Buggy Heat: The Arcade Racer That's Matured Like Fine Wine

The Dreamcast's stable of racing games is bursting with thoroughbred stallions, with classics like Le Mans and Metropolis Street Racer proudly held aloft as the pinnacles of the genre on the system. But there is one title that many may have simply dismissed or never even given a chance to prove itself as a worthy alternative to the more well-known titles vying for attention on a crowded starting grid. That game is Buggy Heat, a Dreamcast launch title from CRI that initially wowed with its decent graphics and interesting features, but which was lost in the maelstrom and ultimately usurped by Sega Rally 2 in the initial launch lineup melee. Buggy Heat is certainly a game that is worth another look, even now, after almost 20 years have passed since it first burst onto the scene.
Buggy Heat is a game I courted in those first few months after the Dreamcast's UK launch, and I distinctly remember being impressed with the visuals in those warm and un-fuzzy post-N64 wonder years. It looked incredible at the time, and the detailed vehicles and interesting tracks initially won me over. But after a week of playing and seeing pretty much all it had to offer in terms of new environments and vehicles, Buggy Heat was forgotten and I quickly moved on to the next game I could get my hands on. It's only relatively recently that I've gone back to investigate this early offering on the Dreamcast, and in this time I've grown to truly appreciate its nuances and have rediscovered a game that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
What initially seems to be a very rudimentary pretender to Sega Rally's off-road crown is actually a pretty deep and interesting experience, that even offers a feature that wouldn't be seen again until the release of the Xbox One. Behind the paltry track and vehicle selection rosters is actually a racing title that deserves a second look, because with time - not unlike a fine wine - Buggy Heat has aged beautifully and is, for me at least, one of the best arcade racers on the Dreamcast...

Introducing VMU-boy - A RetroPie Powered Console In A VMU Case

Technology continues to get ever more powerful and ever smaller, but sometimes the ingenuity of the modding community serves up a project that beggars belief. This is one of those occasions. Allow us to introduce you to the VMU-boy, a RetroPie powered console inside a VMU shell with the ability to play a host of retro roms on a tiny LCD screen. You thought the Gameboy Micro was small? Wait till you get a load of this!
The result of some stellar work by Giles Burgess (aka Kite), the VMU-boy is truly a wondrous accomplishment and as the images and video show, the contraption fits easily in the palm of a hand. Whether it's actually practical to play games on a device so small for any length of time without causing long term damage to eyes and hands remains to be seen, but 10 out of 10 must be awarded for effort.
The specs and features of the device are fairly impressive too, as detailed in the forum post over at sudomod:

  • Pi Zero/W
  • 128x128 SPI LCD
  • Main PCB with direct Pi soldering
  • 850mAh battery (4 hrs or more gameplay!). If I could find a slightly wider battery it might even make it to 900/1000mAh!)
  • Safe shutdown!
  • Micro USB charging which doubles as USB OTG port (plug in a USB OTG adapter and it will power the USB device and connect it to the Pi)
  • Power switch and status LEDs
  • Battery voltage monitoring + charging status
  • Built in speaker amp
  • 'Basic' OSD (need to work on this more, whipped it up very quickly!)
  • GPIO buttons built into the PCB
  • All inputs available under the 'cap' at the top, including the Pi SD card so it's really easy to work on
  • Internal serial port available as a JST header (made it very easy to see my Pi was working after I had removed the HDMI port!)
  • Battery connectors (1mm JST) or solder pads. Extra pads allow putting 2x batteries in parrallel (e.g. if you have 2x small batts that will fit)


Interestingly, Kite's post suggests he will be offering the VMU-boy for sale at some point in 2018, and a link to a waiting list has already been added to the post.

Find out more on the VMU-boy, including more details on the creation of the fascinating device by visiting the sudomod.com forum here.

Thanks to @pomegd on Twitter for sharing this info with us.

That Time An Inmate Tried To Sue The Prison System Over A Broken Dreamcast

A while back we looked at the veritable treasure trove of Dreamcast-related stories that the BBC News archive represents. There are a multitude of contemporary news articles on the birth and death of the Dreamcast, locked in time in the BBC's extensive catalogue of long forgotten reports, and they do make for interesting reading.

There's one particular news piece I missed though, and it serves as an interesting glimpse not only into the past, but also into the life of convicts held at Her Majesty's pleasure in UK prisons. Hidden away on the BBC News site is this rather intriguing report from April 2006, which documents the efforts of a prisoner at Scotland's Perth Prison to claim damages of £350 from the Scottish Executive (the authority responsible for prisons) for damage to his Dreamcast console.

The case was eventually thrown out by Perth Sheriff Court, but not before the complainant accused prison officers of purposely breaking his Dreamcast. The article doesn't say how the console was broken (and the Scottish Courts website has no record of the hearing), but I'm going to guess that to make it totally inoperable they probably used it as a football. If it'd been a Gamecube, they could've driven a monster truck over it and it would still have worked; but then, a Gamecube can also double up as a deadly weapon when swung at another human so probably not the best console to allow into a prison. Anyway, here's the full article:

New Subway Commercial Features A Dreamcast

Never let it be said that we here at the Junkyard let any hint of a Dreamcast - no matter how slight - go undocumented. The latest appearance in media approaching 'mainstream' of our beloved console comes in a new web commercial for Subway's latest sandwich - the Reuben:


Keep an eye on the bottom left of the video. Thanks to Facebook group member Preston Weaver for bringing this to our attention!
ICYMI. Is that arrow big enough? Hmm...
Naturally, the Dreamcast appeared in its own series of advertisements, many of which we have documented in the not too distant past.

