Guest Article: Tales Of A Dreamcast Virgin

In this latest guest article, Leigh Bonser explains how in his native Australia the Dreamcast passed him by completely. However, after recently discovering the console he is now tutoring himself in the delights of the fantastic library. In some ways, I'm quite envious of Leigh as the Dreamcast is a fresh concept and there are so many amazing experiences waiting for him. Anyway, enough from me. Over to Leigh, the self-styled 'Dreamcast virgin'...
Like most readers of the Dreamcast Junkyard, I’ve been a gamer since I was a kid, fascinated by the technology and the escapism that video gaming presents to the open minds of youth. My first real memory of gaming started when a kid on my street got a Commodore 64 and allowed a select few local kids to come over and play. Now I can’t really remember exactly what we played, but I know it was off cassette and that it was dreadfully slow. But back then, who cared? We knew what was coming was exciting and would absolutely be worth the wait.

Skip forward a few years and my Dad, out of nowhere, came home one day with a second hand Apple IIc computer; also a dog. I think the dog was to smooth over my mother due to the expenditure. Such a wise man. This event is what I consider to be the starting point for the path my life has taken so far, as a gamer, computer enthusiast, career in IT and also, how to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission. That’s not to say that I wasn’t already into other forms of video gaming. The NES was certainly around at this time as was the Master System. However, neither were very popular in the town that I grew up in, unless you had a wealthy or American friend, courtesy of the local American installation. Video games just weren’t really accessible amongst the circle of friends and family that I had.

DreamPSU Could Save Your Dreamcast From Imminent And Permanent Destruction

OK, that's quite a melodramatic title, but it's all about the clickbait these days. If I don't use ridiculous titles like that, how else will I convince people to come here and read this tripe? I suppose I could promise to fax nudes to readers in return for likes on social media, but the last time I did that I was threatened with legal action. I learnt the hard way, so you don't have to.

Right, down to business. You know how you can swap the powerboard out of a Dreamcast from one region with one from another to make it work in your country? No? Well, you can. For example, all of my NTSC Dreamcasts have UK powerboards in them so I don't have to mess about with transformers. The powerboards in Dreamcasts are also one of the reasons a lot of consoles end up on the scrap heap - loose connections can lead to the age old resetting issue, and in some cases they can just die through old age and overuse. Well, a dude called Chris Moon has started an Indiegogo campaign for a little thingy called a DreamPSU, a smaller and more robust alternative to the Dreamcast powerboard.
The device slots into the Dreamcast chassis in much the same way as a standard powerboard, but without that archaic array of valves and cogs; and as an added bonus the DreamPSU generates less heat than the regular powerboard, meaning your Dreamcast can also double up as an air conditioning unit as opposed to the fan heater it is now. The Indiegogo campaign sets out all the details and it looks like a very decent little contraption. Chris is only looking for around $5000 to make the DreamPSU a reality, so why not chuck him a few pennies and help him prolong the life of Dreamcasts worldwide. Find Chris on Twitter here and find the DreamPSU website here.

Source: SEGA Nerds / Indiegogo

Check Out This Awesome Lo-fi Dreamcast Box Art

The title pretty much says it all. These were created by artist Corey Thompson and actually date back to 2015. However, coolness transcends both the constructs we frail humans label 'time' and 'space,' hence my sharing them here in 2017. Anyway, stop reading this literary offal. Instead, point your eyes downwards and gorge them on Corey's sumptuous, moist, and downright delectable doodles.
Some bonafide Dreamcast classics there, right? Well, apart from Blue Stinger. Which is actually the best game on the Dreamcast and therefore has its own class which is above 'classic.' Nice Jet Grind/Set Radio cover there too, which gives me a great way to segue into this other GIF on Corey's site which depicts a stylised Dreamcast connected to a stylised TV...playing Jet Grind/Set Radio:
Check out Corey's website here for more artwork.

