Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dreamcast Collection Vinyl Surfaces on eBay

I'd never even heard of this until...about 20 seconds ago, but it appears that in 2011 SEGA released a 12" vinyl record containing a selection of the Dreamcast's best tunes. This record was made to celebrate the launch of the Dreamcast Collection on the Xbox 360, and bizarrely only made available to those who pre-ordered from certain retailers in Australia. I've got nothing against Australia (in fact, I was considering emigrating there a few years ago), but Australia?! No US or EU release at all? Very odd if you ask me.

But fear not! One lucky record-collecting Dreamcast fan (I would presume) has decided to put their extremely rare copy (1686 of just 2000) of the Dreamcast Collection vinyl up for auction on that there eBay. Please be assured that this isn't me shamefully trying to get my own item sold/get more views - anyone who knows me knows damn well that I'll never, ever part with any of my retro gaming items. Indeed, I fully intend to have a coffin specially created that will be voluminous enough to contain all of my collected junk so I can take it to the grave with me. Don't worry, I've also booked a forklift truck to move said coffin so no 'No Win, No Fee' backache claims will be coming to bite my ghost in it's spectral ass.

Fancy bidding on this super-rare item? Or just fancy having a look? Then go here, dear reader! Please note that the starting bid is £99.99...which bit steep for six tracks from Sonic Adventure and Space Channel 5, but cest la vie and all that.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Classic Game Room: Dreamcast Week

Thanks to reader and commenter BIGMercenary for this heads up - it appears that Classic Game Room are running a Dreamcast Week from 29th March. Naturally, every week is Dreamcast Week here at the DCJY, but I really enjoy CGR's video reviews and general retrogaming coverage so thought I'd share this news with you all. Check out the trailer below:

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Blueprint

The Dreamcast Junkyard is, as the name suggests, primarily a place where the love is targeted squarely at Sega's fantastic 128-bit swansong. However, being part of the Sega Network and all, there is a fair bit of affection around these parts for the rest of the Sega hardware stable. I personally own a Master System, a Megadrive 2, Mega CD 2 and a Sega Saturn as well as a Dreamcast, so I occasionally find myself purchasing bits and bobs for those systems too. This past weekend, I managed to get hold of a  Saturn 3D pad - you know, the one that you're meant to play NiGHTS Into Dreams with. I also got a copy of that very game (it was actually very kindly donated by Cauterize from Retro Collect - big thanks!), as well as a copy of Christmas NiGHTS too.

The reason for me going on about all this is that I never really appreciated just how similar the 3D pad is to the standard Dreamcast controller. Putting them side by side, you can really see just how alike they are, and you can see how Sega took the 3D pad and developed it into the Dreamcast controller we all know and love today. Random thought: is it mere coincidence that the 3D pad was bundled with a game with the word 'Dreams' in the title...but then went on to become the blueprint for the controller for a console with the word 'Dream' in it's name? Conspiracy theories abound.

A picture speaks a thousand words, but a video speaks twenty billion...so I did a little comparison and uploaded it to Youtube. Yes, I sound like a complete arse and say "erm" every 2.8 seconds...but hey - I never claimed to be a professional. I'll leave that to the...erm...professionals. Eh? Enjoy:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Thunder Storms

One of the first games I played on the Dreamcast, and also one of the most spectacular home conversions of an arcade racer that I've ever seen. What am I on about? Hydro Thunder, of course! Amazing graphics, great music and sound effects, perfectly balanced vehicle (should that be boat?!) handling and a sense of pure fun that most modern games are sorely lacking: make no mistake, Hydro Thunder is one mind-blowing Dreamcast game. Indeed, it was the game I would put on if ever I wanted to show off what the DC was capable of whenever any of my PS1-owning (deluded fanboy) friends came round to the house. Not that it stopped them waiting for the PS2, but at least I did my bit. Sigh. The game was, however, ported to other consoles too - namely the N64 and PS1. How did those versions measure up to the mighty Dreamcast incarnation? Not too well, actually. OK, I respect that the Dreamcast is vastly superior to both of those machines in terms of technical specs so we shouldn't be too harsh, but regardless Eurocom and Blue Shift were handed the task of cramming the game onto the N64 and PS1 respectively by Midway, with varying levels of success...

