Dreamcast Notepads Finally Ship

We first mentioned the Dreamcast notepads a few months ago and several delays have come and gone since then...but - huzzah! - they've finally shipped! My notepad arrived today, along with my Sega Saturn pad and a free gift to apologise for the delay from the retailing website (in my case, the retailer was Yellow Bulldog). Quite ironic that the free gift was a PS4 card holder, but I'll let that slide. So, how does the pad measure up? Well for starters it's quite a lot smaller than I thought it would be, being roughly the same size and shape as a Dreamcast game case and is notably (heh!) smaller than the gargantuan Saturn pad...but in all honesty it appears to be a high quality item and looks about at authentic as a notepad designed to look like a defunct games console possibly ever could do.

Review: Dreamcast Collector for iOS

The other day I was messing around on my new iPad thingy and came across one of those 'apps' that the cool kids are known to play around with, and I thought it was worthy of a mention innit. Excuse me - I appear to have slipped into 'youth mode' for a moment there. We've previously looked at something similar here at the 'Yard (see Dream Collection), but Dreamcast Collector by PureGaming/Pieterjan Vandegaer is a paid application for iOS which does exactly what it says on the tin - it's a collection tracker for you iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. On firing the app up, you are presented with a long list on the left of the screen that shows thumbnails of the box art for most of the US and PAL releases (there are 276 games listed in the app). You are then encouraged to tap the icons for the games you have and can enter ownership criteria such as whether you have a complete game, or a copy sans manual or case. It's fairly straight forward and the games are all listed in alphabetical order. 

Dreamcast Collector is the must-have reference app for every Sega Dreamcast enthusiast. This app serves as a reference for every Dreamcast game ever released. Keep track of your own game collection and even keep a wanted list.
 - PureGaming.org

Let It Snow

So, it's almost Christmas once again. Hard to believe there's been 9 of these disgusting, capitalist-driven things since the 'Yard started eh? We'll be celebrating 10 years this time in 2015...but until that glorious and momentous occasion arrives - it's business as usual here at the multiverse's inter-dimensional headquarters of all things even remotely Dreamcast related. Being vaguely 'in charge' of a privately-funded government black-ops organisational quango such as this does have it's perks. I've got a swivel chair in my vast oblong office, a desk, and a bust of Dogs Bower made from recycled Hassy cans. Oh, and a nice free-standing set of Argos' cheapest balsa wood shelves upon which I rest all of my Dreamcast paraphernalia. The only problem is that the weight of said items has somewhat bowed the high-quality beams to the point that the whole thing looks like some form of ridiculous wooden hammock; in which a monster constructed from blue plastic lies like the bloated corpse of a beluga whale. At least the company car is decent - it's basically Slash's cab from Crazy Taxi 2. The only thing is, one of the rules stipulates that I must drop off a group of rappers at a recording studio and Crazy Hop over at least one house during my daily commute. Starts to grate after a while.

Toy Racer Dial-Up Connection In The Works

You may have read recently that the online-only multiplayer title Toy Racer is the latest Deamcast game to be dragged out from under a rock and plonked back onto the interwebs (or whatever it's called). And you'd have read right. The Junkyard was recently contacted by Bob Dobbs, a member of the popular Dreamcast-Talk forums, who confirmed that the game's servers are well and truly back online and running well. Unfortunately for most of us, you can only get your online fix of Toy Racer if you own a highly sought-after and expensive broadband adaptor for your Dreamcast, but those clever chaps are also working on a method that will allow you to hook up via your trusty old 33k (56k in the US) dial-up modem. Huzzah! Here's an info-burst from the man himself:

Dreamcast-Talk (International) & Dreamcast-br (Brazil) has yet another game back online. This one is Toy Racer. For the first time, the original game server software has been released (thanks to petter3k who contacted No Cliche, the programmers of Toy Racer). Dreamcast-br has already had a server running, but we do not know if their server is the original or not (Igor Isaias Banlian was kind enough to allow us the IP addy to play). In both cases, the game only connects via BBA (dial-up wants to go to Dreamarena). Currently, DC-Talk is working on a boot-disc to allow the game GD-ROM to use dial-up.

To note, DC-Talk was where the "Netopia" method of connecting your DC to the internet without a PC of any kind. It has much less latency than the troublesome DC-PC server set-up. I use it, which is purely hardware driven (developed by brourke228). The other is the and the PC-DC windows/VMware server portion to work with the Ryochan Linux PC-DC server method (brourke228 of DC-Talk developed the Windows portion).

Here's the science bit:
Brazil IP:
TCP Port: 2048
UDP Port: 2049

As stated, the guys at Dreamcast-Talk are working on a boot-disc to get Dreamcast gamers up and running with a dial-up connection, and are currently ironing out some issues with the remnants of Dream Arena at present. For a full guide on how to get online with Toy Racer right now though, follow this link; and be sure to check the DreamcastBr Facebook group for further updates.