Atelier: The Dreamcast Game That Could Destroy Your PC On Christmas Day

The Atelier franchise is one of the longest running PlayStation-centric series of role-playing games and has spawned a number of manga and anime adaptations. If the name doesn't sound overly familiar, it's probably because the vast majority of the games in the series have never been released outside of Japan, or translated into English. Not that this should stop you exploring them, of course - the alchemy themed narrative that runs throughout the series is quite intriguing - but you might want to brush up on your Japanese, especially if you wish to play the two Dreamcast volumes that were released in late 2001. But this post isn't really about the quality or gameplay features of Gust Co. Ltd.'s popular RPG series. It's more about the fact that the Dreamcast version shipped with an incredibly destructive computer virus unwittingly bundled on the disc.
The Atelier title that was released on the Dreamcast is actually a sort of 'remaster' of the first two games in the series, and the full title is Atelier Marie & Elie: The Alchemists of Salburg 1-2. Played from an isometric viewpoint, the game is a fairly traditional J-RPG with a heavy reliance on the player's ability to create and upgrade items using the arcane method of alchemy. When the double disc set was released in mid-November 2001 by Kool Kizz, it was quickly discovered that the discs included some special bonus features that were accessible when placed in a computer CD-Rom drive, one of which is an Atelier-themed screensaver.
Not long after, it was also discovered that this screensaver actually delivered a payload in the form of the Kriz computer virus; a virus that was initially released in 1999 but only found real infamy in 2001. The Kriz virus that was accidentally included on the Atelier discs cannot infect a Dreamcast simply because a Dreamcast doesn't have the hardware or the makeup of a PC; but once executed by a system using the Windows 9x, NT or 2000 operating systems, would silently spread throughout the computer and lie dormant until 25th December. Then, on Christmas Day it would cause havoc by merrily turning your PC into a paperweight, while you were chowing down on far too much chocolate and throwing up the third helping of turkey you knew you shouldn't have eaten.

No, Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap Isn't Coming To Dreamcast

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap wowed pretty much everyone who saw it when it hit the PC and consoles earlier this year. Lizardcube's lovingly crafted homage to retro platformers brought the Wonder Boy series to a new generation and gave it a complete makeover, with sumptuous visuals and animation that wouldn't look out of place in a traditional hand drawn Disney movie.

Before the game was even released though, there were murmurings on social media and some other Dreamcast fansites that The Dragon's Trap may also see a release on the Dreamcast – several members of the development team even worked on commercial releases for Sega's final system (one of which was PAL exclusive rarity Evil Twin: Cyprien's Chronicles). Plus, what a fitting way to honour the Dreamcast, with a port of a game that spiritually started out on even earlier Sega hardware?
It didn't seem like too far-fetched an idea, especially considering the high quality port of Volgarr the Viking that appeared a couple of years back. So, intrigued by the rumours, we reached out to Lizardcube to seek the truth – is there a chance that The Dragon's Trap may be gracing GD-Rom drives in the near future? Well, in a word: no. Dragon's Trap director Omar Cornut told us:

"The Dragon’s Trap isn't coming to Dreamcast. We don't have the bandwidth or interest to pursue, or have a third-party pursue this, however cool it would be. Our plates are way too full.

"We are already not doing a PlayStation Vita port - a system which has an arguably bigger market - for similar reasons, so Dreamcast just isn’t feasible. Plus, the game was designed for high-res and a high amount of VRAM storage, and wouldn't be at its best at resolutions the Dreamcast can output."
- Omar Cornut

So, straight from the dragon's mouth as it were: The Dragon's Trap is not coming to the Dreamcast, regardless of how romantic an idea it sounds. Don't be too disheartened though, there's still plenty to look forward to in the near future; with games like SLaVE, Intrepid Izzy,  Xenocider and some as-yet-unannounced titles all due to land on Dreamcast this year.

Get Your Dreamcast Online With DreamPi - 2017 Edition

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you'll no doubt have heard about DreamPi. For those uninitiated rock dwellers though, I'll explain. DreamPi combines a Raspberry Pi mini computer and software created by a clever dude (and occasional Junkyard guest writer) called Luke Benstead, and enables Dreamcast owners to play online multiplayer games through a cool service called Dreamcast Now. The main source for up to date information and trouble-shooting guides for DreamPi is undoubtedly Dreamcast Live, and custodian of the site Pcwzrd has just released a 2017 edition of his DreamPi video guide:

It's pretty comprehensive and covers all the main steps for getting your Dreamcast online for some hot Chu Chu Rocket! action. Be sure to check out Pcwzrd's YouTube channel, Twitter and of course Dreamcast Live for pretty much everything you could ever want to know about playing online Dreamcast games in 2017.

