¡Hola mi amigos! I realise this post is about a week too late - but it just dawned on me that The Dreamcast Junkyard is now officially entering it's third year of existence! Wow! Who'd have guessed that three years after it's conception, the humble 'Yard would be the most powerful Dreamcast-related interweb thingy/Empire in this arm of the galaxy?!
For this reason, I would like everyone reading this right now to go to the kitchen/cellar/local Netto, pour yourself a pint of vodka/gin/paint thinner (my tipple of choice, these days) and quaff a libation to the memory of the Dreamcast and to the future of the Dreamcast Junkyard. Finished? Good. As a special birthday treat, here's a picture of a Dreamcast travel clock I found on eBay several weeks ago but then forgot about and so never got around to posting before the auction ended:
Reviewing all the officially liscensed guff that we've seen here at the 'Yard over the years (you know - the jackets, shorts, towels, watches, tissue holders, hats etc), it makes me wonder whether Sega's financial and PR teams were actually run by Baldrick from Blackadder (above left, yesterday). Picture the scene:
INT. SEGA BOARD ROOM. SEVERAL JAPANESE BUSINESSMEN AND A MEDIEVAL IDIOT SIT AROUND A LARGE, HIGHLY POLISHED TABLE WHILST THE WALLS ARE ADORNED WITH DREAMCAST PROMOTIONAL POSTERS AND AN IMPRESSIVE CITYSCAPE CAN BE VIEWED THROUGH THE FULL LENGTH WINDOWS
Shoichiro Irimajiri: Right people, let's hear your strategy for world domination
Baldrick: I have a cunning plan, sir. It involves mass producing Dreamcast branded swimming shorts and alarm clocks. If my predictions are correct, Dreamcast domination is guaranteed
Shoichiro Irimajiri: Fuckin' mint - right, lets wrap this up and get down the pub. I'm buying
Anyhow, after my recent adventures in trying to download and burn my own games (something I failed at spectacularly, even though I can't actually see what I did wrong - I followed the instructions down to the letter and wasted TWO packs of high quality CD-Rs*), I went with my tail between my legs and aquired more games off one of our esteemed long-time supporters. Now, some say his favourite meal is carpet-tack and drawing pin pizza and others claim to have seen him at the controls of United 93 before it ploughed into a field in Pennsylvania. All we know is he's called The Sti...erm...Gary**. And here are the fruits of my loins of purchasing stuff (hmmm, not sure if that works. Ah well.):
Capcom Vs SNK 2
Oh. My. God. I'm by no means a beat 'em up fan - especially when it comes to the 2D variety; indeed the last one I actually bought at full price was X-Men: Children of the Atom on the fucking Saturn, and that must be about 15 years ago now...but this is simply awesome. I hate to say it, but I am what would probably be considered a 'newbie' when it comes to 2D beat 'em ups like this. Never held a Neo Geo pad and never played an SNK game before either, but after sampling the delights on offer here I can truly appreciate the appeal. For a start, the presentation is possibly the best on the DC - I'm talking DVD interactive menu style here, and the gameplay is unbelievable. The roster of playable characters is fucking ma-husive and features all the old favorites from the Street Fighter canon, as well as a shit-load of ones you might have read about in Sega Saturn Magazine but never had the cash to be able to sample (King of Fighters, I'm talking to you). And don't get me started on the fantastically camp announcer, who is possibly the gayest in-game voice over dude since Guy Smilie agreed to commentate for Ridge Racer. Oh, and the post fight faux news reports are quality too...I could go on forever. Quite simply, this is possibly the best 2D fighter I've ever played. But there's more...
Marvel Vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
Holy Christ's undead corpse on toast! This is even better than Capcom Vs SNK 2! It's got Jill Valentine in it! At this point, I must apologize for my ignorance and total denial that the 2D beat 'em up genre even existed. I have been living in the gaming closet, clearly. Last time I disclosed my virginity when it comes to shooters - this time my virginity in fighters. The shame is unbearable, people. Moving swiftly back the MvC2, gameplay features the ability to assemble a team of three familiar characters (granted - something you can also do in Capcom Vs SNK 2) and then use their individual special attacks, combining them into one humungous super-attack powerful enough to level a continent, nay a planet. All of the familiar Capcom characters are here (and also a few unfamiliar ones for good measure), as well as the usual Marvel ones too (the X-Men etc), but its the general pick-up-and-play nature of the game that made me fall instantly in love with it. The presentation is simply awesome (the music is amazing), and the selection of playable characters is inspired (as mentioned, you can play as Resident Evil's Jill Valentine; Wolverine; Spiderman; Venom; Strider and even Mega Man (who you would think would be invincible...))...what's not to love about the Marvel vs Capcom 2? Dazzling, in every sense of the word.
