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Christ on a bike. Turned on the radio last night and what do I hear? Only Take That's new single. TAKE THAT?!?!? What the mother-fucking HELL is going on?! After I'd regained consciousness and the initial wave of nausea had subsided (and I'd managed to get the vomit out of the carpet); It suddenly dawned on me that hearing the defunct boyband's new single - 10 years after they originally dis-'banded' - could only be a sign from the Heavens. Yes - Take That is the catalyst for the revival of the Dreamcast! All we need to do is convince hoards of screaming 30-year-old women to buy units in the millions...and hey presto: The long awaited 2econd coming of the world's greatest ever console. If a group of geriatric manc pub-singers can do it, WE CAN TOO! Look at the facts: All Take That have got are man-boobs, beer guts and bleach blonde crew cuts; whilst we've got Jet Set Radio, MSR, Ecco, Daytona, Virtua Tennis 2...and...Army Men: Sarge's Heroes.

On second thoughts, where's that drawing board got to...

Oh well. That's another plan in the dog's bowl, but we've only licked the tip of this particular sugar coated iceberg, my friends. Before I continue with the intended diatribe though, I must firstly offer some explanation as to the recent drought of posts here at the epicentre of trans-dimensional Dreamcast related horizonal events - The Dreamcast Junkyard. You see, I recently moved to an area of Manchester called Burnage - a chav ridden suburb most famously known as the childhood home of those delightful Oasis frontmen, the Gallagher brothers. As such, I feel my affectionate moniker for it - The Cradle of Filth - is much deserved. Furthermore, the 'internet(?!)' doesn't seem to exist in said urban prairie so I'm restricted to using the highly monitored net connection at work to deposit the contents of my cerebral cortex into the 'Yard.

And whilst I can't post pictures (this will be completed at a later date using a highly complex system of...erm...someone else's PC - and hopefully by the time you read this it will have been done), the fact that most of my work colleagues are technophobic middle-aged toothless sea hags that share a solitary single eye, means that I can disguise my blogging activity as a harmless Outlook Express email to the Chief Exec with the subject line: Suck my 'Internet Code of Conduct'-breaking COCK, Oedipal Muthafucker!!!

You see, the 'Yard is more than a mere blog: It's a way of life.


***WARNING: BRACE FOR INCOMING BACKLASH FROM FEMINIST GROUPS***


Yesterday I discovered that women have more than 3 uses. Just as I always thought my DC was powered by miniscule Eddie Izzard type creatures (see post below...somewhere), I was brought up in the traditional Northern way to believe that women were only good for:
  • Being sent to the shop for woodbines and corn dog (corned beef)
  • "Make my fucking Tea (a meal, preferably on the table when I get home from work), Bitch"
  • "Spread your legs, Bitch (followed by optional slap/punch/garroting)"

Apparently though, this simply isnt the case. No - yesterday the greasy, spotty, smelly twats that work behind the counter at a Gamestation in an un-named provincial township not too far from here will have had the shock of their Kerrang-reading lives when a woman, yes a REAL woman - entered their dingy emporium...and purchased FOUR DREAMCAST GAMES!!!!

Do not adjust your monitor, oh hallowed and respected reader - your vampiric eyes do not deceive you: A woman went into a branch of Gamestation and bought 4 Dreamcast games.

Now, this isn't copy and pasted from a chapter of some obscure HP Lovecraft tome. No, it happened in real life, yesterday afternoon. But before you leap from your chair and reach for that flashing red telephone that has a direct link to the oval office: Women have not suddenly become intelligent.

No, said woman was infact my sister (ergo the above bullet points don't apply) and she wasn't acting alone. She didn't suddenly stop reading OK! Magazine, grow a brain cell and embrace the awesomeness of the Dreamcast. If you'd closely inspected her, you'd have probably been on the recieving end of a bottle of pepper spray, but after your vision had returned, you would have been able to see that she actually had a mobile telephonic device strapped to her head. A sinister, barely audible voice could probably have been heard blurting out commands too, pushing aside images of Max Factor, Eastenders and Coronation Street, and replacing them with images of a blue swirl, incessantly spinning in the darkness like some kind of arcane and undying catherine wheel of oblivion: It was ME!

