We did talk about Noiz2sa breifly on a recent episode of the DreamPod and Scott (aka DocEggfan) went into more detail in this follow up article. However, that we've never really given this game a proper introduction is criminal in my eyes. Noiz2sa is a freeware vertical shmup that's available for pretty much every antiquated format there is, and the Dreamcast is among that number. You take control of a tiny little ship and are tasked with shmupping your way through a multitude of stages while the abstract backgrounds roll by and the music pumps. I only discovered this game recently but it has been around for over a decade at this point, and was ported to the Dreamcast by Retro Sumus programmer Chui a few years back. Here's what Scott said about Noiz2sa in his recent post:
"It's a fantastic little gem, with 10 levels and 4 endless modes (normal, hard, extreme, and insane). It's simple, the lack of power-ups keeps you focused on the destruction, and the objective is score chasing rather than single crediting. The frame rate is super slick for the most part, only struggling with the bulletiest of bullet hells, and, like Tom said, the soundtrack is superb and unique to the Dreamcast port. Like Volgarr last year, it's essentially a full-featured release that could have easily justified being sold at retail, but was generously given away for free. It's certainly up there with the best indie shoot-em-ups available for Dreamcast, which is high praise considering the vast army of competition out there."
Xump - The Final Run
Another game we briefly looked at some time ago, Xump is one of those games hardly anyone ever talks about these days. Like Noiz2sa it's available for a lot of other systems too, but I thought it was worth including here because I think it's a lot of fun and actually quite a brain-teasing puzzler. The premise is fairly simple - you have to clear stages of blocks with your robotic head-thing, but you can only move over them once, and because of the layout of the levels it really makes you think about where you can go. Once you've cleared a block it vanishes, effectively blocking your progress if there were blocks in a part of the level that you can no longer go back to. It requires a lot of planning and while it's easy to begin with, it gets stupidly hard (well, for thick bastards like me) as you get further in. Great music and some lovely retro-style visuals await those who decide to give Xump a go.
Polyko's Super Jelly Bean Quest in the Sketchbook of Illusion is the full name of this particular indie platformer. It's quite the mouthful, and you can grab it from Senile Team's website for the same price as a breath of fresh air. The story of this game is quite cool - you have to assume the role of an artist who falls asleep and is transported into a dreamworld made up of things he's painted in reality...where you have to collect jelly beans. The visuals have a great hand drawn look to them and the animation is brilliant. There's not a great deal to Polyko other than jumping around collecting jelly beans, but the aesthetics are great, the controls are tight...and it's free. Stop moaning and grab it now!
Again, Powder is a game we've featured here at the 'Yard in the past but I'm sure many people missed that article. Powder is a rogue-like RPG that was programmed by one dude who wanted a proper old-school style role player for the Nintendo DS. Eventually, he ported it to the Dreamcast and DC Eric created an SD version pretty much because I asked about such a version...so thanks to him for that. As I said in my previous review, Powder is very much a throwback to PC RPGs of the 1980s and has a wicked sense of humour. It looks very basic, but that's part of the appeal and the depth isn't apparent initially but it can get very involving if you are prepared to put the time in. Well worth your time if you're done with the other RPGs on the Dreamcast.
There are a ton of other SD reader-designed games out there (many of which are also available as images that can be burnt to CD-R), but I just wanted to give newcomers to the SD reader and Dreamshell a taste of the types of software you can put on the device with a minimum of effort.