The Mystery Of The Victor Wondercast

We've looked at - and failed to find any concrete details on - several mysterious and largely undocumented variations of the Dreamcast hardware here at the Junkyard in recent times. There was the F1 World Grand Prix II custom console which we kinda deduced was either a fan-made console or a professionally created competition prize; and then there was the Coca-Cola Dreamcast that even the Coca-Cola archive couldn't give us any solid answers about. But now there's a new mystery to pore over, and it's probably the most tantalising yet. Before I go any further though, props must go to a Dreamcast fan and collector who goes by the online name Sega Emultion Sanshiro (no relation to Segata Sanshiro, I'm sure), who is responsible for bringing this whole topic to my attention. What am I talking about? Why, the Victor Wondercast of course!

Now, it's common knowledge in retro circles that Victor (or JVC in most territories) released a special edition of the Sega Saturn called the V-Saturn. The V-Saturn is essentially the same console as the standard Sega Saturn, but with a few internal differences and a different boot screen and logo (check out the entry at Sega Retro for more information). The firm also released licensed versions of other Sega consoles too. What isn't common knowledge, is that Victor/JVC may very well have been planning to license the Dreamcast hardware and produce their own version of the console, dubbed 'Wondercast.' The only proof we have of this comes in the form of a single image, printed in the August 1998 issue of defunct French games magazine Consoles+:
The image is very small and pixellated, but it clearly shows a purple Dreamcast with the Victor logo and the name Wondercast, along with the code number RG-X0 1. This is interesting because JVC/Victor's previous Sega consoles also had similar RG codes - RG-X1 for the V-Saturn and RG-M2 for the Wondermega. The accompanying article is mainly about the impending launch of the Dreamcast and Sega's plans for the console, but this single image is the only evidence we know of that the Victor Wondercast ever existed or was planned. The original is below, along with an isolated image of the console (click for larger versions):

The Dragoncast VS Cable

Like many consoles of the 1990s, the Dreamcast offers the option to connect two systems together via a system link cable to enjoy two-player action. This capacity to connect two Dreamcasts together is quite possibly one of the most under-used abilities of the hardware though, due to the scarcity not only of the link cables themselves; but also the tiny number of games that actually make use of system link play. Officially, there are only a handful of games that allow a pair of Dreamcasts to be tethered together with a physical connection for link play: F355 Challenge, Virtual On, Sega Tetris and Aero Dancing F. There's also the unreleased and unfinished vehicular combat title Hellgate from Jester Interactive too, should you wish to give that a go.
A very early demo of Outtrigger also hints at the functionality, but it was removed from the final game. However, this article isn't really about the software library designed to make use of the Dreamcast link cable. It's actually about the Dragoncast, an unofficial alternative to the ultra-rare Japan-only official Dreamcast VS Cable (code HKT-9500); and also about the outstanding entertainment provided by the dubiously translated English on the packaging.
Image credit: DCJY Facebook group member Arnold Javon Daye II
Coming from manufacturer Dragon 2000, the Dragoncast is just one entry in a fairly sizable catalogue of third party peripherals that also includes arcade sticks, memory cards, VGA boxes and rumble packs. There isn't a lot of information to be found online about this rather enigmatic brand, but the parent company appears to be called Sam-Factory; a marque which again leads to something of a dead end when using Google as a detective tool. There are a couple of articles and forum entries online that look at a Dragoncast fight stick (here and here), but the general consensus is that the controllers from Dragoncast/Dragon 2000/Sam-Factory are a bit on the cheap-nasty side when it comes to quality control.
Happily, I can say with confidence that the Dragoncast VS Cable fares a little better and does actually offer a specimen of more than acceptable quality. That said, even though this cable was most likely intended as a more cost-effective way of enjoying the Dreamcast's link play abilities, the Dragoncast itself is now something of a rarity and can command some pretty high prices when they pop up on eBay. Not as high as the official VS/Taisen/HKT-9500 cable, but still enough to make your eyes mine did when I won this example recently...

