The Beautiful Game

In the early days of the Dreamcast, Sega was riding high on a crest of positive publicity and the system was truly light years ahead of anything else in the console market. While Sega of America was kicking ass in the the US, the European arm of the company decided to take the crusade in a slightly different direction - to the packed stadia of the football world.

We have looked at Sega Europe's slightly misguided TV and print advertising campaign in the recent past, but one aspect of this assault on the subconscious of the 'casual' gamer was the decision to sponsor some of Europe's biggest football teams. And by 'football,' I obviously mean 'soccer.' Sega Europe sponsored four teams in total - Arsenal (England), Sampdoria (Italy), St Etienne (France) and Deportivo de la Coruña (Spain).
The Arsenal deal was particularly interesting, as the away kit was simply emblazoned with a large 'SEGA' logo as opposed to the Dreamcast one, meaning away fans only ever saw the familiar brand name - and not that of the console Sega were trying to promote. An odd decision, if ever there was one - surely showing the Dreamcast name around England would only have helped, as opposed to simply advertise the company behind it? As much as we - the Dreamcast fans - know who created the system, I'd wager that the vast majority of football fans in the late 90s/early 2000s either didn't know or didn't care; so why not just go with the Dreamcast logo on both strips?

"SEGA Europe's sponsorship of Arsenal, St Etienne, Sampdoria and Deportivo de la Coruña is a hugely successful and beneficial cross European campaign. Close association with some of Europe's best known teams and branding on leading European players positions the Dreamcast brand as highly inspirational. 

Reaching a massive audience on a daily or weekly basis through media exposure including TV and national press, the sponsorship campaign achieves huge Dreamcast brand awareness within the core target market."
- Dreamcast Premiere Press Kit 
Dreamcast-branded footballs?!
Regardless, I'm sure the advertising did little to prompt many match-goers to splash out on a system without a truly decent football (soccer) game - the vast majority of the DC's offerings are pretty lacklustre, even when compared to the FIFA titles of the era:

  • UEFA Striker - passable (no pun intended)
  • Sega Worldwide Soccer 2000 - bad
  • Sega Worldwide Soccer: Euro Edition - bad
  • UEFA Dream Soccer - bad
  • European Super League - bad
  • Virtua Striker 2 - Not bad, but not really suitable for the home
  • 90 Minutes - laughably poor
  • Giant Killers - a basic management game
  • Let's Make A J-League Soccer Club - erm

In light of this shocking expose,  we'll just have to make do with these images of the Dreamcast and Sega logos getting their brief spot in the limelight. On this subject, the Dreamcast's stable of football (NFL) titles is truly stellar. Once I've got my head around the rules, I'll be bringing you my thoughts on those, too.
From the Dreamcast Premiere press kit
"Where's the second analogue stick, Thierry?"
Tony Adams 'enjoying' Sonic Adventure

10th Anniversary Competition - Part One

 
2015 is a special year for the Junkyard, as it marks 10 years since this humble blog began life as little more than a place for the documenting of Tom's second attempt at building a decent Dreamcast collection. The first attempt went well, but ended in all of the amassed DC goodies being traded in for a PlayStation 2 some time in late 2001. Those were truly dark days. In some ways though, if it hadn't been for that little mishap, the Junkyard might never have been born so in an odd way we have a lot to thank Sony's harbinger of doom for. But enough about that.

