Well, it's that time again - the kind of time when I, your venerable host, like to take you, the venerable reader on a magical trip. A trip through a kingdom of unimaginable delights, of vomit coloured skies and shit coloured meadows. What is this place I speak of? Why, it's New-Games-Off-eBay-Land, of course!

Whilst that opening paragraph probably made very little sense to all but the most highly sedated Broadmoor resident, you'll no doubt have some kind of idea what I'm on about - more stuff flopping through the Stargate (letterbox) and claiming squatter's rights in the galaxy-sized library of awesomeness that is the Dreamcast Junkyard (tm).

Before I go any further though, I must bring your attention to this:

I had an email published on teletext's Game Central! FAME IS FINALLY MINE!!! X-Factor? Pfft...fuck that shit - I've had my name (well, my Blogger ID) on Game Central! I can now die happily. Although if I did, right now, you'd never find out what crap I've recently added to my collection.

So I won't. Die, that is. Yet.

Spawn: In The Demon's Hand
Have you played Heavy Metal: Geomatrix? Spawn: In The Demon's Hand is a game in the same vein - you run around  3D maze-like levels shooting, punching and kicking the crap out of every other character who's trying to do the same to you. And that's it, really. As the name suggests, it's based on the Spawn comic books/film and features characters from the Todd McFarlane scribed canon, but to be honest it could be a game based on any comic series with different characters pasted in. My knowledge of Spawn begins and ends with the rather shit film from a few years ago so I'm not really equipped to say whether this game and it's environments are authentic to the comic series, but I wasn't really that impressed by the experience contained on the disc. The graphics are OK (but it doesn't support VGA, dammit) and the music is of the typical rock type, but it's just, well, a bit boring.

Worms World Party
I don't even know why I bought this. Probably because it was a quid, but thinking about it that quid could have been spent on something else. Like a chocolate chip flapjack and a copy of The Sun. Oh well. Anyway, back to Worms. Like Armageddon, World Party sees you take control of a team of sadistic worms who must defeat a similar team with all manner of outlandish weaponry. These (turn based) battles take place in some very strange Lemmings-like environments and most of the explosions take huge chunks out of the floors and walls meaning that you can shape the landscape to your benefit or hindrance of the enemy team. The thing is, Worms is meant to be played as a multi-player game so if you have no friends (like me), it can be an unrewarding experience. Aesthetically, World Party is very colourful and even though it looks quite basic, the visuals perform their function perfectly. The 'World Party' moniker comes from the fact that when it was released, the game allowed gamers from around the globe to battle each other online. I'm not sure if you still can, but considering the Dreamcast has been defunct for nearly a decade now, I'm guessing the servers are now lying in a pool of effluence in an alley somewhere.

The following games I got off that lovely chap known only as Gary, and so arrived in the form of a CD-R titled Dream Shooter 5. Here's a (pretty crap) flip video of the clever interface bit:

Don't tell the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). They'll probably get that fat twat to brand me with that red-hot poker and then lock me up for funding terrorism like all those ne'erdowells selling copied DVDs down the market.

Under Defeat
An awesome helicopter shoot 'em up set in an alternative timeline from our own, Under Defeat is one of those new-ish DC releases. I'm quite new to the whole 'shump' scene so wasn't really expecting much from Under Defeat, but I have to admit that I was quite taken aback by how cool it is. The graphics are all fully 3D and you can change the aspect of the screen from portrait to landscape for a full screen experience (although you have to put your telly on it's side). The best thing about Under Defeat though is the tempo of it all. Wave after wave of brilliantly designed enemies come at you and you can modify the angle that your chopper flies at in order to attack bogies from the side (which helps if they are firing a constant stream of projectiles to their front). The difficulty level is perfectly balanced and the special effects are imply stunning (check out the special screen-filling super weapon!). All in all, one hell of a shooter.

Zero Gunner 2
Another helicopter based shooter, Zero Gunner differs slightly from Under Defeat in that you can fully rotate your craft in order to destroy enemies that come at you from the left, right and behind. Again, the 3D graphics are mightily impressive - as are the end of level bosses. Basically, they start as various pieces of hi-tech military kit (stealth bomber, submarine etc) and when you've worn enough of their energy down they transform into a big fuck-off robot. Kind of like Power Rangers, but without an actor in  shoddy rubber suit. You also get to choose one of three different types of chopper, each with a different pattern of fire and strengths and weaknesses. It's not as good as Under Defeat, but it's still a corking shooter.

Now we're talking. Ikaruga is one mother of a shoot 'em up - and possibly one of the most imaginative ever created. How? Well, it's all about opposites. You see, in Ikaruga, enemies come in two varieties - light and dark. Your ship, Ikaruga, also has the ability to change between the two different polarities meaning you can shoot dark and light missiles. The clever bit is that even though you can destroy either type of enemy with either type of ammunition, you can only be destroyed by enemy fire of the opposite type. If, for example, you are in the dark polarity and are hit by a dark enemy's fire, you simply absorb it and it fills up an energy bar enabling a special attack. If you are hit by opposite fire, you take damage. It sounds a bit confusing when it's written down, but in practice it's actually very clever - especially when you're fighting a boss who is filling the screen with patterns of different coloured projectiles. Switching between the light and dark polarities becomes a test of skill in these situations and death is usually down to your own ineptitude rather than unfairness (for that, see below). As with most of the shooters I've recently acquired, you can alter the orientation of the screen in Ikaruga and in effect get it to run full screen if you want to put your TV on it's side, but playing it with the borders is totally acceptable. And, like Under Defeat and Zero Gunner, the graphics are far beyond what you would expect to find in a shoot 'em up of this ilk - everything is modelled in 3D and the backdrops can be breathtaking in places. Quite simply, Ikaruga is an ingeniously creative and beautiful-looking game. Awesome.

