In Search Of The Barber: Part Two

Several months ago I published an article here titled In Search Of The Barber. In case you missed it, go here and have a quick scan to familiarise yourself. If you can’t be bothered, allow me to briefly recap the gist of the previous chapter in this seemingly unsolvable missing persons case.

During the early period of the Dreamcast’s brief lifespan in Europe, Sega promoted the console through a series of TV and cinema adverts where multiplayer gaming was pushed as the system’s key unique selling point. I’m sure you’ll recall the whole ‘6 billion players’ controversy. The adverts in question featured two scenarios - one was titled ‘Buoy’ had a load of kids stood on a shoreline trying to hit a buoy with stones; the other was titled ‘Shave’ and involved a group of French foreign legion conscripts having their heads shaved by a trio of military barbers. It was the latter of these two promotional films that was chosen as Sega’s flagship advertising tool and the victorious barber (named Player Two in the advert) was depicted on a host of posters, billboards, in-game leaflets and even on the Dreamarena European online portal.
The Barber. On Dreamarena.
As explained in my previous article on this subject, this guy’s wizened face, saggy moobs and gash tattoos were all over the place for the first six months of the Dreamcast’s life - in magazines, on bus stops and even splashed across cinema screens before some of the biggest movies of the time (well, Star Wars Episode 1, anyway). He was literally everywhere. The thing is, there is no record of who he actually is. No credits on the Dreamography VHS tapes given away with pre-orders of the Dreamcast, no crew listings or location photos anywhere on the internet…and believe me - I’ve looked.
What my life now looks like.
Is he an actor? If so, why can’t I find anything else he’s appeared in? Hell, why can’t I find a single image of him anywhere, other than the few uploads of the Dreamcast ‘barber’ picture (most of which have been uploaded by me)? It's this complete erasure or nonexistence of The Barber that is the driving force behind this whole saga, and using the power of the internet I've decided to pick up the case and dig further into the mystery of this bloke's true identity.

The Murky World of White Labels

While I do consider myself to be a collector of all manner of Dreamcast related tat, I’m far from what most people would consider 'hardcore.' I do not have a full complement of any region’s library for instance, and while I do have around 95% of the PAL releases in my collection, I refuse to pay over the odds for the remaining few (mainly shit) titles required to call it a 'full set.' Furthermore, many of the peripherals and consoles I own are unboxed and or in 'used' condition – I generally buy Dreamcast stuff to play with it, examine it, record its existence in an easy to digest manner and upload it here for people to enjoy…or take it to events for other people to play with/destroy and cover in hand slime.

What I'm trying (and failing) to convey is that I'm not one who only collects sealed or mint condition stuff, and I'm not overly precious about stuff being kept in a nuclear bunker where radioactive dust clouds, sunlight or curious hands cannot get to it. Nor am I one who feels he has to collect absolutely everything with a Dreamcast swirl on it...and that's the point I'm meandering toward with this wholly unnecessary, rambling introduction.
One aspect of collecting for the Dreamcast that has barely shown up on my radar until recently is the collection of white labels. I have been aware of the things for as long as I’ve been aware of the Dreamcast itself but collecting these PAL-centric preview discs has never really interested me for some reason. For those who aren’t familiar with white labels, they were special sample versions of Dreamcast games that were predominantly sent out by Sega Europe to the press for preview purposes and – as far as I'm aware – also used in Dreamcast demo pods in stores such as GAME and Electronics Boutique in the UK. As I said, I’ve never really been very interested in collecting these preview discs, but Mike Phelan included a very comprehensive list of them - complete with serial numbers - in our recently outlawed collectors guide (you can still download it for free here); and several friends randomly donated a selection white labels to me over the last few weeks.

Rez Infinite Merchandise & Launch Date Revealed

Rez Infinite looks awesome and it's coming to the PS4 and PS VR on October 13th 2016. Initially a digital download, the game is also scheduled to receive a limited physical release...but that's not all. According to a PlayStation Europe blog post by Rez producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Rez Infinite's launch will be bolstered with a whole barrage of merchandise, including vinyl records, t-shirts, an art book, pin badges and a holographic kitchen sink.
We're big fans of Rez here at the Junkyard and we've featured the game extensively here in the past. From Ross's video hands on and first impressions with the PS VR version he recently tried out at the Game On expo in Tokyo; to the fan-made Dream Trance vibrator created by Scott (and reviewed by me here), we can't get enough of the music-based acid trip-a-thon.

