10 PC Games That Should Have Been Ported To Dreamcast...But Never Were

We've touched on this subject briefly in the not-too-distant past, but I thought it was worth revisiting with a proper article. What am I talking about? Why, PC to Dreamcast ports of course. It's no secret that the Dreamcast was held aloft as some form of chimera, a home gaming console that could host arcade-perfect conversions from the NAOMI cabinets, but also a console that could mimic a decent, medium specced gaming rig of the era.
Thanks to the inclusion of Windows CE elements, the Dreamcast was almost viewed as the perfect system to which PC games could be quickly and easily ported, and for a short time during the console's early life it looked like developers were lining up to complement their computer-based releases with a Dreamcast version as standard procedure. The addition of compatibility with Windows CE is quite an interesting subject in its own right, and as discussed in this CNET article from September 1999 Microsoft was hoping that the inclusion of the operating system would actually be a catalyst for more PC software being brought to the Dreamcast.

"Microsoft's new [Windows CE 2.0] development software may help get game developers back on track in bringing Windows CE-based games to Dreamcast. The toolkit is designed to simplify title development and conversions from other system platforms, Microsoft said. The toolkit also provides improved graphics performance and other multimedia effects.

"The suite provides faster data transfer between the development hardware and the Dreamcast console, while technology borrowed from web page development tools aids in the creation of customized games."
- CNET, September 1999

Granted, before the Dreamcast was even released PC hardware was technically a good deal more capable (Intel had already released a 450Mhz Pentium III processor by mid 1999, for example); but the power of Sega's fledgling system outstripped the contemporary consoles by several degrees of magnitude, and Windows CE compatibility hinted that uncompromised PC ports were set to be a reality for the first time.
"Equipped with a high-powered chip, modem, and other PC features, Sega's Dreamcast - like other gaming machines coming to market - can ostensibly duplicate, and even improve upon, many of the core functions of home PCs."
- CNET, September 1999

Initially this certainly appeared to be the case anyway, not least because of the keyboard and mouse peripherals, and a number of high profile PC games were given a decent crack of the whip on the Dreamcast. Titles like Hidden & Dangerous brought a level of strategy to consoles that hadn't really been seen before, and Speed Devils showed how close the new system could get to emulating high-end PC visuals for a fraction of the price. Later came games like Rainbow Six, Star Lancer, The Nomad Soul, Soldier of Fortune, Stupid Invaders and (to a certain extent) Half-Life - all titles that started life as PC games. Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, the floodgates never really fully opened and the deluge of PC ports failed to materialize.
The brevity of the Dreamcast as a fully supported system is the biggest factor in this, as many PC games that were odds on to have made the leap from the office to the living room were undoubtedly cancelled once the news of the Dreamcast's demise filtered through the industry. The history of the Dreamcast is littered with abandoned and half finished projects, many of which we're seeing come to light many years later.

However, with this post I wanted to explore some of the PC games from that halcyon era where consoles and PCs were pretty much level pegged when it came to graphical grunt; and explore some of the games that were rumoured to be on their way to the Dreamcast, but which never made it. To clarify/confuse things further, some of these games were actually in development for the Dreamcast before being cancelled, while others are simply titles I think would have been a good fit for the system. Let's get it on...

Dreamcast Riding High At Gamescom 2017

The annual Gamescom trade fair in Cologne, Germany is always a hit with developers and publishers of the latest and greatest new games and hardware. All the big guns have been in attendance at the 2017 show, with major players like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft showing their wares, and the public have been lapping it up. But what's all this got to do with the humble Dreamcast? Well, believe it or not, the Dreamcast has been exceptionally well represented at Gamescom this year, with a glut of upcoming games on display for Sega's old warhorse.
Intrepid Izzy from Senile Team, Retroguru's Hermes, Xenocider from Retro Sumus, the recent releases from JoshProd, Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, and Alice Dreams Tournament have all been on display and fully playable. This is due in part to the sizeable displays laid on by Retro Spiel and German retro gaming magazine RETURN. It's pretty awesome to see the Dreamcast represented at such a prestigious event, even more so with all these new titles on display. Below you'll find an assortment of photos from Gamescom 2017 showing that the Dreamcast is far from dead - it's very much alive and kicking!