Like a modern day SEGA sponsored Dr Claw, I commanded my sibling to enter the shop and immediatley ring me when and if she located a Dreamcast section. I knew when my phone vibrated exitedly on my desk that she'd fulfilled stage one of her mission. Then, from deep within the bowels of my hideout (erm...work), and cleverly manipulating her putty-like brain to put the cost of the call on her bill (YES!), I instructed her to read to me the title of every blue-spined Ark of Wonder she could see. Alas, the choice was rather limited but I managed, via remote use of her limbs (and money) to aquire the following selection:

Deep Fighter
The other underwater game on the Dreamcast after Ecco, Deep Fighter is like a mixture of said dolpin simulator and the superb space 'em up, Star Lancer...only not nearly as good as either. Infact, I'd readily use the phrase "considerably less than the sum of it's parts."

Deep Fighter spans 2 GDs, which initially makes you think it's probably going to a massive quest, but in reality it's probably to accomodate the sheer amount of FMV that's packed in to the story: basically, you play a recent graduate of the 'Academy,' Moray 2, and must carry out various missions for Admiral Lynn (who's a bloke, btw) in your little submarine thing. The overall aim of Deep Fighter is to repell the attacks of various sub-aqua ne'er do wells from your bases so that the scientists can rebuild a mothership that will help you escape the Waterworld-esque planet on which you're stranded. The graphics are actually quite good, and the underwater environment features some nice ambient lighting effects and a cool night/day transition, but there is no real-time lighting from your sub's lights (a shame) and the models used for enemies are quite basic. Also, whilst it all moves very smoothly, it's quite slow and the fogging is on a par with Turok on the N64. Furthermore, the game takes aaaaaages to get going proper and the disjointed way in which new objectives are added to your mission can be slightly annoying at times - especially when you havn't got a fucking clue where you're meant to be going or what you're meant to do when you get to your destination.

Deep Fighter makes great use of the Renderware 3 engine

Turok-style fogging: check

At this point, I'd also like to explain that Deep Fighter has one of the most confusing map screens I've ever seen; indeed, playing Panzer General is less complicated than trying to locate stuff on this map. However, once you get past these minor issues and get a few missions in, Deep Fighter becomes an accomplished little shooter - but hardly a must have title. As an added bit of trivia, Deep Fighter also features a character called Deav who you may recognise - He's played by a pre-Little Britain David Walliams. Indeed, the manual says of Deav:

"Deav is a brooding, focused individual. Although an excellent pilot he has always been somewhat overshadowed by Razz"

Hmmm. Sausages or Super Noodles for tea...?

Poor Deav - he's moved from the shadow of Razz, straight into the shadow of Matt Lucas.

Verdict: Decent Enough

Power Stone
If I remember rightly, Power Stone was part of the Dreamcast's highly impressive launch line up, but honestly, it could be released now and you'd still think it looked stunning. That's because it is, chums. Developed by one of the Dreamcast's premier supporters, Capcom, Power Stone - for the 7 people on Earth who've never played it - is a fully 3D, one-on-one scrapper where, rather than battle on a boring old square platform in the middle of the desert or a lake; you get to smash each other's faces in whilst jumping around fully interactive areas, complete with furniture, street lights, bins etc.

Most of the stuff featured in the environments can be used as a weapon (eg, pick up a table and chuck it at your opponent) or smashed up to reveal weapons like swords and flame throwers. The title derives from the way 'power stones' occasionally appear dotted around the level and if you manage to collect 3, your character mutates into an uber-version of themselves - usually complete with 12-ft thick armour and a whole pound-shop's worth of plastic weaponry sellotaped on. In this enhanced mode, you are given a licence to kick as much buttock as is humanly possible before the effect of the power stones wears off and you shink back to your original Dr David Banner style proportions.