Retropocalypse 2016 Show Report

Saturday 13th August 2016 saw the first Retropocalypse event held in Bournemouth, UK. While the seaside town on the south coast of England has played host to some fairly large comic, TV and film conventions in recent years, a dedicated gaming event has never graced it...until Retropocalypse that is! In truth, this was something of an experiment to see how much interest a retro event would generate and as such was held in a fairly small venue - The Four Horsemen pub in the town centre.
Supported by gaming sites Noah's Arcade, RetroCollect and - naturally - The Dreamcast Junkyard, Retropocalypse saw the modest venue turned into a cornucopia of retro gaming delights. It wasn't exclusively a Dreamcast-themed event, but there were a couple of consoles available to play alongside the Saturns, 3DOs, N64s and Jaguars. This event was in no way on a comparable scale to recent shows such as Revival Solstice or the upcoming Play Expo Manchester (which we'll also be at!), but throughout the day over 100 people ventured into the downstairs room, attracted no doubt by the melodious sounds of antiquated gaming goodness and promise of twinkling CRTs.

Developer Interview: Orion

Orion has been creating indie games for retro consoles for quite some time, and is behind the latest title to be announced for the Dreamcast: Zia and the Goddesses of Magic, out in September 2016. Orion's impressive back catalogue also includes recent Atari Jaguar to Dreamcast ports such as point and click adventures Elansar and Philia, and platformer Alice's Mom's Rescue. The Dreamcast Junkyard recently caught up with Orion to find out a bit more about this elusive indie dev and ask what is coming next from the French outfit...
DCJY: Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak to us and the Dreamcast community at large! Could you explain just who makes up the Orion team?

Orion: There is no team - just me! Orion is my internet nickname, I'm just one guy on my own trying to create games as a living.
Zia comes to Dreamcast in September 2016
A true one man outfit then! How did you get started in indie game development, and what are your earliest memories of wanting to be a developer?

My earliest memories are when I was playing games on my Atari STe computer at the age of 8, looking at those nice graphics and thinking to myself "I want to do the same!" From there, I quickly began to learn the Basic language by myself, and finally made my first 'game' when I was 12 years old. When the internet became popular, I started learning other programming languages, and continued making small games as a hobby. Later, I worked for 5 years at a small game company in Paris, and finally I decided to go solo and start my own company. It's been 3 years now that I've been creating commercial games on my own for various retro platforms.

The Video System Enigma Machine

Special edition systems are nothing new when it comes to the Dreamcast. There are a multitude of officially-commissioned commemorative and promotional models that are well documented over at Sega Retro; with franchises like Resident Evil, Gundam, Seaman and Hello Kitty all being celebrated with their own bespoke consoles. Further to this, the number of other special editions, fan-made custom jobs and competition prize one-offs is difficult to actually quantify. Put simply, the Dreamcast customization scene is a subject of internet and pop-culture lore that could spawn an entire thesis if somebody was brave enough (and had the time) to devote themselves to it.
That person is not me, thankfully but with this post I wanted to investigate an oddity I found online and pose the question - is this an ultra rare, officially licensed promo Dreamcast...or simply the work of an over zealous F1 World Grand Prix II fan?

Dreamcast Magazine Issue 16

Issue 16 of Paragon Publishing's unofficial Dreamcast Magazine hit shelves on the 30th November 2000 and was stuffed full of the latest Dreamcast previews and reviews. The cover featured first person shooter Unreal Tournament - a game that was billed as an online multi-player showcase...but which eventually launched in PAL territories with all of the online components removed.
Issue 16 is notable in that it was amongst the first of the magazines at the time to report on a Dreamcast port of PlayStation and PC favourite Driver 2, but alas that never materialised. Other non-released games to be featured in issue 16 include Commandos 2, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Roswell Conspiracies and Woody Woodpecker Racing.
Interestingly, there are several reports in this issue that point towards an upturn in fortunes for Sega's little white box, with sales in both Europe and the US being touted as looking very healthy. In Europe Sega announce over 1 million systems sold and a Dreamarena user base of 400,000; while in the US a $50 price cut leads to monthly sales in October 2000 to double those of September 2000.

DreamPod - Episode 37: Featuring Dreamcast Hub



Massive thanks to Stephen from Dreamcast Hub for joining us on this episode, please make sure you check out his site here, and his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Music in this episode is from Yuan Works' awesome Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles and Duranik's utterly amazing Sturmwind. The event discussed was Revival Solstice 2016 and the show report is here, and the Tivola cases mentioned by Tom are these:
As ever, if you like what you hear please consider leaving us an iTunes review (or just a rating) as it all helps when it comes to getting exposure for the podcast. Once again, massive thanks to all our Patreon supporters - we love each and every one of you as if you were our own S.T.A.R.S. special edition Dreamcast consoles. Enjoy the podcast folks!

Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs Screens Revealed

Just a quick one this. You may be aware of the recently crowd-funded indie title Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs; we covered it recently but had a few reservations due to the lack of any gameplay footage or screen shots. It's saying a lot when a game with a fully playable demo (Xenocider) can't get funded but one without so much as a screen shot can...but hey ho. That's all changed now though, as the Saber Rider Kickstarter page has recently been updated and now includes a couple of in-game shots that hint at a game with more than a passing resemblance to 16-bit favourite Sunset Riders.
Further screens show some of the aerial manoeuvres the playable characters will be able to pull of, and these hint that the game may feature gameplay similar to Gunlord. The update goes on to explain that a lack of progress on Saber Rider was down to the lead developer having some health issues, and naturally we wish him a speedy recovery. For the time being though, these screens should tide any backers over and reassure you that work is continuing on the game.

Source: Dreamcast News / Kickstarter

Cancelled Atomiswave Fighter KenJu Discovered

This is only very tenuously related to the Dreamcast, so apologies if it offends your eyes. That said, Ross recently posted an awesome analysis of the Atomiswave here and Sammy's arcade hardware is linked loosely to the Dreamcast and Sega...so I won't lose any sleep over it. What am I on about? Well, it looks as though a long lost Atomiswave arcade fighter has been discovered. As reported on both the Assembler Games forums and hardcore fighting game site Shoryuken, 3D fighter KenJu was in development by Ehrgeiz and Tobal No1 creator DreamFactory before it dropped off the radar and was never seen again. Details on how the game was discovered by collector ShouTime are a little hazy, but we're not really that bothered - it's just cool to see yet another forgotten title come to light.


As you can see from the video, KenJu is aesthetically very similar to Capcom's Project Justice Rival Schools 2, and the stage demonstrated in the clip is uncannily reminiscent of the sports arena seen in the aforementioned high school-based brawler. Twelve interesting characters appear to be available to the player initially, and it's probably safe to assume that more would become playable after meeting certain gameplay milestones. Visuals appear to be pseudo cel-shaded and on the whole it looks to be quite a competent entry into the genre. There doesn't appear to be much information online regarding KenJu or the reasons for the game's cancellation, but we're sure you'll agree it's very cool to see hitherto unknown games still coming to light.

A Quick Look At Rush Rush Rally Racing

Rush Rush Rally Racing. For some reason, every time I think of this game I can't help but say the title in my head to the tune of the Power Rangers theme song. Hopefully, now you'll be the same and my plan for earworm world domination via the medium of indie Dreamcast games will be complete. I'm trying to think of other defunct kids' TV shows that rhyme perfectly with Dreamcast game titles; but I've hit a wall and fear I may have peaked way too soon...but I digress.
Rush Rush Rally Racing is a top down racing game released by Senile Team in 2009, and while I've been aware of the game for ages it's taken me until now to actually acquire a copy and play it. I know, I know...I can only apologise. The fact of the matter is, Rush Rush Rally Racing (henceforth referred to as R4) is one of those indie games that has increased in price/value exponentially since it was released and so I've never really had the funds or inclination to buy a copy for my own collection. That all changed recently when I was perusing a stall of gaming trinkets at Revival Solstice and asked if the seller had any Dreamcast games other than the NTSC-J copies of Blue Stinger and Pen Pen TriIcelon he had adorning the table. He produced R4 and was asking only £20, so I bit his hand off. Not literally you understand, but for that price I couldn't refuse.
That said, I did endure about 20 minutes of buyers remorse as that crisp £20 note was the only cash I had on my person, I desperately needed a drink and the nearest cash point was a good 15 minute walk away from the event. This momentary bout of negative introspection was soon allayed when I slapped my new disc into one of the myriad Dreamcasts I had at the event though, and here's why: Rush Rush Rally Racing is bloody brilliant.

Indie Shooter Xenocider Returns!

Rise from your gwave! You'll no doubt remember Xenocider; the impressive Space Harrier/Sin & Punishment homage from Spanish indie dev Retro Sumus hit Kickstarter earlier in 2016 but was cancelled with days to go when it became apparent that the goal would not be reached. Well, we have some good news: Xenocider is not dead! Far from it in fact, and lead developer Carlos Oliveros has spoken exclusively to The Dreamcast Junkyard to reveal that not only is Xenocider alive and kicking, but the team have completed work on a whole new stage and some new enemy types:

"We simply wouldn't allow ourselves to be so discouraged by a failed Kickstarter as to fully abandon our project. We are still exploring other funding options and alternatives which we will announce soon. In the meantime, we have been working hard on new assets for the game - in our spare time that is - and there's a whole new stage pretty much finished as we speak. Xenocider was simply never gone. And neither is AMEBA, for that matter."
- Carlos Oliveros, Retro Sumus

This is fantastic news as Xenocider was shaping up to be one of the Dreamcast's most promising titles and as the demo showed, the bespoke 3D engine looked like it was going to deliver something new to the scene.