Since then, the Junkyard has grown into the omnipotent force that it is today, bringing you occasional mirth and honest, thought-provoking prose. Oh, and we also do a podcast now, too - just in case you hadn't noticed! However, let's get down to business. We wanted to celebrate this joyous milestone of a decade's worth of inane DC-related ramblings by giving something back to the community that has helped to propel this lowly corner of the internet into the limelight on many an occasion. And we've done this by teaming up with SEGA Europe who have very kindly donated three special edition Dreamcast Collection vinyl records to us, so that we may give them away to you - our loyal readers.
These records were originally offered as a pre-order bonus in Australia when the Xbox version of the Dreamcast Collection launched back in 2011, and were only available from one particular retailer - JB HiFi. Furthermore, only 2000 were created and so this gives an indication as to how uncommon they are. The vinyls themselves come in lovely Dreamcast-themed sleeves and contain five tracks (not six, as the back of the sleeve oddly illustrates) from Sonic Adventure, Space Channel 5 and Crazy Taxi. The vinyl is of a lovely off-white hue and mirrors the Dreamcast's tone very nicely. They probably sound pretty good on a turntable too. As we have three of these to give away to three winners, we thought it would be cool to run three separate competitions with the winner of each being awarded a vinyl. So here's what you need to do to be in with a chance of winning the first vinyl for your collection...
We at the Junkyard are all massive Dreamcast nuts, and we all have our reasons for being so enamoured with SEGA's final console. But this isn't about us - it's about you. So what we want to know is: what does the Dreamcast mean to you? Why does it hold a special place in your heart? And what is it about the system that makes you continue to play it, all these years after the death knell was sounded? We want you to get creative and express your reasons for the above in any way you see fit - be that with a drawing, a video, a song or even a written entry - it really is up to you...and the only caveat is that it needs to be original and unique to you. And that's pretty much the only rule (apart from the actual rules - see below). We're going to run this competition until the 20th June 2015, at which point the first winner will be announced, and then we'll run the second competition for another month - with a different entry criteria.

So what are you waiting for? Impress us with your creative side and tell us why the Dreamcast is such an important part of your gaming life. Email your entry to admin@thedreamcastjunkyard.co.uk with the subject 'Competition Part One,' and include your name and location and we'll showcase some of the best/most original entries throughout the month.

Good luck - and thanks for keeping the dream alive!

Disclaimer:
Only one entry per person. The competition closes at 12:00 noon GMT on 20th June 2015. Entries received after this time shall be discounted. While creative rights remain with the entrant, The Dreamcast Junkyard reserves the right to republish the entry on its website as it sees fit. (so others can see the top entries). Winners will be chosen exclusively by the staff of The Dreamcast Junkyard. Entries are welcomed from anywhere in the world. All decisions are final.

Sega 1999 Annual Report Surfaces On eBay

Here at the 'Yard we have a dedicated AI constantly scouring eBay for Dreamcast-related items of interest. This AI is housed in the bowels of the Junkyard's IT department, an installation so large and foreboding that it had to be constructed inside a hollowed asteroid because the local council wouldn't grant permission for such an impressive feat of architectural and technological brilliance.

Sadly, this asteroid is now hurtling away from the Earth at such a rate that the ethernet cable connecting it to my laptop is getting worryingly taught. No matter though, as it has come up with the goods once again - this time discovering an eBay UK auction for a rather interesting article of Dreamcast paraphernalia. I say 'Dreamcast,' but it's actually more 'Sega' - a copy of the Annual Report from 1999. The images shown in the listing hint at revealing financial figures and the introduction has an upbeat and forward thinking tone.

As we now know, the Dreamcast ceased to be supported a mere two years later, but this is a fascinating glimpse at the Dreamcast's past. The report currently has a 'buy it now' price of £500 £450 (although it offers free postage!) so is a little bit outside of our price range, but click the link below to have look yourself. It's worth noting that the seller also has a Broadband Adapter and some other interesting Dreamcast items listed, so the chances are they're a fan of the system. If you're reading this, let us know!
Anybody know where we can get some more RJ45 cable?

Sega Annual Report 1999 on eBay

Parental Guidance

Nowadays it seems that having a PEGI 18/Mature/Adults Only sticker plastered on the front of a game box is just par for the course. Stuff like Grand Theft Auto V, The Last Of Us and even Killzone are prime examples of recent releases that have been branded too graphic, violent or emotionally unsettling for those gamers who are still too young to vote, drive a car or get hammered on pints of Carlsberg and throw up all over the tiled floor of the local kebab shop.

In the UK, the doling out of age ratings used to be handled by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) - the same organisation responsible for deciding which ratings (you know - U, PG, 15 etc) movies are awarded; but since 2012 PEGI has been calling the shots. In the US, the ESRB does the dirty work, acting like some omnipresent Ministry from the mind of George Orwell and deciding what you can and can't play, dependent on the year of your birth. We're not here to wax lyrical on whether these organisations are correct in their judgement though. No, what we want to explore this time around is the BBFC's classification of some of the Dreamcast's more adult-themed PAL titles, and some of them are a little surprising to say the least...
Before continuing though, I just want to clarify - these are games that specifically have an 18 label on the cover. The ELSPA ratings (see above) you will find on the vast majority of PAL games are really only guidance labels and did not prohibit sales to minors as far as I'm aware.

Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage
We recently cast an eye over Berserk and think it's a decent hack 'n' slash with some great acting and an involving story. It's a little heavy on the cut scenes, but we'll let that slide for now. As for it being rated 18 though - we're not quite sure on the BBFC's reasoning here.
Sure, the game contains blood splatters and limbs being lopped off with a massive sword...but there are plenty of other games with much more gore contained within that don't even get a second glance. There are some fairly adult themes covered in the story, such as discrimination of mutants, social and political unrest and mental health issues...so maybe they had a hand in garnering this oddly high age rating for Berserk? Or maybe the BBFC didn't think younger gamers were ready for the full-on awesome of Balzac's beard (and name. See, it sounds like 'ball sack.' Chortle).

Grand Theft Auto 2
GTA 2 was always going to get an 18 certificate just because of its subject matter and illustrious forebear. The first game in the series was hardly a realistic portrayal of a life of crime with it's basic visuals and almost comical tone, but it is the connotation that is the issue.
GTA 2 is about as far removed from realistic violence as the series has ever managed to get, what with the slightly bizarre near future setting and colourful visuals...but no matter how you dress it up, running over pedestrians, performing car-jackings and shooting cops with a lightning gun was always going to end up on the wrong side of the censors.

Soldier Of Fortune
One of the Dreamcast's only true single player first person shooters, Soldier Of Fortune was a fairly late budget release that was met with mixed reviews. The loading times are almost Bloodborne-esque and the cut scenes are pretty atrocious even by 2000 standards, but it plays well enough and also features some great damage models. By which I mean, you can pretty much eviscerate your enemies with a minimum of effort. Or decapitate them. Or just blow an appendage off with your shotgun.
Obviously, being a game in which you play a mercenary and revelling in the glorification of wanton death, Solder Of Fortune could have expected to get a 15 certificate straight off the bat, but it's this extra layer of gore that bumps it up to an 18 as far as I can tell. To be honest, playing the game now it seems quite tame and Kingpin, another FPS that was headed to the Dreamcast also featured lots of gratuitous dismemberment (and undertones of gang and drug culture), and would also have no doubt found it's way onto the top shelf had it been released.

Mortal Kombat Gold
This is where is gets a bit silly. Sure, the recent Mortal Kombat X features some outrageously gory violence and finishing moves, and with the power of the next gen systems it looks brutally realistic at times...but Mortal Kombat Gold? An 18 certificate?! Yep, afraid so. Play Mortal Kombat Gold now is and you'll struggle to see what the fuss is about, as the fighting action is largely cartoon-like and not really that violent at all. Sure, you get those comical blood splatters that the series is famous for, and you can make enemies explode or mangle them in traps etc...but is there anything in MKG that can really be seen as anything other than tongue-in-cheek? Not in my opinion.
There are other fighting games on the Dreamcast that appear far more realistic, but do not receive age restrictions. Look at Dead Or Alive 2, The Last Blade, or any number of Capcom's 2D catalogue. Sure, the latter games mentioned there do have a distinct visual style that can hardly be called 'realistic,' but the actions being carried out within them are just as violent - if not more so - than anything in Mortal Kombat Gold. A foot hitting a face is a foot hitting a face - regardless of whether it is a beautifully animated, hand drawn foot or not. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the monkeys at Midway went all out to get an 18 certificate for their game just to give it a bit of gravitas upon release. A Mortal Kombat game that isn't heralded by a fanfare of outrage and headlines due to gore? It just ain't cricket.

