The Dreamcast Games Of 2017

2017 has been something of a bumper year for Dreamcast releases, what with JoshProd, Orion, Retroguru, Alice Dreams and Senile Team all putting out new software on the system. The range and diversity of these titles has been pretty incredible too - especially when you consider that the Dreamcast was officially disowned by Sega well over a decade ago. 2018 promises even more new additions to the ever-growing library, with Intrepid Izzy, Xenocider, Saber Rider, SLaVE and a bunch of other games we have been sworn to secrecy over all due to hit our favourite little white box.
As we near the year's end, I thought it would be fun to have a little look back over the games that were released for the Dreamcast throughout 2017, and give a bit of kudos to those developers and publishers who continue to support the console with new software. The vast majority of the titles that have come to the Dreamcast in a physical case during 2017 have invariably come with high quality bespoke artwork, authentic packaging and - in some cases - unique extras or inventive aesthetic design. And while it's easy to look at some of the releases and pour scorn on them for being fairly basic in terms of visuals or gameplay, the majority of them have been crafted as labours of love, and not with financial gain in mind. For that, all of the creators should be applauded.
It's worth noting that this list only includes games that have been released for the first time this year, so even though games like Ghost Blade, Alice's Mom's Rescue and Sturmwind were given re-releases, they don't count (although I'll make a note of them at the foot of this article). Furthermore, 2017 marks the first time since Karous in 2007 that official third party support has been bequeathed to the Dreamcast, as even though they were published by JoshProd, Visco's games do qualify as official releases owing to the fact that Visco is listed as a third party T-code publisher (thanks to Scott Marley for that nugget of information). Anyway, let's get down to business and look at - in no particular order - the Dreamcast releases of 2017. Man, it still feels weird typing that sentence...

Breakers
An emulated version of the obscure NEO-GEO fighter from Visco, Breakers for Dreamcast was published by JoshProd with official blessing from the aforementioned developer, and actually runs on an updated, bespoke version of Neo4all.
Featuring some pretty decent one-on-one 2D fighting action, Breakers was ultimately let down by some questionable visuals and framerate issues that true connoisseurs of the NEO-GEO original might find jarring. For the more casual fight fan though, Breakers is good old fashioned fun. Read our review here.

Rush Rush Rally Reloaded
The original Rush Rush Rally Racing from Senile Team garnered rave reviews upon release back in 2009, and an improved version was subsequently put out on the Wii in 2012. Then in 2017, the Wii upgrade was ported back to the Dreamcast. Still with me?
Rush Rally Racing Reloaded features tweaked gameplay, a superior camera and a host of other minor upgrades over the original. That said, both iterations of the franchise are pretty great so it's a win win situation, whichever version you play. Find out more about Rush Rush Rally Reloaded here.

Hermes
A decidedly retro runner-cum-platformer, Hermes from veteran indie developer Retroguru brought a distinct taste of the Amiga to the Dreamcast in 2017. With its pixel art aesthetic, outstanding chip-tune soundtrack, super twitchy gameplay and overtly adult sense of humour, Hermes was something of a surprise when it appeared - almost out of nowhere - towards the end of the year. 
The game also shipped with a brilliant comic book that doubled up as a manual, telling the tale of Hermes the hungry chef, and the poor chicken destined to be turned into his lunch. Did I mention the outstanding music? Good, addictive fun if this type of game is your thing. Read our review here.

Flashback
A remaster of sorts of the classic 2D sci-fi adventure from Delphine and US Gold, Flashback for Dreamcast was developed with the official blessing of original creator Paul Cuisset. Finally released in November, the latest incarnation takes the best bits of previous versions of Flashback and bundles them together in on package, complete with a ton of bonus features, graphics filters, original and PC cutscenes and even the original Mega Drive versions.
Originally released back in 1992, Flashback has graced nearly every home system there's ever been, and while an emulated port has been available for the Dreamcast for some time, it has taken until now for an officially licensed, physical version to appear. We recently reviewed Flashback here at the Junkyard and considered it to be the definitive port of Delphine's classic. Read our review here.

Alice Dreams Tournament
Originally an end of level bonus game hidden in a platformer called Alice Dreams, Alice Dreams Tournament eventually morphed into a full blown game in its own right, and after a successful Kickstarter campaign this homage to Bomberman finally shipped in 2017.
With a clear emphasis on local multiplayer, Alice Dreams Tournament is best experienced with four controllers plugged into a single Dreamcast console. However, even in single player there's a lot to sink your teeth into. Great hand drawn character art and a plethora of inventive stages make Alice Dreams Tournament a worthy alternative to Hudson's bombtastic classic. Read our review here.