Leona's Tricky Adventures Competition Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered our competition to win a copy of KTX's awesome indie release Leona's Tricky Adventures! We received almost 1000 entries but there were only 5 copies to give away, and the following people were chosen at random using the Gleam competition app:

Carl from Sweden
Andrew from the UK
Sam from the USA
Safi from the USA
Elisabeth from the USA

Not going to lie - I was kinda hoping it would randomly choose five winners from the UK so it wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg to send these all over the planet, but hey ho - such are the risks associated with running the globe's most popular Dreamcast blog! Congratulations to our winners, we hope you enjoy Leona's Tricky Adventures as much as we did (find our huge review and developer interview by clicking the image links below); and also massive thanks to Tamara and KTX Software for supplying these copies of the game to give away. If you weren't lucky enough to win this time, don't worry - there will be more competitions coming in the near future.
http://www.thedreamcastjunkyard.co.uk/2016/05/review-leonas-tricky-adventures.html
http://www.thedreamcastjunkyard.co.uk/2016/02/developer-interview-ktx-software.html
Remember, Leona's Tricky Adventures can still be purchased from the official website and on Steam so get over there and support our indie developers!

Expanding the Dreamcast Collection: Part 4 - Atomiswave

“Welcome back to the stage of history.” It's been a long time coming, and for that I can only apologise, but this mammoth article has finally been completed so let's take a look at the fourth system in the Dreamcast family of hardware: the Sammy Atomiswave. Out of all the hardware in the family, the Atomiswave is perhaps the most similar to the Dreamcast on a technical level and was supported by three names in gaming synonymous with the console's library: SNK, Sammy and Sega. With this in mind, if you consider yourself a fan of the Dreamcast, or the Neo Geo for that matter, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice by overlooking it.

Revival Solstice 2016 Show Report

The weekend of the 30th-31st July saw Revival Retro Events' Solstice take over Walsall's Bescott football stadium for the UK's largest dedicated retro gaming event. The Dreamcast Junkyard was there to spread some love for Sega's final console and the event was an outstanding success. It wasn't all about the Dreamcast though, as pretty much every retro system imaginable was on display in the large gaming hall - all fully accessible and available to play. Even extremely rare systems such as the Pippin Atmark and NUON were on offer, and I took the opportunity to experience Marathon on the Bandai/Apple console and Tempest 3000 on the VM Labs hardware.
On the subject of Marathon on the Pippin, it ran way better than I was expecting and had a silky frame rate - far better than Saturn Doom, for example. Those two games were probably the (non-Dreamcast) highlight for me, but there were plenty of arcade machines and pinball machines on offer, and retro consoles going back to the very dawn of gaming were on show.

OutbreakX - Another New Dreamcast Game?

News has reached us via Dreamcast News and the Dreamcast-Talk forums that there might - might - be another new game coming for the Dreamcast. Early shots hint at a 3D platformer with shooter aspects, and looks (to me at least) like the bastard lovechild of Blinx: The Time Sweeper and Gears of War. This is no bad thing, obviously. The game, titled OutbreakX is the work of a solitary programmer who goes by the forum name '111' and as stressed multiple times in the reveal post, is only around 10% complete.
That said, 111 confirms that the current build is running on Dreamcast hardware and is likely to be entered in the recently reported DCJAM 2016 homebrew competition. Also, emo cats are criminally underrepresented on the Dreamcast.

The NTSC-J Dreamcast Alarm Clock

The humble alarm clock. Quite an innocuous piece of technology, but one that strikes fear into the very soul of those lucky/unlucky enough to have been born into a capitalist dystopia in which earning a paltry wage is a necessity. Every morning, the incessant and skull-splitting cacophony of either a traditional alarm clock or a mobile phone's electronic wail drags us from our slumber, heralding the start of a new day chained to a desk or doing some other mundane task for hours at a time. It needn't be like this though, oh no. The first remedy to this revolting scenario is to find a job we actually enjoy. The second (and easier option) is to employ the use of an alarm clock so overtly fabulous that waking up to it is never, ever a chore. Ladies and germs, I present to you the NTSC-J Dreamcast alarm clock:
I actually acquired this specimen with the help of my DCJY co-writer Ross. You see, he lives in Japan and after I spotted this clock on a Japanese auction site I asked him to bid on it for me and then send it to the UK after the auction ended. He obliged, and a mere three weeks later the clock is sat on my bedside table in rainy Britain.