Exceptions to the rule
Bizarrely, the games listed above are the only four on the Dreamcast that the BBFC deemed worthy of an 18 certificate in the UK. This strikes me as very odd, because just glancing at my library of PAL cases I can instantly see three games that I would have naturally assumed to be worthy of an upper age rating. What are they? Why, the Resident Evil games of course. However, upon closer inspection they all appear to be 15 certificates, as does Dino Crisis. Even stranger, Shadow Man - a game in which you play an undead serial killer-hunting vigilante who travels between the realms of the living and the dead - also only receives a 15 certificate. It gets weirder though.
Do you have the time to listen to me whine?
Other games you would naturally think of as being very adult in tone also have puzzling classifications: Alone In The Dark gets no classification at all, even though it is a game oozing with Lovecraftian horror; while The House of the Dead 2 is also without certification. A game in which you can literally blow chunks off a zombie that is two feet from your face is deemed suitable for all (granted, you do have to beat the game before you can activate red blood, but you get the idea). In Soul Reaver you roam the ruins of Nosgoth as a jaw-less vampire eating souls and destroying demons...age rating? Nope! In Headhunter you're a bounty hunter blasting gangsters with a shotgun whilst sporting a hipster beard - surely that alone deserves some kind of certificate? Ha! Give it to your 9 year old. Even Silver - an RPG that's full of spoken profanity (in good old fashioned Northern accents, I hasten to add) just slips under the BBFC's radar.

And yet Mortal Kombat Gold is an 18.

Now, I'm not saying that all of these games should have been rated as 'adults only,' and that's not the point of this guff - I just think it's interesting and puzzling in equal measure that an organisation like the BBFC had such wildly differing benchmarks for what was suitable for the virgin, unspoilt minds of the youf of late 1990s and early 2000s Britain...and what they deemed far, far too dangerous.

What are your thoughts? Comments below please!

Hucast Games Announce Redux 2

If there's one thing the Dreamcast does well, it's shmups - and Hucast Games has produced some of the best in recent times. After the success of both Dux and Redux, a sequel was always going to be an option and Hucast have confirmed that Redux 2 is indeed in development. In a post on their blog, Hucast revealed gameplay details along with some artwork and alpha screens, which we're sure you'll agree look pretty damn nice.
As well as featuring a brand new ship, Hucast posted the following:

"After the colourful DUX and its dark themed remake Redux, it’s time for a proper sequel with new player ships and tons of new weapons. 

Redux 2 is an original Sequel to Redux and it will feature 7 incredible stages themed from temple ruins Tech vaults and you will even enter a worm hole and discover new alternative dimensions."
- Hucast Games

I've personally been enjoying a lot of side-scrolling shooter action on both the Dreamcast in the form of Sturmwind, and on the PS Vita in the form of Soldner-X 2 in recent weeks so the news of a sequel to Redux interests me greatly. Even more so after seeing how good the alpha screens look. Obviously, graphics don't make a game, but they certainly help - and Redux definitely looks the part.

Along with The Ghost Blade, Hucast now has two shooters heading our way, and this makes the indie scene an even more exciting proposition for Dreamcast owners. The game only has a vague release date of 2016 so far, but this is one we will be keeping an eye on.
Be sure to head over to Hucast Games for more information on Redux 2.

James & Watch: Arm

As we've mentioned ad nauseum here at the Junkyard, we are massive advocates of the efforts of the myriad independent developers still supporting our favourite white box of joy. There have been some stunning post-mortem releases for the Dreamcast (2013's Sturmwind could easily pass as a PSN game, for example) and there are many more heading our way too. Elysian Shadows, Hypertension, SLaVE, AMEBA...they all look great and we're excited to see how they all turn out. However, here's an indie release you may not have seen before. James & Watch: Arm is a fun little title developed by Ben Lancaster and is slightly different to the other indie games mentioned here in that it eschews flashy visuals and in-depth story lines for a much more simple aesthetic - namely that of a Nintendo Game & Watch.

