Guest Article: Tales Of A Dreamcast Virgin

In this latest guest article, Leigh Bonser explains how in his native Australia the Dreamcast passed him by completely. However, after recently discovering the console he is now tutoring himself in the delights of the fantastic library. In some ways, I'm quite envious of Leigh as the Dreamcast is a fresh concept and there are so many amazing experiences waiting for him. Anyway, enough from me. Over to Leigh, the self-styled 'Dreamcast virgin'...
Like most readers of the Dreamcast Junkyard, I’ve been a gamer since I was a kid, fascinated by the technology and the escapism that video gaming presents to the open minds of youth. My first real memory of gaming started when a kid on my street got a Commodore 64 and allowed a select few local kids to come over and play. Now I can’t really remember exactly what we played, but I know it was off cassette and that it was dreadfully slow. But back then, who cared? We knew what was coming was exciting and would absolutely be worth the wait.

Skip forward a few years and my Dad, out of nowhere, came home one day with a second hand Apple IIc computer; also a dog. I think the dog was to smooth over my mother due to the expenditure. Such a wise man. This event is what I consider to be the starting point for the path my life has taken so far, as a gamer, computer enthusiast, career in IT and also, how to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission. That’s not to say that I wasn’t already into other forms of video gaming. The NES was certainly around at this time as was the Master System. However, neither were very popular in the town that I grew up in, unless you had a wealthy or American friend, courtesy of the local American installation. Video games just weren’t really accessible amongst the circle of friends and family that I had.

DreamPSU Could Save Your Dreamcast From Imminent And Permanent Destruction

OK, that's quite a melodramatic title, but it's all about the clickbait these days. If I don't use ridiculous titles like that, how else will I convince people to come here and read this tripe? I suppose I could promise to fax nudes to readers in return for likes on social media, but the last time I did that I was threatened with legal action. I learnt the hard way, so you don't have to.

Right, down to business. You know how you can swap the powerboard out of a Dreamcast from one region with one from another to make it work in your country? No? Well, you can. For example, all of my NTSC Dreamcasts have UK powerboards in them so I don't have to mess about with transformers. The powerboards in Dreamcasts are also one of the reasons a lot of consoles end up on the scrap heap - loose connections can lead to the age old resetting issue, and in some cases they can just die through old age and overuse. Well, a dude called Chris Moon has started an Indiegogo campaign for a little thingy called a DreamPSU, a smaller and more robust alternative to the Dreamcast powerboard.
The device slots into the Dreamcast chassis in much the same way as a standard powerboard, but without that archaic array of valves and cogs; and as an added bonus the DreamPSU generates less heat than the regular powerboard, meaning your Dreamcast can also double up as an air conditioning unit as opposed to the fan heater it is now. The Indiegogo campaign sets out all the details and it looks like a very decent little contraption. Chris is only looking for around $5000 to make the DreamPSU a reality, so why not chuck him a few pennies and help him prolong the life of Dreamcasts worldwide. Find Chris on Twitter here and find the DreamPSU website here.

Source: SEGA Nerds / Indiegogo

Check Out This Awesome Lo-fi Dreamcast Box Art

The title pretty much says it all. These were created by artist Corey Thompson and actually date back to 2015. However, coolness transcends both the constructs we frail humans label 'time' and 'space,' hence my sharing them here in 2017. Anyway, stop reading this literary offal. Instead, point your eyes downwards and gorge them on Corey's sumptuous, moist, and downright delectable doodles.
Some bonafide Dreamcast classics there, right? Well, apart from Blue Stinger. Which is actually the best game on the Dreamcast and therefore has its own class which is above 'classic.' Nice Jet Grind/Set Radio cover there too, which gives me a great way to segue into this other GIF on Corey's site which depicts a stylised Dreamcast connected to a stylised TV...playing Jet Grind/Set Radio:
Check out Corey's website here for more artwork.