Cowboy Bebop Homebrew Shmup Coming Soon To Dreamcast

Not going to lie in an attempt to look more learned than I am - I've never seen an episode of Cowboy Bebop. I know that it's an animation and that it's highly regarded...but that's about as far as my knowledge goes. Ask me about branch lines closed by Dr Beeching's infamous restructure of the British rail network in the 1960s instead though, and boy you're in for a treat.
But back to the main point. There's a homebrew shmup heading to the Dreamcast that's based on the Cowboy Bebop franchise and it actually looks pretty decent. Programmed using the BennuGD language, this new shooter from indie developer Rolando Fernandez (aka folken) reminds me a little of Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy in terms of visuals - and I hope that doesn't sound like an insult, as Trevor McFur, for all its shortcomings was a pretty good looking game.
From what I can gather this isn't a totally new game, but instead is an updated version of an existing homebrew, but using BennuGD it'll offer improvements in terms of smoother gameplay and some extra options. That said, I'd never heard of the original either, so this is a moot point. There's not really much more to say for now, but we'll be keeping an eye on this one and will update you when we have more information and/or a release date.
Thanks to our good friends at Sega Saturno for sharing this with us, head over there for the original reveal article in Spanish. Once you've read that, go here and read all about the Beeching Axe, and then leave a comment about your favourite closed branch line and/or station.

New Shenmue III Trailer & Logo Divides Opinion

Yeah, yeah. It's not really related to the Dreamcast anymore but here it is. Shenmue III's latest trailer. Apparently this is showing off some actual in engine footage which is...interesting. I mean, the locations look excellent - lots of lovely lighting effects, shadows and architecture as you'd expect. The music, too is as rousing and spine tingling as it ever has been. However, those character models look a bit basic don't you think? After two years of development time?


Again, these are early renders but the comments on the Shenmue III Kickstarter page show that people are divided not only by Ryo's altered look, but also the new logo. Some of the more negative include this from Phillip Zamora:

"While I can see your going for a somewhat cartoon look, the bad guy's face looks ridiculous & unrealistic for a human being. As well the new Shenmue logo looks less cool or professional than the original handwritten one."

And this from François Mahieu:

"The best decision now would probably be to cancel the project. Please leave us with our memories from the original Shenmue."

Although it's not all bad - far from it in fact - and lots of positive comments echo what Riled Up had to say on the progress thus far:

"The game really looks good. But you need an inteligent mind to see that. You could easily say no facial expression blabla. But that trailer is not intended to show that it is final."

Personally, I couldn't give a flying toss about either as long as it plays well when it lands in my PS4, and going off Yu Suzuki's back catalogue I don't think we have anything to worry about on that front. But what do you think about this new trailer and logo change? Sound off in the comments or in our Facebook group.

Previous Shenmue related posts:

Some Thoughts On Sonic Mania

So Sonic Mania has finally landed, and it's every bit as good as we hoped it would be. The last time I bought a Sonic game for a contemporary console was probably when I got Sonic Adventure 2 for the Dreamcast way back when, and since then I've pretty much given the franchise a bit of a wide berth; the negative press subsequent releases have garnered always putting me off investigating them.

For some weird reason, the post-Adventure 3D games (with the exception of Sonic Generations and - reportedly - Sonic Colours) have been...misguided in their attempts to keep the spiky blue one in the public eye. Or rather, they've kept him in the public eye for all the wrong reasons. But this most definitely isn't a review; and it isn't meant to be one of those 'Sonic is crap' think pieces usually written by games journalists too young to even remember Sonic's first game on the Mega Drive. No, these are my random and meandering thoughts on the awesomeness of Sonic Mania and why it is such an important release for Sega's flagship series.
I remember when Sonic 2 came out and my brother asked for it for his birthday. As we're twins, it was my birthday too. That would have been March 1993, so my 11th birthday. Do you know what I asked for? A toy coach. A fucking coach. A die cast toy coach with luggage compartments that opened and a door that opened and little rubber tires that you could peel off the metal wheels. I still have no idea why I asked for - and got - a toy coach. Meanwhile, my brother had Sonic 2. One of the greatest platform games of all time.

