Cosmic Smash Secret Characters Discovered After 16 Years

Cosmic Smash: simply the finest minimalist squash game where you get on a 'cosmic bus' and whack a glowing ball at neon cubes. No, I haven't been at the vodka again - that's just the best way to describe Sega's 2001 NAOMI and Dreamcast release. The game was only ever released in Japan and has become quite a sought-after title for the Dreamcast, and not least because of the unorthodox packaging - it being one of the only official Dreamcast games to be released in a DVD-style case.
We covered Cosmic Smash quite some time ago here at the Junkyard, and I also heaped praise on it when I wrote a Dreamcast-themed Minority Report for Retro Gamer Magazine a couple of years back (issue 146 if you're interested). One thing I certainly missed in all my time playing the game though, was the inclusion of several secret characters. Secret characters that until now have pretty much never been seen or even mentioned anywhere on the internet.

Enter fellow blogger Jeremy Hobbs, curator of Ribbon Black. As he explains in his excellent article, Jeremy inadvertently unlocked a secret playable character he had never seen before - one of the 'worker' characters seen in the intro sequences. Initially, Jeremy thought he had unlocked the new avatar because he'd followed a certain route through the game, but this wasn't the case.
After going down a rabbit hole to discover just how he did it, Jeremy then learnt (after much internet and forum digging) that there are several other secret characters locked away in that retro-futuristic neon subway system of nightmares. One of them is a bear holding a fish (see above), but I won't spoil the story any further. As someone who knows what it's like to stumble upon something and then become embroiled in trying to find the answers (remember the whole 'Dreamcast Barber' thing?), this topic really piqued my interest; that a game - albeit one as obscure as Cosmic Smash -  can withhold its secrets for almost 16 years is nothing short of staggering to me.

Head over to Ribbon Black here to read the whole fascinating story, and also how you too can unlock the wacky extra characters. Thanks to my Junkyard co-writer Aaron Foster for alerting me to this.

SEGA Forever Finally Revealed, Includes Dreamcast Games!

So the wait is over. SEGA Forever has finally been revealed as the mobile gaming service most of us kinda already guessed it would be. Playing retro titles on mobile devices is nothing new, but this service offers something not yet seen: an ever growing library of titles from across the whole of SEGA's console back catalogue...including the Dreamcast. There are only a handful of Mega Drive titles available initially, but the library will be expanded over time, with Master System and Dreamcast specifically cited on the SEGA Forever website.
Interestingly, the SEGA Forever Twitter account also teased images of the SG-1000 and Saturn recently, so we'll be keen to see if those platforms are emulated too. SEGA Forever is available for iOS and Android devices, and boasts some nice features such as online leaderboards and Bluetooth controller support. The first batch of games, which includes Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast and Comix Zone will be available within 24hrs of the reveal. While games will be free to play, details covered at both SEGA Nerds and SEGAbits suggests that in order to remove adds, a small fee will apply for each game.


What do you think? Excited for the Dreamcast-specific portion of SEGA Forever? Or is this a crushing letdown? Playing games on a touchscreen has always been a bit guff...so it'll be interesting to see how this changes the landscape - if it can. As far as playing Dreamcast games goes, we'll no doubt be keeping an eye on this and seeing how the emulation competes with what's already out there. Oh, and if we can get the DreamConn to work with our mobiles, that'll be a bonus too!

So, SEGA Forever then. Best thing ever or huge #SEGAFail? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion in our Facebook group. You can also follow SEGA Forever on Twitter for updates.

Damascus Apparel Releases Limited Edition Dreamcast Shirt

Damascus Apparel is a clothing brand based in San Diego, and is a huge name in the alternative and EDM (Electronic Dance Music) scenes. Damascus has been in business since 2009 and since then has become one of the largest and well known producers of clothing and accessories tailored to meet the needs of its community. Why am I telling you this? Because they've just released a limited edition Dreamcast t-shirt. We've featured apparel, jackets and shirts here at the Junkyard on many occasions but this is the first time we've seen a relatively niche, underground - and widely respected - clothing manufacturer incorporate the Dreamcast into one of its products.
Taking a look at the Damascus website, it's clear that the offerings may not be to everyone's tastes, but what they do they do well. I was actually pretty intrigued to know more about the EDM scene after learning about Damascus, and there are a few interviews on various scene-specific magazine websites (here, here and here) that I would recommend giving a read. The Dreamcast t-shirt itself mixes a Dreamcast logo and a Sonic render with other symbols and designs which are a consistent theme in Damascus's clothing. Oh, and a whopping great dragon. Honestly, I can't see myself wearing it because I'm more of a Hawaiian shirt kinda guy, but I'm pretty sure there are plenty of people out there who would snap this up in a heartbeat.

