, The Dreamcast Junkyard: September 2015

Review: Ghost Blade - Standard Review


Release date: September 27, 2015
Developer:  Hucast
Genre: Shmup (Vertical scrolling)
Current retail: £30 (Play-Asia.com)


In the second installment of our special two-part Ghost Blade review, the Junkyard takes a look at the game from the perspective of a genre enthusiast. The Novice Review can be found here.


Ok, let’s get this out of the way up top. I am not a shmup wizard. I like the shmup genre and, since the early 1990s, I have played a lot of them. However, while I consider myself relatively in-scene, I am not TASBot and I cannot one-credit Radiant Silvergun or Ikaruga. I like shmups because they were a core genre of my childhood and today, despite the golden era of arcade shooters being over, I still get a small buzz every time I begin a run. I think, simply put, they help me feel young again.


Good, that now said, let’s move into the detail of the review.


Ghost Blade is an easy game. If you are a gamer with even modest shmup skills, then you will have little difficulty beating the game on standard. Within a couple of day's play, I had familiarised myself with the selection of bullet patterns on offer, run the three ships in the hanger and despite being frustrated at times - we will get to that later - reached the end boss almost anti-climatically. The thing is though - none of that bothers me in the slightest and, if I’m being honest, the never ending cycle of debate about whether a shmup is ‘hard enough’ or ‘bullet hell enough’ is just boring to me now.

DreamConn V2.0 Video Review

I was going to do a standard written review of Chis Daioglou's DreamConn V2.0 wireless controller, but I just thought it'd be a bit difficult to convey how awesome it is with words alone. There are only so many times you can copy and paste lists of features and post pictures, so I thought a proper video review was required. Furthermore a video review is much harder for other, more 'mainstream' outlets to lift almost verbatim and pass off as their own work. Below you will find the fruits of my - and Chris's - labours. Enjoy the video.


If you like what you've seen, you can purchase a DreamConn here.

Xbox One Platformer Volgarr The Viking Now On DC

This one slipped in under the radar didn't it? While we were all busy playing Ghost Blade and looking forward to Elysian Shadows, Hypertension and AMEBA, Marc Hall was beavering away porting Xbox One and Steam platformer Volgarr The Viking to Sega's little white box of tricks. I must admit that before learning of this port I wasn't familiar with Volgarr, but from what I've read it is a game that garnered almost universal critical acclaim upon launch in 2013. And yes, you read that right - Volgarr The Viking is an Xbox One and Steam game. Now on the Dreamcast. Pretty impressive stuff.
As stated in the 'Read First or Die' section from the Dreamcast port's website, Marc Hall was allowed access to the game's assets and source code by the original developer Crazy Viking Studios. What this means is that while it is not an official release, the port does have the blessing of the creator so it's all above board. The best bit about all of this? The game is totally free and available to download and burn to a CD-R right flipping now!

Dead Or Alive 2: Final Hits Dreamcast

Fan-made mods are just a part of life when it comes to PC gaming, but on consoles - and especially the Dreamcast - they are fairly uncommon. Enter aptly-named modder Green Ranger who has taken it upon himself to heavily modify Tecmo's superb 3D fighter Dead Or Alive 2 and create DOA2: Final.

This project is the result of several years' worth of work and pulls together two previous mods to the game (DOA2 Special Edition and DOA2 Ultimate Edition), and adds lots of new features. These new additions are mainly visual - new character costumes and designs, plus additional character dialogue which allows for new single player storylines. The story in DOA2 was pretty confusing in the first place, so maybe this new narrative will help to make things a little clearer. Here's a full run down of the new features and character costumes added to DOA2: Final:

  • New Title Screen that reads - DEAD OR ALIVE 2 FINAL
  • Stage Slideshow during Title Screen sequence has been altered
  • New music throughout the game - Stages, Training Mode, Mode Select Screen and Ending Credits have new music
  • Character dialogue changed extensively to give some fighters new storylines, and also dialogue changed in general to sound less confusing when interacting with characters.
  • New/edited costumes for nearly every fighter (costumes from my previous mods were tweaked/updated for this release) 
  • DOA3 character stances for Zack and Genfu
  • Bass & Tina's storyline now have a new Tina Poster on the brick wall and in Bass' room
  • Stage layouts differ for various characters in Story Mode - nice way to spice things up!
  • Bigger Dummy file in CDI image to allow for faster load times
  • In Versus & Watch Mode the Aerial Garden is automatically night, press R-trigger to access daytime Aerial Garden

Review: Ghost Blade - Novice Review


Release date: September 27, 2015
Developer:  Hucast
Genre: Shmup (Vertical scrolling)
Current retail: £30 (Play-Asia.com)

This is first installment of our two-part review of Hucast's Ghost Blade, from the perspective of a casual shmup player. Part two, which is by a seasoned shmup player and appropriately titled the 'Standard Review' on account of Ghost Blade's two difficulty levels, can be found here.