The reason I bring this up is that I vividly remember the differing levels of enjoyment we gleaned from our respective gifts. My coach was all but redundant after a few minutes pushing it around the carpet and smashing it against a wall simulating an horrific road traffic accident. Sonic 2 though...well that cartridge stayed firmly implanted in our Mega Drive for weeks (in between sessions of European Club Soccer), and I still hold the game in the highest regard now, 20-odd years later. Why? because it's a masterclass in platforming and added just enough to the original Sonic template to be considered a completely new, yet wholly familiar experience.
That's kind of how I feel about Sonic Mania. The familiar levels and visual style, and the outrageously good music that harks back to the original 2D side scrollers. It all just reeks of old-skool Sonic yet somehow manages to be brand new, shoehorning in new visual effects and graphics techniques that wouldn't have been possible on the 16-bit system the Sonic series was born on. If you haven't already, I recommend watching Digital Foundry's video on Sonic Mania because it goes into detail on how the game came about and the tricks employed in the visuals that you probably wouldn't notice unless they were pointed out.

Review: Hermes

2017 is fast becoming a bumper year for new Dreamcast releases, and may well take the crown for most productive year for commercially released indie titles since the demise of the platform we all love so much. Not only do we have JoshProd porting classics to the console, Orion bringing us Escape 2042 and several highly anticipated titles on the horizon, but we now also have the second Dreamcast offering from Retroguru (who released the fun puzzler Fruit'Y a couple of years ago) and Dragon Box Shop. Hermes is a little 8/16-bit inspired run and jumper that opened for pre-orders a couple of months ago, and has now been received without much fanfare by those who purchased it.

Hermes sees you play the role of the title character, a French chef who has an almost unhealthy appetite for some grilled chicken. But rather than take a trip down to the nearest supermarket (which wouldn't have made a very good game - let's be honest. Bit short. Still more fun than Spirit of Speed though...); our Gallic hero does what every red-blooded meat eater who values good food would do, and that's slaughter the chicken himself.
If video games have taught me anything, it's that the slaughtering of animals usually involves jumping on platforms, avoiding snails and risking agonising death all in pursuit of the ultimate nutritious goal, and that is exactly what happens in Hermes. The chicken, unsurprisingly not keen on becoming the next gastronomic experience for our eponymous hero, decides to leg it, leading Hermes on a merry dance to chase down what is fast becoming a poorly chosen source of nourishment.

Playable Demo Of Cancelled Dreamcast Game Agartha Discovered

Here's a turn up for the books. It seems that No Cliché's long-lost Dreamcast adventure game Agartha does indeed exist in playable form...and below you'll find some video of it running. The video was posted to the Assembler forums recently and upon asking about the origins of the demo, it appears to have been discovered in a bundle of GDs purchased on eBay some time ago. The most important takeaway here though, is that the footage shown in the video below confirms the existence of a fully playable section of one of the most enigmatic games ever teased for the Dreamcast:


The story of Agartha is an interesting one, and up until now it was thought that the game never actually got past the concept stage, with various rumours swirling around the internet that the images released to the press back in the day weren't actually from a build of the game running on genuine Dreamcast hardware. Happily, we can now report that yes, there is a playable version of No Cliché's long-lost snow-bound adventure out there.
The game was to be No Cliché's second major foray into the Dreamcast library after Toy Commander, and is set in 1920s Romania. The main theme is supernatural in design, and the search for the entrance to the mysterious titular city of Agartha is a key plot thread. The video gives a glimpse at the interactions players could expect with card-playing villagers, a look at the menu screens and items, and some of the snow-covered outdoor areas. There's also a (fairly gruesome) demonstration of the real-time lighting used in the engine. Sadly, the promising title was cancelled and promptly vanished after Sega announced discontinuation of the Dreamcast.
Naturally, the Agartha shown in the video is very early, but the fact that a playable version exists is pretty incredible. The footage here (and the image below) is taken from an emulator, but the GD does run in a Dreamcast too according to the owner. It's slightly annoying that all we're allowed to see is this video (but hell - it's better than nothing!), and we're hopeful that at some point the owner will release it for everyone to have a good look at.
In the meantime, why not check out this previous article exploring Agartha's cameo in Toy Racer?

