We See In Pixels

This week I was privileged enough to guest on the brilliant We See In Pixels podcast. While the normal state of play on the podcast is to focus on modern gaming news and releases, regular hosts Mike, Jas and Amy do occasionally discuss retro games and systems. As the Dreamcast is enjoying something of a renaissance at present, I was asked if I'd like to appear on the show and wax lyrical about our favourite white box of tricks, and naturally I said yes! Being a regular listener of the podcast anyway, it was something of an honour to be asked to guest host, and in turn I'd be honoured if you'd take the time to go and have a listen to We See In Pixels Episode 24: The Dreamcast...cast.

You can also find and subscribe to We See In Pixels on iTunes here.

A Quick Look At The Dreamconnector

For some reason, the notion of using peripherals designed for another console with the Dreamcast has always fascinated me. Much like emulation, it's the idea of tricking the hardware into doing something it wasn't intended to do. Stupid machine. Look at it, doing my bidding. Oh how I laugh at the stupidity of machines. And, until Skynet gains self awareness and smites me for my hubris I shall continue with my arrogant taunting. To this end I recently purchased the Dreamconnector, a cool little device hailing from China that promises to allow the user the God-like power to trick the idiot Dreamcast into accepting Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation, PC PS/2 keyboards and even steering wheels as legitimate input devices.
Who's 'thinking' now? Eh?! And as I stand here in my pants screaming hysterically at an inanimate console, I find myself and return to a reality in which I'm aware that a device called Total Control also exists, but as far as I know it doesn't allow for the use of a PS/2 keyboard as well as controllers.

10th Anniversary Competition: Bonus Stage - In Association With Play-Asia.com

Earlier in 2015 we celebrated the Junkyard's 10th year in existence with a series of three competitions in which entrants could win a limited edition Dreamcast Collection vinyl record. These were supplied by our good friends at Sega Europe and the triumvirate of triumphant winners produced the goods when it mattered. Competition 1 was won by James Steel for his awesome Dreamcast montage, competition 2 was won by Ricardo Almeida for guessing all the games, and competition 3 was won by João Borba for his outstanding time attack performance in Sega Rally 2. Rounds of applause were initiated, party poppers were pulled and everyone had a jolly old time. Huzzah!

The thing is, the actual 10th anniversary of this hallowed blog occurs on the 7th of December and we thought it was worth celebrating the momentous occasion with another competition. A bonus stage, if you will. And so, with the help of online super store Play-Asia.com, we are very excited to announce that we're wheeling out the bunting for one last time. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Dreamcast Junkyard 10th Anniversary Competition: Bonus Stage!
Once again, massive thanks to Play-Asia.com for supplying the prizes for this celebration of all things Dreamcast. If you're not familiar with Play-Asia.com then you must have been living under a particularly large rock for the last decade, as they are probably the number one retailer (and now publisher) of new, independent Dreamcast games anywhere on the planet. Want proof? Go here and look at the selection on offer. Not only that, but Play-Asia.com is regarded as one of the best sources for Japanese games and merchandise across a whole range of other systems too, not just the Dreamcast.

The Gagaman's London Gaming Market Haul

So last weekend I went to the first ever London Gaming Market. Run by the same people who bring you the wonderful Play Expo further up north, it was nice to finally have an event like this nearer my way. I haven't got any photos to share of the event unfortunately but there was two reasons for this:
  • It was quite a small venue
  • It was very very very crowded
Literally the second the doors opened till near the end when I left around 2pm it was shoulder to shoulder, you could barely move in there! I was afraid it was gonna be like a mad rush to grab bargains with everyone tearing each others eyes out, but thankfully that wasn't the case. Unlike other busy conventions I've been to like EGX and MCM Expo, a majority of people all desperate to have a browse here were polite and courteous and weren't shoving in. I don't think I have both said and heard 'sorry' more times than I had here, heh!
There are photos on the Facebook page for the event, photographed by Alan Chang. You might even spot me in a couple of them!

Dreamcast wise there was quite a lot on offer at the stores, with a good selection of PAL, American and Japanese game and a few nice boxed systems and accessories like the Mr. Yukawa box console and a boxed arcade stick. I wouldn't say I spotted much in the way of rare games per say, certainly not anything from my most wanted list, but I still managed to spend quite a bit of money in total on a few curiosities.

One thing that is great about the Dreamcast is there is still a lot of games that can be picked up for less than a tenner, of which every game I grabbed were around that price. I particularly wanted to grab a few American games as they don't come up quite as often, and postage from America is usually too expensive. I bought a majority of my games from Console Passion, who had the biggest selection and some of the fairest prices.
Here was my total haul, though considering where we are you're only interested in the Dreamcast games right? I've given each game I picked up a go so here's my first impressions on all of them, after the jump!