The Dreamcast shirt is limited to just 99 copies (is that the right word?) and costs $45 plus shipping. Head over to the Damascus website here for further information.

Developer Interview: Senile Team

Senile Team is one of the premier independent studios currently developing games for the Dreamcast. With an impressive portfolio comprising such well-known and critically acclaimed titles as Rush Rush Rally Racing and the ever-popular Beats of Rage, Senile Team has already claimed its seat at the top table. With this in mind, we though it was about time that we got together with one of Senile Team's main men Roel van Mastbergen to find out a little bit more about the history of the outfit, their influences and get some details on the brand new platform adventure heading to PC and Dreamcast very soon - Intrepid Izzy.
DCJY: Hello Roel, thanks very much for agreeing to talk to The Dreamcast Junkyard! We’re big fans of your output on the Dreamcast. Could you tell all those people who may not be familiar a little bit about yourself and the history of Senile Team?

Roel van Mastbergen: Hi Tom, thanks for inviting me to this interview. I’m Roel van Mastbergen, designer, artist and programmer for Senile Team. Senile Team is a small indie developer (currently made up of four people) originally founded in 2003, when we created Beats of Rage. This beat ‘em up based on Streets of Rage proved very popular, and we decided to keep making games, especially for the Dreamcast. Our next release was the Micro Machines-inspired Rush Rush Rally Racing, of which we recently did an updated re-release - Rush Rush Rally Reloaded which we also brought to the Nintendo Wii a few years ago.
It’s very interesting that you mention Beats of Rage - I’m pretty sure that most Dreamcast owners are familiar with it, but possibly don’t know that Senile Team is responsible for the original engine. Before we get to Beats of Rage though, one thing I have to ask - where does the studio's name ‘Senile Team’ actually come from? You don't strike me as being particularly old or decrepit. Much.

Well, back in the day we used to communicate via a mailing list. When creating the mailing list, I found that most names that actually made sense were already taken, so I sort of randomly picked the name 'Senile.' When we completed Beats of Rage, we decided to stick to it. We felt it made sense in a way, because we'd just made an old school game. 'Old' and 'senile' go hand in hand, after all!

Check Out This New Xenocider Bonus Stage

Work continues apace on Retro Sumus' upcoming shooter Xenocider, and the latest development diary entry goes into finer details about some key features of the game. The Retro Sumus team recently met in sunny Madrid, Spain for an extended working weekend in which new gameplay features (including an upgrade store and difficulty level balancing) were discussed; along with confirmation of the final box art designs. But perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of this get together is the reveal of a brand new 'Shinobi' inspired first person shooter bonus stage:


The most impressive thing about the whole Xenocider project for me, is that all of the guys working on this fine-looking 3D shooter are doing all of the development in their spare time. They have careers in other fields and are working on producing one of the first fully 3D indie games for the Dreamcast once they knock off from their day jobs: now that's dedication for you. Once again, you can read the entry in full by heading over to the Retro Sumus website here.

With Xenocider, SLaVE and several other as-yet-unannounced titles due to hit the Dreamcast in the coming months, 2017 is shaping up to be one hell of a year for Sega's 'dead' console.

Akura HDMI Cable + XRGB Framemeister - Plus Q&A Live Stream

The title says it all really. I recently purchased the Akura HDMI cable for Dreamcast and have been fiddling around with mixed results. By far the best quality I've been able to get out of it so far has been by pairing it with the XRGB Mini. 

Here's a quick capture uploaded to YouTube, be sure to set it to 1080p and judge for yourself.

Akura HDMI cable + Framemeister XRGB Mini

We'll be holding a live Q&A at 9am this Saturday (17th June) on our Facebook page. The format of the Q&A will be a live stream of the Japanese version of Shenmue running on original DC hardware. I fancy myself as a bit of a videophile when it comes to the DC, so be sure to tune in and ask any questions related to upscaling, capturing footage, cables, CRTs or anything else that takes your fancy. No holds barred!

For comparison's sake, here's the same footage captured using the Toro VGA cable with the XRGB Mini:

Toro VGA cable + Framemeister XRGB Mini

Remember folks: Saturday 17th June, 10am BST (that's 6pm in Japan where I live, just so you know). On The Dreamcast Junkyard's Facebook page. See you there!

