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Subliminal Advertising 2

Following on from the Gagaman(n)'s (eyes left, people) frankly amazing post about Janet Jackson's heaving, wobbling breasts (and something about Sega too), today I noticed something almost as good...

Below is a picture of the televisual set up in my (our) modest (Israel, 1973) living room:

You will notice some multicoloured arrows, funnily enough inserted by the latest Mossad technology (cheers Avner). Don't be afraid though - that is the power of the modern Acorn Archimedes computer workstation, also responsible for the targetting of enemy troops in Lebanon. And here, as ever, is the quay. Or 'Key.' as landlubbers prefer:

Green: Our cheap-ass Freeview (because Sky is far too expensive)
Red: The lovely 1694 DVD player made exclusivley for the Dreamcast Junkyard by our friends at Rumbelows, for the modest price of 16 Groats
Blue: The Dreamcast 128-Bit Interactive Multimedia System by Atari. Or Sega. One of the two.
Pink: The fucking huge GAY curtains somebody put up for effect of 'batchelor pad' but actually scream 'we are all queer...please 'break in' through our open bedroom windows and bum us...' etc.

However, I - as regular readers will have no doubt guessed - digress.

Tonight (incidentally a Friday), since my socialising choices consisted of a) going to a friend's flat to watch the entire final series of 'The West Wing,' or b) Sitting on my own and watching Will Smith's (hopefully) last movie, 'Hitch' on the ancient DVD player (red arrow). I took the manly option...and chose the red arrow (Hitch).

The West Wing?!?! I'd rather put my eyeballs in the microwave for 8 minutes, then eat them betwixt two shaves of Hovis smothered with camel spunk. And Hellmans, Naturally.

Anyway, getting back to the POINT, while I was watching Hitch, on a TV above my Dreamcast...I noticed something - or 'someone' familiar:

YES! In the opening scenes where our hero, The Fresh Prince (sadly unaided by either Carlton or Phillip Banks), tells us how we can all find true love, there is a scene involving a fucking loser next to an Ice Cream Van. Guess who pops up?

It's only motherfucking SONIC:

So, the moral is - wherever geeks, The Fresh Prince, and Sonic all pop up...true love will always follow.

And Spongebob.

But a quick knee in the face will probably see that twat off, no probs.

Subliminal Advertising.



Ok, so why the hell am I posting a Janet Jackson video here? Well, let it load and skip to about 1:40 into the video and look at the fuzzy blue screens in the background. Is that Jet Set Radio? Shenmue? Samba De Amigo? Why yes, what are they doing in there then? Well, the video appears to be plugging all sorts of things, like the Nutty professor and those Sony robot dogs, so I'd go as far as to say that Sega paid them to sneak those Dreamcast snippets in there, for what good it did. Even more important: how the hell did I happen to come across this? Well, I can't really remember how for sure, but I do remember flicking through music channels once back in 2000 and spotting the Samba monkey out of the corner of my eye. I flicked back and sure enough Ryo's father is dying behind Janet Jackson wobbling her boobs about. How odd.

But this isn't the only case of subliminal advertising I've seen from Sega that very year for their console, oh no. I don't suppose anyone remembers the movie adaptation of Josie and the Pussycats do they? No, and I don't blame you either. Anyway, my sister had this on DVD, and I was sitting around as she was watching it once, and one of the themes in the film appeared to be subliminal advertising in pop music. With this in mind, the whole film was splattered with exactly that. Nearer to the end of the film, great honking big Sega logos start to pop up in the background of this over wise forgettable teen flick, and right near the end of it there's some big screens showing of Space Channel 5.

While I managed to find the Janet Jackson video, finding the scene from the Josie film has proved more difficult. The best I can find as evidence that I'm not making this all up is 3:05 into this video clip below. Sega endorsing bitch fights! Oh, and what the hell is a Sega Megarena? Is that like Sega World? Oh well. I also believe there was a horror film released that same year that had a Dreamcast logo on it's posters, for some unexplained reason. I wonder if that had anything like this in it...?

Top 5 Dreamcast Emulators (so far)

The Dreamcast is one of the most versatile consoles out there, thanks to a slip-up in that the console can run CD-Rs, when Sega went to all that trouble with the creation of the GD-ROM to try and prevent piracy. While piracy is never a good thing for the developers, it did also open up the console to one of the most thriving homebrew and emulation scenes on the net. While it may not be as powerful at emulation as a modded X-Box, the Dreamcast is the easiest to make pretend it’s another console. Just slap a disc in with the right tools and a bunch of ROMs and as soon as you know it your little white box is pumping out classic games like a little trooper. Bless.

Over the years there have been some real surprises in what programmers with a lot of spare time have managed to pull off on the Dreamcast, making it play games from consoles that no one thought it could. What’s more, the emulation scene for the DC is ever expanding, so there are bound to be more surprises around the corner. I’m dreaming of Mega CD and 32X emulation myself. For now though, these are the Top 5 emulators that have impressed me the most.