The Dreamcast 2016 Calendar

Tokyo Game Show 2015 seemed to feature quite bit of retro tat, some of which was Dreamcast-branded. Remember those hideous shoes? Exactly. Some of the stuff on sale was decidedly less garish though - the Dreamcast desk calendar for example. Regular reader and all-round good egg Ross (he who sent me the Twin Stick from Japan) happened to bag one of these lesser-spotted calendars and overcame extreme technological difficulties over in the Land of the Rising Sun (that is, no internet connection at home. Luddite) to scan and email me the various monthly 'pages' that make up the 128-bits of the year 2016. Or something. Oh, and before you start foaming all over your keyboard I know the Dreamcast is technically 32-bit. Anyway, here's the calendar in all it's glory:

In case you're wondering, the game featured on January's page is Otsukare! Guru Guru Onsen - a Japan-only collection of online mini-games like Trumps, Mahjong and Shougi (a type of Japanese chess). These calendars have appeared on eBay for quite astronomical sums in recent weeks, but Ross assures me they were on sale for ¥700 - which is about £3.75 in real money. Beware of eBay crooks!

Who Dat? Dreamcast: Not the Console - the Anime Lady!

Did anyone here watch the anime SEGA Hard Girls last year? It was a short lived 13-episode series of only 11 minutes a pop, and starred the Mega Drive, Sega Saturn and Dreamcast as school girls attending a Sega high school where they are warped into games like Space Channel 5, Jet Set Radio and Virtua Fighter to earn medals. It's a very odd premise, and I'm really surprised that in this day and age, and so long after Sega stopped making consoles that they would make something like this. That said, it is so full of in-jokes for hardcore Sega fans it's hard not to like.

This video by friend of mine DiGi Valentine is a review/analysis of sorts of the character that represents the Dreamcast, detailing her design, personality and importance to the anime series. DiGi does a particularly good job of explaining her ditzy, zany attidtude attributed to the fact that she has a built in modem like the console. If you liked the video, go to DiGi's channel to see more character reviews including plenty of other Dreamcast icons such as Ryo from Shenmue, several Street Fighters and even Big the Cat.

MSR Playable Alpha Discovered

I remember the first time I ever saw a screen of Metropolis Street Racer in a magazine. It was a tiny little image that showed a couple of sports cars blasting through a Tokyo bus station, and what really excited me was that a game featuring real-world locations was coming to the Dreamcast. As we all know, MSR isn't one of those fabled games that was teased but never released - it went on to be one of the Dreamcast's most championed racers, and even spawned a host of semi-sequels on the Xbox and Xbox 360 in the form of the Project Gotham series.
Buses are behind barriers in the final game
But lets go back to that early image I mentioned (see above). Looking at it now, it's clear that MSR underwent some drastic redesigns before it became the game we know and love today and it'd probably be fairly safe to assume that the early alpha version had been lost to the mists of time, or at the very least rotting on an old Bizarre Creations dev kit in a rubbish tip somewhere. However, we're very happy - and slightly shocked - to report that this isn't the case.

A Quick Look At The NeoGeo Pocket Link Cable

I recently picked up a NeoGeo Pocket Link Cable for the very reasonable price of £30. That may seem expensive for what is essentially a bit of wire, but these things seem to be getting rarer all the time and so for that price I snapped it up sharpish. The only other one I've seen for sale recently was around £50 and they regularly go for upwards of that on eBay. Before I get ahead of myself, I should probably explain what the NeoGeo Pocket actually is - I sometimes forget that not everyone is as aufait with antiquated gaming technology as I am, and in turn I know there are people with far greater knowledge than I possess...so I'll try not to get anything wrong!
The NeoGeo Pocket was a handheld console released in 1998 by SNK that initially featured a monochrome screen but was later re-released with a colour screen and rebranded as the NeoGeoPocket Color (I'll overlook the missing 'u' on this occasion). It's a nifty little piece of tech and has a rather lovely clicky microswitch thumbstick like most other NeoGeo consoles do. The system's library isn't very large and the screen can be a bit hard to see sometimes due to it's lack of either a front or back light, but it does hold a certain charm and the library is brimming with cool portable versions of popular SNK franchises like The King Of Fighters and Samurai Shodown et al.

Space Channel 5 Tankōbon Guide Book

Space Channel 5 is the epitome of acquired taste when it comes to Dreamcast games. You either love the ultra-camp aesthetic of Ulala's dancerific battle against the invading Morolians, or you cringe so hard your face literally turns inside out. I fall into the latter category sadly, but I still recognise the appeal of a game that is basically a rhythm-action game with tweeness taken to the Nth degree.

