, The Dreamcast Junkyard: June 2015

10th Anniversary Competition - Part Two

***Competition Now Closed!***

Part one of our 10th anniversary competition went spectacularly well. Your submissions were fantastic and really showed how much the Dreamcast still means to us all as gamers. It's time to move on though, and we're pleased to unveil your second opportunity to win one of the fabulous Dreamcast Collection vinyls kindly donated by Sega Europe.

Last time we wanted your memories, but this time we're going to test your knowledge of the Dreamcast's outstanding library. Below, you will find cropped screens from 25 of the Dreamcast's finest, worst, most common and not-so-common titles. It's a real mixed bag but the one thing linking them together is this: guess them all correct and you could win the second vinyl and find yourself rocking out to the dulcet tones of Crazy Taxi, Sonic Adventure and Space Channel 5. Well, the PSN/XBLA versions of Crazy Taxi, anyway.
A worthy prize.
A keen eye will be required here, as will an in-depth knowledge of every genre from the Dreamcast's library. Once you think you've got them all, put your answers in a numbered list and email your entry to admin@thedreamcastjunkyard.co.uk. In the likely event that we get multiple correct entries before the deadline, the winner will be drawn out of a hat - it's best to keep these things fair and simple.

What are you waiting for?! Get studying these images...

Rare Dreamcast Premiere Posters Surface On eBay

The UK launch party for the Dreamcast is the stuff of legend. I've heard many a recounted tale of booze and debauchery from industry types who were lucky enough to be invited, in some cases (rather interestingly) by means of a VMU with a 'golden ticket' attached:
Look who it is!
The event took place during the annual European Computer Trade Show (ECTS) in September 1999, where a private party was held at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square, London. The thing that makes this private launch party so interesting is that a lot of fairly (now) extremely rare merchandise was handed out to revellers. How rare? How about 'I bet you've never, ever seen these' rare? Here you go:

Developer Interview: Hucast Games' René Hellwig

Based in Germany, Hucast is quite possibly the most prolific publisher and developer of indie Dreamcast games on the planet right now. Since Sega officially abandoned the system, no other outfit has published more games and done more to keep the dream alive for those wishing to purchase new titles for their favourite white box. In our latest developer interview, we caught up with René Hellwig to discuss the latest announcements from Hucast, the appeal of the Dreamcast, and Hucast's stance on the porting of Atari Jaguar games...

DCJY: We’re pretty sure that most people reading this will know who Hucast are, but for those who maybe aren’t familiar, could you give us a bit of an insight into the history of Hucast and what you're all about?

René Hellwig: Hucast started in 2008 right after Last Hope was released for Sega Dreamcast by Redspotgames. I started this because I felt the need to make a modern shmup which was impossible to realize with the Neo Geo. The result was DUX.

Speaking of DUX, Hucast’s shmups are very well known - which shooters of yesteryear did you enjoy playing and where do you draw your inspiration from when designing a new game?

I love R-Type Delta and DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu. But a lot of retro shmups inspired me for my games. For Ghost Blade, I was also inspired by Halo 4 for the look of the game. I'm not sure if anybody would notice this but I chose a very modern sci-fi look. However, in the end I always make my own graphical style, and I hope Ghost Blade looks as unique as DUX looked in back 2009.
Ghost Blade is released in September 2015

In Search Of The Barber

The various Dreamcast advertising campaigns hold a certain fascination for me. The It's Thinking and Mr Sega/Yukawa campaigns from the US and Japan respectively were massively successful and we've looked at them in the recent past (just don't mention the Spud Dive). Before you groan 'not another advertising post' though, please bear with me. This is slightly different for reasons which will become apparent. The European advertising campaign for the Dreamcast launch was made up of several different TV and cinema adverts, but the one most people will be familiar with is this one:


The advert is known as Shave, and I'm sure you've seen it before or possibly even remember when it was shown on (European) TV and in cinemas back in that brief period in 1999/2000 when the world was gripped by Dreamcast-mania.

So let's break it down. Robbie Williams' Let Me Entertain You blares, rather appropriately from the speakers as a bunch of fresh-faced Foreign Legion recruits are lead into the barbers studio of some form of military installation. Three barbers await, and are labelled as players one, two and three and then quickly set about engaging in a battle to see who can shave their conscript's head the fastest. Player Two comes out on top as the guard looks on, the younger competitors beaten by the experience of their older adversary. Victorious, the character whom we will henceforth refer to as The Barber, gives a wry smile to the camera as the story comes to a close. It's not a bad advert by any means, and sets the scene perfectly - the Dreamcast was all about multi-player competition after all, what with all the online gubbins. There are some negative points, such as the way no game footage at all was used (and likewise in the other advert from this campaign entitled Buoy) but that's a different story.

