Enter Our 11th Birthday Giveaway!

Last year we celebrated 10 years of Junkyard glory and gave you lucky lot the opportunity to win one of three awesome Dreamcast Collection vinyl LPs donated by the lovely folk at Sega Europe. Now though, we're celebrating 11 years of being a thing with a giveaway that is almost - almost - as good.

Yep, one of you will get a prized physical copy of the outlawed Dreamcast Junkyard Ultimate Collectors Guide, along with copies of Volgarr the Viking, unreleased beta Hellgate, Mars Matrix and Dreamcast Puzzle Collection. On top of this, six runners up will also get copies of Dreamcast Puzzle Collection; a fan-made compilation that includes Cosmic Smash, Sega Tetris, Namco Museum, Super Magnetic Neo, Former Managing Director Yukawa's Treasure Hunt and a host of other games.
All you need to do to enter is click the button below and then enter your details. It's that simple. No questions, no following on Twitter or liking on Facebook (although you're free to do both if you want). No Sega Rally time attacks or guessing the VMU screens from games. Simply click that red button, enter your details and that's it. You can enter once a day too, so remember to come back here daily to enter. We'll announce the winners on Monday 12th December.

Terms: Even though you can enter multiple times, you can only win one prize. Thanks to Martin Kay for creating and donating the reproduction games we're giving away. If your Dreamcast can't play CD-Rs, these games will not run in your Dreamcast. Competition ends 12th December 2016 at 12:00 midday GMT (that's UK time, for the uninitiated). Anyone can enter, anywhere in the world. As ever, I will ship prizes at my own expense. Keep Dreamcasting.

A Quick Look At Namco Museum

Namco's output on the Dreamcast is curious. The Japanese arcade masters came out all guns blazing with the launch of Soul Calibur, and the game was never bettered as far as arcade fighting games go. Many tried, but ultimately the likes of Dead or Alive 2, Project Justice et al - while amazing games in their own right - never usurped Soul Calibur as the king of the 3D brawlers on the Dreamcast. After Soul Calibur though, Namco seemed to go a little quiet. The only other games the firm released on Sega's little box were retro compilations or games in that mould.
Mr Driller was a variation on the earlier Dig Dug; while Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness was an updated version of the classic dot-gobbler with added 3D platforming elements thrown in. Both of these games are of above average quality, that's undeniable, but these were hardly the types of offering many early Dreamcast adopters were hoping for as follow ups after the initial impact made by Soul Calibur. Namco did release another game for the Dreamcast though and - surprise - it too was a retro-themed title: Namco Museum.
Namco Museum was only released in North America and was a continuation in the trend of repackaging older games for a new audience. The Dreamcast played host to a number of these compilations, with things like Atari Anniversary Edition, Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits and Yu Suzuki Game Works representing the higher end of the genre, and Sega Smash Pack occupying the opposite end of the spectrum. Where does Namco Museum fit into this little party? Well...somewhere in the middle to be honest. It's a collection of Namco's most important arcade games repackaged for play on a home system, but it's not perfect by a long shot. Before we delve into the reasons for this though, let's have a look at the games included on this compendium of Namco's rich history...

Ferrari F355 Challenge: Dreamcast vs PlayStation 2

I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Ferrari F355 Challenge. It still looks amazing to this day, but the handling of the vehicles in the game is a bit of an acquired taste. The arcade machine garnered a lot of attention back in the day because the cabinet used a fairly inventive three screen display that made you feel as if you really were sat inside a £200,000 super car, with an unparalleled view of the track and dashboard of the Italian pimp wagon you were virtually sitting in. 
I did actually play the arcade incarnation of F355 Challenge back during the reign of the Dreamcast when I visited the fabled Namco Station at Manchester's sprawling Trafford Centre shopping mall, but when I played the Dreamcast version a few months later I was left cold by the ridiculous learning curve. In more recent times, I've actually learned to love this outlying entry in the Dreamcast's library of NAOMI ports, and as such have found myself playing it a fair bit.
For this reason, when I spotted a copy of the PlayStation 2 port on eBay for £1, I pulled the trigger more out of curiosity than anything else. There are quite a few ports of Dreamcast games to other systems - 18 Wheeler, Crazy Taxi, Sonic Adventure et al; but Ferrari is the only one that only received a PlayStation 2 port, never making it to either the Gamecube or the Xbox. I'd heard about the added external view - something sorely lacking from the Dreamcast version - but that was all I knew.