As with many Dreamcast games, Space Channel 5 enjoyed a glut of merchandise - especially in Japan, and recently I was lucky enough to stumble upon the Space Channel 5 Tankōban Guide Book.
ISBN 4-575-16207-8

Take The Bullet Revealed

Take The Bullet is one of the more infamous cancelled games for the Dreamcast. Developed by Red Lemon Studios, it was an ambitious first person shooter in which you could also use the light gun to shoot onscreen enemies. This kind of thing had been done before (Resident Evil Survivor on the PlayStation is one such example), but nothing on the scale of Take The Bullet had been attempted.
The game was to feature a full on single player campaign, alongside a 4-player multiplayer split screen mode that also added bots into the mix. The solo game involved the player assuming the role of ex-marine and bodyguard Jack Travis, and it was up to you to protect Presidential candidate Kincaide through a varied series of missions (although evidence suggests they may have been mainly escort missions, Travis being a bodyguard and all).

I recently got to play a very early build of this mysterious game, and while I was unable to try it out with the light gun, I was able to capture footage from the first two missions.
While it is clearly very rough around the edges and has very little in the way of sound effects, voice acting or music, this early version of Take The Bullet was spread across several discs - one of which was the split-screen multiplayer death match (interestingly labelled as 'E3 Demo'). I managed to play this death match against an AI bot in single player but I recently had some pretty severe computer issues (basically a failed hard drive in my MacBook) and as such I lost all that footage.

Nikkei Dreams: Business On The Dreamcast

The Dreamcast is often described as a system that was ahead of it's time, and in many ways it was. You only have to look at all of the ingenious peripherals and add-ons; even the lowly memory card, the VMU, is a technical marvel when you think about it. The entire range of official and unofficial enhancements is as staggeringly large as it is diverse, but perhaps the most important of them all is the one many of us forget is even there these days - the little modem stuck to the rear of the system. While the modem and the internet services it allowed played something of a minor role in PAL territories, and online gaming was a huge success in the US, over in Japan the humble modem played a much more interesting part in the story of the Dreamcast.
While the Dreamcast is first and foremost an entertainment machine, the modem allowed Sega Japan to look beyond it's primary function and decide that the console should also be used for other, non-gaming purposes. For instance, the console was installed in Toyota car showrooms and a whole range of bespoke 'Doricatch Series' GDs were produced. These were little more than advertising demos for various Toyota vehicle models and are today some of the rarest examples of NTSC-J exclusive Dreamcast software on the planet.

Boku Doraemon: Bored Robot Cat Simulator 2001

Hello there, the Gagaman here! With the arrival of my copy of The Dreamcast Ultimate Collectors Book and due to having some spare time, I have for the last few days been playing a lot of Dreamcast games; namely ones I feel I haven't played enough of. With this in mind I want to get back to writing articles here as its been far too long, so I may as well start by talking about what I was playing last night - a Japanese exclusive that is not very well documented, based on a famous long running children's anime: Boku Doraemon. More after the jump...

Unknown Gundam GD-Rom Surfaces On eBay

Well this is interesting. A Katana development GD-Rom has shown up on eBay Germany, with 'Gundam' written on it. Is this a previously unknown PAL version of Gundam Side Story 0079, or something completely new and hitherto undocumented? Either way, The Dreamcast Junkyard fully intends to secure this disc and investigate it further. If it turns out to be something previously unseen, we will be releasing it to the Dreamcast community. We have reached out to the seller for further information, but the real mystery here is that it is a Katana GD-Rom not a regular Dreamcast one. The plot thickens.
Want to help us secure this and release it to the community? Any financial help in the form of  a doantion is welcomed! In other news, we are looking into the idea of launching a full Kickstarter project for a new hardback version of the Ultimate Collectors Guide, complete with artwork and full hardware section. Stay tuned!

Update: Unfortunately, we didn't win the auction. However, all is not lost. The winner of the disc has been in touch and assured us that this will be released to the community! Huzzah!

OST Your Heart

La la laa
Video game music. It's great, right? Very few genres of game feel complete without beeps, bops, or full-on symphonic orchestra behind them. In some instances, musical cues aid the player in being better at the game in general. It can emphasize moods, tell stories, etc...

But you're not here to hear all that.
Thanks to the wonders of disc audio, Sonic's music sounded the best it ever had. Especially thanks in large part to the involvement of Jun Senoue and Crush 40. Senoue had worked on Sonic games going back as far as Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on the Genesis. Crush 40, for whom he wrote music, would provide tracks for several Sonic games, including the Adventure series and later games in the franchise.