Splatoon 2 Is The Dreamcast Game I Never Knew I Wanted

I am loath to make comparisons between the commercial flop Sega Dreamcast and the commercial darling Nintendo Switch but the latest first-party offering from Nintendo on its home/portable console hybrid might as well be the home of DJ Professor K. I’m comparing, of course, the paint-splattering Splatoon 2 with the flashy Jet Grind Radio on the Dreamcast.

I could give you a surface level analysis and discuss how both games involve a metric-ton of paint sloshing but at the ‘Yard we like to go a little bit deeper. Splatoon 2 is a vibrant online shooter with compressed matches that resemble the rhythm and pointedness of Dreamcast’s library of competitive games and not just the amazing Jet Grind Radio. Ooga Booga. Outtrigger. Power Stone. Hydro Thunder. The Dreamcast is home to a healthy supply of arcade-style games that require minimal investment and an honest desire for amusement. Journalists in the ‘90s categorized the Dreamcast as the last 'hobby' console, i.e., a fun little box that - not obsessive types that like to achievement hunt and spend hundreds of hours gawking at Geralt’s platinum hair - could enjoy. The Dreamcast represented the end of an era. Its games were a testament to the hobbyist philosophy.
But let’s get back to Jet Grind Radio for a moment. In Jet Grind Radio you play as a variety of rollerblading hoodlums (as I’m sure President Trump would call them, I like to call them artists) who skate around the streets of Tokyo-to looking for areas to spraypaint their tags. In order to achieve this, you must battle a crescendo of Tokyo-to police forces up to and including a damn tank. Apparently vandalism is punishable by tank in the streets of Tokyo-to. The spraying and skating is accompanied by a funky soundtrack from DJ Professor K. Poppy hip-hop and female Japanese chanting fills your ears while you race around the cell-shaded environment.

Sonic Mania Is Here...Anyone For Sonic Adventure?

Sonic Mania has finally landed on consoles and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive - hurrah! We think now is a great time to celebrate this with the first YouTube upload from our new video maestro James Jarvis, and what better game than Sonic Adventure? James is a bit of a veteran when it comes to creating videos focusing on the Dreamcast, having been producing similar content for his own channel ItsMuchMore since 2013; and now we're thrilled that he's come on board at the Junkyard to continue the great work that Aaron 'The Gagaman' Foster started all those years ago! We'll be sharing all of the latest videos from our YouTube channel here anyway, but be sure to head over there to subscribe, like, share, comment and all that other stuff the cool kids are doing these days! Please enjoy this cool lets play along with James' commentary...

A Closer Look At The Dreamcast Internet Starter Kit

In this day and age we kind of take it for granted that the internet is a thing we have at our disposal with almost effortless availability. It truly is a ubiquitous resource of entertainment, learning, communication and screaming at each other on forums. The internet is, I'm pretty confident in stating, one of the most important inventions the human race has ever come up with. I'd even put it up there with the wheel, the microchip, the instant noodle and the screw-top beer bottle. Yes, old Tim Berners-Lee really hit on something back in the early 1990s when he and his motley crew of super nerds at CERN gave birth to what we now more commonly refer to as the t'interwebs. It goes without saying that anybody reading this right now is doing so using the power of said network, be it on a mobile phone, a tablet, their watch, games console or even - heaven forfend - an actual desktop PC or Mac.

Now, the Dreamcast was - as most of you will be aware - the first console to come as standard with a modem and the ability to browse the internet and access multiplayer games right out of the box. Well, unless you lived in Europe for the first few months...but that's a moot point. The fact of the matter is that the Dreamcast was marketed first and foremost as a games machine, but also as a cost-effective way for people to get a taste of the internet without having to buy a computer; and in those heady days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when flannel shirts, Backstreet Boys and Eiffel 65 were still en vogue, that wasn't something to be sniffed at.
For my sins, I did go through a short-lived spell of buying a UK-based magazine called .net after getting my Dreamcast, just so I could sit on the bus reading it looking like I was 'jacked in' to the power of the 'information superhighway.' In reality I still looked like a scruffy, fat nerd. But this is the point I'm trying to make - back in 1999, the internet wasn't as ubiquitous as it is now and people didn't have 3G and 4G enabled smart phones bouncing around in their pockets, getting scratched up by a bunch of keys. The internet for many - me included - was a vast and wondrous new frontier and by God I was ready to ride the wave on my digital surfboard, tits akimbo.
But herein lies the conundrum. Sega probably knew that the pseudo tech-savvy among its target demographic for the Dreamcast would be onboard with this idea of web surfing and online gaming. How then, would the Japanese firm entice the average person? The outliers in this new digital wonderland? The ones who didn't know a byte from a flimflam, or a googolplex from a Yahoo!? Here's how: by devising a 'starter kit' for the unlearned, one that was created with basic and easy to understand instructions and a guide to what this whole 'internet' thingy was all about. And to top it all off, by including an internet guide...for housewives.

