Admittedly they probably should have released it a bit later as the games available on day one weren't exactly all too exciting: they got Virtua Fighter 3tb (early versions of this game had some nasty bugs), Godzilla Generations (shit), July (shit), and PenPen (not bad, but not a system seller). That's it. Also, stocks were limited as NEC struggled to get the graphics chip produced in time, and it took at least a month for some great games to show up (when Sonic adventure was released that December, it was even buggier than the version we got, hence the re-release "Sonic Adventure International"). These reasons might be why the Dreamcast didn't quite click with the Japanese quite like the Saturn did (everything over there appears to be opposite land).
With this in mind it was a smart move of Sega to release the system in the West almost a year later, as it gave them plenty of time to prepare what could quite possibly be the best launch line up of games ever when it finally arrived in America, with the likes of Power Stone, Soul Calibur, Sega Rally 2 and House of the Dead 2 all there at day one, rather than a few months down the road.
Still, while the Dreamcast wasn't quite so hot in Japan as it was for a short while over here, there has been a small hardcore gamers market for it for many years after it's supposed shelf-death. Last year we saw two final retail releases in the form of Trigger Heart Exelica and Karous, and we also saw the debut for German-based indie publisher Redspotgames, who released Last Hope last year and has just released Wind and Water Puzzle Battles, just in time for this anniversary.
A pretty crummy way of celebrating this, but I did have a few things planned for today/tomorrow/even this week that I won't be able to now thanks to my computer conking out, including a ten minue long tribrute video featuring around 100 games, and my Rummage video for Wind and Water. Oh well, I'll be able to get back to work on them soon. =)
The articles cover the history of the Dreamcast, from it's Japanese launch, to it's current status, including Wind and Water Puzzles. It name-checks the best and worst software releases from 1998 to 2008, the GamesTM top ten Dreamcast releases, how the Wii is the Dreamcast 2, a profile of Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue and information on homebrew and independent releases.
All in all it celebrates the Dreamcast's legacy, it's relevence in 2008 and gives it the props it's due.
Not since RetroGamer's Dreamcast special have we seen a contemporary publication show the Dreamcast so much love.
Buy it read it and revel in it!
I found a new still in shrink wrap copy of NBA 2K for the Dreamcast in my local grocery store the other day. $1. Not a scarce game by stretch of the imagination but an interesting find considering the location.
Other stores in the chain used to rent games and videos. So they got a bunch of PS1 games and Dreamcast games in to sell for $2 or less.
Have you ever found some Dreamcast stuff in a strange location?
Take this brand new brand new MegaTokyo strip where Fred Gallagher has a zombie dinosaur eating a Dreamcast console.
They are getting harder to find, aren't they?
It's amazing how many people utilize the Dreamcast as an icon. I won't dredge up any of the many many examples I have seen the in the past but I will make mention of new ones I happen to see.
So Wind and Water Puzzle Battles showed up in the letter box this morning, so I promptly did a video of the excitement of getting a brand new Dreamcast game, showing the game's highly professional packaging as well as a quick look at the game running on the system. I'm very impressed by just how slick the presentation of both the manual and the game itself is, the Yuan Works team (all two of them!) are evidentially very passionate when it comes to making games, I hope we see more from them in the near future.
So my first impressions on the game? The story mode is the game's strongest point: you get a Super mario 3 like hub map where you'll bump into characters to chat to (two of which are based on the Yuan brothers themselves) and plenty of different mission based stages to play, that on completion open up more of the map. There is also a shop to buy items from and great little mini games to be found. The dialog between the characters in a great laugh: the game's story is based around Amy who has been deemed the task of teaching everyone how to play the game despite being a bit of a air head, while the game is still being developed around you by the Yuan brothers. One particularly amusing moment was coming across a little kid who was on his way to a RPG school, holding a giant, Final Fantasy VII like sword. There is also a arcade mode and a very clever puzzle mode where you only get one or two moves to clear all the blocks.
As for the gameplay, so far I'm finding it quite challenging at say the least. It's rather simple to get into, but deceivingly tricky once you start to get deeper into it, especially when facing CPU opponents. The game requires very quick reflexes and the ability to manipulate the blocks you swift about very strategically. Personally I tend to hold my own pretty well in puzzle games but in this case I'm getting my arse whupped. I still haven't even beaten the first opponent you need to face in the story mode yet after quite a few attempts, he just manages to throw me out of the game in seconds with his super quick maneuvers.