5 - AES4ALL













I only just got my hands on this yesterday, but already it’s blown me away. The Neo-Geo AES was the rich hardcore gamers console choice of the 16-bit era, providing direct ports of SNK’s quality arcade titles (there is also a emulator for the Neo Geo CD, but I have yet to try this) . This emulator pulls the games off very, very well, with it only slowing down on really hectic moments in very graphically intense games like Metal Slug. Over wise a good load of games work very well indeed, and the games you can get really are something of a hardcore gamers wet-dream. If you like your 2D fighters, scrolling shooters and Puzzle games, your in for a real treat by picking this up.
Get it Here.
Favourites to play on it: Metal Slug X, and that disc-throwing game I forget the name of.

4 - MAME4ALL

Considering how this one is only in Alpha stages, this one has a lot to give. One of the real treats of this emulator is the variety of games you can load into it. Around two decades worth of arcade titles are at your grasp, from the oldies like Space Invaders and Pac-Man right up to the early 90’s games like Street Fighter II and Final Fight. While not all games run perfectly in it yet, there are so many that do that you’ll be playing it for hours.
Get it Here.
Favourites to play on it: 3 Wonders, Street Fighter II, all the old Namco and Atari stuff.

3 - Bleemcast!

The only emulator in existence that not only re-creates the graphics of a console, but enhances them. Bleemcast is something of a miracle that it was ever pulled off at all, even if we only got 3 complete game discs. Mind you, there’s nothing more enjoyable (and money wasting) than picking up old Playstation games at boot sales for a quid each and seeing what ones run in the leaked beta disc. You can also pick up converters for your Dreamcast that let you use Playstation controllers, so even the lack of L2 and R2 buttons is not a problem if you’re willing to splash out on one for around £15. If Bleem was released as it was originally intended, with compatibility for hundreds of games on just a few discs, and the save files didn’t take up an entire memory card, this would surely be in the top spot. A real shame Sony had to sue them into a early grave.
Get it Here.
Favourites to play on it: Tekken 3, Pepsiman, Parappa the Rapper

2 - Nester DC

With one of the biggest game libraries of any console, including more classics than you could possibly count, a NES emulator is a god-send for those of us who don’t want to keep blowing the insides of the cartridges and kicking the darn box for being so temperamental. NesterDC takes away the pain, and gives you oodles in return, including 99.9% perfect, full speed emulation, save features, Game-Genie codes, and many other bit and bobs. You may miss the small block controller, but if you really have the time and patience there’s even a way around that.
Get it Here.
Favourites to play on it: Punch-Out, River City Ransom, Gun Smoke, Excite Bike

As superb as NesterDC is, I’ve given t top spot of my list to..

1 - SMS Plus



































Yes, this emulator not only emulates TWO systems, the Master System and it’s little brother Game Gear, but it does so with such devotion and class that it could make a grown man cry. Professionally presented, with countless options to suit your needs (adjust the screen, save a list of favourite games to your VMU etc) and with a menu design full of animations so good you’d think Sega themselves made it. As for the games themselves, they work a real treat, with 98% of them running at full speed with no glitches in the sound or graphics. This is just about the best representation of a console’s library the Dreamcast has seen yet. SMS Plus, we salute you!
Get it Here.
Favourites to play on it: Sonic Chaos, Alex Kidd series, Slider

Honourable mentions:
DreamSNES (Which would be great if not for that slow game menu that makes the Dreamcast go nuts)
UAE4ALL (An Amiga emulator with great potential, and one of my all-time favourite systems)

So what are you waiting for? Hunt these things down and get down with some retro goodness!

Anomolies

Last night a spambot left 99 comments on this hallowed blog. Reminds me of a Jay-Z/Linkin Park collaboration. Anyhow, as a result comment word verification has been turned on. The Dreamcast Junkyard management would henceforth like to apologise for any inconvenience presented by having to type in a random string of letters before posting a comment. It's all good fun though, as invariably this 'random' string of letters throws up some smirk inducing combinations of the rude variety (like 'BoObsCocK,' for example). Simple pleasures eh?

Moving on, something occured to me last night while I was playing through Code Veronica: after the bit where you play as (the whining streak of piss) Steve and mow down the zombies in the Training Facility with the Uzis, you are returned to controlling boring Claire and must follow Steve through a stone corridor, into a lift and then out onto a balcony. Inevitably, the balcony collapses and you and Steve end up in a heap in the courtyard below. Then a zombie appears and Steve kills it with the Uzis (I won't reveal the storyline here just incase you ain't played it yet) and then the game continues. The thing is, in said Courtyard there is a broken down jeep that was probably being repaired before the zombies over-ran the base. The reason I bring this up is that the only exits from the Courtyard are doors that the jeep simply could not get through. HOW THE HELL DID IT GET THERE?!?!?

Here's a really poor quality pic to illustrate:

The jeep is on the left, the biggest door in the Courtyard infront of Claire. That jeep is not going through that door.

Not a game spoiling moment you'll agree, but one that puzzled me for some time. Maybe it was airlifted in there. Whatever the answer to the riddle, that's not the main focus of today's post. Oh no - today I want to talk visuals. Yep, the bit of a game you actually look at with your eyes. So, in a link that is possibly even weaker than the Xbox 360's launch line-up, here I present the Official Dreamcast Junkyard Top Ten Best Looking Dreamcast Games (TM):

From 10 down to 1 here we go!

