SEGAbits Swingin' Report Show podcast interviews SEGA tournament champ and former Capcom employee Chris Tang



This past weekend was the culmination of SEGA Week at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL. The week consisted of ten tournaments on new (well, new to the arcade) SEGA arcade machines as well as other special events which were held on SEGAbits Saturday. One big happening on the big final day was the reveal of Strike Harbinger, a very early look at an upcoming indie title from HitSparks Games which is led by competitive gamer and developer Chris Tang.

In the past, Chris took part in the historic 1990 Nintendo World Championships and was the winner of SEGA's Sonic & Knuckles Rock the Rock competition in 1994. Since then, Chris has worked on games at Atari and Capcom, including Gauntlet IV, Primal Rage, Street Fighter III, Rival Schools, Tech Romancer and Power Stone. Now, Chris is hard at work on a new game inspired by classic SEGA titles like Space Harrier and Phantasy Star. The game, titled Strike Harbinger, combines the fast paced forward flying gameplay of Space Harrier with the RPG and combat elements of Phantasy Star while utilizing a unique control structure that evokes Virtual On.

I had the pleasure to meet Chris and the game’s Senior Artist Kiyoshi Okuma, whose past work includes Gauntlet: Legends, World Series Baseball 2K2, The Sims 2 and Darkspore. I also had the honor to be the first member of the public to play the game, and following that experience I chatted with Chris about his life as a tournament gamer, his career, and his plans for Strike Harbinger.

I wanted to share this episode on the 'Yard as I thought fans of Capcom's Dreamcast titles would enjoy some of the stories Chris shared. So give it a listen and enjoy!

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Review: Leona's Tricky Adventures

The latest addition to the Dreamcast’s already overflowing library of independent games burst onto the scene earlier this year (that’s 2016 if you’re reading this in the distant future); and it’s taken us until now to finally put pen to paper - or rather finger to keyboard - and share our thoughts. Leona’s Tricky Adventures has a somewhat storied background and we’ve documented it here at the Junkyard in the recent past, but in the name of simplification I’m happy to remind you. The game originally started life as a Kickstarter back in 2013 but unfortunately didn’t make its funding goal.

Due to the rules of launching a project through that particular crowd-funding site, it meant that the whole project was cancelled and the developer KTX turned to funding the game using donations and pre-orders instead. It took almost three years for Leona’s Tricky Adventures to finally come to Steam and the Dreamcast, but eventually the game landed and here we are. If you’d like to know more about the development of the game, make sure you check out the recent Developer Interview we did with KTX Software’s CEO Thomas Musal, and Chief Technical Officer Robert Konrad.
But what of the game itself? What if you’ve never even heard of Leona or the particularly tricky adventure she finds herself embarking on? Well, you’re in luck as two of the finest wordsmiths known to mankind (yes, I stole that from hip hop artiste Labrinth) are here to give you the definitive lowdown on Leona’s Tricky Adventures in this tag-team review! Allow me to introduce...um...myself (Tom), and our intrepid Australian correspondent Scott ‘DocEggfan’ Marley!
I think the developers might have an inordinate appreciation for the colour cyan.
As this game is aesthetically quite ‘retro,’ we thought it only fair that we did a retro-styled review. To really drive home how clever and avante garde we really are, we’ve split it into several paragraphs, each with an equally antiquated heading such as graphics, sound, gameplay etc. We might even give it an arbitrary percentage at the bottom...but you’ll have to wait and see. Let’s saddle up and join Leona on her adventure!

DreamPod - Episode 30: NAOMI Special

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Dreamcast Vs Wii U: Which Failed Harder?

Nintendo has finally revealed that the successor to the Wii U will be released worldwide in March 2017. This is good for two reasons. The first is that my birthday is in March so I might try to coerce my nearest and dearest to contribute some cash towards an NX as a present. That said, I usually don't get much more than a card written in feces/blood and a voicemail reminding me that I owe somebody a tenner when the anniversary of my birth rolls around, so I won't get my hopes up too much.
The other good thing about this announcement is that finally, the Wii U has been handed a respite and the agonisingly slow death of the console looks to be coming to an end - euthanised, even.  Let's not beat around the bush here - the Wii U has been a bit of a disaster for Nintendo in comparison to past hardware releases, and while the system does play host to some fantastic games that simply ooze typical Nintendo quality, no-one can deny that the thing clearly occupies the 'also-ran' spot in both of the console generations it straddles.