Atelier: The Dreamcast Game That Could Destroy Your PC On Christmas Day

The Atelier franchise is one of the longest running PlayStation-centric series of role-playing games and has spawned a number of manga and anime adaptations. If the name doesn't sound overly familiar, it's probably because the vast majority of the games in the series have never been released outside of Japan, or translated into English. Not that this should stop you exploring them, of course - the alchemy themed narrative that runs throughout the series is quite intriguing - but you might want to brush up on your Japanese, especially if you wish to play the two Dreamcast volumes that were released in late 2001. But this post isn't really about the quality or gameplay features of Gust Co. Ltd.'s popular RPG series. It's more about the fact that the Dreamcast version shipped with an incredibly destructive computer virus unwittingly bundled on the disc.
The Atelier title that was released on the Dreamcast is actually a sort of 'remaster' of the first two games in the series, and the full title is Atelier Marie & Elie: The Alchemists of Salburg 1-2. Played from an isometric viewpoint, the game is a fairly traditional J-RPG with a heavy reliance on the player's ability to create and upgrade items using the arcane method of alchemy. When the double disc set was released in mid-November 2001 by Kool Kizz, it was quickly discovered that the discs included some special bonus features that were accessible when placed in a computer CD-Rom drive, one of which is an Atelier-themed screensaver.
Not long after, it was also discovered that this screensaver actually delivered a payload in the form of the Kriz computer virus; a virus that was initially released in 1999 but only found real infamy in 2001. The Kriz virus that was accidentally included on the Atelier discs cannot infect a Dreamcast simply because a Dreamcast doesn't have the hardware or the makeup of a PC; but once executed by a system using the Windows 9x, NT or 2000 operating systems, would silently spread throughout the computer and lie dormant until 25th December. Then, on Christmas Day it would cause havoc by merrily turning your PC into a paperweight, while you were chowing down on far too much chocolate and throwing up the third helping of turkey you knew you shouldn't have eaten.

No, Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap Isn't Coming To Dreamcast

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap wowed pretty much everyone who saw it when it hit the PC and consoles earlier this year. Lizardcube's lovingly crafted homage to retro platformers brought the Wonder Boy series to a new generation and gave it a complete makeover, with sumptuous visuals and animation that wouldn't look out of place in a traditional hand drawn Disney movie.

Before the game was even released though, there were murmurings on social media and some other Dreamcast fansites that The Dragon's Trap may also see a release on the Dreamcast – several members of the development team even worked on commercial releases for Sega's final system (one of which was PAL exclusive rarity Evil Twin: Cyprien's Chronicles). Plus, what a fitting way to honour the Dreamcast, with a port of a game that spiritually started out on even earlier Sega hardware?
It didn't seem like too far-fetched an idea, especially considering the high quality port of Volgarr the Viking that appeared a couple of years back. So, intrigued by the rumours, we reached out to Lizardcube to seek the truth – is there a chance that The Dragon's Trap may be gracing GD-Rom drives in the near future? Well, in a word: no. Dragon's Trap director Omar Cornut told us:

"The Dragon’s Trap isn't coming to Dreamcast. We don't have the bandwidth or interest to pursue, or have a third-party pursue this, however cool it would be. Our plates are way too full.

"We are already not doing a PlayStation Vita port - a system which has an arguably bigger market - for similar reasons, so Dreamcast just isn’t feasible. Plus, the game was designed for high-res and a high amount of VRAM storage, and wouldn't be at its best at resolutions the Dreamcast can output."
- Omar Cornut

So, straight from the dragon's mouth as it were: The Dragon's Trap is not coming to the Dreamcast, regardless of how romantic an idea it sounds. Don't be too disheartened though, there's still plenty to look forward to in the near future; with games like SLaVE, Intrepid Izzy,  Xenocider and some as-yet-unannounced titles all due to land on Dreamcast this year.

Get Your Dreamcast Online With DreamPi - 2017 Edition

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you'll no doubt have heard about DreamPi. For those uninitiated rock dwellers though, I'll explain. DreamPi combines a Raspberry Pi mini computer and software created by a clever dude (and occasional Junkyard guest writer) called Luke Benstead, and enables Dreamcast owners to play online multiplayer games through a cool service called Dreamcast Now. The main source for up to date information and trouble-shooting guides for DreamPi is undoubtedly Dreamcast Live, and custodian of the site Pcwzrd has just released a 2017 edition of his DreamPi video guide:


It's pretty comprehensive and covers all the main steps for getting your Dreamcast online for some hot Chu Chu Rocket! action. Be sure to check out Pcwzrd's YouTube channel, Twitter and of course Dreamcast Live for pretty much everything you could ever want to know about playing online Dreamcast games in 2017.

The Mystery Of The Victor Wondercast

We've looked at - and failed to find any concrete details on - several mysterious and largely undocumented variations of the Dreamcast hardware here at the Junkyard in recent times. There was the F1 World Grand Prix II custom console which we kinda deduced was either a fan-made console or a professionally created competition prize; and then there was the Coca-Cola Dreamcast that even the Coca-Cola archive couldn't give us any solid answers about. But now there's a new mystery to pore over, and it's probably the most tantalising yet. Before I go any further though, props must go to a Dreamcast fan and collector who goes by the online name Sega Emultion Sanshiro (no relation to Segata Sanshiro, I'm sure), who is responsible for bringing this whole topic to my attention. What am I talking about? Why, the Victor Wondercast of course!