A Quick Look At The SEGA Forever Audio Tape

SEGA Forever, if you're not familiar, is a mysterious new service that Sega has been teasing for the past couple of months, and which many people have speculated will be some kind of mobile gaming platform. While this isn't specifically Dreamcast related in the slightest, it's still pretty cool and will most likely introduce a whole new generation of gamers to the classic Sega IPs of yesteryear. Also, if you're wondering why I keep jumping between writing Sega as 'SEGA' and 'Sega,' it's because it is my prerogative to be as stylistically inconsistent as I like. We only live once, after all. Well, unless you're Chakan the Forever Man...although technically he still only has one life, albeit one that can never be extinguished. But you get the idea.
"Did you just spill my pint?"
This week, we received an intriguing package at the Junkyard and at first we were a little concerned. In this era of heightened security measures, receiving an unexpected package - especially one with a Sega postmark on it - sets alarm bells ringing all over the joint. We needn't have worried though, as after the envelope had been carefully steamed open above a frantically boiling kettle, the assault droids were stood down and I personally extracted the following items from said envelope while wearing a reinforced hazmat suit (aka some fetching negligee):
Yes, a rather spiffing SEGA Forever branded audio cassette tape and a biro. This is cool for several reasons, and not least because I'm old enough to appreciate the 'biro and tape' reference - back in the 'old days' we used to use a biro to wind the tape back up if it unwound inside the tape deck or got chewed up in the player heads. It happened more times that I care to remember with my copy of Now 23, and I'll never forget the great sense of loss I felt when Would I Lie To You by Charles & Eddie ended up sounding more like an experimental Beatles track. But I digress.

Dreamcast & PC RPG Silver Re-released On Steam

We recently cast our minds back to the early 2000s and took a misty-eyed look at the fairly decent Dreamcast and PC role player, Silver. The game was largely ignored back when it was ported to Sega's platform in 2000, and it was viewed more as a 'lite' RPG when compared to the more traditional examples of the genre, such as Final Fantasy et al. The Dreamcast version has become quite a sought-after game in recent times though, and as with a lot of lesser-known titles on our beloved console this has caused the price of Spiral House's adventure to spike. The good news is that thanks to THQ Nordic, Silver has recently been re-released on Valve's Steam platform for the bargain price of just £4.99.
Naturally, the minimum specifications required to run Silver on Mac OS, Windows or Linux operating systems are understandably modest - the game was originally released for computers in 1999 after all. If you haven't experienced this enjoyable little role player and you're having trouble tracking down an affordable copy for the Dreamcast, you could do much worse than investigate this recent Steam re-release.

You can find out more about Silver and purchase the game on Steam here.

DreamPod - Episode 50

[iTunes][Stitcher][Buzzsprout][UK Podcast Directory][YouTube]

Music in this episode is from Sega Swirl. You can find out further information on the Dreamcast emulator for Xbox One here, the Deer Avenger discovery here, Xenocider here and SLaVE here. Also, be sure to check out Orion's Escape 2042 here. Feel free to join our Facebook group, like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter; and if you’re feeling flush and/or generous our Patreon is here. Oh, and one last thing - give us an iTunes review if you can be bothered. Cheers!

Dreamcast Emulation Heading To Xbox One

In many ways, I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner given the tangled history the Dreamcast and the original Xbox had: a Dreamcast emulator is potentially coming to the Microsoft Xbox One later this year. Well, that's the story if the recent news from XB1EMU is to be believed. As stated on their official website, XB1EMU is a collective of gamers dedicated to porting emulators to the Xbox and Windows platforms and they have already succeeded in putting several different console emulators on the market for Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64 and PlayStation. Interestingly, the Nintendo 64 emulator Win64e10 did in fact sneak its way onto the Xbox marketplace in 2016 before being pulled. According to the site though, work has begun on a new Dreamcast emulator specifically for Xbox One, similarly titled WinDCe10:

"We are starting work on WinDCe10 – the most advanced Sega Dreamcast emulator for Xbox One. Play your favorite Sega Dreamcast games on your Xbox One! No region lock, support save/load state, video/input configuration, and a turbo mode."
- XB1EMU