The N64 port of Hydro Thunder actually looks the worst of the three - it's got muddy graphics and a lack of visual effects that made the original so attractive, such as lens flares and water reflections. It is smooth though, and with an Expansion Pak a four player mode is unlocked. That extra 4MB of RAM could probably have been better used increasing the screen resolution though, in my opinion. The PS1 version, whilst a lot sharper than the N64 game, does have a rather choppy frame rate and there are plenty of trackside details missing, as well as some amazing polygon tearing and water effects that border on the laughable in places...but on the plus side it does have a career/championship mode which is missing from the DC and N64 versions. The DC version itself isn't perfect - the sun is clearly visible through the walls of the tunnel in the first track...but I can live with that. Overall though, the Dreamcast version kicks seven bells out of the others...and the proof is here in this lovely little video I made. Enjoy:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Reicast - Dreamcast in your Pocket

Obviously, the best way to enjoy delights of the Dreamcast's exceptional catalogue of incredible games is to play on an original Dreamcast console, with an original GD-rom firmly ensconced in the disc tray. Yes, the VMU may beep and the GD drive may sound like it's grinding a sack of concrete to dust inside...but there's no better way to experience Spirit of Speed 1937 Blue Stinger Vigilante 8: 2nd Offence Soul Calibur. Got there in the end!

However, we here at the 'Yard appreciate that in 2014, not everyone owns a Dreamcast console, let alone a massive library of games be it due to financial or space-based reasons. Indeed, as is the current trend with retro games of all flavours, colours and creeds there are people out there who are intent on driving up the price of hardware and software to the point that it is no longer accessible to the average gamer. I'm not going to mince my words here - these hoarding traders are scum and I take great delight in telling them so whenever I spot a 'L@@K RARE' copy of Ready 2 Rumble on eBay with a Buy It Now price of £34.99. The Dreamcast Junkyard will not tolerate such activity.

With this in mind however, it is understandable that emulation is becoming very popular as it costs virtually nothing to get an emulator off the internet. Naturally, the whole legality of the owning of emulator software (or roms, as they're more commonly known) is a bit of a grey area but as long as you own the original software on a disk or cart, it's fine to own a back-up. Now the legal stuff's accounted for, here's the point of all that guff you just read: there's a new(ish) Dreamcast emulator available for Android devices! It's called Reicast, and you can get it from the Google Play store for your phone, tablet or even Ouya. Yep - the three people who still own an Ouya can now play some decent games, and as an added bonus you won't have to rub your fingers all over your device's touchscreen in order to earn some Kudos!



I personally don't own a single Android-powered device (unless you count my old Huawei Blaze which is rotting in a box in the attic somewhere...which I don't), so I haven't been able to try Reicast, but judging by some of the videos I've seen it does appear to be a fairly solid emulator. I would imagine that you'll need a pretty beefy device in order to run DC games at a decent speed (running Android 2.2 and above), and the software is still in the Alpha stage so there are likely bugs and issues to be ironed out. You may remember that we ran an article on NullDC for Android some time ago, but Reicast looks like it may be the better option for more casual users - there's plenty of documentation on the Reicast forum and there's an official website too. Bear in mind that you'll need to 'acquire' a Dreamcast BIOS file in order to get the emulator working, but if you've played DC games on Reicast either on your phone, tablet or Ouya, let us know about your experiences in the comments section. Cheers dears!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Setting the Pace

I'm constantly amazed by all the stuff I still come across regarding the Dreamcast. Just when you think you've seen it all, something else pops up. Now, I'm aware that there are plenty of other folks out there on the interwebs who no doubt know far more about the Dreamcast and Sega than I ever will...but quite how this passed me by, I don't know.

What am I on about? Well, it appears that in 2001 Sega entered into a partnership with set-top box manufacturer Pace with a view to create a digi-box...with a 40GB hard drive and the guts of a Dreamcast chucked in. The vision was an all-in-one digital TV receiver that could also download 'on demand' Dreamcast games that were subsequently to be stored internally. Yep...mind: blown. Obviously, this kind of thing is the norm in this age of broadband, Xbox Ones and Hi Def thingamajigs...but in 2001? It was truly groundbreaking stuff.



Here's an excerpt from Imagination Technologies' (a division of PowerVR, creators of the Dreamcast's graphics chips) press release:

"Set-top boxes with built-in Dreamcast architecture will enable consumers to play network games as well as view TV shows and other entertainment content using this single product. Games will be downloaded on demand to an integral hard disk - currently 40 Gigabytes - that Pace has incorporated into its digital TV home gateway. These devices will enjoy complete compatibility with Dreamcast games content by utilising the proven Dreamcast technology, including PowerVR graphics processing."

You can read the rest of the press release here. There's also an archived report on the Guardian website here. Alternatively, you could use AltaVista and search for 'Sega Pace.' Or Lycos. I think there's another popular search thingy called Bing too.

So, what happened to this Pace/Dreamcast hybrid? Not much, by all accounts. As we all know, Sega backed out of the hardware business not long after the deal was announced so I can only imagine that somebody had to phone Pace and break the news to them. Not an enviable position, I'll wager. I've looked around online and there don't appear to be any of the pictured prototypes out in the wild...but I could (as ever) be wrong. If I am, you know what to do...