Hardware Review: Beharbros Akura HDMI Adapter

Beharbros have a pretty solid track record when it comes to releasing display adapters for the Dreamcast. In the past, the self-styled 'artisnal retromodders' have garnered critical acclaim with a range of hand made devices that continue to keep Dreamcasts turning and burning, regardless of how much display technology accelerates away from the natural abilities of the system. The Toro, Hanzo, Kuro, Kenzei and SLR boxes all have distinct features, and while they come at a premium, they all help Dreamcast gamers achieve optimal image quality, whatever their choice of display.
The Akura is Beharbros' latest release and while it retains the familiar aesthetic of the other boxes in the catalogue, it eschews SCART and VGA connections and instead offers an all in one option for gamers who want to hook their Dreamcast up to a HDMI-equipped display. Weighing in at $85 with free worldwide shipping, the Akura requires no external power supply and connects directly to the console's AV port, delivering a native 480p image via the use of an HDMI cable that goes directly from the box to the television or monitor.
Be aware though - the Akura is not an upscaler, it simply chucks out a 480p picture through a HDMI cable (more on this later), and a series of switches on the side of the device yield a number of interesting extra features. First though, before we delve into the more technical side of the Akura and whether this is the box for your needs, lets take a look at the physical design of Beharbros' latest adapter and just what those little switches on the side are all about...

Brighten Up Your Dinner Table With These Dreamcast Drinks Coasters

If like me you spend a ridiculous amount of time perusing eBay for all manner of Dreamcast-related nonsense, then I'm pretty sure you'll have already seen this. If you actually have a life though, you may not have, so allow me to get to the point before I waste any more of your precious time. Time that could be spent doing something infinitely more important or interesting. Such as watching a teabag percolate in a cup of boiling water, for example. Or looking for your keys that you swear to God you left on the table in the living room but are now nowhere to be seen. Where are they?!

Yes, quite. Right. Someone's had the bright idea of putting Dreamcast box art inside perspex squares and is now selling them on eBay for £4.99 each as drinks coasters. It's a spectacularly simple idea, but it's also quite brilliant as these coasters look decent and would undoubtedly brighten up the most utterly boring of chintz-covered, best china-adorned tables.
The seller does have other coasters with art from other consoles available (PlayStation, Game Boy etc.) and the only criteria for this treatment appears to be the square dimensions of a console's boxes. Personally, I'd like to see a full size, 1:1 coaster of the big box PC edition of Doom turned into a coaster that I can rest a plate of beans on toast atop, lest I spill my juicy quarry all over the upturned fruit box I use as a makeshift table...but we can't have it all. My squalor is my curse.

You can spend £4.99 of your hard earned cash on these things by visiting the eBay store here. But please don't moan at me if it turns up and you don't like it. Cheers.

DreamPod - Episode 51

Feel free to join our Facebook group, like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter; and if you’re feeling flush and/or generous our Patreon is here. Oh, and one last thing - give us an iTunes review if you can be bothered. Cheers!
Hover: Revolt of Gamers is inspired by Jet Set Radio
Related articles to peruse while you listen to this:
SEGA Forever Finally Revealed
Cosmic Smash Secret Characters Revealed
Damascus Apparel Releases Dreamcast Shirt

All previous episodes can also be found at our dedicated Buzzsprout page here.

Cosmic Smash Secret Characters Discovered After 16 Years

Cosmic Smash: simply the finest minimalist squash game where you get on a 'cosmic bus' and whack a glowing ball at neon cubes. No, I haven't been at the vodka again - that's just the best way to describe Sega's 2001 NAOMI and Dreamcast release. The game was only ever released in Japan and has become quite a sought-after title for the Dreamcast, and not least because of the unorthodox packaging - it being one of the only official Dreamcast games to be released in a DVD-style case.
We covered Cosmic Smash quite some time ago here at the Junkyard, and I also heaped praise on it when I wrote a Dreamcast-themed Minority Report for Retro Gamer Magazine a couple of years back (issue 146 if you're interested). One thing I certainly missed in all my time playing the game though, was the inclusion of several secret characters. Secret characters that until now have pretty much never been seen or even mentioned anywhere on the internet.

