, The Dreamcast Junkyard: February 2017

Alice Dreams Tournament Shipping Very Soon!

It seems like a lifetime ago that many of us put our money down for a copy of Bomberman homage Alice Dreams Tournament, but it appears that we won't have to wait much longer to finally get the opportunity to play it. For those not up to speed, Alice Dreams Tournament is a modern take on the Bomberman style multiplayer battle game, with players moving around various stages, trying to eliminate each other with bombs. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the developers have been hard at work tweaking and finalising the code and have done plenty of promotion by allowing the public to test the game at a multitude of gaming events across Europe.

The Alice Dreams Tournament team (made up of duo Julien Desquenne and Nicolas Pochet) were in attendance at the RGC - Retrogaming Connexion 2017 event in Meaux, France this past weekend and posted some very interesting pictures on their Facebook page.
On top of this, a Kickstarter update posted on 16th February pretty much confirmed that the PAL, NTSC-U and NTSC-J packaged copies of Alice Dreams Tournament have been delivered and are ready to be shipped to backers:

"A quick news to share our joy with you - we received the games! All versions are here, except the PAL collector's edition where we still lack the front and back covers (they are in production).
As we will be at RGC this Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th February 2017 in Meaux, we will take some photos and share them with you! If you are near Meaux, you can pick up your game and we will gladly dedicate it to you if you wish!"
- Alice Dreams Tournament Kickstarter (paraphrased)

It's really cool to know that we're so close to finally getting our hands on this brilliant looking brand new Dreamcast game; and test audiences at the various gaming events it has been demonstrated at seem to have given nothing but positive feedback. Naturally, we don't know the exact date for shipping, but we'd wager it can't be very long now - a couple of weeks, max? Once it arrives, expect a full review here at The Dreamcast Junkyard.
Were you at the event in Meaux? Did you pick a copy of Alice Dreams Tournament up? If so, tell us what you think of it in the comments or over in our Facebook group!

PS - this isn't the announcement we've been teasing about on social media. For that huge news, you'll have to wait a few more days...

The Games That Never Were: Episode 9

It's been a while, but the latest instalment of Pcwzrd's excellent The Games That Never Were has dropped. Episode 9 continues the popular YouTube series in which unreleased Dreamcast games are examined and the reasons for their cancellation are explored and speculated on. Episode 9 is just as cool as the previous videos in the series, and as ever Pcwzrd goes into great depth describing numerous titles that were promised, but were either never started; or were in full production at the time of  cancellation and have never been leaked.
A lot of the Dreamcast's most promising announced games did actually see the light of day, but only on the PC and episode 9 of The Games That Never Were is heavy on these. Arcatera: The Dark Brotherhood, Independence War 2, Black & White, Dark Eyes and Max Payne are all given a going over and hint at the ease with which Sega intended PC games to be ported to the Dreamcast hardware. Maybe if the Dreamcast had sold the units it deserved and it hadn't dies so prematruely, then we'd have gotten all of these games and more. Here's the video:


If you'd like to see more of Pcwzrd's videos, you can find his YouTube channel here, and he's also the administrator over at Dreamcast Live - the number one source for getting your Dreamcast back online for multiplayer action. His Twitter is here and his Patreon is here. Oh, and you can find all of the previous episodes of The Games That Never Were by clicking here.

Adam Koralik Reviews Akura Dreamcast HDMI Box

We've reported on the Akura from Beharbros a couple of times in the recent past (here and here), but now you don't have to settle for reading my words with your eyes - you can look at Adam Koralik show you just how awesome the Akura while he tells you with his voice! Yes, in his latest video Adam goes into great detail about the different video output signals the Dreamcast kicks out, and also tells us a little bit about his love for the Turkish version of Nutella. Oh, and there's a demonstration of the Akura in action. Here's the video:


Thanks go to Adam for letting me share his video here. Hopefully this will give those people who were considering purchasing the Akura a more practical idea of how it performs, and the features included. Be sure to check out the huge back catalogue of games related content on Adam's YouTube channel here, and you can find more on the Akura at Beharbros website here.

Total Dreamcast: The Magazine That Never Was?