Power Stone 2
Everyone's favourite early DC game, Power Stone was a 3D beat 'em up with a difference - you could run around freely within the stage, pick up weapons and the titular 'power stones' and dish out some serious cans of whup ass in full-blown polygonal glory. Power Stone 2 ups the ante by several folds, adding such delights as a four player mode (an aspect missing from the original that SERIOUSLY damaged my Dreamcast's appeal recently), bizarre side-scrolling single player stages and a horse-box full of new characters and weapons. In layman's term, Power Stone 2 is basically more of the same, but with 4 characters battling to the death rather than just two. This may sound like a bonus on paper (screen), but in reality it's about as confusing as that sudoku puzzle in the Metro (erm...I'm thick). You can barely see where your character is at times and you're constantly being attacked and then told (courtesy of big flashing arrows) to run or jump to a new area of the level. What was wrong with smashing someone's face through a wall ala DOA2, to reveal a new arena? Here, you have to outrun Indiana Jones style boulders, mid-bout, just to carry on your scrap! Don't get get me wrong - Powerstone 2 is a wicked fighter, and the absolute pinnacle of pissed-up four player gaming 'mayhem'...but it just gets too complicated for it's own good at times. The twat.
Alien Front Online
The premise here is cooler than Samuel L. Jackson locked in a meat freezer in the local branch of Farm Foods. Earth as been overrun by hideous alien invaders who have set up camp in our major cities. You are a rookie tank commander who is tasked with blasting the shit out of said alien scum and allowing the druggies, chavs and benefit scrounging single mothers to move back into the decrepit inner city slums once they're cleared. It's called 'democracy,' people. Anyhow, you get to enforce this notion by driving a hoofing great tank through E.T.'s newly acquired living room and unloading a 40 Lb shell into his face with extreme prejudice. Alien Front Online essentially plays like a tank-based version of Spawn: In The Demon's Hand. The levels at first appear to be massive open-plan cityscapes, full of destructible tower blocks, but in reality are rather small, enclosed arenas. The controls are also rather annoying - the strafe command is ever-so-slightly Red Dog-esque and overly cumbersome meaning you'll be blasted by alien tanks more often than you should - and you can't turn the turret and body of the tanks independently...but the graphics are fairly decent and the music is rousing so I'm not going to be too harsh. Obviously, as the name suggests, Alien Front Online was originally intended to be played over t'interweb with teams of humans battling teams of aliens for global domination. Alas, as with most online DC titles these days, the servers now presumably lie unloved and AIDs ridden in a gutter in Dehli. Sigh.
Demolition Racer: No Exit
You remember Demolition Derby, right?! That ancient PS game where you smashed cars into each other in an attempt to bed the opposing redneck's teeth into their dashboard? Yeah? Cool. Demolition Racer is a game that follows the same template, albeit with vastly superior graphics. Apparently a port of an older PSX title, the first thing you may notice about Demolition Racer is its outstanding soundtrack. Whilst today's games (most notably those released by EA) often feature soundtracks by real-life bands, back in the day it was quite unheard of (for the first, see crap top-down shooter Loaded), and that's why Demolition Racer's is so unique. Granted, the bands on show are fairly obscure ('Cirrus' and 'Coffee Shop Boys' to name but two), but their tunes are really rather good and fit the mood of the game perfectly. Unlike that hideous creation blaring out during the first stage of Sonic Adventure 2. Rolling Around at the Speed of Sound, indeed. So, it's a redneck simulator where you can race against other cars and smash into each other to earn points; or you can take part in a proper destruction derby in a 'bowl' and, erm, smash into each other to earn points. It differs from Destruction Derby in that the tracks are strewn with power-ups and the like, and the damage models are quite basic considering it's whole focus is on destruction...but it's good fun and like I said, the soundtrack rocks. Good stuff overall. Why it didn't get a PAL release I'll never know, but it may have something to do with the above Baldrick situation.
NOW FOLLOWS A BBC*** PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:
*Please don't post any comments about my buying burned games, downloading ISOs, Discjuggler, or calling me a fucking idiot/shit-eater/retard/cum-guzzling bollock fondler etc. I did everything right and followed all the instructions at (the rather good) dcisozone.com site, but nothing I downloaded and burnt using either the aforementioned Discjuggler or Bootdreams would run in my DC. Again - I did nothing wrong. And just to emphasise the point, I've downloaded and burnt shit before and it worked perfectly. Don't hate the playa - hate the GAME, people. And if you must ignore this heartfelt plea, have the cojones not to post as 'anonymous.' That way, I can find out where you live, slip in through an open window at 3.15am on Christmas Morning and slit your fucking throat with my Soul Reaver. Cough. I would also like to add that, yes, the stuff that you can download obviously works for many, many people - it just didn't for me.
**Apologies if you're not familiar with Top Gear. That paragraph will have made no sense whatsoever.
***Not the real BBC, you understand.
And on that note, it's nearly Christmas, so I'm off to battle my way through the crowds of Primark-clad zombies in Woolworths to get some vastly reduced pick 'n' mix for my Xmas dinner. Oh, and spare a thought for these two poor bastards:
Yep, it's Woolie & Worth. Who's thinking of them during this festive financial crisis?