James & Watch was actually borne out of a story that was told on popular retrogaming podcast Retrogaming Roundup back in 2012. As detailed on the back of the professional-looking jewel case, James & Watch: Arm is based on the true story of the three James brothers, whom back in 1972 decided that it would be fun to throw youngest sibling Mike up in the air and catch him. The two older brothers quickly grew tired of this spin on 'catch,' and decided it would be more fun to throw Mike up into the air...and not catch him. The resulting broken arm is what gives the game it's subtitle.
As an indie title produced by one person, James & Watch: Arm is light on the presentation, but what it does have is charm - and spades of it. Playing on the events of that fateful summer in 1972, you take control of youngest brother Mike as he is thrown through the air, and at certain points in his flight path you get the option to alter his course either left or right. By judging where the randomly positioned older brothers are located at the bottom of the screen, you get thrown back into the air and repeat the process. Every time you successfully land on one of the brothers, you gain a point. Miss though, and you land in a crumpled heap on the grass and receive one broken limb. Land three times...and it's game over. As Ben succinctly put it - you only have two arms! Arm is pretty basic in other respects - it has only one screen and simplistic (albeit authentic) sound effects, but it does feature VMU graphics and VGA support. 
There are some nice details in Arm, such as the way the Game & Watch screen has the LCD ghosting of a real unit, and the package is also nicely presented (as previously mentioned) in a jewel case with high quality front and rear covers giving the back story of the game and the controls. The copy I have is number 5 of 69 special editions that were specially created for the recent Play Expo event in Blackpool, UK and came bundled with a commemorative mug. There will be further prints available once these have all been sold, but they will not be numbered. If you'd like to know more about James & Watch: Arm or even get a copy for yourself, check out the game's page here or contact Ben on Twitter.

DreamPod Episode 3



You can also find DreamPod on iTunes and YouTube. Please feel free to give us feedback either as a review on iTunes or a comment here or on YouTube. We really value your input, so let us know your thoughts!

Ben Heck's Dreamcast Portable

I'm not really sure this series of YouTube videos needs much of an introduction to be honest. Ben Heck is a guy who creates all kinds of wonderful console mods and in this series of three, he demonstrates how he went about making a portable Dreamcast of quite stunning beauty. Enough from me...here are the videos:


Thanks to Hideki Naganuma (yes, the Hideki Naganuma of Jet Set Radio and Sega Rally 2 soundtrack fame) for tweeting the video links to me; and also thanks to @nintendbro and @Granabanana for making me aware of this awesome creation.

Zombie Revenge Mini Arcade Cab

Well this is quite cool - a mini arcade cabinet containing a Dreamcast and controls for two players to either play together or duke it out like the best of frenemies. This creation comes from bespoke arcade cabinet maker Paul Bratt of Paul's Custom Arcade Machines, and as mentioned contains a Dreamcast console plus the inner workings of two Dreamcast controllers complete with VMUs, a flatscreen monitor and speakers. This particular model also features an extra fan built into the back door of the unit to assist the Dreamcast's efforts to cool itself down and through the efforts of Paul, all of the controls are perfectly rewired to the illuminanted buttons on the front of the unit. 

There are some nice little finishing touches on this particular model too, such as the Dreamcast logos taken from the controllers and strategically placed around the screen and controller areas. These pictures don't really do justice to the quality of this cabinet - the unit is extremely well made and it looks like something SEGA itself had put together. Paul's Custom Arcade Machines also create cabinets to suit your individual tastes so you could theoretically have any Dreamcast game you wanted painted all over one of these. Even Exhibition of Speed...but I wouldn't recommend that. This is a great way to experience some of the DC's fine arcade conversions in a totally new and unique way, and I have to commend Paul for the work he's done here.

Want to know more? Paul can be found on Facebook here.

DreamPod Episode Two

iTunes featured DreamPod in their 'New & Noteworthy' section this week, which was very nice. We've also had some great iTunes reviews and general feedback from listeners and we're very grateful. We've still got a few minor issues to iron out with the sound quality (I personally intend to invest in a decent USB microphone as soon as I can afford one!), but as is often the case when recording over the internet, it's never going to be studio quality. In any case, here's the new episode! If you enjoy it, let us know in the comments or by leaving us an iTunes review.

The Games That Never Were: Episode 4

YouTuber and friend of the Junkyard pcwzrd13 has come up with the goods yet again by posting episode 4 of the popular series The Games That Never Were - a look at some of the titles that were tantalisingly promised for our favourite beige, whirring and wheezing box...but for whatever reason were drop-kicked into the nearest bin. And then spat on by a tramp. Probably.

This latest instalment features such agonisingly-canned games as Castlevania Resurrection, D-Jump, Galleon and, Redline Arena. Before you ask - yes, that is an Oxford comma. Whether it's usage is warranted or correct here bothers me not one iota, however. I digress.