Related Articles:

Flashback For Dreamcast Will Ship With Even More Bonus Content

We recently reviewed the upcoming Dreamcast port of Delphine Software's incredible science fiction adventure title Flashback, and we found that it was most excellent. A sort of amalgamation of the best bits of all the other ports out there, JoshProd's newly compiled and officially sanctioned Flashback ticked all the boxes for this nostalgia-loving gamer. One of the most impressive aspects of the overall package (apart from the fact that Flashback is an awesome game, period) is that it has a host of bonus features which are exclusive to the Dreamcast version. Graphics filters, extended cinematic sequences and even the original 16-bit versions in both PAL and NTSC flavours are all included.
There has been a bit of concern in the Dreamcast community about the continued delay of the release of Flashback, with those who have ordered it online being quite vocal about the fact that it was due to ship in September, but here we are in November and it still hasn't been released. Well, we can reveal that the game is now due to ship imminently if you bought the PAL boxed version, with the NTSC boxed versions due a mere matter of weeks later. And the reason for the delay?

SLaVE Developers Seeking Assistance With Bug Squashing

The release of Jay Townsend's SLaVE appears to be tantalisingly close, and I for one am very much looking forward to getting to grips with the neon-hued retro-futuristic world presented by this Dreamcast exclusive first person shooter. First announced several years ago, SLaVE has had a long and storied development which has been mired with technical issues; but there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. In the latest email bulletin to those who have pre-ordered the game from GOAT Store, the publishers have included an appeal for Dreamcast programmers to come forward and help to squash the final few bugs that are preventing the production process beginning. Here's the email in full:

Hi everyone,

We wanted to send out a quick update on Jay Townsend's SLaVE production.  Basically, since the last announcement, we have gotten to the point that we think there is just a single bug holding back production. We were hoping that we could get rid of this last one and then be able to send out an email with a solid production timeline.

As of right now, that bug still exists. If you happen to know anything about GDB debugging, it has to do with an exception fault, contact us, as there is just one the developers are having the toughest time tracking down, and maybe a set of new eyes can fix it and get the game ready to go in a few minutes!  One can hope ;)

For those of you that don't know what the above means, basically, there is still a certain set of circumstances that cause the game to crash out. It happens *extremely* rarely, so much so that we have played the final version for stretches without knowing it is there, but often enough that we can't send the game out with it. It sounds like an easy thing that we should just get rid of, and we agree... but sadly, things like this can be super difficult to track down.

In a previous email, we had stated we expected the final bug hunt to take 2-3 months, and then a test period of 2-4 weeks, which is where we're at right now.  We're not TOO far off having production start, but we've got to nail this last thing.

We expect the next email you receive from me will be the email telling you that it is complete and in production, and to confirm your addresses.  Thank you so much for sticking around as a supporter, and we can't wait to have this in your hands.  As always, if you want to cancel for any reason, please contact us back and we will refund your order.

Happy gaming!

Gary Heil & Dan Loosen
GOAT Store Publishing
So, are you up to the challenge? If so, go here to the GOAT Store website and get in touch with Dan Loosen to see if you can help get one of the most promising looking indie Dreamcast games out of development hell and into our GD-ROM drives.

For all of the articles we've previously published on SLaVE, click here.

DreamPod - Episode 53


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Sonic Adventure Soundtracks Getting The Vinyl Treatment

I don't own any vinyl. Come to think of it, I only own a few CDs (the last one I bought was Liam Gallagher's new album, you should check it out). Instead, like most digital whores I buy most of my music on the iTunes; but if I was a trendier type I'd probably buy my music on vinyl. Simply because it makes you look cool when you go to an actual record shop and buy an actual record. Anyway, as with a lot of trends these days that look to the past, the release of game soundtracks on vinyl has become very popular and now the Sonic Adventure soundtracks are getting the same treatment.

Coming from Brave Wave, these two LPs take the original Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 track listings and package them up in lovely looking sleeves full of officially licensed artwork. There'll also be booklets with interviews and such like:

The first pressing will contain special vinyl colors that represent the essence of both games: blue and white 180-gram vinyl for SONIC ADVENTURE and blue and red 180-gram vinyl for SONIC ADVENTURE 2. All pressings after the first will contain standard black 180-gram vinyl. All versions of both albums will include a comprehensive booklet featuring a reflective interview with Jun Senoue and head of Sonic Team Takashi Iizuka, as well as Liner Notes by John Linneman of Digital Foundry, song lyrics and character art.
- Brave Wave website

The recent glut of retro video game soundtracks being released on vinyl shows just how popular these collections are getting, with Shenmue, Streets of Rage and other classic titles all having their audio tracks released on the format to critical and commercial acclaim. Will you be picking either of these up? Let us know in the comments, in our Facebook group or on Twitter.

Find out more information on these two releases by visiting the Brave Wave website here.

Source: SEGAbits