It's finally here! Hucast's long-awaited vertical shmup has finally shipped, and represents another chapter in the Dreamcast's long and distinguished career as a console that just will not die. Here, in 2015 is a brand new game, complete with a manual and a DVD-style case that would not look out of place nestled amongst the other hi-def indie gems in any current gen system's library. But let's not jump the gun (ghost?). You may have noticed that this review is subtitled 'Novice Review.' That isn't because I'm only reviewing the novice mode found within Ghost Blade (more on that later); it's because I am a self-confessed layman when it comes to shmups. Sure, I've played pretty much all of the shooters on the Dreamcast and have sampled the delights of many a Taito and Irem shmup of yesteryear...but I'm not what you would call an 'expert' on the genre. In truth - I enjoy, but generally suck ass at shmups and so I will be offering my thoughts on this latest Dreamcast release as a complete neutral. I'll be explaining what Ghost Blade does well, what it does badly, how it sounds and how it plays for someone with a moderate level of experience with this type of title.
The genre is incredibly deep and has a massive following online and as such I don't want to pretend to be more knowledgeable than I am; furthermore I don't want to insult the intelligence or experience of those gamers who have poured hours and hours into other shooters, memorising bullet patterns and tactics in order to clinch an elusive high score. What I will do is give my opinion on Ghost Blade and Ghost Blade alone. An honest layman's opinion, if you will.

Fear not though, as another member of the team with slightly more experience than I will be laying down his thoughts for your delectation in part two of our review - imaginatively titled the 'Standard Review' in the coming days. See what we did there? Before you answer that particular rhetorical question, remember that high quality comedy was never guaranteed when you clicked on whichever Google/Twitter/Facebook/Pornhub link brought you to this review. What I mean to say is, if you have a Neo Geo MVS cartridge for a heart and/or brain you may want to wait for that review...but for the time being let's get this show on the road.

DreamConn Wireless Controller Version 2.0

Several weeks ago we had a brief look at the DreamConn wireless controller that popped up on eBay, and after much deliberation came to the conclusion that it looked like a great bit of kit. Featuring an impressive level of homebrew technology and reverse engineering, the DreamConn took an original stock Dreamcast controller and added Bluetooth technology and virtual VMUs amongst other things. Fast forward to the present and the creator of the DreamConn, Chris Diaoglou has produced an updated version with many more features and a lower price point: DreamConn Version 2.0.
Version 2.0 has a whole host of improvements over previous iterations of the DreamConn, the most impressive being the vastly improved battery life - from around 3hrs in V1.0 to 10-14hrs in V2.0. Furthermore, the charging port has been changed from a micro USB to a 3.5mm jack (with a cable included as part of the package). Elsewhere, the LED has been upgraded so that it will now glow red when the battery is low.

Shenmue III 'Slacker Backer' Opens

As you're (probably) no doubt aware, Shenmue III became the most successful Kickstarter project in the history of the site when it launched a few months ago. Yu Suzuki's third instalment of the much-loved series received over $6m from almost 70,000 backers, but many have questioned if this is enough to fund such an ambitious plan to bring closure to Ryo Hazuki's quest to lay the smackdown on that bastard Lan Di. Regardless, Ys Net have re-opened the Kickstarter with the oddly titled 'Slacker Backer' funding period that will last for three months up until the end of December 2015. As stated in the update on the Shenmue III Kickstarter page, this will allow for extra funding to go towards stretch goals and the like:

The Slacker Backer period will continue through December 31st. While the full game will be completed as promised with the use of the funding collected on Kickstarter, any additional funding collected here will go towards reaching the Stretch Goals to make the game even bigger and deeper.The three month window was set to allow a long enough time to for everyone who wants to support Shenmue III to do so, but short enough to keep the release date on track.
 - Shenmue III Kickstarter
If you were late to the party and want to get in on the Shenmue III action, head over there now and have a look at the various stretch goals and ways to donate. Lan Di is due one hell of an ass kicking and together we can all help Ryo deliver the final boot to his smug face.

