Immortals. Well, almost.

Well hello! Some good news arrived in my inbox today. It’s not really Dreamcast related, but it’s related to this, the hallowed Dreamcast Junkyard, so by tenuous association I suppose it is Dreamcast related. Kind of. Enough preamble though! Basically, a few months ago I got wind of a project being undertaken by the British Library, a project called the UK Web Archive which is trying to archive websites which may, in years to come, provide a valuable snapshot of life in the UK during the ‘digital revolution.’ Now, I know that we here at the DCJY are an international line-up, but I reckon with our blue-toned hues and PAL-centric banter, we are as good a games-related entry into the Video Games heritage category as anyone, what with our own irreverent brand of humour-tinged yet informative drivel. Cough. So anyway, what I'm trying to say is that the UK Web Archive accepted my nomination for the DCJY to be inducted into, and as such we shall live on forever like Gods of the interweb. More info? Of course! Go here.

The real reason for today’s post isn’t the immortalisation of our favourite Dreamcast portal though, oh no. It’s because I've got some new shit to drop off into the gaping chasm that is the ‘Yard. Four new games, to be precise. Here:

Midway’s Greatest Arcade Hits Volume 1

Midway. Remember them? Ah...halcyon days. Hydro Thunder, the San Francisco Rush series, Cruis’n USA...actually, forget the last one. And San Francisco Rush (although Rush 2 & 2049 weren't bad). Hydro Thunder was balls out awesome though. But before all that outrageousness, Midway was a powerhouse that released some of the most important games of the 1980s. And with Midway’s Arcade Hits Volume 1, you can play them all...well, 6 of them, on your god-damned Dreamcast! The games themselves (Defender, Defender 2, Robotron, Joust, Sinistar and Bubbles) are all pretty well emulated (I’d imagine, having never played the arcade versions of any of them), and Defender 2 in particular is a pretty fun game. I used to have Defender 2000 on the Jaguar so I knew how it played...and it’s still great even today. Bit infuriating at times...but not as infuriating as Flashback. The game that made me throw my only Jaguar joypad at the wall and smash it to smithereens, which then resulted in me having to order a new pad from some US mail order company and wait a month for it to get delivered. Damn you, Flashback. Damn you Conrad Hart and your inability to fucking roll under a barrier when I tell you too
Check out the particles on that! Particles!
Going back to Midway’s Greatest Arcade Hits Volume 1 though, there is one criticism I have with it: the presentation. I don’t mean with the actual games themselves – I expected them to look like ass compared to the average ‘proper’ DC game...but my God the menus are awful! I seem to recall Namco Museum on PSX having some kind of 3D arcade that you walked around in first person, and you could select which game you wanted to play by approaching the cabinet (am I imagining that?!), but here you just get a static screen showing an insultingly low-res bitmap of the arcade machines in a row. You just have to move the ‘highlight’ between the machines and press start. Jesus Midway – talk about bargain basement production values! If there was anyone still working for Midway I’d probably send them a strongly-worded letter about that. But yeah, the games themselves are all perfectly acceptable if you’re after some nostalgia. Apparently there’s a second edition of Midway’s Greatest Arcade Hits that includes Paperboy and Spy Hunter. Intriguing. Rumours of a third edition featuring War Gods and WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game are, thankfully, unconfirmed.

NFL Blitz 2000

Keeping with the Midway theme, the next game is the rather bizarre NFL Blitz 2000. A strange re-imagining of American football, where the rules have been tweaked (I think/hope) to allow for a more surreal experience. I don’t know the first thing about American football other than it’s a bit like rugby and all the payers dress like they’re in Legion of Doom...and they don’t really kick the ball with their feet very much. There’s something called ‘first and down’ (so I hear) and it stops every 20 seconds for a time-out. I've seen plenty of really good films about American football – that one with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Scorpion King in it was rather good, as was the one about the guy who gets shot on the pitch...or are they the same film? I can’t remember. Speaking of American sports I don’t have a clue about but made a good movie, I watched Money Ball the other day. Jonah Hill doesn't do anything funny in it and Brad Pit isn't playing Tyler Durden, but it’s a good film. I reckon if the real-life version of NFL was like Blitz, I’d be more inclined to seek out and watch a few games – it’s full of over-the-top tackles, flaming footballs and Probably one for people who know how the game actually works, but still fairly entertaining if you persist with it.

See - 3rd and 21. Makes total sense.

