in. DreamPi is software developed by Luke Benstead for the Raspberry Pi (a tiny little computer) that takes a high speed internet connection (e.g. cable, DSL, satellite, etc.) and turns it into a dial-up connection that can be used by your Dreamcast. This means that you don't need a broadband adapter. You can use the modem that's already attached to your Dreamcast.
The broadband adapter is the best way to get online.
Not entirely true. While it will give you the fastest connection speed, it's only supported by a few games (currently Phantasy Star Online, Quake III Arena, and Toy Racer). Games need to have been programmed with broadband adapter support in order to utilize it. Due to the BBA being released late in the Dreamcast's life, many developers didn't include support for it in their games. This makes dial-up (or DreamPi) the superior connection method as it supports all 12 of the games that are currently online.
Getting my Dreamcast online is too complicated and requires soldering.
Not true. With DreamPi, everything is essentially plug-and-play. If you don't want to go and buy all the parts yourself, you can buy a DreamPi kit from the Dreamcast Live Shop which has everything you need to get online. If you know how to plug USB devices into a computer then you have all the skills required to get your Dreamcast online. The only thing you need to do other than plug everything in is configure the web browser on your Dreamcast and you may not even need to do that if your Dreamcast has been used online before (essentially all you're putting in are fake ISP settings which can literally be just about anything). Depending on what games you want to play online, there may be additional steps, but you certainly don't need to be Einstein.
I don't need a line voltage inducer if I have a model A Dreamcast modem.
This is not true. While it is true that the model A modem doesn't require line voltage, the USB modem you use with your DreamPi or PC-DC server most certainly does. So whether you have a model A or a model B Dreamcast modem, you still need a line voltage inducer (or a way of providing voltage on the phone line). The only way around this is by using a serial modem which does not require line voltage like a USB modem does.
No one plays Dreamcast online anymore so there won't be anyone to play with.
Absolutely not true! All you have to do is look at Dreamcast Now to see that there are over 200 active players. These are only players using DreamPi (the most popular connection method) and only players active within the last 60 days are shown. There are closer to 500 players total! In addition to finding players online randomly, there's also a regular game schedule where you're guaranteed to find people to play with. You can also check out the Dreamcast-Talk forum where most online players hang out.
There are only a few online Dreamcast games so it's not worth it.
Not remotely true! There are currently 12 games that you can play online with more coming in the future. The Dreamcast had a total of 28 games with online multiplayer released in North America and Europe. This doesn't even include games that had alternate online functionality such as leaderboards, DLC, and chat, which would bring the total up to over 40. If you include Japanese games, that total would reach close to 100! To see a full list of the games you can play online and ones that are a WIP, see here.
Games played over dial-up would be slow and laggy.
Not true at all. You have to keep in mind that these games were developed with dial-up speeds in mind. Sure, if you played a modern online game over dial-up, it would be completely unplayable, but we're talking games that are over 15 years old. I play Dreamcast online on a regular basis and with many games you'd never know you were playing over a 56k connection. Sure there's the occasional lag but even modern online games played over 100Mbps connections have lag sometimes.