For me, the Wii U was cursed from the start simply because it confused the fuck out of the casual market Nintendo was aiming it at; those people who bought the original Wii thought it was an add-on, and those who had Xbox 360s and PS3s were shown a system with a dinner tray for a controller and a bunch of launch titles that were already available (for the most part) on the console they already owned. Now though, Nintendo has pretty much signalled its intent by announcing the NX (or whatever it ends up being called) and so, just four years after introduction the Wii U looks like it'll be put out to pasture quite soon. Inevitably this has lead to forum threads such as this one, where the question is asked: which system enjoyed a better time during it's contemporary lifespan - the Dreamcast or the Wii U?
Source: ZhugeEX Blog
The news came out recently that it took the Wii U nearly 3 years to match the 10 million Dreamcasts Sega flogged in 18 months, and there have been many, many comparisons drawn between these two glorious console failures. However, we wanted to go step further and take a more in-depth look at the Dreamcast vs Wii U topic. While it's obvious that the Wii U hasn't really made a dent in Nintendo's $10 billion fortune (whereas the Dreamcast pretty much killed Sega), the question remains: which console pushed more boundaries, had a better games and excited the gaming world the most?

New Dreamcast Game Zia and the Goddesses of Magic Announced

Another week, another new Dreamcast game is announced! To be fair that title is a teeny tiny bit misleading as Zia and the Goddesses of Magic was technically announced a few weeks ago; but now there's some artwork (above) and a brand new teaser trailer that shows actual gameplay footage (below). Coming from French indie developer Orion (previously of Elansar, Philia and Alice's Mom's Rescue fame) Zia and the Goddesses of Magic is a traditional top-down RPG in which players are tasked with rescuing the eponymous goddesses and restoring peace, harmony and free love to the fantasy land in which the adventure is set. Well maybe not the free love, but we can hope. Here's the blurb from Orion's website:

In a fantasy world, where the goddesses of magic are the guardians of the good, a powerful evil demon captures all the goddesses and jails them in different places where they cannot use their magic powers. Evil creatures start populating the surrounding villages and threaten the inhabitants.

Zia is a little girl who lives in a mountain village with her beloving parents. One day, she discovers a book of magic and starts training to learn how to use magic spells. During her journey, Zia will find out about the imprisoned goddesses, and will try to free them from the evil creatures using the magic spells she will learn.

Join Zia in a Journey around this mystic world, help her find the imprisoned goddesses and try to free them from the evil creatures!
- Orionsoft website

Here's the accompanying YouTube announcement trailer:


According to the Orionsoft website, Zia and the Goddesses of Magic is pencilled in for a September 2016 release and is also planned for both Steam and the Playstation. We'll be keeping an eye on the development of this interesting RPG and you can too by visiting Orion's Twitch channel.

Source: Pcwzrd

Shenmue III Kickstarter Update Discusses Voice Acting & Logo Design

I know it's not really Dreamcast-related, but I thought it was worth sharing the news that Ys Net has updated its Shenmue III Kickstarter page. That said, pretty much all of us here at the 'Yard backed the Shenmue III project and we're sure many people who regularly visit this blog did too. Also, Shenmue is synonymous with the Dreamcast so I'm using that tenuous link to validate me sharing this here. The April 2016 update addresses some of the issues Shenmue fans have been vocal about, namely the design of the Shenmue III logo and the ability to switch between English and Japanese voice acting on the fly:

Before getting into the main part of the update, we would like to respond to two issues brought up by the community—the Shenmue III logo and voice audio options.

First for the Shenmue III logo. There have been many comments from Shenmue fans wanting the logo to match the original logos from Shenmue 1& 2. We have heard your calls and will of course put it on the to-do list. This particular issue will take some time, however, as game development is currently taking a front seat to other design issues. Designers and other parties will also need to be consulted with, so before we can give a more definite answer, we would ask you please give us some time.

The second issue receiving a lot of attention concerns the voice audio options. Many people have asked for there to be an option to switch between Japanese and English voicing. We understand how strongly people feel about this feature, and it is something we would like to include as well, but the inclusion of a dual audio option will ultimately come down to budgetary limitations. Whether it will be added or not, will need to be decided as development progresses.
- Shenmue III April 2016 Kickstarter Update

The rest of the update introduces Shenmue III's environment and architecture designer Manabu Takimoto, and shares some images of him at work with Yu Suzuki. 
"Stay inside the lines!"
As mentioned above this isn't strictly Dreamcast news, but as so many people who are fans of Shenmue have a history with/are still Dreamcast fans, we felt this was worth documenting here. Furthermore, we spoke to Shenmue super-fan Adam Koralik and the voice of Ryo Hazuki Corey Marshall on our podcast recently, so there's another tenuous link and a shameless plug for the DreamPod!