Now, I did do a post fairly recently where I looked briefly at the (slightly xenophobic) European campaigns, but this time I want to focus solely on something that has been bugging me for a while: just who is the winning barber in this advert? For a very short period between 1999 and 2000, this gentleman's face was plastered all over TV and cinema screens; a poster showing him posing with a barber's chair and hair clippers could be found in pretty much every games shop in the land, and the vast majority of Dreamcast games came with a 'coming soon' pamphlet in the rear compartment with this guy all over them. But do a Google search for 'Dreamcast barber' or words to that effect...and do you know what you'll find? Nothing. Not a bean, other than a few images like this - most of which come from this very site:
So the question remains: just who is the actor who portrays The Barber? What is his name? Did he appear in any other productions and what did he make of his five minutes of fame? In the famous words of Sherlock Holmes, the game is afoot...

Pictures Speak A Thousand Words

Yes, we've already posted this on Facebook and Twitter but it seems a shame not to post it here too. Created with VMU tool, some people have misconstrued this to mean that we think the recently-announced Shenmue 3 should come to Dreamcast. Not so - what this means is that if the Dreamcast had been the success it so rightly deserved to be, Yu Suzuki would probably have finished the Shenmue trilogy on the Dreamcast as originally intended. Feel free to share, re-blog, whatever. It's a great image, even if we say so ourselves.

10th Anniversary Competition Part One: We Have A Winner!

Firstly, we have to thank everybody who entered the first part of our competition to win one of three limited edition Dreamcast Collection vinyl records. They really are lovely items to have in your collection, and we must also thank Sega Europe for giving us the opportunity to run this little contest. Alas, there can be only one winner per competition and it was ridiculously tough to choose who should get the prize. The vast majority of the entries were fantastic tales of how you first got into the Dreamcast, and many a Christmas morning or late night gaming session of yore was recounted. And for this, we thank you from the bottom of our beeping VMUs. It's truly amazing just how entwined the Dreamcast was (and still is) in a lot of peoples' gaming life.

We can only give one of these vinyls away though and we will showcase the winning entry at the bottom of this post. But before we get to that, here are a selection of some of the best entries that unfortunately weren't the winner. If we could give everybody who entered one of these vinyls, we most certainly would...
We asked you to tell us what the Dreamcast meant to you, and you responded magnificently. To be fair, we knew you would - a sharp mind, intelligence and creativity are all hallmarks of the typical Dreamcast fan!

Developer Interview: Retro Sumus' Carlos Oliveros

Spanish indie developer Retro Sumus came to the fore in late 2014 when new Dreamcast-bound visual novel AMEBA was announced. Since then, work has been progressing steadily behind the scenes and we decided it was about time that we uncovered just what Retro Sumus is all about. In this exclusive interview with lead writer Carlos Oliveros, we find out a little more about the team, AMEBA and discover that there's another extremely promising (and previously unannounced) Dreamcast game on the horizon...

DCJY: Could you tell us a little bit about Retro Sumus? Who makes up the team and what are your roles?

Carlos Oliveros: Retro Sumus is both our name and our tag line, so to speak. It's Latin for "we are back," or "we are retro" which in my humble opinion makes for a nice Twitter hashtag, don't you think?

#Yes

Right now, the team is made up of four fine gentlemen: Daniel aka Chui, Abel, Juanjo and yours truly. Chui is like Cypher from the X-men and understands any computer language you throw at him, or like Cypher from the Matrix now that I think of it, as he seems to see the world in code. Abel is our 3D designer and the owner of the brain behind Project Q (we'll get to that). Juanjo is in charge of the sound department, and I'm the main writer/translator and the communication guy.

For our first announced project AMEBA, we're recruiting a 2D artist and two more screenwriters to help us put everything together, as it's quite a big story for such a small team.
The original AMEBA teaser artwork
But you have known and/or worked with each other for a while now, haven't you?

In short, yes. I was one of the translators for Watermelon's Pier Solar and, after the Mega Drive release and the fans asking for a PC and a Dreamcast conversion, I introduced Chui to Tulio from Watermelon, as they were looking for a capable programmer to port the original Mega Drive code to more modern platforms. Being the awesome fella that he is, and the creator (or co-creator) of so many emulators and tools for the Dreamcast and other machines, he jumped at the chance and has become Tulio's right hand since, as far as I know. I only knew Chui for his emulators and had talked to him a few times before that, but we began working closer and chatting every other day from then on, as he worked on porting the game and I translated all the new content.

