Early online networking support during
the 4th video game console generation (16-bit)

Prior to the development and release of the almighty Sega Dreamcast in 1999, home video game consoles were not shipped with online connectivity (neither dial-up 56k modems or broadband Ethernet jacks) out-of-the-box. Despite this, however, some of the prior retro video game consoles did have 1st or 3rd-party modem adapter or network cartridges available for online web browsing and head-to-head online gameplay. These did not ship with the console, and were add-ons. Furthermore, their services were quite rudimentary and elementary compare to today's online game stores, services, web browsing, and online gameplay as seen on the modern day Sony PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Xbox One, and such.

Examples of early attempts at online connectivity and services with 56k dial-up modems include:

Background information about
XBand modem adapter/service

XBND was one of the earliest attempts at online network gameplay between video gaming consoles (via dial-up 56k modems). It was designed in 1994 and provided online networking support for the 4th video game generation (16-bit) for both the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo/Super Famicom. XBand was revolutionary and awesome for its time. XBand accounts were created over the phone with a service fee. Credits were bought and used for each connection to the XBand service. Both modems have similar functionality and networking services.

The Sega Genesis and SNES/SFC XBand modems were 3rd-party dial-up 56k modems which provided some basic online networking services and online gameplay. It was developed by Catapult Software and distributed by THQ and others. The Sega Genesis version, although 3rd-party, was officially licensed and endorsed by Sega. The modems included two RJ11 dial-up internet phone jacks; one for the phone connection from the ISP, the other to goto a dedicated landline phone (for call waiting functionality). They include a slot for a card reader (meant for setting up an XBand account/service credits) and a cartridge adapter slot on top. The cartridge adapter will detect applicable game cartridges and patch it's ROM to support XBand network gaming over dial-up.

The XBND service provides:

XBND supported the following games:

Key: *=Japanese Famicom only, @=Special chip-enhanced Super Nintendo game (see note), #=First party XBand support

Full details about the XBand service and adapters on their respective articles on Wikipedia, SegaRetro (Genesis), and SNES Central (SNES).

Unfortunately, the online XBand service was made obsolete/discontinued on April 30, 1997. RIP!

Enter XBNDPi

Despite the XBND service being discontinued in April 30, 1997, various sceners within the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo/Super Famicom retro gaming communities have created a replacement, homebrew XBand server. This endeavor was done partially with the original source code given out from ex-Catapult engineers, from reverse engineering, and from dumping game ROM patches stored on old XBand modem cartridges.

As of the time of this writing (January 2023), the XBand replacement servers supports the following features, connections methods, and games. Please see the Retrocomputing.Network XBAND Server webpage for latest details and instructions.

XBND Setup methods:

Supported XBand Features:

Gameplay Specifics:

Supported Games for Gameplay:


For the Raspberry Pi connection method, XBNDPi is a modified DreamPi distro image for utilizing a DreamPi machine to get a Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo/Super Famicom online. As of the time of this writing (January 2023), this modified image unfortunately only allows for XBand usage; Sega Saturn Netlink and Dreamcast dial-up/BBA support gets disabled during the conversion process. It also does not support networked gameplay services; please use a real dial-up landline or VoIP Adapter (Linksys SPA1001) for that.

The XBNDPi NOOBS Image is a pre-compiled XBandPi image meant for NOOBS/PINN bootloader. Full details about these type of NOOBS/PINN images at the DreamPi NOOBS Image page. It has two images; one compiled for older Raspberry Pi (before RPi4), and another for newer ones (RPi4 and newer). The distro image even has a fancy slideshow with very informative information about the XBand services and XBandPi image!

The image can either be installed manually (from an SD card/USB stick within the PINN bootloader) or from the Tamkis NOOBS Repo server online within PINN.

Just add the line
alt_image_source to http://raw.githubusercontent.com/Tamk1s/Tamkis_NOOBS_Repo/main/os_list_v3.json

to your recovery.cmdline file at the root of your NOOBS/PINN installation!

XBandPi NOOBS image slideshow


XBandPi NOOBS image (v1.7 DLE/v1.23, 04/19/2023)

Mediafire mirror, SourceForge mirror

Source code (SourceForge)

Tamkis NOOBS Repo

Add the line

to your recovery.cmdline file in PINN bootloader for install from online server

"Industrial Strength" LVI (DC-Talk forum thread, blog post)