So at the moment I'm struggling to keep up with it but I'm going to stick with it and see if i can get better, so this game may even be able to pull me away from LittleBigPlanet for a bit, so that's something. When I said in the video the review will be by the end of the week it'll probably be more like next week as I want to play quite far through it first.
You may remember the enigmatic Gary from sporadic posts here at the 'Yard over the last couple of years. We first encountered him through his enormous DC collection, and then again when we managed to prise a copy of DC Half-Life from his grip several months later. Now, he's only gone and dumped a fucking lorry load of even more amazing stuff through my letterbox...
Granted, all of the following games are CD-Rs, but for the average non-importer like me, this is probably the only way I would ever get a chance to sample the delights of the following gems without paying an arm and a leg for them on eBay:
A favourite of online gaming community UK-Rockers, 4x4 Evolution is an off-road racer that eschews the arcade stupidity of 4 Wheel Thunder in favour of a more realistic SUVs-racing around-the-countryside setting. Posh twats in tweed and carrying shotguns are, however, thankfully absent. The sheer number of real-life vehicles on offer is mind-boggling, with nearly every major 4x4 manufacturer represented by their most popular gas guzzlers. So, you get Nissans, Mitsubishis and the like jostling for position, rather than made-up monster trucks and buggies. Sweet. The game itself offers a multitude of play modes (single race, time trial etc), but the main meat of the 4x4 Evolution experience is to be found in the Career mode in which you start out with a limited bank balance (a bit like mine after that fucking MOT) and must buy a vehicle, kit it out and then enter championships.
Just like in Sega GT, you can only enter certain championships with certain vehicle classes so this means you need to juggle which trucks you buy and upgrade. The actual gameplay is also about as far removed from 4 Wheel Thunder as you could possibly get - there are no nitro boosts or time limits here, instead the majority of the races are of the point-to-point variety and set on large open plan circuits where you have to follow an arrow to the next checkpoint. Because of this open-plan nature, it isn't always essential that you stick to the beaten track, indeed the AI vehicles usually don't and this leads to some great races through wooded areas and through rivers etc.
Graphically, Evo's vehicle models are pretty sweet although the environments can feel a little sparse at times and the game engine shudders occasionally. This minor niggle aside, 4x4 Evo is a solid racer and the fact that it never got an official PAL release remains something of a mystery to me.
Project Justice: Rival Schools 2
Project Justice is a game I actually owned in it's official guise many moons ago when the DC still had a pulse. I got it from Gamestation for about a tenner and boy, do I wish I'd held on to it now - it regularly appears on eBay for upwards of £100. Alas, my copy went when I (somewhat foolishly, with hindsight) traded in my DC set-up for a PS2 and a copy of NHL 2001. For shame. Getting hold of this replacement copy through Gary then, was like welcoming back an old friend. Project Justice is a 3D beat 'em up by those masters of the 2D genre - Capcom, and rather ingeniously features a storyline like something out of an episode of Saved by the Bell.
Yep, the game features characters who are all pupils at different schools and throws them all together for one almightly playground scrap, although these fights are nothing like the ones we had at my school - there are no endless headlocks or rolling around on the football pitch here, people. No, instead the kids from Justice High are all masters of kung-fu and have the ability to throw balls of fire with their eyes - a skill that would undoubtedly have resulted in multiple detentions when I were a lad. The fights are similar to those in Marvel Versus Capcom 2 in that they allow multiple characters to be called upon to lend a hand should you find your ass being handed to you, and so you choose a team of 3 fighters to wade into battle with and can use them to gang up on an adversary depending on whether or not you have the required power in your little whup-ass meter.
Nicely, the characters all represent various (Jap & US) student-themed stereotypes such as sporty jocks and science geeks etc (if it were based on UK themes, they'd all be drunk chavs and pregnant 14-year-old slags, no doubt), whilst the battle stages are all similarly school related in some way e.g. classrooms, gyms, playgrounds etc. Project Justice is very easy to pick up and play, so if your beat 'em skillz consist simply of mashing all the buttons with sausage fingers (like mine) you can get just as much enjoyment out of it as an expert. Aesthetically, it's not as good as Dead or Alive 2 (what is?!), but the variety and creativity of the stages and characters, coupled with the outlandishness of the special moves on offer more than make up for it.