I think Chui brought Abel with him to Pier Solar. There was a Mode7 level in the original game which had to be remade from scratch for the conversion, so he did the 3D for that stage. That initial work was in fact the germ for Project Q.

Juanjo had never worked on any videogame related project. He's a piano teacher and producer, and the current keyboardist for spanish bands Efecto Mariposa and Los Aslándticos. When I told him about my ideas for AMEBA, he didn't even let me finish and said he wanted in. I was honoured, as he knew I couldn't possibly pay him (for now anyway) and didn't care at all. He immediately improvised a beautiful piano tune that will become one of the main themes for the game.

Shenmue 3 Kickstarter Announced At E3 2015

In light of the last two posts here, we realise we're running the risk of this place becoming The Shenmue Junkyard...but news of this magnitude cannot be ignored. After years - 14 years in fact - the third and final chapter of Ryo Hazuki's quest to find (and possibly kick the face and ass of) Lan Di is finally going to become a reality. It seems all the years of 'save Shenmue' tweets and speculation have actually paid off as Yu Suzuki took to Sony's E3 2015 conference to reveal a Shenmue 3 Kickstarter project with a goal of £2 million. At the time of writing, Kickstarter has been experiencing issues due to the number of people trying to access the Shenmue 3 page, so we're pretty confident the project will reach it's target in a matter of hours let alone days.
Still scanning for sailors.
As with all Kickstarter projects, there are several different levels of pledge, ranging from $5 all the way up to $10,000 - one of which will furnish the backer with the genuine Ryo Hazuki leather jacket worn during the original Dreamcast press campaign, while the other will offer the backer the opportunity to have a private dinner with the development team. Both of these top tier pledges have already been snapped up, however.

The video featured on the Kickstarter page is clearly a work in progress and features a slightly re-designed Ryo, but his nonchalant voice acting remains intact as does the familiar musical score, so it'll be interesting to see how faithful to the previous games the final product turns out when it hits in late 2017.

Hopefully, Suzuki will limit (or completely leave out) the tedious crap from Shenmue 2 (like moving boxes around a warehouse for minimum wage) and deliver a fitting finale for the series. Also, we'd just like to confirm that the Junkyard has backed the project, so if it doesn't reach it's target, don't blame us (it will).
We know.
Want to be a part of the history of Shenmue? Check out the Kickstarter here.

Update: Shenmue 3 has been successfully funded.

DreamPod Episode 7


Feel free to either listen here, or click the links below to choose your podcastin' poison:

iTunes
Stitcher
Buzzsprout
YouTube

The song used in the outro is the awesome 'Dreamcast 2 Song' by Keith Apicary, and can be purchased for just $1 or 67p here. If you'd rather just watch the epic video, point your eyes below:


On the brink of the new century, Sega cast a shadow upon the future. That shadow changed video games forever. They were no longer known as games. They were now dreams. Dreams that came true.

Apt lyrics following the recent Shenmue 3 announcement.

Praying In Yamanose

Thanks to a mischievous little Tweet from Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki yesterday depicting a forklift outside of the E3 Expo the Internet promptly broke.

And it wasn't the first time.
Look what Mr Suzuki found at E3.
Every time the name Shenmue 3 is spoken, even whispered, an upswelling of emotion takes hold of any gamer that once held Nozomi Harasaki’s hand. To every gamer who hunted Lan Di, fought to avenge a loved one’s honour and, yes, spent a hell of a lot of time driving forklifts, the concept of a third Shenmue title is literally mind blowing. It’s enough to make even the most secular gamer get down on their knees and begin praying.

And, it’s obvious why - vision. Yu Suzuki had a single vision, an epic tale to tell and over the course of the first two titles, games that - for all of their mechanical clumsiness - transported the gamer into one of the best and most engaging narratives the medium had ever seen. It’s a world that is beautifully singular in comparison with most of today’s open world experiences.
I always liked Nozomi. Reunited in Shenmue 3?
Regardless however, the history of the Shenmue franchise is now old and, if we are being totally honest, a little stale. Like its great partner in non-release-ity (yeh, that word construction didn't really work did it) Half-Life 3, the burning hunger for its release, the non-stop speculation, theorising and talk have started to sully its non-existent reputation. Because that’s the thing isn't it - the more people talk about the first two games, the more their limitations and problems are brought to the fore. Judgements are dispensed rightly or wrongly according to modern standards and they hurt, driving a wedge into how the franchise is depicted.