Now though, I've had a while to explore the PlayStation 2 port of Ferarri F355 Challenge and at the foot of this post you'll find a gameplay comparison video. But before we get to that, here are a few things I noted while playing both versions of this often overlooked title.

LightConn: A Wireless Dreamcast Gun That Works With HDTVs

You may recall the DreamConn - the wireless Dreamcast controller we featured here at the Junkyard some time ago. Well, it seems that Chris Diaoglou - creator of the DreamConn - has been hard at work on another prototype device for the Dreamcast, and this time it's a wireless light gun...that works on flatscreen HDTVs with the aid of a modified Wii sensor bar! The LightConn, as it's known, is the next step in the plan to rid all of the Dreamcast's peripherals of wires and we can't help but be impressed with the reverse engineering Chris has shoehorned into the LightConn.
As with his previous creation, the LightConn also incorporates software VMUs and appears to use the cannibalised innards of a Wii controller to allow for use on a flat panel TV screen. And while this isn't true light gun technology, it's impressive stuff nonetheless. From Chris himself, here's a rundown of the features LightConn will offer, and there's a video of the LightConn in action below:

DreamPod - Episode 43

As ever, if you like what you hear please consider leaving us an iTunes review. And if you fancy chucking $1 a month at us for this lovely content feel free to check out our Patreon page. Thanks!

The Official Sega Hardware Calendar 2017

As is usually the case for anything I post, skip past the pish to see what you came for.
It's not even December, but cheesy Christmas songs are being played on the radio and in shops around the country, decorations are going up in the streets, 'Tesco Value' branded Christmas puddings have been appearing nationwide like a seasonal bout of flu and invites for the local New Year piss ups from wankers you've avoided for the past year are flooding your Facebook events list. That said, I've not spent a Christmas in the UK for seven years, but I imagine these things are still happening regardless. Perhaps it starts as early as October these days, who knows.

Now while many of the weaboos out there have no doubt heard of this before, the majority of you surely haven't so I'll take this opportunity to blow your mind with a hilarious tidbit regarding Christmas culture in Japan.

Ready for it?

On Christmas day in Japan, hundreds of thousands of people rush out to KFC in an attempt to replicate the traditional western Christmas dinner experience (in their eyes at least). Yes, the vast majority of people in this country believe that us wide-eyed-barbarians gather our family on Christmas day and venture out into the wild to enjoy a Christmas colonel feast. No I'm not shitting you.

3 New Dreamcast Games You May Have Missed

There are loads of new Dreamcast games in development at the moment, and most of them we've been keeping an eye on. Xenocider, Elysian Shadows, SLaVE, Alice Dreams Tournament, Ameba and In The Line Of Fire (more exclusive info coming on that very soon, folks!) all look fantastic and if nothing else show off the breadth and depth of indie development on the Dreamcast. That said, there are a few more smaller projects on the go that may have slipped under your radar, and we thought it was high time they got some attention.

Coming from prolific indie developer and publisher Retroguru, Hermes is a 'run and jump' game in a similar vein to Sqrxz. Sqrxz, apart from having an unpronounceable name (unless you're a Klingon) is a side scrolling platformer where you control a little rabbit-looking creature and must jump over gaps and avoid enemies...and die. Lots. It's like the Dark Souls of platformers and revels in its difficulty and frustration levels, and it looks like Hermes may follow this template.
From the PD Roms article on Hermes:

"Retroguru of Giana’s Return and Sqrxz fame are heavily working on their new game Hermes. In this Jump’n’Run you must chase a chicken to get your stomach filled with delicious meat. The game is sort of anti-vegetarian and features a doubtful sense of humor. As all Retroguru games, it’s expected to see this game on several other platforms than just Sega’s Dreamcast."
- Retroguru

There's no release date for Hermes just yet, but you can bet your bottom dollar it'll have you pulling your hair out in the very near future. Going off past Retroguru releases like Fruit'Y, it'll probably be cheap as chips, too.