Review: 4x4 Jam

There are adults out there, probably people reading these very words, who didn't exist when the Dreamcast was a newly released gaming platform and Sega's great hope of winning back the home console war. That's an astonishing thought to a grizzled old gamer like me; that people who I can have serious, grown up discussions with did not exist when I walked out of the shop with my new Dreamcast console under my arm. The at the time revolutionary ideas Sega were talking about; the 6 billion players online, the portable game playing memory card, the PC quality graphical power - things that I sometimes still find remarkable when looking back at the little 14 inch portable CRT TV and a wobbly spectrum keyboard that were my introduction to gaming, these things defined my gaming, set me on a course to being a self confessed Dreamcast addict. But they mean nothing, had no impact, on the gaming lives of a vast number of current gamers. Online

console gaming isn't a pipe dream, but an expected standard. Graphical capabilities are blurring the lines between reality and digital fiction. And as for portable gaming, none of us could have imagined the rise (and rise) of smart phones and the shift towards that platform as a gaming behemoth when we all got excited by a digital screen on a memory card.
4x4 Jam emerged on this new frontier of gaming late in the last decade, before Hungarian developer Invictus Games took it across to a more familiar platform via the Sony PSP minis selection - you know, those cheap and cheerful independent games that were a welcome addition to an often maligned handheld system. It received a good critical reception on both mobiles and PSP, and has even seen an HD update since, as smartphones continue their relentless technological improvement. And now... it appears on the Dreamcast, published by the newly emerged force in the indie Dreamcast scene JoshProd, in some way completing this possibly clumsy circle that I've been trying to create through these meandering opening paragraphs.
But take a moment just to think about this. A game, released on platforms not even conceived within the lifetime of the Dreamcast, ends up being ported to a console approaching it's 20th birthday. The possibilities this opens up are mouth watering. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. It's all well and good being excited by a well received game on later hardware making its way to our beloved little box of dreams, but the execution of the port, and the quality of the end result, is what really matters. And so this is how I approached 4x4 Jam - excited by the prospect (not to even mention the fact that this is the first proper 3D game to appear in the commercial indie Dreamcast scene, beating the long delayed SLaVE in the process), but with a slight sense of trepidation as to how it would turn out, and what sort of quality I could expect from this unexpected arrival to the Dreamcast party. There was nothing left to do but strap on my imaginary helmet, slip into my virtual driving gloves and take the game for a spin...

A Quick Look At Seventh Cross: Evolution

The Dreamcast library is full of odd games, and really is a testament to how the Sega of yore was quite keen to push boundaries when it came to game design. Stuff like Seaman, Roommania #203, Samba de Amigo etc show how imaginative and downright wacky Sega's in-house development teams could get. But it wasn't just first party developers who took things a little bit left field when it came to the Dreamcast. There are some truly bizarre third party games on the Dreamcast, games that we'll probably never see the likes of again. Titles such as Lack of Love, Bomber hehhe! and Pen Pen Triicelon are all pretty strange by today's standards and for the time they were released offered a glimpse into the imaginations of designers who were doing things in the console sphere that was rarely seen. Another game that should be added to this category is Seventh Cross: Evolution, a game in which you start as an amoeba and literally play the game of life, evolving into new intelligent life forms and eventually shamble out of the primordial ocean and conquer the ancient landmasses of a prehistoric world.
When the Dreamcast was first announced and the console was being shown in magazines of the era, Seventh Cross was one game I vividly remember being really intrigued by, simply because it showed a sort of metallic humanoid walking around a barren archipelago. I'm not sure why it stuck in my mind but it just looked so weird and made me want to follow the development of the Dreamcast closely. Sadly, I never got to experience the game back then because it wasn't picked up for a PAL release and getting imported games wasn't something I was especially interested in back in those days. I would just buy what was on the shelves of Gamestation or Electronics Boutique and Seventh Cross: Evolution wasn't a game that ever made the leap across the pond.
A Japanese launch title, Seventh Cross: Evolution did make it to the US (the NTSC-J version is simply titled Seventh Cross, while the NTSC-U game is called Seventh Cross: Evolution) and it's the American version I recently managed to get my hands on and finally satisfy the curiosity that began all those years ago, after seeing that metallic bloke in those low quality screen grabs in magazines. I also have to be honest here - I went into this game totally blind as other than the few scant details I picked up about Seventh Cross: Evolution through magazine previews, it isn't a title I'd ever really investigated in any depth. So, join me as I try to make sense of what is a truly unique and deliciously bizarre little game...

