All of the following is written for gamers living in the UK.
If you wish to run UK/ European games on a Japanese or American system, then the below rules should still work unless stated.
Please note that Game Otaku or any of it's contrubutors do not endorse or recommend any of these procedures as it may invalidate warranties or damage your console. Personally, I own multiple versions of each system, but then, I am an Otaku!!
Advantages to buying Japanese and American games are that they are released much earlier, run at full speed (PAL runs approx 17.5% slower than NTSC) and will not have PAL borders.
The disadvantages are that they are more expensive, trade-in value vastly decreases when a PAL version is released and Japanese games will obviously contain some or all Japanese text.
Many arcade style games have mostly English text for menus, etc, but games with more depth, such as RPGs will pose problems for non-Japanese speakers.
Try my Japanese Basics for language help, or Common Words for game menus help.
-Dreamcast unit (JAP/US/UK)
-Scart, Phono or S-Video Cable
-NTSC compatible television (Most new-ish models 21" and above- If TV has multiple scart sockets then you should be okay).
There are a number of ways to run Japanese and American games on your Dreamcast. Let's suppose you have a UK PAL Dreamcast. This machine will obviously only run European PAL games when you purchase it. All methods of running imports are very simple, but will produce varying results. The first is probably the least favoured as it requires opening your machine. Try it at your own risk!
Read the following steps carefully, then try it if you are confident.
Purchase an Action Replay or Gameshark CDX. This is piece of software which you load first, then insert your required import game. Success rate is very high. Alternatively, you could find issue 11 of DC-UK. This comes with a cover-mounted demo of the Action Replay CDX. This will provide the same results as the full retail version. Simply boot it first, take out the CD, insert required import game, then select 'Start game without codes'.
Obviously, if you have a Japanese Dreamcast, you will be able to play Japanese games. The same applies with U.S games on an American machine. To play American or European games on a Japanese system, use Procedures 1 or 2. The same again applies to run Japanese or European games on an American Dreamcast.
Be warned, if you want to run a Japanese or American Dreamcast in the UK, you will need a Stepdown transformer. This is because the voltage required is different in Europe. Your import shop should supply this with the console. You will also have to connect the Dreamcast to your TV via Scart, Phonos or S-Video. If you do not, then games will display in black & white.
Some games do not work at all through 3rd party Scart cables!
Some games will ONLY work on the machine they are intended for. Only about 1 in 50 will
have this problem.
Some imports may run slower with borders on a PAL system, while others will run perfectly! This seems to be random.
Some PAL games may run too fast or be bigger than the screen area on import systems due to them being optimized for PAL machines.