Enter fellow blogger Jeremy Hobbs, curator of Ribbon Black. As he explains in his excellent article, Jeremy inadvertently unlocked a secret playable character he had never seen before - one of the 'worker' characters seen in the intro sequences. Initially, Jeremy thought he had unlocked the new avatar because he'd followed a certain route through the game, but this wasn't the case.
After going down a rabbit hole to discover just how he did it, Jeremy then learnt (after much internet and forum digging) that there are several other secret characters locked away in that retro-futuristic neon subway system of nightmares. One of them is a bear holding a fish (see above), but I won't spoil the story any further. As someone who knows what it's like to stumble upon something and then become embroiled in trying to find the answers (remember the whole 'Dreamcast Barber' thing?), this topic really piqued my interest; that a game - albeit one as obscure as Cosmic Smash -  can withhold its secrets for almost 16 years is nothing short of staggering to me.

Head over to Ribbon Black here to read the whole fascinating story, and also how you too can unlock the wacky extra characters. Thanks to my Junkyard co-writer Aaron Foster for alerting me to this.

SEGA Forever Finally Revealed, Includes Dreamcast Games!

So the wait is over. SEGA Forever has finally been revealed as the mobile gaming service most of us kinda already guessed it would be. Playing retro titles on mobile devices is nothing new, but this service offers something not yet seen: an ever growing library of titles from across the whole of SEGA's console back catalogue...including the Dreamcast. There are only a handful of Mega Drive titles available initially, but the library will be expanded over time, with Master System and Dreamcast specifically cited on the SEGA Forever website.
Interestingly, the SEGA Forever Twitter account also teased images of the SG-1000 and Saturn recently, so we'll be keen to see if those platforms are emulated too. SEGA Forever is available for iOS and Android devices, and boasts some nice features such as online leaderboards and Bluetooth controller support. The first batch of games, which includes Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast and Comix Zone will be available within 24hrs of the reveal. While games will be free to play, details covered at both SEGA Nerds and SEGAbits suggests that in order to remove adds, a small fee will apply for each game.

What do you think? Excited for the Dreamcast-specific portion of SEGA Forever? Or is this a crushing letdown? Playing games on a touchscreen has always been a bit it'll be interesting to see how this changes the landscape - if it can. As far as playing Dreamcast games goes, we'll no doubt be keeping an eye on this and seeing how the emulation competes with what's already out there. Oh, and if we can get the DreamConn to work with our mobiles, that'll be a bonus too!

So, SEGA Forever then. Best thing ever or huge #SEGAFail? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion in our Facebook group. You can also follow SEGA Forever on Twitter for updates.

Damascus Apparel Releases Limited Edition Dreamcast Shirt

Damascus Apparel is a clothing brand based in San Diego, and is a huge name in the alternative and EDM (Electronic Dance Music) scenes. Damascus has been in business since 2009 and since then has become one of the largest and well known producers of clothing and accessories tailored to meet the needs of its community. Why am I telling you this? Because they've just released a limited edition Dreamcast t-shirt. We've featured apparel, jackets and shirts here at the Junkyard on many occasions but this is the first time we've seen a relatively niche, underground - and widely respected - clothing manufacturer incorporate the Dreamcast into one of its products.
Taking a look at the Damascus website, it's clear that the offerings may not be to everyone's tastes, but what they do they do well. I was actually pretty intrigued to know more about the EDM scene after learning about Damascus, and there are a few interviews on various scene-specific magazine websites (here, here and here) that I would recommend giving a read. The Dreamcast t-shirt itself mixes a Dreamcast logo and a Sonic render with other symbols and designs which are a consistent theme in Damascus's clothing. Oh, and a whopping great dragon. Honestly, I can't see myself wearing it because I'm more of a Hawaiian shirt kinda guy, but I'm pretty sure there are plenty of people out there who would snap this up in a heartbeat.

The Dreamcast shirt is limited to just 99 copies (is that the right word?) and costs $45 plus shipping. Head over to the Damascus website here for further information.