While in 1999 Shenmue was seemingly reviewed fairly honestly, with its narrative, characterisation and scope praised, yet its mechanics and open world teething problems criticised, today Shenmue is held up as either an unfinished masterpiece cruelly locked away from the world, or a now old man’s grandest folly that deserves to be left in the past.
This just looked stunning when first released in 2001.
Of course, neither of these statements are true. The thing is though, through their diametrically opposite positioning, they do craft a crucial question that, at least in my eyes, has still been left unanswered - what should Shenmue 3 actually be? You see, because while millions of people would literally sell their soul to Cthulhu for it to be announced - me included! - I think if you asked all of them what you think it should be, then I think you’d receive some markedly different visions.

I've spoken to people who would be quite happy for a third title to be literally kick-started in the old engine. Others want the same formula with HD graphics. I've seen others who fight the corner for a GTA-style experience and yet more who want a Telltale episodic graphic adventure. And this is just their grand vision. Details such as movement, fight mechanics, interactivity, physics and more are left unspecified. Personally, I feel the Shenmue franchise could learn a lot from the recently released The Witcher 3, which was put together with a smallish team on just a US$32 million budget (the first two Shenmue games were developed for US$70 million, which is close to US$100 million today).
Just imagine the freedom that Shenmue 3 could offer the player with today's hardware.
The point is though, regardless of the cost, a clear vision must first be established and, if you were to ask me right now who is capable of achieving that, then I'm afraid I'm going to have to default back to Suzuki. I've always been a fan of games that held an intrinsic purity and Suzuki managed to create one of the most complexly pure game series I've ever played. The problem is, finding people in the modern gaming industry who are happy to take a punt on such a project, a project where there would be no safety net, no Call of Duty profit margin, is an incredibly difficult task.

All we need now is someone to give Mr Suzuki that money because, I've got to say, my knees are really starting to hurt.

"Meeeeeeooooowwwww."

“Yes Tama, I know, someone should definitely give Mr. Suzuki another $50 million to make Shenmue 3.”

"Meeeeeooooowwwww!"

“Yes, I agree, Mr. Suzuki should definitely not bring back Tom Johnson.”

"Meeeeooooowwwww!!!"

“What? Oh you just want more dried fish… fine. I’ll just pop down to Tomato.”

Yu Suzuki Tweet Breaks Internet

The Shenmue 3/Shenmue HD rumour mill is working overtime right now, and it probably doesn't help that Yu Suzuki has also tweeted a picture of Ryo Hazuki's favourite mode of transport:
Translation: 'Found at E3'
We're happy to wager that this is little more than a wind up, but those rumours just won't go away...

Touché Mr Suzuki, Touché.

On the subject of Shenmue, Data Discs are offering some rather excellent-looking vinyl LPs featuring tracks from Mr Suzuki's magnum opus here. They're only £20 a pop, and though the special edition has already sold out, they look well worth the (pre-order) asking price.
A bonus track of traditional sea shanties has yet to be confirmed.

Bonus Feature: The Corpse Bride – Deleted Scenes

While researching for my previous two-part article (Part 1, Part 2), I stumbled across something interesting that I hadn't encountered before. It ended up on the cutting room floor due to space, but I thought it was worth exploring further in this diverting little side topic. If you could just scooch over a bit closer and allow me to whisper conspiratorially in your ear: the MIL-CD enhanced audio disc might not have been the only special multimedia format that Sega invented especially for the Dreamcast - they may have also toyed with the idea of snubbing the DVD Consortium by producing their own proprietary digital video disc format for movies and films. Hush, stifle your gasp, they'll hear you.
N-n-no Mr. Bighead, I didn't tell them. Honest.
You may have noticed some logos during the start up sequence of many Dreamcast games for ADX and Sofdec. These are the CRI developed middleware tools for sound compression and multi-streaming video respectively. ADX allowed for CD quality audio to be compressed and encoded into the high-density GD-ROM layer (as opposed to standard 'red book' audio tracks). Sofdec was an enhanced version of the MPEG-1 video standard which not only encoded standard FMV cut-scenes into games, but was also tailored towards providing 3D game designers with access to some pretty swish graphical trickery. Video files could be rendered as textures over 3D objects and they could also utilise full alpha blending for effects such as explosions, fire and smoke. Multiple video files could be played synchronously or asynchronously and they could also be looped and stitched together seamlessly. All in all, Sofdec is probably a substantial reason as to why Dreamcast games looked so good (and have aged well like fine wines too). CRIWARE, as they are now known, continue to flog their wares to this day, proudly waving their flag in recent games like Bungie's Destiny.