Now, it's common knowledge in retro circles that Victor (or JVC in most territories) released a special edition of the Sega Saturn called the V-Saturn. The V-Saturn is essentially the same console as the standard Sega Saturn, but with a few internal differences and a different boot screen and logo (check out the entry at Sega Retro for more information). The firm also released licensed versions of other Sega consoles too. What isn't common knowledge, is that Victor/JVC may very well have been planning to license the Dreamcast hardware and produce their own version of the console, dubbed 'Wondercast.' The only proof we have of this comes in the form of a single image, printed in the August 1998 issue of defunct French games magazine Consoles+:
The image is very small and pixellated, but it clearly shows a purple Dreamcast with the Victor logo and the name Wondercast, along with the code number RG-X0 1. This is interesting because JVC/Victor's previous Sega consoles also had similar RG codes - RG-X1 for the V-Saturn and RG-M2 for the Wondermega. The accompanying article is mainly about the impending launch of the Dreamcast and Sega's plans for the console, but this single image is the only evidence we know of that the Victor Wondercast ever existed or was planned. The original is below, along with an isolated image of the console (click for larger versions):

The Dragoncast VS Cable

Like many consoles of the 1990s, the Dreamcast offers the option to connect two systems together via a system link cable to enjoy two-player action. This capacity to connect two Dreamcasts together is quite possibly one of the most under-used abilities of the hardware though, due to the scarcity not only of the link cables themselves; but also the tiny number of games that actually make use of system link play. Officially, there are only a handful of games that allow a pair of Dreamcasts to be tethered together with a physical connection for link play: F355 Challenge, Virtual On, Sega Tetris and Aero Dancing F. There's also the unreleased and unfinished vehicular combat title Hellgate from Jester Interactive too, should you wish to give that a go.
A very early demo of Outtrigger also hints at the functionality, but it was removed from the final game. However, this article isn't really about the software library designed to make use of the Dreamcast link cable. It's actually about the Dragoncast, an unofficial alternative to the ultra-rare Japan-only official Dreamcast VS Cable (code HKT-9500); and also about the outstanding entertainment provided by the dubiously translated English on the packaging.
Image credit: DCJY Facebook group member Arnold Javon Daye II
Coming from manufacturer Dragon 2000, the Dragoncast is just one entry in a fairly sizable catalogue of third party peripherals that also includes arcade sticks, memory cards, VGA boxes and rumble packs. There isn't a lot of information to be found online about this rather enigmatic brand, but the parent company appears to be called Sam-Factory; a marque which again leads to something of a dead end when using Google as a detective tool. There are a couple of articles and forum entries online that look at a Dragoncast fight stick (here and here), but the general consensus is that the controllers from Dragoncast/Dragon 2000/Sam-Factory are a bit on the cheap-nasty side when it comes to quality control.
Happily, I can say with confidence that the Dragoncast VS Cable fares a little better and does actually offer a specimen of more than acceptable quality. That said, even though this cable was most likely intended as a more cost-effective way of enjoying the Dreamcast's link play abilities, the Dragoncast itself is now something of a rarity and can command some pretty high prices when they pop up on eBay. Not as high as the official VS/Taisen/HKT-9500 cable, but still enough to make your eyes water...as mine did when I won this example recently...

Hardware Review: Beharbros Akura HDMI Adapter

Beharbros have a pretty solid track record when it comes to releasing display adapters for the Dreamcast. In the past, the self-styled 'artisnal retromodders' have garnered critical acclaim with a range of hand made devices that continue to keep Dreamcasts turning and burning, regardless of how much display technology accelerates away from the natural abilities of the system. The Toro, Hanzo, Kuro, Kenzei and SLR boxes all have distinct features, and while they come at a premium, they all help Dreamcast gamers achieve optimal image quality, whatever their choice of display.
The Akura is Beharbros' latest release and while it retains the familiar aesthetic of the other boxes in the catalogue, it eschews SCART and VGA connections and instead offers an all in one option for gamers who want to hook their Dreamcast up to a HDMI-equipped display. Weighing in at $85 with free worldwide shipping, the Akura requires no external power supply and connects directly to the console's AV port, delivering a native 480p image via the use of an HDMI cable that goes directly from the box to the television or monitor.
Be aware though - the Akura is not an upscaler, it simply chucks out a 480p picture through a HDMI cable (more on this later), and a series of switches on the side of the device yield a number of interesting extra features. First though, before we delve into the more technical side of the Akura and whether this is the box for your needs, lets take a look at the physical design of Beharbros' latest adapter and just what those little switches on the side are all about...