A Quick Look At Alien Front Online

This week I received in the post a fully boxed and complete copy of Alien Front Online, for which I paid the princely sum of £3. I have played this game extensively in the past as I own a burnt copy of it, but there's nothing like having the complete official set in your collection...and for such a minuscule sum who could turn it down? I'll tell you who: a screaming buffoon. A buffoon I am not though, and this is evident in the way that I now own Alien Front Online. Am I making any sense at all? No? Excellent.
Following on from our recent A Quick Look At Virtua Cop 2, I intend this series to be - as the name suggests - a sort of whistle-stop investigation of titles lots of people may already be familiar with, but that others may never have experienced. Indeed, many people will be very familiar with Alien Front Online, and I'd hazard a guess that the vast majority of those folk would be Dreamcast owners hailing from the good ol' US of A. This is because Alien Front Online didn't receive a PAL or NTSC-J release, and even if it had been launched in the UK I very much suspect that the 'Online' part of the title would have been dropped just like it was from PAL versions of Outtrigger, Daytona and Unreal Tournament. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Just what is Alien Front Online? Let's have a little look...

Mean Green Machine

This past weekend I managed to catch up with an old friend and former writer here at the 'Yard - the artist formerly known as Father Krishna. FK, as we would occasionally refer to him, was part of the team from around 2007 - 2010 but due to personal reasons decided to take a hiatus from writing about Sega's lovely box of tricks. FK will be making a long overdue return to the Junkyard in the near future, but that's not the reason for this post. When I arranged to meet him, FK said he had a gift for me and I wasn't really sure what to expect. Imagine my shock and delight when he presented me with this bad boy:
Yep, it's a PAL Dreamcast in an aftermarket translucent green shell, complete with matching green VMU and two-tone green and clear controller. Naturally, I was a little taken aback by this act of generosity - all the more so since I've been looking for a translucent Dreamcast shell for quite a considerable amount of time but have always been put off by the relatively high price of them (and astronomical shipping costs from overseas in most cases).

Play Expo Manchester 2015

Anyone who follows the Junkyard on Facebook will no doubt know that we didn't win a UK Podcasters Award on Saturday - the best video games podcast award went to Retro Asylum, and we would like to extend our congratulations to the team - they're a great bunch of guys. To be honest, we didn't think we had much of a chance winning against such popular competition and the Retro Asylum podcast has such a large following and has been going for so long, that for DreamPod to win an award after only 14 episodes wouldn't have been entirely fair. So well done to Retro Asylum, and to PlayStation Radio UK for also being nominated.

Now though, our thoughts turn to the future. And to be more specific, the 10th and 11th of October 2015. That's because The Dreamcast Junkyard is thrilled to announce that we will be in attendance at one of the UK's largest gaming expos - Play Expo Manchester. Play Expo attracts tens of thousands of gamers to the Event City exhibition centre in Trafford Park, Manchester and is a weekend-long celebration of current and retro gaming and allows visitors the chance to mix with like-minded fans of the hobby and play a whole host of games. Furthermore, the massive trading hall is always full to bursting with stalls selling all manner of rare and unusual gaming items, both old and new. Celebrity guests from the world of film and TV, talks from games industry icons, cosplay competitions, arcade and pinball machines and competitive gaming championships round off the event. Hopefully industry legend Jeff Minter will again be in attendance wearing one of his 'interesting' woolly jumpers, too.

The Dreamcast...Shoe?

So you're wearing your Dreamcast jacket and t-shirt; you've got your Dreamcast baseball cap firmly on your head; and your Dreamcast satchel is neatly slung over your shoulder securely holding your Dreamcast notebook PC and assorted Sega-branded pens and writing pads. There might even be a Dream Eye in there in case you spot something worthy of recording via the power of VGA video. But there's something missing. Something is eating at the very fabric of your SH4-powered soul. Like the atmosphere in any HP Lovecraft novel, something is off...but you don't know what. Lowering your head in shame and looking down at the pavement/sidewalk/mud (yes, you are actually outdoors dressed like this), the penny drops like an anvil falling from the top of a skyscraper: your shoes are not Dreamcast-branded! You begin to cry and run home screeching like a banshee. The embarrassment. The shame.