The character select screen screams quality...

...As does the rest of the game

Visually, Power Stone sparkles - the whole affair is right out of the top of the wardrobe, let alone the drawers. The presentation is amazingly colourful and polished: even the character select screen looks great! The actual game doesn't let the side down either, as the character models and environments have been lovingly crafted and even when there's loads happening onscreen the action never slows down. Also of note if the superb animation of the characters - there are loads of little things they do but you probably won't notice due to the amount of pyrotechnics assaulting your optic nerve. Things like rolling over tables and the little sommersaults they do when jumping...it's a class act.

The characters at your disposal are a typical bunch of steretypes (big and slow/fast and weak), but the locales on offer throw up a few suprises: Londo (London), Mahdad (Baghdad)...and Manches (Manchester) all feature!

Verdict: Gordon Bennet!

Disney's Dinosaur
The official game of the computer generated movie released a few years ago. I must admit to never having seen the movie, but Dinosaur is quite a rare title these days so that's why I got it. Just covering my ass there, folks. Anyway - the game.

There was no book in the case when I got my hands on Dinosaur so I'm not entirely sure what the premise of the story is, but it opens with some fairly impressive and self explanatory footage from the film, and so I managed to deduce that you play as a group of young Dinosaurs who must attempt to get home to their part of the Jungle (a bit of a Land Before Time rip-off methinks). Rather than a simple platformer, Dinosaur takes the form of a sort of team based top-down puzzle game. You can switch between which of the prehistoric pals you play as by clicking the right trigger and make the whole gang follow the character you're controlling by clicking both triggers together. Dinosaur 1 - 0 Rainbow Six.

I think these are PSX shots to be honest

I couldn't even get past the first level...

The characters all have different attributes in that one is a flying thing, one is a dinosaur (soft arse herbivor, btw) and a one is a monkey-type job (I think). And that's all I can really say about Dinosaur...because I couldn't get past the first screen! No matter what I tried with the different characters, I couldn't get any of them out of the 'paddock' bit at the very start of the first level - invisible walls blocking my progress at every turn. I tried for about half an hour, pressing every button, trying every combination of characters...even walking around the invisible walls whilst hammering the buttons. Nothing. And all this was accompanied by the loudest disk-accessing noise I've ever heard. The graphics (what I could see of them) are pretty good - super sharp and hi-res, and the music is of typical Disney high quality...but due to the fact I couldn't actually get into the game proper...I'm unable to give a valid and proper account of the proceedings, hence:

Verdict: The 9/11 Report

Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
Im pretty sure there's potential for a lawsuit with this game. It's called 'The Last Revelation,' but last time I checked, there were 86 more Tomb Raider games after this one. Anyhow, The Last Revelation is Lara Croft's first outing on the Dreamcast and a return to her Sega roots after Sony forced Eidos to ignore the Saturn by threatening to put flaming paper bags filled with shit on their doorstep, knock on the door and run off.

The Last Revelation follows on from the previous games in the series in that it's a 3D Indiana Jones type romp through various ruined cities and temples (but strangely, no tombs), where badly animated wolves with square bodies attempt to eat your face. These wolves and other foes can be dispatched with a few well placed bullets from your twin pistols, which leaves you free to get on with your quest of finding a big lever to pull. And that's Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation down to a tee. Run around, jump up a ledge, shoot some stuff, pull a lever, swim through some tunnels, jump up a ledge, pull a lever, shoot some stuff...ad nauseum. In an effort to add some spice to the game, the opening level sees you play as a 16-year-old Lara, complete with Ruud Van Nistelrooy's facial features, but in reality this section adds nothing new to the series - it's just plain old Tomb Raider with a shorter version of Croft to control.