Source: Kickstarter

A Quick Look At Radirgy

You say Radilgy, I say Radirgy...let's call the whole thing off. Is what Fred Astaire was really getting at when he sang that song that time. The proper title of this slightly unorthodox vertically scrolling shmup is Radio Allergy...so I guess either is technically correct. Just don't call it Radallergy, at least not in my presence anyway.

So Radirgy then. Not a game I was overly familiar with until quite recently, simply because it usually fetches quite high prices when listed on eBay and because I like a bargain I was unwilling to shell out for such a frivolous item. That changed when I noticed the game on sale for a rather decent price over at Games World and decided that my life needed more cell-shaded, 2006 Dreamcast shooting in it. Nary a day later, Radirgy was sat spinning in my NTSC-J Dreamcast and now I've had time to play the thing properly I'm going to share my thoughts on it.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Radirgy was released on the Dreamcast in 2006 after being ported from its native NAOMI by developer Milestone. A stalwart of the shmup genre, Milestone were also the same outfit behind those other well-known NAOMI/Dreamcast games Chaos Field and Karous - the latter of which I have never played, again due to its rarity and high price. Before acquiring Radirgy I was aware of its existence but really didn't take much interest because it's a game I never thought I'd own, and as alluded to several times in my Ghost Blade review, I'm not a massive fan of the shmup genre in general. That said, upon playing Radirgy quite a bit since I got it, I can now comfortably say that it hasn't really changed my opinion on vertical shmups: that they're fun and mildly diverting for a while, but ultimately a bit repetitive and they get boring quickly.
That time already?

Three Indie Games I'd Love to See on the Dreamcast

The other day I read an interesting article over on Kotaku (yes, yes I know) that documents the creation of a new football (soccer) game by an indie developer who has never played a football game. Furthermore, he doesn't even know the rules of the sport and has pretty much guessed how football 'works' through hearsay and supposition. It's a really interesting concept, and the resulting interpretation of the beautiful game - now titled Behold the Kickmen - looks like it's shaping up to be the best thing to happen to the football genre since Konami thought Goal Storm was worth reinvestigating.

The developer's name is Dan Marshall, and he's a BAFTA-winning indie developer. Earlier today I cheekily asked him via Twitter when a Dreamcast version of Behold the Kickmen was coming:
Kickmen for Dreamcast: confirmed.
He didn't give a definitive answer (although I'll settle for the 'like' he graciously afforded my stupid tweet), but this got me thinking. Since Volgarr the Viking suddenly appeared out of nowhere in 2015, what other cool indie games would it be amazing to see make the leap to the Dreamcast? Obviously, a lot of indie games these days are built to run on modern platforms and so some of them probably wouldn't be possible on the Dreamcast (stuff like Broforce makes even a PS4 shudder, for example), but this is just a fun little look at some of the titles I'd give my right arm to have ported onto Sega's little box. Well, maybe not my right arm as I'd then have difficulty holding the controller...but you get the idea.

Back to Black: Restoring a Sega Sports or Regulation 7 Dreamcast

Last year we revealed how you can brighten up your standard white Dreamcast using nothing more than a fairly cheap hair serum and a bit of sunshine. Granted, the sunshine might be a problem if (like me) you live in the UK and the sun appears only once every 16 years after a drawn out ritual and sacrifice; but if you managed to try it on a rare day that it stopped raining and the clouds parted, you'll find it worked a treat at banishing the dreaded yellowing. As a side note, all of the systems I treated back then are still bone white to this day, so the fears that the yellowing would return with a vengeance have not been realised as yet.

This is all well and good if you have a standard Dreamcast, but what if you have a Dreamcast that's a different colour? Black, for example? While black Dreamcasts such as the Sega Sports and Regulation 7 special editions don't suffer from yellowing, they can get scuffed and light surface scratches show up clear as day. I know this because recently I was lucky enough to take delivery of two such systems:
The seller did list them as not being in 'showroom condition' so I expected them to be a little beat up, but when they arrived the only thing I really noticed was the surface scuffing all over them. It's not overly noticeable from a distance - and both systems work flawlessly - but up close and from a certain angle the light catches the scuffs and the marks are quite visible. So, I wondered how I could go about removing these scuffs and return these rare beasts to their former glory. Turns out the answer is actually rather simple...