The Original Blockbuster: Tetris On Dreamcast

Tetris. Even just typing that word brings the classic Tetris music pouring into my brain, accompanied by images of falling Tetriminos and the monochrome hue of a classic Gameboy screen. Alexey Pajitnov's groundbreaking puzzle game will forever be linked to Nintendo's classic handheld system simply because for many gamers, it was the first time they experienced the infuriatingly addictive gameplay of Tetris. Many an hour was spent by this gamer hunched over that lurid green and black screen, desperately trying to angle the console in the fading light of the evening to get the best view of those infernal, infuriating, infinitely falling blocks. If ever there was a gaming equivalent of an ear worm, Tetris is most certainly it.
Tetris has a long and storied history that begins in the early 1980s, but once Pajitnov's program found its way out of the labs of Moscow's Academy of Science, it landed and multiplied its way across pretty much every platform on Earth. Naturally, the first users to experience the game were computer users, followed by Commodore 64, Atari ST and Amiga gamers. But once Tetris was captured and re-purposed for pure entertainment machines, the blueprints for complete global domination were signed and sealed, and the Gameboy represented a delivery method with maximum yield.
Since those early days, Tetris has found its way onto countless platforms - and not just ones designed for gaming. Calculators, iPods, phones and even oscilloscopes have played host to variants of Tetris as the relatively simple nature of the game requires very little in the way of computational horsepower. If it's got a screen, an input device and a circuit board inside, the chances are it can play a version of Tetris. Naturally, computers and consoles have evolved over time, but the key components of Tetris have not. With flagrant disregard for anything as po-faced as Moore's Law, Tetris has remained almost unchanged in it's simplicity ever since that day in 1984 when it left Moscow and entranced the world, simultaneously rewriting the book on puzzle games as it went. If ever there was a perfect example of the old adage 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it,' then Tetris is surely it.

Dreamcast Magazine Issue 18

Issue 18 of Paragon Publishing's unofficial Dreamcast periodical hit the shelves on the 25th January 2001, just a month before production of new Dreamcast hardware was announced as cancelled. Even with this heartbreaking news on the horizon, Dreamcast Magazine issue 18 hit it home that the Dreamcast wasn't yet out for the count, with some truly stunning games reviewed. Before we get to those though, let's look at some of the interesting news and previews in the first half of the mag...
Previews include Daytona 2001, Phantasy Star Online, Giant Killers, Ducati World (shudder), Confidential Mission and Championship Surfer. The infamous Black & White development diary returns and news of Sega Europe's then chief JF Cecillon leaving the company is also reported. There are some intriguing news stories, such as a snippet mentioning rumours of a successor the Dreamcast coming out of Japan, and information on yet another Virtual On game heading to the Dreamcast, this time titled Virtual On 4: Force.

DreamPod - Episode 42: Featuring Chris Powell of SEGA Nerds & Mega Visions

You can discover more information about Mega Visions by visiting the official website here, and you'll also find all the download links for all the Apple, Google and Amazon devices you could ever hope to own. We're pretty sure you don't need a link to SEGA Nerds...but if you insist you can find the main site here. Also, be sure to follow both the Nerds and Mega Visions Twitter accounts for further updates and general SEGA-related news! 

If you like what you've heard please consider leaving us an iTunes review, and thanks for listening!