Developer Interview: Senile Team

Senile Team is one of the premier independent studios currently developing games for the Dreamcast. With an impressive portfolio comprising such well-known and critically acclaimed titles as Rush Rush Rally Racing and the ever-popular Beats of Rage, Senile Team has already claimed its seat at the top table. With this in mind, we though it was about time that we got together with one of Senile Team's main men Roel van Mastbergen to find out a little bit more about the history of the outfit, their influences and get some details on the brand new platform adventure heading to PC and Dreamcast very soon - Intrepid Izzy.
DCJY: Hello Roel, thanks very much for agreeing to talk to The Dreamcast Junkyard! We’re big fans of your output on the Dreamcast. Could you tell all those people who may not be familiar a little bit about yourself and the history of Senile Team?

Roel van Mastbergen: Hi Tom, thanks for inviting me to this interview. I’m Roel van Mastbergen, designer, artist and programmer for Senile Team. Senile Team is a small indie developer (currently made up of four people) originally founded in 2003, when we created Beats of Rage. This beat ‘em up based on Streets of Rage proved very popular, and we decided to keep making games, especially for the Dreamcast. Our next release was the Micro Machines-inspired Rush Rush Rally Racing, of which we recently did an updated re-release - Rush Rush Rally Reloaded which we also brought to the Nintendo Wii a few years ago.
It’s very interesting that you mention Beats of Rage - I’m pretty sure that most Dreamcast owners are familiar with it, but possibly don’t know that Senile Team is responsible for the original engine. Before we get to Beats of Rage though, one thing I have to ask - where does the studio's name ‘Senile Team’ actually come from? You don't strike me as being particularly old or decrepit. Much.

Well, back in the day we used to communicate via a mailing list. When creating the mailing list, I found that most names that actually made sense were already taken, so I sort of randomly picked the name 'Senile.' When we completed Beats of Rage, we decided to stick to it. We felt it made sense in a way, because we'd just made an old school game. 'Old' and 'senile' go hand in hand, after all!

Check Out This New Xenocider Bonus Stage

Work continues apace on Retro Sumus' upcoming shooter Xenocider, and the latest development diary entry goes into finer details about some key features of the game. The Retro Sumus team recently met in sunny Madrid, Spain for an extended working weekend in which new gameplay features (including an upgrade store and difficulty level balancing) were discussed; along with confirmation of the final box art designs. But perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of this get together is the reveal of a brand new 'Shinobi' inspired first person shooter bonus stage:

The most impressive thing about the whole Xenocider project for me, is that all of the guys working on this fine-looking 3D shooter are doing all of the development in their spare time. They have careers in other fields and are working on producing one of the first fully 3D indie games for the Dreamcast once they knock off from their day jobs: now that's dedication for you. Once again, you can read the entry in full by heading over to the Retro Sumus website here.

With Xenocider, SLaVE and several other as-yet-unannounced titles due to hit the Dreamcast in the coming months, 2017 is shaping up to be one hell of a year for Sega's 'dead' console.

Akura HDMI Cable + XRGB Framemeister - Plus Q&A Live Stream

The title says it all really. I recently purchased the Akura HDMI cable for Dreamcast and have been fiddling around with mixed results. By far the best quality I've been able to get out of it so far has been by pairing it with the XRGB Mini. 

Here's a quick capture uploaded to YouTube, be sure to set it to 1080p and judge for yourself.

Akura HDMI cable + Framemeister XRGB Mini

We'll be holding a live Q&A at 9am this Saturday (17th June) on our Facebook page. The format of the Q&A will be a live stream of the Japanese version of Shenmue running on original DC hardware. I fancy myself as a bit of a videophile when it comes to the DC, so be sure to tune in and ask any questions related to upscaling, capturing footage, cables, CRTs or anything else that takes your fancy. No holds barred!

For comparison's sake, here's the same footage captured using the Toro VGA cable with the XRGB Mini:

Toro VGA cable + Framemeister XRGB Mini

Remember folks: Saturday 17th June, 10am BST (that's 6pm in Japan where I live, just so you know). On The Dreamcast Junkyard's Facebook page. See you there!