Review: Flashback

Flashback is one of those games that really doesn't need an introduction, but for the benefit of those who have never played 1992's hottest cinematic platform adventure, I'm prepared to ignore that adage and fill you in on the backstory.

You are Conrad B. Hart, an academic who creates a device to scan the molecular structure of organisms as part of his thesis. Rather than get his thesis published, a slap on the back and a job offer from his educational institution though, Conrad inadvertently discovers a plot by an alien race of shape-shifters who are planning to conquer the Earth. Cue a kidnapping, a brief escape from captivity and a marooning on an alien planet (with a few other familiar tropes such as lost memories and pre-recorded holocubes thrown in for good measure), and you have one rollicking sci-fi adventure on your hands. I won't go into any more detail than that, lest I spoil it for those who have yet to experience Flashback; and for everyone else I'm sure you've already played it multiple times and know all about the rest of the narrative that plays out across the game's various dystopian theatres.
As mentioned earlier, Flashback was initially released back in 1992 for the Amiga, although as documented in an interview with Retro Gamer, lead developer Paul Cuisset revealed it was initially programmed for the Mega Drive. The pseudo sequel to 1991's Another World, Flashback went one step further than Delphine Software's previous side-on adventure by introducing some pretty spectacular rotoscoped animation and clever puzzles, as well as some really intense gun play and an interesting plot. When all cut together with some amazing-for-the-time cinematic sequences, Flashback presented gamers with something that was a good few leagues ahead of previous games in the genre, such as the aforementioned Another World and Brøderbund's Prince of Persia.
Since those days of the early 1990s, Flashback has appeared on more systems than you can shake a brown, sticky thing at; and I have personally owned it on Mega Drive, SNES, Jaguar and 3DO. There are also versions for Amiga (as mentioned), PC, CD-i, Mega CD, FM Towns and even the Acorn Archimedes amongst others. It's almost the DOOM of platform games, in that if a system has a screen and a microchip; then it can run Flashback. Happily, that list now also includes the good old Dreamcast, thanks to the hard work of publisher JoshProd and seasoned programmer Chui...

7 Year Old Secretly Documents Her Dad Playing Shenmue

Get ready to have your heart of ice melted into a pile of mush, dear reader. While Dreamcast Junkyard Facebook group member Michael Brown was hammering Shenmue recently, little did he know that his 7 year old daughter Aiyla was secretly documenting his progress in her notebook. When he discovered the following tale depicting Ryo's on-screen trials and tribulations, he couldn't help but share it in the group. And we're glad he did - if this doesn't put a smile on your face, we're afraid nothing will!
Click to embiggenize
Naturally, a lot of people were pretty impressed. Simon Early replied: "As both a primary school teacher of 25 years and a Shenmue addict, I can honestly say that it is one of the finest pieces of Year 2/3 writing I've ever seen."

And Dave Moore commented: "It's a lovely piece of independent writing. I always enjoy reading writing which children have put together without help from any professionals! Let children write about what they are interested in and the results are clear!"

While Daniel Vasquez quipped: "That is cute man! Cheers to your girl! That should be seen by Yu Suzuki!" - and we totally agree.

Thanks to Michael for sharing this with us and allowing us to reproduce it here. Judging from the quality of the prose on display, we reckon there could be a role on Shenmue III's scriptwriting team for Aiyla here!