4x4 Jam
The first fully 3D postmortem release for the Dreamcast, 4x4 Jam is a highly competent port of a PSP Minis title of the same name. If you've ever played the PSP version of 4x4 Jam you'll be right at home with the Dreamcast version as it is essentially identical, with all the same play modes, vehicles and courses; as well as the same highly enjoyable off-road racing action.
Playing quite a bit like Smuggler's Run, 4x4 Jam shows that the Dreamcast is more than capable of handling more contemporary games developed for newer hardware, and could be the game that opens the floodgates for more similar conversions in the future. Read our review here.

Dreamcastnoid: 128-bit Wars
This one was originally created for the Dreamcast game jam, DCJAM 2016 and was only intended to be released as a downloadable ROM file. It seems creator Alfonso Martinez (aka Ryo Suzuki) had a change of heart though, and Dreamcastnoid was given a full physical release in late 2017.
The most impressive aspect of this is that Dreamcastnoid was the first (and only, thus far) Dreamcast game to be released on a mini CD (see above, next to Space Channel 5 for size comparison), complete with bespoke artwork and even a miniature spine card. The game itself is a fun - if basic - Arkanoid clone, in which PlayStation 2 consoles are your quarry and your weapon (or rather, your paddle) is a VMU. More information here.

Escape 2042
Orion's last release in 2017, Escape 2042 followed hot on the heels of Zia and the Goddesses of Magic in late 2016 and is a game that blends several genres into one sci-fi adventure. The main game is a sort of stealth-based platformer where you must avoid guards and the gaze of security cameras, while other sections of the game have you repelling through caves and taking part in a sort of shmup stage where you are the target.
Escape 2042 wasn't exclusive to the Dreamcast, and it was also released as a physical cartridge on the original Nintendo Gameboy and also on Steam. Sadly, Escape 2042 looks like it will be the final game from Orion, who retried from Dreamcast development earlier in 2017 after disappointing sales. Read more here.

Ganryu
Another port of a lesser known NEO-GEO game, Ganryu is a side scrolling beat 'em up which transports the player back to feudal Japan and tasks you with defeating an almost infinite stream of enemies through various themed stages.
As with Breakers, the emulation was perfectly fine but not perfect yet it was the choice of game that JoshProd chose to port that struck us as distinctly odd. Ganryu was not a particularly well-loved NEO-GEO release, coming across as a painfully average experience marred by repetitive gameplay. That is is now available on Dreamcast is commendable, yet the question remains - why Ganryu? Read our review here.

Millennium Racer: Y2K Fighters
I was a bit apprehensive including this one, as it has never actually been given an official release. That said, it was discovered on an old development kit and dumped onto the internet for free earlier in 2017 by japanese_cake and Kuririn84, and since then various boxed copies (some complete with manuals) have been created by the community. Indeed, I own such a copy of Millennium Racer: Y2K Fighters which was created as a one-off by hobbyist box art designer Martin Kay.
Millennium Racer is a port of a PC game of the same name, and was apparently cancelled before release even though it was pretty much completed. It plays like a combination of WipEout, Extreme G and Killer Loop, and is actually really rather good. Again, it probably shouldn't be on this list, but feel free to lambast me in the comments section. Read the full discovery story here, and watch the video review here.
As mentioned, several earlier Dreamcast games were given re-releases (mainly through JoshProd) in 2017, and they're still worth checking out. Here's the small yet perfectly formed lineup:

  • Sturmwind - awesome side scrolling shmup from Duranik, re-released in 2017 without the original RedSpotGames branding.
  • Zia and the Goddesses of Magic - interesting retro inspired RPG from Orion, with great music and an interesting combat system.
  • Dux - Another 2D side scrolling shmup, this time from Hucast. Stylised visuals with a distinct flavour of R-Type.
  • Ghost Blade - Another Hucast shmup, this time vertically scrolling. Re-released by JoshProd in 2017, this is a fairly short-lived experience but fun nonetheless.
  • Alice's Mom's Rescue - retro-themed platformer from Orion, originally released a few years ago on both the Atari Jaguar and Dreamcast. Again, re-released by JoshProd in 2017.

What's that? You want even more stats? Ok, here are the full release dates for all of these games. Thanks again to Scott Marley for compiling this list, click the links to buy:

6 Jan 2017
Sturmwind - jewel case, re-release (DragonBox, The Bit Station & Retroplayers)

24 Feb 2017
Rush Rush Rally Reloaded - DVD case (Play-Asia & The Bit Station)

1 Mar 2017
Alice Dreams Tournament - J-NTSC case (Alice Dreams Website)
Alice Dreams Tournament - US-NTSC case (Alice Dreams Website)
Alice Dreams Tournament Collectors Edition - J-NTSC case (Alice Dreams Website)
Alice Dreams Tournament Collectors Edition - US-NTSC case (Alice Dreams Website)

