, The Dreamcast Junkyard: December 2016

Build Your Own LEGO Dreamcast

In March 2016 I attended RetroCollect's video game market. I mainly spent the day wandering around looking at retro paraphernalia I couldn't afford, and spending the profits I made from flogging the DCJY Collectors Guide on overpriced lager. I also met loads of cool people from the gaming community. One of those people was legendary illustrator and artist Wil Overton, a lovely bloke with whom I shared a section of the event hall and who I harassed almost nonstop with questions about Perfect Dark Zero and his time working at Super Play and N64 Magazine. Another person I met was Michael 'Stiv' Stephenson, an extremely talented artist who is responsible for some of the awesome work over at Sonic the Comic. Stiv had a stall at the market and on that stall I spotted this:
Yes, it's a LEGO Dreamcast. I thought it was a really cool little trinket, so I handed over a crumpled £5 note and ever since that day it has resided on a shelf in my games room. Recently, I was looking at the little LEGO creation and realised that it's actually a pretty intricate replica of a Dreamcast and so I dropped Stiv a message asking how he'd created it. Stiv replied that he'd designed it using the little CAD program you can download for free from LEGO's site and that it was a one-off he'd made just out of curiosity...but that he had the files somewhere. A few weeks passed, Christmas happened, and we both forgot about the whole thing...until now. See, Stiv recently found his set of instructions on how to build the LEGO Dreamcast, and now I'm sharing them with you!

PC & Mac Shooter Postal Now Open Source, Original Developer Appealing For Dreamcast Port

Postal hit the PC 20 years ago and instantly earned a reputation for its gory, death-filled gameplay. An isometric shooter with Robotron-style trappings, the game caused something of a stir back in 1996 due to the mechanic that involved players having to slaughter a set number of NPCs per level before moving on to the next. Unperturbed by the somewhat negative press, developer Running With Scissors went on to make no less than three follow ups, commission a range of spin-off games, books and even a movie based on the franchise. Apart from a few blips in quality control, the core series was generally met with encouraging sales and critical acclaim. Why are we telling you this? Well, it appears that Postal has been made open source by Running With Scissors...and they are appealing for a developer to port the game to the Dreamcast.
The appeal came via a series of tweets from the official Running With Scissors Twitter account, and after communicating briefly we can confirm that this is not a drill. Repeat...not a drill. The Postal source code has been released through Bitbucket and is freely available to download. Running With Scissors tweeted the following:

"As a slightly belated Christmas present to you all, the original classic POSTAL is now Open Source! All we ask in return is a Dreamcast port! Someone, please - get on that. There's probably some kind of reward in it for ya!"
- Running With Scissors

When asked why the Dreamcast, the reply was that it's 'Krotchy's favourite console.' Who is Krotchy? Well...he's a walking ballsack and mascot of the Postal franchise, and he certainly looks happy hugging that PAL unit!
Are you a Dreamcast developer? Reckon you could bring yet another new game to the Dreamcast? Head over to Running With Scissors' official website or grab the source code for Postal here and get on it! You heard them - there's probably some kind of reward in it for ya! Tell them The Dreamcast Junkyard sent you and we'll all be laughing (probably).

Akura VGA To HDMI Box Coming Soon For Dreamcast

Getting the best picture from a Dreamcast has always been a point of discussion in the Dreamcast community. The Dreamcast's ability to output a VGA signal has long been viewed (no pun intended) as the best way to get a crisp and clean image, and I'm not one to argue with that - indeed, when using an old-skool CRT monitor in conjunction with a VGA cable or box, the image quality is positively stunning. Not everybody has the space for a hulking great VGA CRT monitor though, and as time goes by they are becoming harder to find. Not only this, but finding HD or 4K televisions that have a VGA port is becoming more difficult as the standard falls further into the realms of obsolescence.
The options for getting a decent image out of a Dreamcast (and other older gaming systems) are getting narrower with every passing generation and the move away from analogue to digital signals means gamers are coming up with ever more ingenious ways of using classic consoles with newer televisions and monitors. However, the path to achieving a fantastic image is littered with pitfalls - I know first hand from my own recent experiences with VGA to HDMI signal converters just how frustrating it can be.