Dreamcast Monthly magazine actually awarded The Last Revelation a score of 10/10 - higher than either Soul Calibur or Crazy Taxi. Is it really that good? The answer is quite clearly "NO" - preferably written in 13-mile-high flashing red letters. On the moon. 100% for a rush-job PC conversion?! I smell an Eidos-funded piss up, complete with buffet, at a certain publishing house...

You see, The Last Revelation hardly looks like it's running on 128-bit hardware. The framerate is inconsistent, the character models are basic, the level design is tedium incarnate and the scenery pop up - even when you're inside a building (!) - is fucking pathetic. TLR is a slap-dash conversion that makes no use of the extra power of the DC. It's still entertaining in it's own way, and the framerate is nowhere near as choppy as Shadowman's, but it's still lacklustre. Oh, and it apparently features music by 'Oakenfold.' A must-buy game then. Or not.

Verdict: Sloppier than diahorrea mixed with day-old Weetabix

So there it is. If you've actually read all that - hats off to you. I wouldn't have bothered personally, but it's all about personal choice...

...or is it?

Oh, and don't forget: It's the PAL Dreamcast's seventh birthday on Saturday. I've already put the balloons up and set out the paper plates and plastic cups. All I need now are some friends to eat this Aldi battenburg with.

Oh well, Sonic plushie, it's just me and you again. Sniff.

14 comments:

fatherkrishna said...

I've passed your comments on to the 'Manchester Independent Wimmin & Fruitarian Lesbian's Collective' who are currently trawling the streets of Burnage with a set of nutcrackers, a large cucumber and a tube of chilli flavoured KY Jelly.
Hilarious post, particularly enjoyed the title of your work email (I've forwarded this post to your employers who want to see you first thing...)
I too got stuck on Dinosaur (which I bought purely for research purposes OBVIOUSLY) in exactly the samme place. Have Tomb Raider though it's never made it out of the box...
Never heard of the sub one. But Powerstone!! Absolutely fucking ace! Good to see you've got your piccy potential back in order!
Superb stuff!

decswxaqz said...

You better not be stealing my DC games from the Gamestation in the Arndale! Live a couple of stops further down the train tracks than you in noisy Heald Green (stupid planes!).
The best thing about Powerstone were the VMU games you could play. That, and Soul Calibur and SoA had the best VMU mini-games that gave you stuff in the real game! Trust Sega to come up with unique idea like VMU huh.

fatherkrishna said...

How do you get the Soul calibur VMU games? The only one I have ever seen was a text adventure game in Japanese!
Also don't you have to play Powerstone to death before you can access it? Please enlighten me!

decswxaqz said...

Wasn't there a Voldo word game... I remember that one, but I'm pretty sure there were 2 others too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astaroth_(Soul_Calibur)
It mentions his VMU game in the trivia. Perhaps I downloaded them and thought they were on the CD?

Tomleecee said...

decswxaqz - the Arndale store is possibly the worst Gamestation on the planet. There's never any DC stuff in there, although they do have a little basket of unboxed GDs behind the counter that retail for about £2 each.

FatherKrishna - Ah, the Manchester Independent Wimmin & Fruitarian Lesbian's Collective. I know them well. We traded bullets in during the great Spastics Society siege of '89. Happy days.

On the subject of VMU mini games: does anyone actually have a VMU with batteries in it anymore? None of mine do. And as such, the whole street knows when I turn my DC on... :)

Caleb said...

Awesome reviews. I got a MINT copy of Powerstone for $2 American from a rental place sale and it was one of my best purchases ever.

I was surprized at the TR The Last Rev. review...I have that game and I have been saving it to play for a rainy day. Now you have ruined my life...

I just got 6 dreamcast games for $15. Worth the trip. They had others but they were WAY over priced. (I am going to wait for a 3 for 15 deal for them). They also had a mint copy of seaman but no microphone (even though the frigg'n store price sticker they put on the game said it came with one). The kid at the register refused to look for it, dork.

Anyway here was my haul from that...

-Jet Grind Radio
-Crazy Taxi
-Ready to Rumble 1
-Ready 2 Rumble 2
-Tony Hawk 1 (The demo was fun)
-Space Channel 5 (wtf?)