The Doc Will See You Now

Recently, you may have seen a couple of fantastic articles focussing on the fate of some of the Dreamcast's internal organs. If not, be sure to check them out:

Guest Article: Forensic Examination Of The Dreamcast Corpse - File 1 of 2
Guest Article: Forensic Examination Of The Dreamcast Corpse - File 2 of 2

Those two pieces were written by Doc Eggfan of Sonic Retro, and were pretty darn good. So good in fact, that we decided to promote the good Doc from guest author to full staff member here at the 'Yard. Hailing from the fine nation of Australia, Doc Eggfan is a repository of knowledge when it comes to arcade hardware - both Sega or otherwise - and also owns what is claimed to be the largest collection of Dreamcast games in the southern hemisphere, boasting over 500 titles. So, it is with great pleasure that we welcome Doc Eggfan to the DCJY team and trust you'll be looking forward to reading more about the oft-ignored aspects of Dreamcast collecting.

Free Wheelin' With The HKT-7430

The Dreamcast has a stunning number of peripherals for a system that lived in the limelight for such a short time. When you really look at the list of different controllers and things you can plug into the console in order to add a new dimension to your gameplay experience, the array is pretty bewildering. Some of these peripherals literally only have a handful of games that make use of them, while others are pretty much redundant today as they were designed for use with an internet connection (or in the case of the mysterious DreamWire HKT-4400 ISDN cable, an internet connection was it's only reason for existing). Twin Sticks for use with Virtual On, the MIDI cable for plugging in a keyboard, the DreamEye for web chat...the list is as long as a long armed person's arm. Recently though, a fairly common Dreamcast accessory came into my possession - the official Dreamcast racing wheel.
A DreamWire. Yesterday.
I actually paid £1 for this item in an eBay auction and bid on it more out of curiosity than anything. I did own an unofficial V3 steering wheel peripheral for the Dreamcast years ago, but I left it in my brother's house for some reason...and he threw it away when he moved. So for the last 10 years or so I have been wheel-less...but no more! I'm sure many people reading this have experienced the official Sega wheel already, but for me this was the first time using it.

Dreamcast Origins and Potatoes

I haven't written in a bit, and I think it's been long enough, so let's have a bit of nostalgia! Namely, my first interactions with the Dreamcast. Oh, and my thoughts on a certain Sega publicity stunt.

Not mine, but it's the same version. Best swirl, BTW

We were never ones to get a video game system new, so I had an NES and Sega Pico a few years after their heyday (Well, the latter for sure. I was born just as the SNES was coming into its own.) Anyway, one day around the year 2000 or 2001, we go to Best Buy and purchase a Dreamcast. According to a extremely reliable source (Wikipedia, of course) we purchased it just as it was phasing out. Not exactly new, but the closest I'd been to that point.

Forensic Examination Of The Dreamcast Corpse - File 2 of 2

Recently, we featured the first of two revealing articles looking at the secret life the Dreamcast lead behind the scenes after it's official death. Here, Doc Eggfan of Sonic Retro returns with part two, speculating about what happened to all those surplus GD-ROM drives...

In the first half of our exposé, we established that reports of the Dreamcast's demise in 2001 may have been a little exaggerated, and that the spirit of the system would go on to live a long and fruitful life as Sammy's Atomiswave arcade system. While this covers part of the Dreamcast's hardware legacy, there's a whole other side yet to be covered around the use of GD-ROM drives and the proprietary GD-ROM media itself. Did the Dreamcast live another second life beyond the grave? Let's find out...

Replacement PAL Game Covers

Over the years I've picked Dreamcast games up from a variety of sources. The most prolific supplier of new titles these days is undoubtedly eBay, as finding games in shops and at car boot sales (at least, for a realistic price) is something of a rare occurrence in this climate. In the past though - and certainly when I first started the Junkyard back in 2005 - it was quite easy to find Dreamcast software for peanuts in most branches of now defunct UK games retailer Gamestation. Sadly, as well as being covered in 'BOGOF' stickers (that's 'buy one, get one free'), a lot of these games usually came with the caveat of either having a broken box, missing manuals, missing inserts...or a combination of the three. Does this type of thing look familiar?

DreamPod Episode 6


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