I'm sure you're all familiar with this scenario, and this is no fantasy (star online) - it is actually based on true events. In fact, the author is the person described above. Last Tuesday, as it happens. But I digress - there is a happy ending to this tale of woe, as when I got home I happened to spot a Facebook post by our good friends over at DreamcastGaga, which allowed me to link to a Japanese website selling perhaps the most hideous amazing footwear this side of Christiano Ronaldo's neon boots:

16 Years, Still Thinking...

The 16th birthday of the NTSC-U Dreamcast is upon us. 16 years of awesome. Yes, it's an inanimate plastic object...but let's all wish the Dreamcast a Happy Birthday regardless!

If you'd like to read a bit more about the NTSC-U Dreamcast, check out our recent look at the different styles of US packaging here.


10th Anniversary Competition: Part Three Results

Well, the third and final part of our 10th anniversary competition has come to a close. Parts one and two were outstanding successes and allowed us to share in our community's fondest memories of the Dreamcast; and also allowed you to get creative. Before we reveal the fastest Sega Rally 2 players and the winning lap time for our Sega Rally 2 Time Attack Challenge, we at the Junkyard would like to thank you all for taking part and spreading the word about this momentous competition. We would also like to extend our thanks to Sega Europe for supplying the amazing limited edition Dreamcast Collection vinyl records for you guys to win.
Before I'm overcome with emotion and start crying into my keyboard, let's get on with it. For part three of this competition, we asked you to attempt to set a fastest lap time on Sega Rally 2's Desert SS1 using the Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205. Any combination of tires, suspension and gearing was permitted - this was really a test of how well you knew how to manipulate the game's settings and the best lines through the course. I tried to set a time as a benchmark but managed a paltry 56 seconds. Hey, I never said I was good at Dreamcast games! We had lots of entries and we thank you for that, but ultimately there can be only one winner. Without further ado, here's a run down of the five fastest lap times we received...

Saber Rider Kickstarter Adds Dreamcast Version

Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs is, by all accounts, a fairly well-loved cartoon series from the 1980s.  Created by World Events Productions and based on a Japanese cartoon series called Star Musketeer Bismarck, Saber Rider achieved moderate success in North America and ran for 52 episodes. Even though I'm an admirer of animated shows from the era (who can forget Dungeons & Dragons?), I have to be honest - I'd never heard of it before learning of the Kickstarter to turn the series into a side-scrolling shooter for the Nintendo 3DS.

Furthermore, I will admit right here that I had to do a bit of Wikipedia mining and Googling in order to get up to speed on the exploits of the titular Saber Rider, but what I found has impressed me. Anyone who remembers cartoon series from the 80s like the aforementioned Dungeons & Dragons and, more appropriately, stuff like BraveStarr (the series featuring a Native American sheriff and his talking horse) will be right at home with Saber Rider; and after watching some clips on YouTube I must admit to warming to the 'space western' aesthetics.

DreamPod Episode 14 With Adam Koralik & Corey Marshall


iTunes
Stitcher
Buzzsprout
UK Podcast Directory

Be sure to check out Adam's YouTube channel and website, and keep up to speed with the latest Shenmue 3 developments. You can also check out the Yu Suzuki interview mentioned by clicking here. Finally, if you like what you hear please consider giving us an iTunes review. Thanks!

The Dreamcast First Aid Kit

I must admit that I only came across this image while lazily searching Google. It originally comes from the legendary but long abandoned UK:Resistance, and there's no other real information about the item's origins anywhere else on the internet. But here it is - a Dreamcast-branded first aid kit:
Is this an official Sega product? If so, why on Earth did Sega think it was a good idea to brand a bunch of plasters and cotton buds with a console logo? That said, I can totally see the point of marketing materials like pens, pencils, frisbees and hats - there's always loads of throwaway console-branded stuff at gaming events...but the thought of an Xbox One or PS4 first aid kit at E3 or Gamescom? Can't see it myself.

Maybe Sega was anticipating hoards of people literally falling over themselves/each other onto the pavement (also known as a sidewalk in America, apparently) to buy a Dreamcast and thought it best to cover their arses (so to speak) by issuing these kits incase a lawsuit came along? Who knows, but if you have one of these or know anything else about it, please leave a comment!