Like any new system before the rise of web-based media, the Dreamcast garnered a whole raft of print-based magazines designed to support the console and help to disseminate news, reviews and hype about upcoming releases. Even though the Dreamcast came equipped with the ability to browse the internet, the online world of the late 1990s was a whole different ballgame to the one we effortlessly surf today. For this reason, for most gamers - including me - magazines were the go to resource for news about the Dreamcast.
Here in the UK, there were plenty of Dreamcast magazines to choose from and we've pored over the majority of them at some point or another here at the Junkyard in the past. There was Official Dreamcast Magazine (known affectionately as ODM) from Dennis Publishing and we featured the alternative 'demo editions' from the pitching process previously. That magazine came with a DreamOn demo disc stuck to the font cover and cost the princely sum of £5 a pop. There were plenty of cheaper alternatives, including DC-UK from Future (the magazine that resulted from the failed pitch for the official license), Dreamcast Magazine from Paragon, Dreamcast Monthly from Quay, and Mr Dreamcast from Magical Media.

Mr Dreamcast is of particular interest to many collectors because it only lasted for two issues and was aimed squarely at a younger audience. Issue 1 came with a Fur Fighters water pistol, and I inadvertently bought it once while waiting for a bus and only realised my mistake when I took my seat and opened the magazine to be confronted with the type of prose usually reserved for a Mr Men book. Just to clarify, my copy didn't have the legendary water pistol stuck on the front, so I'm blaming that for tricking me into a purchase. Cough.
The hallmark of Exeter's finest export
It appears that there was to be another Dreamcast magazine available to discerning readers in the UK though. A magazine that was even advertised and from which review quotes were used to promote certain Dreamcast games. That magazine has become the stuff of legend and I only know about it because of the borderline obsessive work of one tireless collector and expert on the subject. That magazine is Total Dreamcast, a magazine that almost certainly exists somewhere in some form...but never saw the light of newsagents shelves...

A Quick Look At Sonic Adventure 2's Green Hill Zone

I'm just going to admit this straight off the bat: I'm quite a fan of Sonic Adventure 2. It's a massive improvement over the first Sonic Adventure and the level of polish lavished upon the menus, the style and the in-game graphics is commendable. Oh, and the music is terrific. True, there are some slightly iffy aspects to Sonic Adventure 2 - the Tails and Eggman/Robotnik levels in particular have lead to many a night sweat in this household - but overall it's a decent game and a lot of fun can be had.
What a lot of people may not know though, is that Sonic Adventure 2 contains a pretty cool homage to the original Sonic game in the form of a fully 3D recreation of Green Hill Zone. You need to work pretty hard to unlock it by collecting all of the emblems from the main game, but once you do you'll notice that a previously inaccessible island on the level select map screen (see above) suddenly has a question mark hovering over it. Select this question mark, and you're whisked away to a fairly impressive rendition of the opening stage from one of gaming's most iconic titles.

Sturmwind Throwback Edition Will Feature Exclusive T-Shirt

We revealed the Sturmwind Throwback Edition a few weeks ago, and until now further information has been a bit thin on the ground. Happily though, we can now announce that the special edition available exclusively through US indie game retailer The Bit Station will also include a bespoke Sturmwind T-shirt. The Bit Station assure us that the reason for the lack of further info has been down to the overwhelming demand for the standard issue version, but the Throwback Edition (which also includes the highly sought-after Kraken plushie and exclusive Sturmwind stickers) will be available from late February 2017.
The good news is that the shirt will also be available as a standalone item, so keep checking The Bit Station's site for your chance to secure one of these awesome-looking shirts. Note that the artwork has not yet been finalised; but if it's anything like the cool distressed design shown above, then we're totally behind them.
The Bit Station are selling a host of other Dreamcast indie titles too, so be sure to check them out.

Life, the Universe and Silver

I think it's pretty safe to say that the Dreamcast's library isn't exactly bursting with legendary role playing games. Naturally, there are some well regarded titles like Skies of Arcadia, Time Stalkers and Grandia II but in the grand scheme of major console releases, the Dreamcast's meagre selection pales in comparison to contemporary systems like the PlayStation; and even more so when pitched against the might of the Super Nintendo. To be brutally honest, this doesn't really bother me because my affinity with RPGs is negligible. I'm not overly enamoured with the genre and much prefer to spend my game time playing racers, shooters and the occasional soccer game.