The real shame was that KB Toys was selling most of these titles and others NEW a few years back for $5 and I never got them. Instead I got the flashier titles like D2 and Death Crimson OX. I suppose this will teach me to grab stuff while you can.

I also got an extending cable for the dreamcast controller for $3. Way too high in price but I have NEVER seen one before so I grabbed it.

I also found a store that still had DC games new in packaging and found out that one of the saturn games I was looking for (Shining force 3) is going for $99.00.

Overall a good day.

Tomleecee said...

Thanks for the comments Caleb - You bet your ass it was a good day! I agree with your view on Space Channel 5 - WTF indeed. It's the only game I will only ever play with the curtains drawn and the lights off...

A good selection of games you got there. D2 and Death Crimson were never given PAL releases so I can't comment on those, but the extender thing is pretty rare these days.

A chain called Dixons in the UK (a general electrical retailer) sold off all of their DC games for £1-2 a few years back. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the stickers. Rival Schools 2 was one of them and I sold it when I traded in my DC for a PS2 when it came out. Now the goddam thing sells for billions on eBay dammit.

Tomleecee said...

...And yes - you read that right: I traded in my Dreamcast with 40 games for a PS2 in 2001: the lure of Smuggler's Run and Sky Odyssey was just too much to resist.

I'm sure I've more than made ammends for my error now though, with the creation of the 'Yard and the self inflicted whippings I subject myself to each and every night.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I did read and enjoy ALL of this mamuth post. But the comments... no, really, that's far too much...

Caleb said...

My own Dreamcast fiasco went down when I was in college and had to pawn them off for rent and other crap that I had to pay off. I only sold games that I didn't like like or couldn't get into like power sword and ready to rumble. I also sold off games like Record of Lodoss War because it sold for a high price and games like Quake that I never played and thought you needed a connection to fully enjoy.....And now I am buying all those games back for 2X 3x the price....Argh!

I like D2 somewhat. However the game has the SAME friggin' cutscene EVERYTIME you pick up ANYTHING! And the lead charact must be related to Gordon Freeman 'cause she doesn't ever talk. Pretty but lackin'....And it's set in Canada and you get to shoot rabbit and moose.

Death Crimson OX I played once before going back to HoftheD 2. Seems like a halfway decent lightgun shooter.

Hopefully I might get me grubby little paws on some more stuff today!

fatherkrishna said...

Caleb I can't believe you got all those games in one fell swoop!
Outrageous! Persevere with the quest for the microphone 'cos Seaman is ace!
Tom you told me to be ashamed of my Liz McDonald fetish. Your callous betrayal of the Dreamcast for the PS2... Well it just makes me feel dirty inside. Rub salt into those wounds after you've flagellated yourself. The hair shirt I've ordered you should arrive any day now.
Decswxaqz thanks for the pointer. Email me with info about your site 'cos I can't figure it out and it looks interesting! (Yardites may know I'm not the most computer literate person in the world...

The GagaMan(n) said...

40 Dreamcast games for a PS2 and two of it's shoddy lanuch titles? What were you thinking? maybe if all 40 of those games wre copies of Nightmare Creatures II, I would see why, but overwise...

The GagaMan(n) said...

As for the Soul Calibur VMU games: I don't recall ever unlocking them in the game (and I unlocked everything), so I think they must of been released as downloads online. The only way to get them now is to burn a copy of VMUTOOL.

Tomleecee said...

It's worse than that, Gagaman - I only used those two games as examples of the bilge availible at the time. No, I actually left the shop with a PS2 and copies of NHL 2001 and F1 2001: A veritable feast of lacklustre EA Sports branded faeces. Furthermore, I couldn't get a £30 memory card with the credit from my DC, so I had to shell out even more just so I could save my progress in the worlds most boring games. You know when you do something and you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you've make a mistake? Well multiply that by a quintillian and that's how I felt that evening...