It's a very interesting story, and just another twist in the 'before it's time' tale. Motion controls, online play, the VMU, the Sega Swatch, Zip Drive, Dream Eye, Karaoke add-on...the list of innovations goes on and on. Now, the question remains: why didn't you buy a Dreamcast in 1999? Eh? Eh?! It could have all been so different :'(

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sydney Hunter, I Presume...?

Another week, another new game. First Pier Solar HD gets announced (see Barry's awesome SEGAbits podcast episode below) and now it appears that after some mild success as a browser-based flash game, Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death is being ported to several retro systems...including the everlasting, ball-busting, mother-f*cking Dreamcast! There aren't any screens from developer StudioPiña as yet, but you can play the original here for free. Yes, free. There are no paywalls here, my friends. Anyway, you play as the titular Sydney Hunter - an 8-bit Nathan Drake with some rather special boomerang-hurling skills - and must traverse various caves whilst avoiding enemies, climbing ropes and retrieving treasures. It's actually a damn good game, with easy controls and nice graphics.

Sydney Hunter is meant to look like an MSX or Colecovision game according to the author, and even though I haven't played on either of those systems, I did have an Amstrad CPC back in the day so it kind of reminds me of Amsoft's Roland on the Ropes and other similar titles. Sydney Hunter is much better than those games though, and is slightly reminiscent (to me at least) of Spelunky. Hopefully the Dreamcast version will feature better visuals and animation, but even without any upgrades, Sydney Hunter will be a welcome addition to the Dreamcast's amazing catalogue.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Interview with Pier Solar HD developer WaterMelon games discusses Dreamcast and Genesis/Mega Drive versions



Yesterday I was joined by SEGAbits owner George for a podcast interview with Pier Solar HD developer and WaterMelon Games president Tulio Gonçalves. Tulio was an excellent guest, giving us great answers to our burning SEGA questions. Pier Solar, which released in 2010, was an indie RPG game for the Genesis and Mega Drive. In 2014 WaterMelon plans to release an enhanced and expanded version of the game that is set to hit a number of platforms including our beloved SEGA Dreamcast. The game will take advantage of the Dreamcast VMU, VGA cable, and will offer up cool mini-games... all this in addition to a 50+ hour RPG adventure!

Give the episode a listen and make sure to help WaterMelon to bring the game to PC by voting “YES” on their Steam Greenlight page!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Rolling Start

Ah, Daytona USA. One of my favourite racing series...along with Sega Rally, Thunder, Rush, Colin McRae, WipEout, Outrun and WRC. And a whole gut-load of others, too. What is it about Daytona that warms my cockles? I'm not really sure, but the combination of cringeworthy music, bright visuals and fuzzy car control probably has something to do with it. Oh, and that awesome Sonic mural carved into the cliff face on the final turn of 777 Speedway. If I ever win the lottery, I'm having an artificial cliff face constructed in the grounds of my mansion just so I can have that mural carved into it. The inhabitants of the small rural hamlet that then falls under it's shadow will no doubt petition to get it torn down, but the 30 foot mech I'll also build will silence them.

Going back to Daytona, the original Saturn port was serviceable but the updated Championship Circuit Edition was better, even if the car handling was slightly weird. Oh, and it had the best menu music ever. The 2000/2001 reboot is one of my favourite games on the Dreamcast and features some brilliant tracks and amazing graphics. To illustrate the point, check out this video I knocked up comparing the visuals and audio from the three different console versions mentioned here:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Half-Life: Dreamcast Vs PS2

The story surrounding the Dreamcast port of Valve's seminal shooter Half-Life is one that is full of mystery. The game was pretty much complete and ready to go, but then it was suddenly cancelled for reasons no-one really understands. Actually, thinking about it, it was probably to do with Sega pulling support for the system but that isn't as exotic as the report I read that involved Sony paying the publisher a large sum of cash to drop the title. Before anyone jumps down my throat, that's just a rumour I read somewhere and there's (probably) no truth in it. At all. Regardless, the DC port leaked quite some time ago now - I mentioned that I'd got hold of a copy way back in 2006 - and I've played through the main game and the Blue Shift side story multiple times now. I'd never played the PS2 port though, so when I saw it for £1 in a pawn shop I snapped it up. What else could that pound coin have gotten me? Half a lottery ticket? A sloppy custard tart in a greasy bag from Greggs? Maybe even a Pot Noodle...although I haven't had one of those delicacies for a while so I'm not sure how much they cost these days.