A Maken X-mas

The Yard is definitely getting in the festive spirit right now. The non-denominational decorations are being liberally deposited on the towers of discarded Sonic Shuffles. The broken down yellowed cases from abandoned Dreamcasts are getting a lick of paint. And, most importantly, the annual dump truck of hard liquor is pulling in as I type. I tell you, there ain't no party like a Junkyard party!

The Odd Case of Monaco Online

We recently featured the Dreamcast's stable of Formula 1 racers here at the 'Yard, and it was concluded that F1 World Grand Prix 2 is probably the best recreation of the motor sport to be found on Sega's final system. However, there was a glaring omission from that list, and only now have I managed to acquire the absent title for analysis. What is this mysterious and largely unknown F1 racer? Why, Racing Simulation Monaco Grand Prix 2 Online of course! Is that the worst name ever for a racing game? It's definitely a contender in my humble opinion - try saying that to an automated cheats line after a few pints and you'll see why. Do cheats lines even exist anymore? Another mystery that needs to be solved...but first, lets get back on track (pun intended). The original Racing Simulation was released quite early in the Dreamcast's life and was one of the first games I played, as it was bundled as part of the Dream On Volume 1 demo disk. A fairly playable and nice-looking F1 game, Racing Simulation is a game that seems to have suffered something of an identity crisis - just looking at the box, manual and the GD-rom you can see that it has multiple names: it's either Monaco Grand Prix: Racing Simulation; Racing Simulation 2: Monaco Grand Prix...or a weird bastardisation of the two:
Did they forget the '2' on the cover?
These odd naming conventions aside, Monaco is pretty playable and has quite a lot going on with it's arcade and simulation modes as well as a 'retro' option where you can race vehicles of yesteryear. It appears that Ubisoft weren't done with the Racing Simulation engine though as they went on to develop F1 Racing Championship (published by Video System, of F1 World Grand Prix fame) which is essentially the same game but with an official license. Quite why Ubisoft didn't publish F1 Racing Championship themselves, I'm not really sure...but to allow their main F1 developing rivals to publish their game is just plain odd. The story gets even stranger though, as in 2001 Ubisoft released the game again under the mouthful moniker mentioned in the opening paragraph: Racing Simulation Monaco Grand Prix 2 Online. Talk about flogging a dead horse.

As you can probably tell from the name, Online is basically the first game (which is actually a sequel itself...damn this is confusing) but with added online functionality allowing players to race each other on any of the real-world circuits. As far as I can tell, Online was only ever released as a PAL title - which is quite strange in itself, seeing as we only got 33k modems stuck to our Dreamcasts - and upon playing it myself, I quickly deduced that it is indeed pretty much identical to the first (second) game but with minor graphical changes (the clouds in the sky are more pronounced in Online, for example - see below) and a modified front end, with the added online lobby options plonked in. Speaking of the front end, Online retains the decidedly 'old school' art style that the offline game used, complete with awkwardly-proportioned humanoids and background graphics that look like they were copied from a GeoCities ghost site last updated in 1996.

Below are a selection of images I grabbed from the two games; the shots on the right are from Online, the ones on the left from Racing Simulation 2 (or whatever it's called). As stated, details on the Online game are very scant but I managed to discover that the servers were finally switched off in 2003. It would have been cool to know if the game could support a full grid of 22 cars all being driven by real gamers...but if Online even sold that many copies, I'd be very surprised.
Super Mario makes a cameo in both games if you drive badly.
Did you ever manage to play Monaco Online...online? If so, how was it? Let us know in the comments.

Fantasy Stars

For me, the very mention of the word 'fantasy' when referring to genre instantly conjures images of semi-naked, sword-wielding warriors rippling with muscle; foreboding castles perched precariously atop crumbling mountains; and hoards of ogres and dwarves. Oh, and dragons. Lot of dragons. Mainly belching fire and soaring through the night sky looking for towns and villages to raze to the ground for their own sordid amusement. I wouldn't call myself a fan of the genre as such, but being someone who likes to occasionally remove myself from the boredom and drudgery of reality, I have dipped into the world of fantasy in the past. I've read a few books (mainly Tolkien's works), seen a few movies (mainly based on...erm...Tolkien's works) and even played a few board games (mainly based on Dungeons & Dragons), so while I would hardly call myself an expert in the subject, I do have at least a little bit of an idea what 'fantasy' is all about.

Total Control Dreamcast Preview

Total Control was a fairly short-lived multi-format magazine from Rapide Publishing that I was a reader of back in the late 90s. Unlike today, back then there were a whole host of multi-format mags to choose from in the newsagents and I spent a hell of a lot of money on games magazines simply because browsing the internet for news, reviews and pokes just wasn't an option. I do recall having the internet at home, but it was slow as hell, dial-up and my mum used to go mental at me and my brother if we used it without her express permission (which we never got), because any time we spent online got added to the phone bill. We actually tried to hide the modem under the couch one time so the old battle-axe wouldn't hear it dialling the number for Virgin Net...but she always heard it and came thundering down the stairs like that maid in the Tom & Jerry cartoons. Funnily enough, screaming "Thomas!" while she did so, ash cascading from the Silk Cut king size clutched between her talons. Ah...those were the days.