There's also an announcement video but it doesn't really show anything other than a list of games that you'll be able to play on the proposed WinDCe10. We're pretty sure Microsoft won't be approving of this new endeavour, and will most likely do its best to lay the smackdown on WinDCe10 quicker than Nintendo slaps the taste out of the mouths of Metroid home brewers.
Orange swirl of death.
Also, as someone who isn't really aufait with the Xbox One ecosystem (I went from an Xbox 360 to a PlayStation 4 because I'm a massive sell out), I can't really speculate on how gamers are going to get the emulator onto their Xboxes. That said, this is certainly an interesting story and one to keep an eye on. Also: turbo mode is mentioned. Sega Rally 2 with a stable frame rate? We can only hope! Here's the video:


Unlike the Nintendo Switch DreamStream thing, I haven't made this up, so what do you think? Are you excited at the prospect of playing Dreamcast games on your Xbox One? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation in our awesome Facebook group.

Isotope Softworks Reveals SLaVE Running On Dreamcast Hardware

It seems like forever ago that we last had some news to share about Isotope Softworks' awesome-looking first person shooter/puzzler SLaVE. Numerous bug fixes, an appeal for a Dreamcast coder's cable and various other delays have beset the development process of this ambitious, neon-soaked extravaganza. Now though, lead developer Coraline Ash has shared a brand new video on YouTube, demonstrating SLaVE running on actual Dreamcast hardware.

"We told you it was coming, and now here it is! First off, we apologize for the lousy capture method used (PC Webcam), but we hope this accurately depicts what you've all been waiting for!

SLaVE is a masterpiece of both design and technology, and it works perfectly on the Dreamcast. If only I had a mouse and keyboard, I would have totally PWNED it, since I'm so lame I never really figured out how to play properly with a controller. Oh well, I didn't do too bad! ;)

Only a few more issues to be worked out as witnessed in this footage capture (skybox generation, minor speed issues with dynamic lights), but I sincerely hope this proves beyond a matter of a doubt -- SLaVE is so close now - those pre-orders will be worth it my friends!!"
- Coraline Ash, Isotope Softworks

And here's the video in all its glory:


The YouTube description also goes on to describe that SLaVE will make use of the mouse and keyboard and even the Twin Stick controller, along with Dreamcast rumble pack support. There's still no concrete release date for SLaVE, but this video proves that development has come along leaps and bounds. What with Xenocider from Retro Sumus and a bunch of other things we've been asked not to announce just yet, 2017 is set to be a very interesting year for Dreamcast gamers. If you'd like to pre-order SLaVE, head over to GOAT Store here.

A Quick Look At Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire (iOS)

No, this isn't a Dreamcast game as such - it's a mobile game set in the world of Crazy Taxi, wherein the sole aim is to make as much money as possible and run a taxi empire that spans the entire city. That doesn't sound too far removed from the premise presented in the original series of Crazy Taxi titles, but Gazillionaire is something of a diversion from the usual chaotic driving, instead assuming the form of a top-down clicker with some light strategy elements. Once again, this is a quick look at the recently released iOS version of Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire so if you're not interested in non-Dreamcast stuff, you can probably stop reading now. If on the other hand you've seen this advertised on your app store of choice and are intrigued...then read on!
Unusually for a Crazy Taxi game, there is a storyline in Gazillionare that is slightly more involving than 'pick up that dude and take him to KFC as fast as possible,' although that's not to say there's anything wrong with that type of fast and loose narrative. A game like Crazy Taxi is pretty much perfection in the grand scheme of arcade thrills, so anything more than 'get from here to there by any means' is always going to seem a bit superfluous. Imagine you had to do The Knowledge before starting the game and had to take your taxi for constant safety checks and services? No thanks. That said, Gazillionaire's new setting doesn't feel too shoehorned in and also gives you an antagonist to battle that isn't simply an ever-ticking clock.
In Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire you assume the role of a nameless taxi firm owner and must try to keep the lights on and the city's passengers happy, all while being pressured out of business by the evil Prestige Megacorporation. Prestige has the added bonus of being able to offer luxurious and super-comfortable taxi travel to those who can afford it and is stealing the business of the small time taxi firm you run so it's up to you to hire the best and fastest cabbies around to take the battle to Prestige. Is this a thinly veiled social commentary on the whole Uber thing? It wouldn't surprise me to be honest.

Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire is probably about as far removed from the Crazy Taxi we know and love as you could possibly get, both in terms of it having a story and also the gameplay style. But is that a bad thing? Actually, no it isn't because as far as mobile games of this type go, it's pretty good fun and fairly faithful to the series' roots in terms of aesthetics. Making crazy money is the aim of the game, and that has never been a bad thing.