So Half-Life on the PS2, then. How does it compare to the Dreamcast port? I was expecting it to be vastly superior if I'm honest, seeing as the PS2 is supposedly much more technically capable and the game benefitted from having a larger team and a longer development/polishing term. But upon playing it, I was surprised to see that the DC version is every bit as good. There are minor differences, such as slightly longer loading times on the DC one, but the other differences aren't detrimental to Sega's machine. For a start, in DC Half-Life, you can move around in the monorail car in the intro - you can't move in the PS2 port. There's also more music in DC Half-Life, but the PS2 game adds helpful 'hint' boxes around switches and things that you can interact with while DC gamers are left to press everything they can see in the hope it'll open a door/call a lift. Character models' faces in the PS2 game benefit from having slightly more creepy eyes, too. Anyway, I've created a short(ish) video demonstrating the intro section of the game on both systems. I may do another one showing some actual gunplay at a later date but for now, sit back and check out Half-Life: Dreamcast Vs PS2:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Redux: Dark Matters is finally out on Dreamcast!

As covered over at RetroCollect and previewed here at the 'Yard by the Gagaman a few months back, HUCAST's remix of space shooter DUX is now out and available to buy. I personally haven't played either DUX or the subsequent DUX 1.5...but helpfully I'm not blind, so I can use my eyeballs to see that these games look pretty damn good. The last side scrolling shooter I played was Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy on the Atari Jaguar (just this morning, in fact folks!), and I must say that Redux: Dark Matters looks several magnitudes better than that ever will. But then, you knew that already!

Here's a snazzy Youtube trailer:


And here's a link if you fancy buying a copy.


Thursday, January 09, 2014

Triple Threat

Well, Christmas has been and gone, and we were a little quiet here at the 'Yard. Mainly because the Dreamcast has been out of production for the last decade, but we don't let that get us down! And in any case - Happy 2014 to our loyal readers and DC lovers! On a slightly different note, I made a new video recently and I thought I should post here as well as elsewhere...if that makes sense.

It's a comparison video showing the various graphical differences between the console releases of San Francisco Rush 2049 on the DC, N64 and Xbox. I think you'll agree that the DC version looks pretty much identical to (if not slightly better than) the 'arcade perfect' Xbox version (which was included as part of the Midway Arcade Treasures 3 compilation). I think the most notable differences between the N64 and other versions is the lack of a headlight effect, and the Xbox version's tire smoke looks a bit thicker than that in the DC version...but have a look and form your own opinion. Enjoy:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dreamcast 15th Anniversary REZtron Party


When I said in the Top 200 Dreamcast games article that I was celebrating in style this is what I meant. Finally got around to editing this footage together so you could see what REZtron's Dreamcast Anniversary party at the Hoxton Pony in London was like. There were several CRT's and a projection screen for the dozen Dreamcast's to play on: there was even one hooked up to a game Gear TV Tuner! There was a whole pile of games as well as classic Sega magazines, as well as custom artwork framed on the walls and a Mega CD with Karaoke add on and Master System with 3D glasses!

Games we played there included Soul Calibur, Samba De Amigo, Bomberman Online, Chu Chu Rocket, Gigawing, Ikaruga, Ready 2 Rumble Round 2, Guilty Gear X, Capcom vs SNK 2, House of the Dead 2, Virtua Cop 2, Shenmue and more. In between playing games I left behind some doodles, all of which name drop this here Junkyard! Funnily enough someone there recognized me from the old Virtua Tennis with fishing controller video I did yonks ago!

Here are some photos I took at the event:


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Top 200 Dreamcast Games: Voted by you!


Happy 15th anniversary of the Dreamcast! The votes have been counted so now here is the final Top 200 Dreamcast games! Thanks to everyone who joined in on the voting!

Before we get started, some random facts about the final list:

- There is a total of 235 releases within this top 200: that's because in many case and game and it's sequel is one entry, and in the cases of a few, 3 or 4 games in the same series (NFL 2K, Pop n. Music) are one entry. The bottom 18 entries would have missed the list if I had not done this.

- Of those 48 were Japan only, 10 America only, 2 PAL only and were 11 indie releases.

- Release years are based on where they debuted.

- Of these 4 were released in 1998, 49 in 1999, 107 in 2000, 39 in 2001, 9 in 2002 and 20 in any year beyond that.

- Sega Smash Pack is not included, but Sega Swirl and Virtua Cop 2 from that collection are listed.

- I own 165 of the games featured, yikes!

Just a note: the article is a bit incomplete at the moment. All the poll positions are there but a few of the games do not have descriptions yet. I'm out all of today (in fact I'm celebrating the Dreamcast anniversary in style!) so I will be coming back to finish it off tomorrow.

So without further ado, beyond the jump is the complete list from last to first. Enjoy!