Guest Article: Shutokou Battle Celebration

Martin Hinson is a man who knows his racers. Specifically Japanese racers you may never have heard of. And when he's not getting stuck into the likes of Racing Lagoon, Touge Max G, Side By Side Special or Battle Gear, he's tinkering with Japanese sports cars in real life. In this latest guest article, Martin takes a look at one of the Dreamcast's best racing series: Shutokou Battle. Western gamers will be more familiar with the title Tokyo Highway Challenge, and a lot of racing game fans may have initially looked at the fairly limited number of circuits and not really given the series a fair crack of the whip. Happily,  Martin is here to tell us all why we should give the series a second chance...
It came to my attention at the recent UK gaming event Play Expo Manchester, how few people still know about the Shutokou Battle series. Although I was aware the series is rather cult, I still found this somewhat surprising, given the age of the series and number of titles it spans.
Starting life on the Super Famicom in 1994, the series passed through the 32-bit era, flirting with both the Saturn and PlayStation before rising to prominence, albeit it on a small scale, on the Dreamcast in 1999. Starting as a somewhat standard Mode 7 racer, it had evolved into a fairly unique ‘CaRPG’ by the time it hit Dreamcast. It was also one of the earliest games to utilise tuning with a huge range of performance upgrades in some of the 32-bit games. 
The series focused on drift racing until it hit Dreamcast. It suited the arcade nature of the visuals and wide tracks on display - think Ridge Racer on the PlayStation. However due to the grunt of the Dreamcast, developer Genki put a huge focus on realism, not only visually but also from a gameplay point of view. This is perhaps most obvious in the handling, as it is much harder than before and car control almost feels sloppy. It’s easy to be put off the moment you play and most people probably were, but frankly, that’s a huge mistake. Stick with it and you are left with one of the most rewarding driving games around.

DreamPod - Episode 41: Featuring IMPLANTgames.com

IMPLANTgames is run by Kris Genthe and has an amazing amount of content documenting Sega games from across the whole range of platforms. His YouTube channel is full of interesting and insigtful videos documenting little known and obscure topics...and that's why we here at the Junkyard love his stuff. Please feel free to check out his website here and also his podcast here. You can also find Kris on Twitter. If you like what you've heard on this episode of the DreamPod, please feel free to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes.

The Mysterious Coca-Cola Dreamcast

We've looked at a few special edition Dreamcasts recently, the most notable being the odd F1 World Grand Prix II console that surfaced on eBay and was subsequently bought by a reader of the Junkyard. We've yet to find any concrete information regarding the origins of that particular model, but we're hoping that the Dreamcast community may be able to shed some light on the latest oddity to come to the fore.

Friend of the Junkyard and Japanese game aficionado Allan McCluskey recently contacted me to ask if I knew anything about a Coca-Cola branded Dreamcast he'd managed to acquire from a seller in Japan, and upon its arrival in the UK Allan sent me the following images:

We're Launching A Monthly Newsletter!

All the cool kids are doing it, and as we're the coolest of the lot (no, really) we thought it was about time The Dreamcast Junkyard had a newsletter. Nothing big or flashy and certainly not anything on the level of Mega Visions from SEGA Nerds; no, a simple monthly mail shot that delivers the highlights of the month's Junkyard posts direct to your inbox in one go. You can choose to have either a HTML or plain text version and it'll give a brief summary and links to selected content from the previous month. Like you, we at the Junkyard also have real lives outside of the internet and the Dreamcast (gasp!) and it's natural that due to the amount of amazing content we produce you're bound to miss something. Unforgivable, but understandable.

Not everyone is on Twitter and not everyone is on Facebook. This new venture will attempt to bridge the gap, offering summaries and links to recent articles, and maybe a few from the extensive archive that you missed the first time round. The Junkyard's readership continues to grow and grow and we're forever looking at new, more convenient ways for you to enjoy what we do...and hopefully this newsletter will appeal to those people who just want to have all the newest stories and features in one place. The best bit is that the newsletter is fully responsive so it'll look great on both mobiles and on your 486DX 66 desktop running Netscape Navigator. All you need to do to receive the monthly newsletter is sign up using the button below (and/or the one in the side bar if you're reading this on the desktop site) or scan the QR code here!