It appears that creators of the Toro, Kuro and Hanzo range of signal converters Beharbros feel the same way, and have recently unveiled the Akura VGA to HDMI converter for the Dreamcast.

KeybConn: A Wireless Dreamcast Keyboard

You'll no doubt recall the recently revealed LightConn, the wireless Dreamcast lightgun that works with flatscreen televisions. It's the work of talented Greek modder and programmer Chris Diaoglou, creator of the DreamConn wireless controller we looked at in 2015. Chris has been busy implementing his Bluetooth tech into all sorts of other Dreamcast peripherals over the last few months and now he's revealed the next one to be stripped of its wires - the keyboard.
Dubbed the KeybConn, this prototype utilises the same wireless dongle as the gun and the controller and allows users to play any number of keyboard-compatible games from the comfort of a couch or desk without being limited to the length of the cable. While this probably isn't a problem many of us have encountered in the recent past, it's still a very cool addition to the Dreamcast's growing collection of wireless peripherals.

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas once again and to celebrate, here's a little something special from our very own Aaron Foster: a specially drawn comic strip! This is the Junkyard's 11th Christmas and we'd like to thank everyone who continues to visit and support the blog, either through Patreon, downloading the podcast or simply just following and sharing our stuff on social media.
Click for a larger version!
In case you didn't know, Aaron is a professional animator and a damn fine artist too, so we hope the image above raises a smile. You can find Aaron's website and portfolio here and his YouTube channel Lucky Hit here. Go and check them out - you won't be disappointed!

Once again, Merry Christmas from all of us here at the Junkyard - here's to many more!

Sturmwind Available Now, Throwback Edition With Kraken Plushie Coming Soon

As reported here a few days ago, Duranik's Sturmwind is now available to purchase for the tidy sum of €35/£30 at Dragon Box. The game is a re-print of the original Sturmwind released in 2013 and comes on a professionally pressed disc with a full colour manual in a jewel case. As we've said many, many times here at the Junkyard, Sturmwind is a truly stunning shmup and for this price you'd be mad not to snap a copy up. Shipping can be pricey (it added almost another £10 for shipping to the UK), so if you're based in the US you might want to wait a few days for online retailer The Bit Station to open orders. Pre-orders at The Bit Station will run from 23rd December to 6th January, when the games will be sent out to buyers.
We can also exclusively reveal that The Bit Station will be offering a 'Throwback Edition' of Sturmwind, which will ship with extras from the special edition of the game:

Sturmwind Re-release Imminent

Sturmwind is without a doubt one of the finest shmups on the Dreamcast. Actually, scratch that - it's one of the finest games, period. A stunning mix of pre-rendered video backgrounds, highly detailed sprites, awesome visual effects and a killer soundtrack make Duranik's 2013 side scroller a must play title for Sega's little white box of tricks. The only sticking point is that due to the limited release, the game has become something of a rarity and when copies do surface on eBay, sellers can literally charge what they like for it. I've seen standard editions of the game go for over £100 and the special collector's edition can go for anything up to and above £200. It's madness I tells ya. Well, all that nonsense is about to change: Sturmwind is being re-released!
Duranik posted a teaser on their Facebook page yesterday hinting that the release may be imminent and I spoke with lead developer Johannes Graf to get some further information. Johannes confirmed that Sturmwind is indeed being re-released and is currently being shipped to several online retailers in the US and Europe including Dragon Box (who handled the recent re-release of Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles) and The Bit Station, a dedicated US retailer which specialises in homebrew and indie games. As far as the game is concerned, nothing has been changed apart from the removal of copy protection and the cover art has been amended to what you see above.