Tokyo Extreme Racer 2
The original Tokyo Extreme Racer is a bit of a mixed bag really. Whilst the graphics are fairly decent, the gameplay was as deep as a puddle on Mercury: Race around one dull highway challenging boy racers to a duel. Repeat to fade. Enter Tokyo Extreme Racer 2, a game that offers more of the same, only with vastly improved graphics, more cars, and a slightly bigger stretch of highway. Like Project Justice, Extreme Racer 2 is a game that occasionally pops up in it's PAL guise on eBay for a hideous amount of money and is also a game I've owned previously in it's official form. The basic premise of Tokyo Extreme Racer 2, much like it's prequel, is to drive along the highways and byways of a neon-lit Tokyo searching for 'rivals' to race against.
When you eventually find someone willing to chuck their copy of the highway code out of the window, you drive up behind them and flick the high beams at them. This initiates the actual race, where two power bars appear at the top of the screen and whoever gets the furthest ahead has the least damage done to their bar. If your opponent gets too far ahead of you - you lose, and likewise if you leave the slow old twat in your dust you get the spoils of victory. As with most racers, the career or 'Quest' mode in Extreme Racer rewards your wins with credits with which you can upgrade your vehicle with body parts or engine/handling improvements. I suppose this game is pretty unique in the way that it pits racers against each other in a way that most other racers don't, but the repetitive nature of the tracks and the virtually non-existent music slightly let it down. Where it definitely shines though, is in the graphics department. The car models are some of the best on the DC - and while the cars aren't officially licensed you can generally tell what it is you're driving simply because the models are so authentic-looking.
Sadly, there are no damage models, but for a game with this degree of arcade slant, realistic damage would probably been more of a detraction than a bonus. In a nutshell, Extreme Racer 2 is an original and awesome looking game that is let down slightly by sub-par sound and some simplistic gameplay aspects - but overall, a decent little racer.
And so concludes part two of the documenting of my recent games haul. There's much more to come, dear enlightened reader, so keep checking for updates - and in the mean time, if you want to get in touch with Gary and take advantage of his massive stock of games for sale, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for a full list of titles.
You know that old adage about the Devil disguising himself as something nice in order to appear more enticing? Well, meet the Devil. In the form of this little cunt:
Yes, I bought Super Magnetic Neo off eBay for the princely sum of £3.00 or thereabouts, and was expecting a colourful yet slightly childish romp through candy-cane worlds populated by jelly babies. And to a certain degree, I was right. You see, visually, Super Magnetic Neo is like an uber acid trip, helped on it's way by a couple of lines of coke, a bottle of JD and a punnet of magic mushrooms. You play as the titular Neo - a smurf-hued robot with a magnet for a bonce. An evil baddie bloke has taken over the world, or something, and populated it with similarly evil robots (although, I don't remember the Terminator just mincing backwards and forwards, minding his own business like the evil robots do here) and it's up to you to smash them to bits and restore order.
However, to accomplish your mission, you must utilise the aforementioned cranial magnet. How? Well, it has the ability to create positive and negative polarity fields and by creating these fields in certain places you can propel yourself off platforms, grab swinging ropes and, obviously, destroy baddies. And by reading that, and looking at the amazing graphics in the poor quality screen shots here, you be forgiven for thinking that Super Magnetic Neo was a platform fan's wet dream. Which it would be, was it not for the immense difficulty level. A wolf in sheep's clothing if ever there was one. And just to nail it in even further, Super Magnetic Neo makes MDK 2 seem like a walk in the park.
Everywhere you turn there are pits and baddies that kill you instantly with the slightest touch, and in some areas you must jump from swinging rope to swinging rope to platform to platform to swinging rope...where the polarities change and you have to get the right one...or it's game over. Hair tearingly annoying? You bet your ass.
As such, I haven't actually got past the second world at the time of writing this guff. However, seeing as the graphics are so mind-bendingly good and the story so completely off the wall, I'm prepared to stick my neck out and recommend this to neurotics, people with pace-makers and inmates of high-security medical wards only. Have fun!