Digital Artists Create Jet Set Radio Tags For New York Yami-Ichi 'Internet Black Market'

The second self-styled Internet Yami-Ichi was held in New York on the 6th November 2016, and was a celebration of all things 'internet-ish.' For those not in the know, The Internet Yami-Ichi in NY2 was a sort of flea market where creators of predominantly digital art and crafts gathered to sell their wares, and to me at least looks like a really cool and intriguing concept. From the official website:

The Internet Yami-Ichi (Internet Black Market) is a flea market which deals "Internet-ish" things, face-to-face, in actual space. Both flea markets and the Internet are fanatical and chaotic mixes of the amazing and useless.  In the Internet Yami-Ichi both the wills and desires which brought us to create the Internet, and the wills and desires we picked up are salvaged to be shared in a social space.
Everything from art based on popular memes to the more bizarre aspects of internet folklore are on display for visitors to the free event to purchase, with many items created as one-offs solely for this gathering. The reason we're reporting on this event (apart from the fact that it sounds really cool) is that a collective of digital artists got together to create something truly special for Internet Yami-Ichi in NY2: a VMU full of bespoke graffiti tags for use in Jet Set Radio for the Dreamcast.

Guest Article: Was The Dreamcast Released Too Early?

Daniel Major is a gamer who has been twiddling his thumbs since 1989. Not happy with the direction of the industry in the mid 90s, he decided to quit trying to pretend the Amiga hadn't died and moved to a woodland to sacrifice Atari STs by fire ritual. Also plays Super Famicom & Megadrive. Here in this guest article, Daniel takes some time out from hitting broken JAMMA boards with a stick in his local park and asks the question: was the Dreamcast simply released too early?
Let’s pretend that the Dreamcast didn’t actually exist. Imagine the sixth generation without the Dreamcast. Let’s all forget that the sixth generation started with Sega’s dream machine and begin to ponder how different the rest of the sixth generation could have panned out. If you can imagine this then can you imagine Sony or Microsoft actually bothering with some of the included specs of their consoles? Online play for example. If Sega hadn’t bothered introducing this to the Dreamcast, would Sony have been inclined to do this? Let’s face it, did we all play online when the PS2 hit? No not all of us. Maybe that changed slightly when Xbox hit, but even then it was a well-known fact that this wouldn’t be the sixth generation's most potent or show stopping feature.

Planet Ring & Alien Front Back Online With DreamPi 1.5

Our good friend Luke Benstead has been hard at work updating his DreamPi software, and the latest release adds a load of cool new features. The coolest of these are support for VOIP (voice chat) and allowing tank-based multiplayer shooter Alien Front Online...to go back online! The VOIP thing is also important because games like PAL exclusive Planet Ring use it extensively, and Plant Ring is now another title that can be played online should you have all the right bits an pieces required to hook your Dreamcast back up to the internet. Here are the key details on DreamPi version 1.5 taken from Luke's website:
  • New software is included written by Jonas Karlsson called 'dcvoip,' this system process makes the VOIP communication in Planet Ring work! The software is distributed with permission.
  • There is now built-in support for the upcoming Alien Front Online servers that will allow your vanilla normal AFO CD to work without a boot disc! (Thanks again for Jonas for the information to do this).
  • The Pi's firmware has been updated which should bring better device support
  • A bug has been fixed where the DreamPi software wouldn't shut down correctly
  • The modem command timeout has been increased which fixes a number of bugs on modems which are slow to respond (for some reason...). Thanks to Neoblast on the DC-talk forums for finding this.
  • Fixed a bug where the DreamPi process would boot before there was an internet connection (mainly affected WiFi) and would require restarting multiple times to get things to initialize correctly.
The work being done by Luke and Pcwzrd13 to get the Dreamcast back online is phenomenal and we have nothing but admiration. As stated by Pcwzrd on Twitter, the Alien Front Online server is still in beta so don't expect it to run perfectly, but the fact that it's up and running is a fantastic achievement in itself. If you've been enjoying playing online multiplayer on your Dreamcast again through DreamPi, let us know in the comments how you've found the experience. For more information on creating a DreamPi connection, be sure to check out Luke's FAQ and Pcwzrd's video on Alien Front Online over at Dreamcast Live.

Edit: Just a minor piece of additional information. The Alien Front Online server was created by Petter3k with help from Jonas Karlsson (Shuouma), DreamPi simply adds support for these games.