Trigger Heart Exelica
Bit of a weird one this. Rather than pilot a spaceship or helicopter like in most shooters (with the exception of Gunbird 2, where you can pilot a magic carpet), in Trigger Heart Exelica you get to control a Manga schoolgirl in a flying battle-mech outfit. A sexual fantasy fulfilled for many people, I'm sure. It also differs from the rest of the pack in the way that you can fire a sort of grappling-hook thing at enemies in order to 'capture' them. Once captured, you can either use them as a shield or spin them around and throw them back at other enemies. Two birds, one stone. There is a story of sorts that seems to be an integral part of the game - characters are always popping up to chat shit, but seeing as it's all in Japanese I haven't got a clue what it's all about - and even less of a clue as to why, when you destroy them, enemies turn into gold nuggets that then get absorbed by your little character. There are a few different play modes (story, arcade, attract, training etc) and two different characters (with different shooting patterns) to play as, but it's all fairly middle of the road stuff. Trigger Heart is also quite difficult simply because it relies on completely filling the screen with fire at times making it impossible to avoid death, and also has end of level bosses that you have to defeat up to three times before they just fuck off. It's a fairly decent shooter, but nowhere near as good as some.

Psyvariar 2
Another shooter that has you in some kind of battle suit rather than a ship, Psyvariar is probably my least favourite of all the games on the Dream Shooter disc. Graphically, it's quite good - everything is very crisp and it features interaction with the background (the first level boss smashes a hole into the ground and them you do battle whilst hurtling down in), but it's lacking that vital something. It does feature a unique 'buzz' system, where you power up your suit by glancing enemy bullets, but it all moves just a bit too lowly for my liking. Also, there are no extras - all you get is the main game, which is a bit stingy. On the plus side, the music is of a very high standard and mirrors the action brilliantly. And that's it, really. Psyvariar 2: Painfully average. Although, it's better than Trever McFur in the Crescent Galaxy on the the Jaguar, so it's got something going for it.

And if you actually read all that guff, congratulations - it was hard enough writing it all whilst still suffering from a Beck's induced hangover. Next up: Capcom Fighting Collection!

Finally, to the abhorrent cunt who stole my Shepherd's Pie (yet left the beer!!) out of the fridge: I'll find you, and I'll kill you. Make no mistake. Just incase you're, y'know, reading this. Erm...


A moomintroll said...

Thankyou venerable host, your magical trips through vomit coloured skies and shit coloured meadows are the highlight of my week. I read the whole thing and had a minor stroke near the end.

Tomleecee said...

Cheers dude, my magical trips will continue well into the future. Hopefully...!

Anonymous said...

Stop buying burned games! You can burn your own very easily. There are a few sites still up that focus on dreamcast isos. I recommend dcisozone.com

Sonny Boy said...

I was published on Teletext a couple of times under my other name of My Other Car's a Hippo.

Great games there and good mini reviews. Keep up the good work. By the way, are there any plans afoot to review any Homebrew stuff and the best places to find it?

Tomleecee said...

Anonymous - I looked at that site, paid the joining fee, downloaded some cdi images and burnt them with both Boot Dreams and Discjuggler and guess what...NONE OF THEM WORKED!!! What a fucking surprise, eh? THAT'S why I buy burned games. It avoids the inevitable disappointment because I know they'll work when I put them in my Dreamcast.

Sonny boy - thanks for the comment. Homebrew games are something I'd love to explore further, but as with my above experience, they never seem to work when I download and burn them...

The GagaMan(n) said...

There are plenty of torrent sites you don't have to pay for. Did you ever sign up to dcforums? I'm not sure if they're an good now but they've been good for me in the past. I don't tend to burn much games now, only ones I know I'd have to splash out stupid money for. Plus CD-R's ae about the same price as A4 paper now. =)

Tomleecee said...

I'm a bit thick when it comes to stuff like that GM. I don't have a good track record when it comes to downloading and burning games so I'll just leave it to people who have more patience. And a better computer.

NebachadnezzaR said...

dcforums' still around? They started to suck a lot some time ago. Anyway, there are still a lot of free sites out there with dc isos.

Tomleecee, don't give up yet. What speed are you burning at? The DC likes slower speeds, around 8x-16x. And do you always use the same brand of cd's? Consoles in general can be very picky about the brand, so try a couple of different ones.

About the software, Discjuggler is usually the best, but Alcohol 120% is not bad either, in fact it's what I've used to burn my last cd's.

nick944 said...

If you enjoyed those shmups, I really recommend Karous (also the last official Dreamcast game). Karous is so far my favorite shmup, it has cell shaded graphics and you have three weapons that you can level up. I was actually able to get it really cheap (for a late DC shmup) only $50. Why get burned copies when you can buy the game? ;)

Caleb said...

Why even bother with Torrent sites?

I go to message boards that post links to Mega-upload and Rapidshare links.

No torrent. No payment.

For some reason they don't allow games released in recent years, but you can find most games.

And Tomleece. Just use Alcohol 120 to burn images. Download the demo and then set your computers clock back when the time period is up.

NebachadnezzaR said...

Torrent doesn't equal payment, in fact I never saw a single torrent tracker where you had to pay to sign up. Still, you're right about the rest, there are a lot of message boards with MU or RS links or even some sites with direct downloads (you have to admit, those file hosting sites can suck).

Anonymous said...

tomleecee, they didnt work for you, cuz you have no idea what you are doing