This video is particularly interesting as we plan to discuss some of the more promising cancelled Dreamcast games in episode two of DreamPod. Stay tuned for more information on that...but first, enjoy pcwzrd13's awesome (and thought-provoking) video:


As ever, please be sure to check out Dreamcastic Channel for the previous entries in the Games That Never Were series and expand your burgeoning knowledge of the alternative universe that is hinted at every time you are on the cusp of falling asleep. Lastly, it is (with gratitude) down to the video's auteur that I'm able to experience one of the games featured. Bet you can't guess what it is...

My First Podcast and A Resolution

A couple of days ago, I had the fortune of participating in our blog's podcast. And from that experience I learned one important thing:

It's still a bit of a mystery to me!

I do not know nearly as much about the Dreamcast as I should! Despite having gotten the console near the end of its life time and playing it since then, much of the stuff discussed was stuff I was hearing for the first time. Like, the game "Under Defeat" being the last game released on the system, or the worst game on the system (From our poll, it's Spirit of Speed 1937). Or the fact that the Dreameye was a thing.

Listen to the podcast if you haven't!

Plus, I haven't played the classic Jet Set Radio/Jet Grind Radio! This is a situation I'm trying to remedy even as I type.

Another game on the "Get This" list!

Therefore, I must resolve to learn more about my Sega consoles in general, and our beloved Dreamcast in particular. What makes it popular today? Why do I still like it after all these years? What other great games haven't I experienced yet? All this and more, next time on Dreamcast Junkyard!

Also, listen to the podcast! :P

Official UK Dreamcast Magazine: Demo Editions

It's pretty much standard practice for a console to have it's own officially-licensed print magazine, and the Dreamcast was no different. The Official UK Dreamcast Magazine is well known for it's more mature tone and it very much felt like a clone of the Official PlayStation Magazine, what with the monthly DreamOn demo discs stuck to the font cover and the premium price of £5 in an era where £3 was more common for a monthly gaming publication. For this reason alone, I tended to purchase Paragon Publishing's unofficial Dreamcast Magazine and occasionally Dreamcast Monthly and DC-UK. I must also admit to having bought Mr Dreamcast on one occasion but the less said about that, the better. That's not to say I never bought ODM (as it was known) though, as I did when I was feeling particularly flush; but back in 1999 that wasn't a regular occurrence...and still isn't. But enough about my Bob Cratchit-esque lifestyle.

We have covered the various UK-based monthly Dreamcast periodicals in a previous post here at the Junkyard, but this is slightly different to that article (it has 95% less swearing). It appears that when pitching the idea of an official magazine to Sega, Dennis Publishing pulled out all the stops to win the contract and went as far as producing a full-blown demo magazine to present to the big wigs, of which around 50 issues were produced. Thanks to regular DCJY visitor and Dreamcast collector Blue Swirl, we are able to present these rather amazing images of the Official UK Dreamcast Magazine's unreleased demo issue.
Pretty sure the hippy is from Body Harvest on N64
You will note several differences between the final version and the demo, such as the different title font and graphics, and also the use of silver and the Dreamcast logo on the sides of each page. Blue Swirl offers more details on the differences between the dummy run and the final product:

I got one of the magazines on eBay and I got the other two from someone who as a hobby preserves magazines by scanning them. I said to him I was a bit of a Dreamcast nut and wondered if he would part with them, and to my surprise he was more than happy to let them go to me as I am a collector.

The magazine has approximately 140 pages but that consists of the first 70 pages printed twice, I guess they did this to give it some bulk. 

Some content is exactly the same but with a completely different layout, there are some pages that are not in the final issue and some features have different content, like the Gadgets Gizmos and Websites feature. The Fourplay feature has some different content too plus there are some fashion photos not present in the full issue, and it also has a small feature where they ask what the cast of Red Dwarf think of the Dreamcast. Another thing omitted from the full issue was the gatefold front cover. 

There isn't a staff section but there is the editors note.

Interestingly I noticed they originally went with an out of 6 for the review score system.
The 6 point scoring system can be seen here
It's interesting to see these pre-production mock ups and this gives an idea of the amount of work that must have gone into competing for the official brand license. Maybe there are some other mock ups in the hands of collectors which were created by competing publishing houses? If there are, and you have one please let us know. On this note, DC-UK was originally intended to be Future Publishing's pitch for the official license, so it would be fascinating to see if there are any officially branded demo issues.
Thanks to Blue Swirl for all of these images and information, and be sure to check out the eponymous blog, BlueSwirl.