7 Mar 2017
Sturmwind Throwback Edition - with T-shirt and Kraken plush, re-release (The Bit Station)

18 April 2017
Escape 2042: The Truth Defenders - jewel case (Orionsoft & The Bit Station)

29 April 2017
Alice's Mom's Rescue - PAL case (RushOnGame)
Breakers - PAL case (RushOnGame)
Dux Version 1.5 - PAL case (RushOnGame)
Ghost Blade - PAL case (RushOnGame)
Rush Rush Rally Reloaded - PAL case (RushOnGame)

22 May 2017
Alice Dreams Tournament - PAL case (Alice Dreams Website)

9 Jun 2017
Breakers - J/US-NTSC case (Play-Asia)

10 Aug 2017
Hermes - jewel case with comic (Dragonbox)

6 October 2017
Dreamcastnoid: 128-bit Wars - mini CD case (RetroBarcelona)
9 November 2017
Dreamcastnoid: 128-bit Wars - mini CD case (The Bit Station)

15 Nov 2017
4x4 Jam - PAL case (RushOnGame)
Flashback - PAL case (RushOnGame)
Ganryu - PAL case (RushOnGame)
Sturmwind - PAL case (RushOnGame)
Zia & The Goddesses of Magic - PAL case (RushOnGame)

27 Nov 2017
Ganryu - J/US-NTSC case (Play-Asia)

6 Dec 2017
Flashback - J/US-NTSC case (Play-Asia)

13 Dec 2017
4x4 Jam - J/US-NTSC case (Play-Asia & The Bit Station)
Alice's Mom's Rescue - J/US-NTSC case (Play-Asia & The Bit Station)

Some of those links require you to make an account (namely, the RushOnGames ones), while other games on this list were Kickstarters so please don't spam the comments if the links don't work or whatever. Regardless, in total that makes 15 releases (14 if you don't count Millennium Racer: Y2K Fighters) for the Dreamcast in 2017. Not bad for a console that lived and died in the blink of an eye around the turn of the century.
It's probably also worth mentioning the number of games that have been brought back online in 2017 too, but I think that's a subject for another post entirely.

What do you think? Have you played all of these titles? What are your thoughts on the upcoming titles pencilled in for a Dreamcast release? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation in our Facebook group or on Twitter.
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14 comments:

patbier said...

Thanks a lot for this great article !

For Alice Dreams Tournament, would you be so kind to add a link to our store : www.alicedreams.com !
You can buy there the last remaining games.
Plus, there is a discount code : NOEL which gives 10% discount ! (till 2nd january 2018)

Thanks !

Tom Charnock said...

No problem - done! :)

Anthony Harrap said...

Wow, what a great in-depth article! I personally have picked up most of these, just gotta grab Hermes and Escape 2042.
I played millennium racers and enjoyed it until the tracks started getting really convoluted and the controls couldn't really keep up. Not sure I'd consider it 'released' this year but who really cares, it's a new to DC game so that's awesome! (and it's good).
Thanks patbier for the discount code, pushed me over the edge to pick up that sweet Alice Dreams PAL edition (still a little too expensive maybe?).

Thanks for the awesome content Junkmasters!

Sy Russell said...

Did Dreamcastnoid sell out? I can't find it anywhere, nor did I ever see any reports that it was on sale, apart from it being sold at that convention.

Anthony Harrap said...

I know that the bit station had it for a while but it seems to be sold out now.

ShiningSkies said...

Awesome list!
Just to note, I found a number of the JoshProd games are available to buy/preorder on Play-Asia. I don't have any links to hand, but they are up there (if you wanted to add the store links to your list at all? If not... carry on :) )

Anthony817 said...

Wow, can't believe 14 brand new releases came out this year. Really shows that the system is picking up popularity for sure especially amongst indie devs. Really heartwarming to see this article and a great way to finish up 2017.

Tom Charnock said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. Yeah, the DC scene is pretty much alive and kicking right now. There's more to come in 2018 - some of the previews I've seen are mind blowing. One game in particular is simply stunning. But I've been sworn to secrecy...for now!

Unknown said...

Still no Elysian Shadows...

Anthony Harrap said...

Any chance you can do what a lot of developers seem to do these days and make a big announcement about when you will be able to announce some of the new stuff?

I desperately need pre-hype hype!

Sy Russell said...

Don't remind me... i chucked away 150 bucks on that :(

segamax said...

Thanks for this great summary :)
I just read "various boxed copies (some complete with manuals) have been created by the community" , i would be interested to see what the created manual looks like !

Jon said...

Ordered up some Alice Dreams and Flashback. Both were each more than I’ve spent on a single game all year, but hopefully I’m helping keep Dreamcast alive. Looking forward to what 2018 holds!

Florian Wallin said...

Thats the spirit Jon !