NFL Quarterback Club

Urgh. More American football. But without the flaming balls. From what I can tell, NFL Quarterback club is simply a conversion of the N64 game of the same name, but because the graphics have hardly been updated (just hi-res-ified), it actually looks worse. Acclaim did some pretty impressive stuff with the N64 hardware (just look at All Star Baseball, Turok and the Extreme G series*), but all they've done with NFL QBC is take the N64 game, remove the fuzz and add a bit of extra commentary. And it shows – the graphics, while sharp, are horrible. And again, while I reiterate my complete ignorance when it comes to American football, I know what a good game looks like. Look at NFL 2K – it looks incredible compared to Quarterback Club. I can’t really comment on how it plays as a simulation of the actual sport because (yet again...sorry) I find it impenetrable...but the aesthetics appal me. Be gone, NFL Quarterback Club.
Charlie, I know how you feel

Kiss Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child

A first person shooter in which you play as members of the metal band Kiss. Is there anything more to say? I think Father K reviewed this little oddity a few years back, but what the hell – here’s another look at it. The story is pretty stupid and the manual features several introductory chapters that explain everything...but it’s a cringe inducing trip to cliché-ville in which your band arrives at a club to find it deserted...and some demon has spawned a ‘Nightmare Child’...and you have to stop it by wandering around punching and shooting demons in the face. You play as the different members of Kiss and get to do all this whilst rocking out to actual Kiss music, which is nice if you like that sort of thing. I'm more of a Motion City Soundtrack kinda guy myself, but I don’t think they released Motion City Soundtrack Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child in this dimension or any other, so I'm left wanting. Probably wouldn't feature demons either – it’d just have you wandering around punching and shooting pretentious students in ‘cool’ clothes. The graphics aren't bad in Psycho Circus and the frame rate licks along at a decent and consistent’s just that the whole game is a little boring. 

Better ring DIY SOS
The environments are a little sparse and the range of weapons is pretty limited, and compared to other DC shooters it feels a little flat (especially next to say, Outtrigger or Soldier of Fortune), but yeah – there’s nothing massively offensive about the game as a whole. Interestingly, on page 5 of the manual there’s a little diagram of a joystick called the ‘Panther XL,’ but I‘d never heard of such a device. Upon Googling it though, it appears that there was such a monstrous thing actually constructed and available to buy:
"The Wii U Tablet Controller ain't got shit...on me"

How I’d never heard of this thing, I don’t know. I looks a little cumbersome, but Take 2 Interactive obviously thought that it may improve the average gamer’s Kiss Psycho Circus experience enough to include it in the manual, and who am I to argue? Nobody, that’s who. Maybe if I had a Panther XL, I’d be raving about how great Kiss Psycho Circus is, instead of just nodding, smiling politely and then moving on to find something more interesting to do. Like make a cup of tea. Which is what I'm off to do now.

* I know these games were actually developed by Iguana...but Acclaim/Iguana...same difference.


The GagaMan(n) said...

haha oh wow, what a weird coincidence we both ended up posting a new article around the same time!

The GagaMan(n) said...

NFL Blitz is that one game that the PAL version for some reason has no title on the side, isn't it? I seem to recall one of the American football games being like that, for the whole print run I think, haha!

Tomleecee said...

It certainly is - just a blue rectangle amongst it's correctly-labelled stable-mates. What a cock-up!

Brian Chase said...

I happen to be a proud owner of a Panther Flight Stick and can attest to its ass-kickery

Tomleecee said...

Brian - If it hadn't been for that little nondescript diagram in the Psycho Circus booklet I'd still be unaware of the Panther's existence. Is that a trackball on the left? It does look like a pretty serious bit of kit...but the burning question is: can you play Sega Rally 2 with it?!

Brian Chase said...

I actually haven't tried Sega Rally 2 with it! But yes that is a trackball on the left hand side and it even lights up!!! It works incredibly well with FPS games and allows for a really unique experience that you can't find on any other console (there is a PC version of the Panther so sadly it isn't exactly Dreamcast exclusive). When I bought mine it had issues with the connection (fucking madcatz) so I haven't given it the love it deserves but when I find $40 lying around I'm going to find one that works a lot better since it is certainly worth the investment.

Brian Chase said...

Wait, scratch that, I can't find one on Amazon or E-bay. They must have gotten a lot harder to find than when I checked a few years back :( I'd love to bring it in to a tech guy just to see his jaw drop at the beautiful monstrosity (its fucking huge).

Tomleecee said...

An illuminated trackball?! Why have I never seen one of these before now?!

Caleb said...

I actually own that monstrosity of a controller.

It actually works pretty great with Quake 3!

Runhilde said...

Hadn't thought of Pycho Circus in years. Then I was looking at the local pop culture emporium for some Dreamcast supplies to get back up and running and I'm pretty sure they had some sort of multi-foot tall promo comic. Actually looking at getting something besides the default controller for my console. Lucked out and had my bro/his friend pass me 80+ games so I think I can afford to treat myself a bit. Suggestions?