Guest Audio Article: Taking Your Dreamcast Online With a WiFi Ethernet Bridge

There has been a lot of activity recently regarding getting the old Dreamcast back online, and several high-profile projects have emerged. Possibly the most well known at this stage is the DreamPi method, developed by Luke Benstead. Now, while getting the Dreamcast online using the DreamPi is relatively easy if you have a good level of technical knowledge, it can seem a little daunting if you are a dunce like me. Even more so if you have questions about how to do it using a wifi connection.
Happily, Sean 'Nz17' Robinson (no relation to Sean 'Coleco Chameleon' Robinson, by the way) has launched a new audio series called The Video Game Antiquarian, and the first episode focuses on this subject entirely. The Video Game Antiquarian: Taking Your Dreamcast Online With a WiFi Ethernet Bridge does exactly what it says on the tin, and while Sean does get quite technical later on, he does a great job of explaining the theory of getting any dial-up device online, and also giving clear instructions.

Enough from me though - hit play on the audio player below and allow your ears to drink in his dulcet tones. Who said being a Dreamcast fan couldn't be educational?!


If you'd like to see more of Sean's work, be sure to visit Nz17 Productions and if you live in the Naples, Utah area you might want to check out the site for his upcoming gaming convention G.A.M. Rocks - Gaming, Anime and More...it's Japan-a-mania in the Rockies!

Would Upgrades Have Prolonged The Dreamcast?

Sony's recent confirmation of a new, upgraded PlayStation 4 got me thinking. The first thing it got me thinking about was how much longer my £300 PS4 will be a part of Sony's plans. I mean, I've never really had any cause for concern over the long-term future of my next-gen console of choice, even in light of the constant console-bashing that blares from my headphones whenever I listen to a 'big' gaming podcast. But now I'm wondering if my shiny, jet-powered parallelogram will be outmoded before I've even had the time to pay off the credit card I bought it with (hint: I won't). The articles I've read state that we PS4 proles have nothing to worry about, as the 'Neo' will simply be a slightly beefier system and all future PS4 software will have two modes - one for each tier of the hardware.
This kind of reminds me of the N64 Expansion Pak from Nintendo back in 1998, where 99% of the games that used it were still playable on the base unit without the extra 4MB RAM upgrade, but if you had that magical lozenge thrumming under the flap on the front of your console, you could witness the eye-watering magnificence of medium-res Nintendo graphics. Unless you were playing ISS 2000, in which case you got a flicker book version of everyone's favourite footy game.

What I'm getting at here is that Sony obviously thinks the current PS4 isn't powerful enough for what's around the corner in terms of gaming experiences. Looking at the impending PlayStation VR it's possible that they're on to something...but this isn't about the PS4. It's about the Dreamcast, and whether Sega's system could have had a longer period in the public eye if it had been upgradeable.
"The sky is the limit with Dreamcast. We've created a box that is almost infinitely expandable. As new technologies come around, we'll be able to do anything we want to it. One of Sega's big pushes at the moment is the trend of the static box. There will no longer be a box coming out of Sega that we put on a shelf and forget about. The standard 'one box for five years' model is gone."
Sega Source - Total Control magazine, April 1999

The Death of the Dreamcast in Press Releases

It's a funny old world. I say that not because I've just inhaled an entire bottle of laughing gas (I have though, anything to get me through the day). No, I say it because it seems that every time I fire up my creaking MacBook and open Safari I discover something new about the Dreamcast. Well, not new as such...but new to me and probably to you too. New in the sense that you've probably not seen it and now you will, thus making it 'news.' See? Not in the same sense that the shite printed on the front of any random tabloid is news, but news nonetheless. Am I rambling? Thought so. Excuse me while I open the valve on this gas bottle a little wider.

Right, what I'm waffling about is this: I found a website that basically appears to list the Sega press releases in a sort of creepy chronological order, unwittingly documenting the death of the Dreamcast like some kind of obituary locked in time. The best bit about this is that the website isn't actually online anymore and can only be viewed by using our old friend the Way Back Machine.
I swear this blog isn't sponsored by Internet Archive by the way - I realise how often I've mentioned the thing recently but it really is an invaluable tool when trying to preserve lost Dreamcast-related stuff. Stuff the average person wouldn't give a shit about, but that us Dreamcast obsessives find totally fascinating. Most of this stuff has slipped into the past, forgotten and barely ever looked at since it was written by unknown fingers on long-lost keyboards (probably attached to a P90 with 128MB of RAM), and due to hardly anyone having the internet back at the turn of the century (yep, that's technically what it was called) I doubt many people gave much of a toss back then either. Happily, I'm here now so don't worry - I won't let this rubbish pass into antiquity without spamming your Facebook/Twitter/Reddit timeline with it first! Huzzah!