A Quick Look At Yu Suzuki Game Works

Retro compilations on the Dreamcast are a mixed bag. We recently cast a judgemental eye over Namco Museum and came to the conclusion that while the game selection is great, the lack of any kind of extra content made it feel as if the collection was a rush job - especially when compared to the fantastic PlayStation editions. Prior to that, we looked at Atari Anniversary Edition and Sega Smash Pack...but now shit is about to get real. No more messing about - let's take a quick look at Yu Suzuki Game Works Volume 1.
Released exclusively in Japan at the end of 2001, Game Works is a rather excellent collection of classic arcade games created by the eponymous Yu Suzuki. The package comprises a disc containing 5 Sega arcade classics and a commemorative book that explains the history of the games, the development and the cabinets themselves.

El Charnock Returns!

My continued efforts to get Tom's likeness digitised into a Dreamcast game has been given a huge kick in the pants thanks to the new crowd-funding campaign that started this week. While our chance to shoot Tom in the face in Retro Sumus's game Xenocider was scuppered due to a lack of funds (on both sides), we have a brand new chance to see our Mancunian candidate starring on our favourite little white box of tricks.

Initially, not one, but two of the support tiers for the upcoming indie tactical FPS game In the Line of Fire, gave us the opportunity to see a digitised Tom shoot other people in the face. I was going to focus on the higher tier: Become Gun Cage Manager, which would have seen Mr. Charnock taking a leading role in the game, but some lucky sod has already beat us to it.
You sunk my Battleship!
But fear not, we still have one remaining avenue to get Tom into the game. As of now, there are still 12 spots left for Tom's ugly mug to feature on a support character that will also be available in multi-player. Imagine how cool that would be, we might still get a chance to shoot him in the face...

DreamPod - Episode 44: RadioSEGA WinterFest 2016

Once you've listened to/downloaded the episode, be sure to head over to RadioSEGA to enjoy a constant stream of awesome music and original shows. As ever, if you like what you hear please consider leaving us an iTunes review. And if you fancy chucking $1 a month at us for this lovely content feel free to check out our Patreon page. Thanks!

Dreamcast Exclusive Shooter In The Line Of Fire Hits Kickstarter

A few months ago we shared some brand new images of Militia Studios' awesome Dreamcast exclusive tactical first person shooter In the Line of Fire. We were given access to an early build of the first mission, in which a lone police officer must try to prevent bank robbers from escaping with and contents of the vault, pursuing them through the offices and eventually onto the roof of the bank. It wasn't perfect and it needed work, but as an early demonstration of what Militia Studios were trying to achieve, it was nothing short of breathtaking. With graphics comparable to those seen in officially released games like Headhunter, we knew In the Line of Fire was going to be special. Now we all get the opportunity to make this a reality.
In the Line of Fire has finally hit Kickstarter with a full campaign that details all of the features the team at Militia want to include. A lengthy single player mode, squad-based tactical gameplay elements where you control a team of up to four AI teammates, split screen and online multiplayer modes. Additional third person camera modes allow you to 'tag' enemies and then pop out from behind cover to take shots at them, and the final game promises other features such as hacking CCTV controls and being able to issue on the fly commands to your team...the list goes on.
At this point, I know what you're thinking. Not another Dreamcast Kickstarter?! Wait. This is different. It's different because In the Line of Fire is literally built from the ground up as a Dreamcast game. It is not a stretch goal. It started life a Dreamcast game, and will only ever be a Dreamcast game. And for that reason we cannot champion this project enough.