In recent times though, the vast majority of my free time has been spent guiding one Geralt of Rivia through the trials and tribulations of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, and so my hard and fast opinion of role players has softened somewhat. And while I realise that The Witcher III is probably more of an action RPG than a hardcore, turn-based affair, I think it is testament to the quality of CD Projekt Red's game that someone who doesn't generally dabble in that type of experience has become fully absorbed in the adventure. Also, according to this Eurogamer article, the voice of Geralt lives just up the road from me so the experience is now extra special. I must also stress at this juncture, that the rumours of me camping outside his house and digging through his bins for discarded banana peels and samples of hair and/or skin are wholly unsubstantiated.
"Get away from my bins!"
So yeah, the point I'm failing to make here is that the Dreamcast doesn't have many traditional RPGs. The ones I have mentioned are considered as the cream of the crop, and then there's Shenmue...but is that really an RPG? I guess it does have all the hallmarks of an RPG, and I'd personally be inclined to class it as such but I already get enough grief about these articles from the folk who just see the titles on social media, let alone the ones who actually take the time to click through and read the shite I write; so I'm just going to hold my hands up and say that I both agree and disagree that Shenmue is an RPG. It's both. It neither is nor isn't an RPG, at the same time. It's Shroedingermue. There's also Record of Lodoss War...which is alright I guess. But I've played that one for about 20 minutes in total and that was back in 2006 if memory serves, so I'm hardly qualified to say just how shit it is. Come at me, internet pettifoggers.
Let's get back on track though. You came here because you saw some bollocks on Twitter or Facebook about Silver, and that is what I'm going to give you. Silver, is an action-RPG developed by Spiral House and published by Infogrames in both Europe and the United States (but not Japan) which represents something of an oddity on the Dreamcast; what with its real-time combat and profanity-ridden script. Not that that's a bad thing when coupled with the glorious accents and intonation of northern England - a sacred part of the world from which the author of this piece hails. A land of milk and honey, a rich tapestry of dialects, patchwork fields and dark satanic mills that would put Tolkien's image of Middle Earth to shame. And by 'milk and honey' I mean 'late trains and broken gas mains,' by the way. Oh, and wider social decay and misery than has ever been described in a George Orwell penned, semi-biographical tome...but you get the idea.

Akura HDMI Box Now Available For Pre-order

We recently reported on the Akura VGA to HDMI converter box here at the Junkyard, and true to form the fine gentlemen over at Beharbros have now opened pre-orders for the unit. Weighing in at $85 with free shipping, the unit isn't exactly what we'd call cheap, but for the asking price you do get the typical outstanding build quality and lifetime guarantee that the other display boxes from Beharbros have been privy to.
Personally, I think this unit looks the dog's bollocks. I've seen various comments on social media about it being expensive or there being other alternatives for a lower price...but lets be honest here. The Akura doesn't need an external power supply or any additional cables in order for the user to connect a Dreamcast - an system knocking on the the door of 20 years old - to a HDMI-equipped display.

Simply plug the Akura into a Dreamcast, and then plug a HDMI cable into the Akura. I'm not going to argue with that. The Akura is more than just a converter though - it also adds scan lines and some other lovely features:

  • 480p video output via HDMI
  • RGB/VGA switch to select the 15khz RGB mode or the 31khz VGA mode
  • HDMI connector for plugging to your TV/monitor
  • Headphone audio output jack for plugging to a Hi-Fi or TV
  • Scanliner ON/OFF switch to turn it on or off
  • Scanliner Even/Odd switch for selecting even or odd scan lines
  • Scanliner Width switch for selecting thin or thick scan lines
  • Luminosity adjustment as a bonus feature
  • High quality custom made Dreamcast audio/video cable
For the record, I do own a VGA to HMDI converter (see above), it cost me a grand total of £7 off eBay...and I must say that it works just fine. That said, I'm still totally behind the introduction of the Akura because I know that it will still be working in another 8 to 10 years, and beyond. The converter I have already has a weird buzzing noise coming out of it, the connectors are constantly falling out, and the stench of burning flesh emanates from the thing whenever I plug it in. And then there are the demonic apparitions that appear in the mirror whenever electricity is pulsing through the tiny device...but I've learned to live with them. Joking aside, the Akura looks like a decent bit of kit and the addition of the scan line generator should help people decide if its a device they'd like to own.