Warning. I feel it is my duty to announce here that this post is quite text heavy, so if you don't like reading stuff (reports show only around 9% of internet users actually like reading articles as opposed to sharing pictures of cats and burgers on social media), you should probably skip it. Still here? Excellent, let's go!

Will a NAOMI GD-ROM Work in a Dreamcast?

In the spirit of last years hard-hitting journalistic expos√© - Will a Dreamcast Lightgun Work on a Sega Game Gear Screen? - comes a new groundbreaking investigative piece:


A pleasingly unexpected result.

The Games That Never Were: Episode 7

Episode 7 of Pcwzrd's The Games That Never Were has arrived, and as is the norm I'm happy to share it here at the Junkyard. The series - as the name suggests - is an insightful look back at a selection of titles that were announced for the Dreamcast but for various reasons never made it out of the door. Episode 7 looks at another batch of promising games we never got the chance to play in their intended guises (I say that because many people - including myself - have played one of the games discussed in this new episode), and explores possible reasons for their disappearance.

The video is embedded below, but if you'd rather read my drivel instead that's cool. Games covered include the ambitious space-based RPG Jump Runner from Glass Ghost Games, Worms Pinball from Team 17, Armada II: Exodus from Metro 3D, Treasure's Gun Beat and Sega's cancelled homage to Star Fox, Geist Force. This is short and sweet because an intro to a video doesn't really need to be any longer, and I need to go and tidy up my disgusting tip of a flat. Enjoy!


Thanks once again to Pcwzrd for putting this together. The previous episodes can be viewed by visiting Dreamcastic Channel on YouTube or by following the links below.
Previous Episodes:
The Games That Never Were: Episode 1
The Games That Never Were: Episode 2
The Games That Never Were: Episode 3
The Games That Never Were: Episode 4
The Games That Never Were: Episode 5
The Games That Never Were: Episode 6

The Dreamcast Dreamphone

Up until today I'd never heard of the Dreamcast Dreamphone, and I'd wager many other people haven't either. What meagre information there is on this little-known device can only be accessed through liberal use of the Way Back Machine; but I'll explain how I came to find this odd and fascinating contraption before explaining what I've pieced together about it.
Sorry. Wrong number.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Twas a dark and stormy evening and I was randomly browsing the internet for cheap Dreamcast games, when I happened across the following listing at US website eStarland.com. At first I thought I must be looking at an April Fools' hoax or something because even though I consider myself to be quite well versed in Dreamcast peripherals, the Dreamphone is something I've never, ever heard of.
After finding this item (it's out of stock by the way, and is likely to be so for some time to come forever), I did some Googling but could find barely any information on it. There are thousands of references to a board game of the same name (see above), and a couple of forum threads from 2004 and 2007 where people seemingly stumbled upon the Dreamcast Dreamphone in exactly the same manner as I did...and virtually nothing else, anywhere.

Katana Simple Checker Innards Revealed.

The image of the Dreamcast with the weird circuit board hanging out the side has been floating around online for a while now, and has been pretty much confirmed as some form of development tool or quality control checking device. The theory is that games were sent to Sega for testing and if they were run in this system and indicator LEDs flashed, then there was something wrong and the game wasn't approved. Or something like that, anyway.
The mystery board complete with heatsink
I'm about as far removed from a development tool expert as you could possibly get so if I got that hilariously wrong, then I apologise. The reason I'm explaining all this is that some folks over at the Assembler Games forum have started to re-investigate this odd contraption and the the guts of the console have finally been revealed.
A close up of the board with the heat sink removed. Source: Assember Games
You can see the 'Katana Simple Checker' text on the main board. Source: Assembler Games
The board sticking out of the side of this Dreamcast does have some interesting markings on it as well as what looks like an extra processor (and of course the aforementioned LEDs) but it's the main board which adds more intrigue. With the top half of the shell removed, it's clear that the exposed circuitry is actually a part of the main board itself and also has the marking 'Katana Simple Checker' printed on it. There is information about a Test GD on Sega Retro, but this refers to a setup that used a disc and a device that connected to the Dreamcast via the serial port - this system has the extra PCB hard wired to the main board.

As stated, there are people far more knowledgeable than I already discussing the possible uses for this Dreamcast over at the Assembler forums, but I thought this was worth bringing to the attention of the Dreamcast community at large in case someone out there has any more information on it.

Source: Assembler Games