Megadrive Kickstarter Tanglewood Adds Dreamcast Stretch Goal

You've probably seen Tanglewood mentioned on various games sites and social media by now. It's a brand new Sega Megadrive platformer from Sheffield-based indie studio Big Evil Corporation. Assuming the role of a fox-like creature called Nymn, players are tasked with traversing the eponymous Tanglewood and safely returning to the pack. From the Kickstarter campaign page:

Set in the realm of Tanglewood, the game follows a young creature, Nymn, separated from the pack after the sun sets. Unable to get back to the safety of the family's underground home, Nymn must find a way to survive the night terrors and get to morning. Tanglewood’s world is a dangerous one after dark; guiding Nymn you must use your skills of evasion, traps and trickery to defeat predators.
- Tanglewood Kickstarter Page

The game looks like a rather interesting platform adventure with visuals that really do invite the ageing Megadrive hardware to do some new tricks, and the team behind Tanglewood has already added some pretty intriguing tiers for backers. One of these is the ability to download a ROM of Tanglewood for use on Everdrives and emulators, which is a really cool thing to do.
The Kickstarter has four days to run at the time of writing, and Big Evil Corporation has today added a new stretch goal - a Dreamcast port. Further to this, a 'Dreamcast HD' port is described as a stretch goal at the £75,000 point, to be developed on a genuine Dreamcast dev kit and with totally reworked and redrawn graphics.

Shenmue III PC Pre-Orders Will Open On 15th December

It's barely Dreamcast-related, but I spotted this while perusing some 'proper' gaming sites - namely Videogamer and Gamatsu: pre-orders for the PC version of Shenmue III will open on 15th December...which is two days away at the time of writing. We've been closely following the Shenmue III development journey, and take great delight in reporting anything and everything we can on the game's development. Yu Suzuki has a different filling on his sandwiches today? We're there. Somebody gets coffee granules in the sugar pot at Ys Net HQ? On it. Someone tramples mud in through the main entrance and doesn't even attempt to clean it up? We got this. Mainly by stealing content from other sites...but hey - at least we admit it when we do. Here's some other stuff some bloke said about some game or something (also copy and pasted from Gamatsu):

Development is entering the final stage headed towards full-scale production. Early in the new year, I think we’ll be able to show you things such as new videos.

We will continue progressing with development so that our backers and those who experience the world of Shenmue for the first time can do so with pleasure.

Also, at noon on December 15, we will start pre-order sales for the PC version of Shenmue III, which received a lot of requests.

Those interested in Shenmue III, please check the official website.
-Yu Suzuki

So yeah. Keep an eye on the Shenmue III official website. And don't get coffee in Yu Suzuki's sugar or there'll be trouble, right? Good.

RadioSEGA Winterfest 2016

RadioSEGA's third annual Winterfest weekend is approaching at a rate of knots, and we're super excited to announce that The Dreamcast Junkyard DreamPod will be kicking things off! If you're not familiar, Winterfest is a weekend long festival celebrating the very best music from the world of SEGA and is comprised of short shows from various content creators and websites. The Winterfest starts at 7pm GMT on Friday 16th December, continues over the whole weekend, and includes shows from sites like SEGA Driven and SEGA Nerds as well as the regular hosts. If you're at a Christmas party next Friday, be sure to tune in at 7pm and turn the volume up for some classic SEGA anthems! Find out more by keeping an eye on RadioSEGA here.

Enter Our 11th Birthday Giveaway!

Last year we celebrated 10 years of Junkyard glory and gave you lucky lot the opportunity to win one of three awesome Dreamcast Collection vinyl LPs donated by the lovely folk at Sega Europe. Now though, we're celebrating 11 years of being a thing with a giveaway that is almost - almost - as good.

Yep, one of you will get a prized physical copy of the outlawed Dreamcast Junkyard Ultimate Collectors Guide, along with copies of Volgarr the Viking, unreleased beta Hellgate, Mars Matrix and Dreamcast Puzzle Collection. On top of this, six runners up will also get copies of Dreamcast Puzzle Collection; a fan-made compilation that includes Cosmic Smash, Sega Tetris, Namco Museum, Super Magnetic Neo, Former Managing Director Yukawa's Treasure Hunt and a host of other games.
All you need to do to enter is click the button below and then enter your details. It's that simple. No questions, no following on Twitter or liking on Facebook (although you're free to do both if you want). No Sega Rally time attacks or guessing the VMU screens from games. Simply click that red button, enter your details and that's it. You can enter once a day too, so remember to come back here daily to enter. We'll announce the winners on Monday 12th December.