The Akura is due to ship from March 2017, and you can go here to pre-order. Or simply head to our Facebook group or Twitter to comment on how much you hate the fact that the Akura exists! You can also find a video discussing the Akura by Sega Scream here.

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories Depicts Harsh Truth of Dreamcast Ownership

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories is a series I'd never heard of before being alerted to its existence by Twitter user Decider-VT. After a little bit of research (via a mysterious and arcane tool known as Google), I deduced that Tokyo Diner is a well-regarded but still fairly obscure Netflix exclusive series that focuses on the neon-soaked, nocturnal eating habits of the denizens of the Japanese capital.

Episode 7 of Midnight Diner is of particular interest here though, not least because it paints an unforgiving image of the destiny of a person who is just the right age to have been a gamer at the launch of the Dreamcast, but who's life has spiralled out of control. The scenes in question unfold in the following manner:
I can identify with this unknown and unnamed bum. I'm almost 40 myself. I was there at the launch of the Dreamcast and my life is a bit of a car crash. I'm certainly not a bum living in my auntie's house, freeloading and falling asleep in my own squalor; but I'm definitely living from shit paycheque to shit paycheque writing utter bollocks about a console that's about as dead as my zest for life.

I'm pretty sure that one day I'll wake up in a dumpster/mold-ridden bedsit, surrounded by broken Dreamcasts and empty beer cans. Until then though, I'm quite happy to look upon the mystery Dreamcast bum and offer my support and respect. This legend might be in his 40s and jobless, but he has impeccable taste in retro video game consoles. Also, he should probably change the aspect ratio on that screen before the internet finds out...

The Official Sega Dreamcast EU Service Manual

Look, I'm not going to pretend this will interest everyone who stumbles across this hallowed repository of Dreamcast-related guff. We take the rough with the smooth here, as part of our service-level agreement with nobody in particular. So for every amazing escapade though the neon-hued worlds of our favourite Dreamcast games, equilibrium must be restored with a fairly mundane trip through the pages of a Dreamcast service manual. I don't make the rules - I merely enforce them. So with that said, allow me to present...the official Sega Dreamcast EU service manual! Huzzah!
This document was uploaded to the internet by fellow Dreamcast enthusiast Comby Laurent - the same guy without whom we would never have sampled the delights of the recently discovered official Dreamcast Megadrive emulator. While I'm sure this document won't be new to many people who were (and still are) involved in the service of Dreamcasts back in the day, I certainly hadn't seen an official service manual before so I thought it was worth sharing.

Nonsensical Dreamcast Shirts Now Available At Urban Outfitters

I really don't know where to begin with this. I started seeing these long-sleeved pullovers popping up on eBay several years ago, and I thought they looked awful. The thin, cheaply made material and the garish screen-printed (nonsensical) decal featuring a PAL Dreamcast swirl with a load of Japanese text just turned me off. I noted that the same sellers were also listing similar Sega Saturn, N64 and PlayStation-branded shirts, and various other items of apparel with console logos all over them. Back then, they were on sale for around £10 each if memory serves. Personally, I thought they looked a bit shit so didn't even bother entertaining the idea of buying one.
Photo credit: Jan Swidan
In the intervening years, it appears that someone has tapped up Sega Europe, acquired official licensing and now these dreadful garments have found their way onto the racks of high street fashion outlet Urban Outfitters. Several people on Twitter have asked me if I'd seen these shirts and so I thought I'd write this article to say that yes, I have seen them. Yes, I saw them years ago on eBay. I thought they looked shit in 2015 and I still think they look shit now - even more so because they now cost £35.