Terms: Even though you can enter multiple times, you can only win one prize. Thanks to Martin Kay for creating and donating the reproduction games we're giving away. If your Dreamcast can't play CD-Rs, these games will not run in your Dreamcast. Competition ends 12th December 2016 at 12:00 midday GMT (that's UK time, for the uninitiated). Anyone can enter, anywhere in the world. As ever, I will ship prizes at my own expense. Keep Dreamcasting.

A Quick Look At Namco Museum

Namco's output on the Dreamcast is curious. The Japanese arcade masters came out all guns blazing with the launch of Soul Calibur, and the game was never bettered as far as arcade fighting games go. Many tried, but ultimately the likes of Dead or Alive 2, Project Justice et al - while amazing games in their own right - never usurped Soul Calibur as the king of the 3D brawlers on the Dreamcast. After Soul Calibur though, Namco seemed to go a little quiet. The only other games the firm released on Sega's little box were retro compilations or games in that mould.
Mr Driller was a variation on the earlier Dig Dug; while Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness was an updated version of the classic dot-gobbler with added 3D platforming elements thrown in. Both of these games are of above average quality, that's undeniable, but these were hardly the types of offering many early Dreamcast adopters were hoping for as follow ups after the initial impact made by Soul Calibur. Namco did release another game for the Dreamcast though and - surprise - it too was a retro-themed title: Namco Museum.
Namco Museum was only released in North America and was a continuation in the trend of repackaging older games for a new audience. The Dreamcast played host to a number of these compilations, with things like Atari Anniversary Edition, Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits and Yu Suzuki Game Works representing the higher end of the genre, and Sega Smash Pack occupying the opposite end of the spectrum. Where does Namco Museum fit into this little party? Well...somewhere in the middle to be honest. It's a collection of Namco's most important arcade games repackaged for play on a home system, but it's not perfect by a long shot. Before we delve into the reasons for this though, let's have a look at the games included on this compendium of Namco's rich history...

Ferrari F355 Challenge: Dreamcast vs PlayStation 2

 
I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Ferrari F355 Challenge. It still looks amazing to this day, but the handling of the vehicles in the game is a bit of an acquired taste. The arcade machine garnered a lot of attention back in the day because the cabinet used a fairly inventive three screen display that made you feel as if you really were sat inside a £200,000 super car, with an unparalleled view of the track and dashboard of the Italian pimp wagon you were virtually sitting in. 
I did actually play the arcade incarnation of F355 Challenge back during the reign of the Dreamcast when I visited the fabled Namco Station at Manchester's sprawling Trafford Centre shopping mall, but when I played the Dreamcast version a few months later I was left cold by the ridiculous learning curve. In more recent times, I've actually learned to love this outlying entry in the Dreamcast's library of NAOMI ports, and as such have found myself playing it a fair bit.
For this reason, when I spotted a copy of the PlayStation 2 port on eBay for £1, I pulled the trigger more out of curiosity than anything else. There are quite a few ports of Dreamcast games to other systems - 18 Wheeler, Crazy Taxi, Sonic Adventure et al; but Ferrari is the only one that only received a PlayStation 2 port, never making it to either the Gamecube or the Xbox. I'd heard about the added external view - something sorely lacking from the Dreamcast version - but that was all I knew.

Now though, I've had a while to explore the PlayStation 2 port of Ferarri F355 Challenge and at the foot of this post you'll find a gameplay comparison video. But before we get to that, here are a few things I noted while playing both versions of this often overlooked title.