10. Daytona USA 2001
Stunning hi-res racing straight from the arcades, Daytona is amazing no matter how you look at it. Its a bit garish in places, as turquoise skies clash with emerald fields - infact you could almost be racing through Green Hill Zone sometimes - but that's the way Daytona has always been. The frame rate is always consistent and the amount of trackside detail is astounding (if you discount Desert City and National Park Speedway), as is the smoothness of the car models. It just looks great. Simple.

9. Aerowings 2: Airstrike
OK, so it's not the most exciting game ever, and the addition of missiles and guns makes it precisely zero percent more interesting than the first Aerowings game - but look at it! Rolling landscapes that stretch for miiiiiiiiles into the distance, and cities that actually have proper buildings rather than Shockwave Assault-style flat, painted on houses. The Planes are stunningly realistic too - check out the little reflections of the sun glinting off the cockpit in the chase cam view. Hmmm...nice.

8. 4 Wheel Thunder
Not only one of the fastest and most furious arcade racing romps on the Dreamcast, 4 Wheel Thunder is also one of the best looking, too. Pop-up is practically non-existent thanks to some clever coding by Kalisto and the colour pallette is just right to create a totally convincing real world environment. There are loads of cool little effects in there too, like tumbleweeds blowing across desert tracks and leaves scattering across roads on the more rural circuits. In places, whole swathes of the track are laid out before your eyes as you descend down a hillside - at breakneck speeds - with not a hint of slowdown, zero glitching and razor sharp resolution.

7. Shenmue/Shenmue 2
Some may argue that Ryo Hazuki's quest should be placed higher in this run down, but it stalls at 7 due to some hideous slowdown and shocking 'fading in' of NPCs when walking around the environments. However, even with these two problems (probably more down to the hardware capabilities rather than the game itself, granted), Shenmue gets in because it is one of the most detailed videogames in existence. Absolutley everything in these games - the people, the shops, the rubbish bins, the vehicles, the tables, the toys, the animals , the trees, the cupboards...it is all so realistically modelled it's unbelievable. Without the stupid glitching and sometimes slightly grainy appearance, Shenmue would surley have been nearer to the top.

6. Quake 3 Arena
Slick frame rate, amazing lighting effects, haunting architecture...Quake 3 has it all. But it doesn't stop there: look at the details built in to the walls - the gargoyles, the flashing lights, the computer panels...It's fucking stunning!!! Also, the fog swirling around the floor in some levels adds a new level of realism to chasing an eye on legs around a gothic palace with a rocket launcher.

5. Jet Set Radio
The game that looks like a playable cartoon and kick started an entire genre of pretenders, The Dreamcast Junkyard loves JSR. But it's not just the unique cell shaded characters we like - it's the variety in the stages presented and the individual feel the lighting effects give them - from the neon-lit night stages, to the sun drenched afternoon and sunset levels, JSR has a feel all of it's own even if you look past the gimmicky cell shading. The stages themselves are packed to the rafters with stuff to marvel at - people wandering about, kids playing, people shopping...it's a living, breathing Tokyo-To!

4. Sonic Adventure 2
Sonic Adventure 1 wasn't exactly ugly, but it did feel a tad unfinished in places and the hideous cutscenes where Sonic and chums talk with rubberised faces are enough to make even the hardest 25-stone-of-pure-muscle gamer feel embarrased. SA 2 builds on the first game by introducing some lovely new stages that are packed with flora and fauna, as well as some well designed enemies. Again, it's the variety and vibrance of SA 2's worlds that get it so high in this list - the themes are really quite inventive (like Knuckles' Hallowe'en style stage and the Aztec style levels - total contrast). Plus, there are lots of nice touches like lens flares and the like. A great looking game. And that intro level...breathtaking.

3. Soul Calibur
Yes, the animation, lighting effects and backgrounds are brilliant...but ultimatly Soul Calibur has you fighting on a Virtua Fighter style pedistal...not in a true 3D environment. Of course, that would have changed the way the game plays completely...but we're talking graphics here. The pedistal thing aside, Soul Calibur still looks as god as anything on the Xbox or PS2 - have a gander at the character models in the Gallery mode. Good eh?! Miturugi's washboard stomach is almost as impressive as mine...

2. Ferrari F355 Challenge
OK, so as I may have mentioned in the past, I'm not a huge fan of F355...but even I can't argue that it's one of the best looking games ever made. From the single cockpit view it looks realistic enough, but the slightly washed out appearence makes everything seem that much more as if it's a TV replay rather than a game you're actually playing. The rival car models are practically flawless (that's if you can get close enough to look at them), but the visuals reveal their true class during the replays...honestly, it could fool your eyes into thinking you were watching a real race. The only problem is, the only Channel that would show something like a race between a load of Ferraris is Channel 5, and the reception is so shit - while F355 is so clear - that it simply couldn't be TV.

1. Dead Or Alive 2
A game where asses are round, legs are perfect and boobs bounce. What else could make it to number 1? Seriously though, DOA2 is by far the best looking game on the DC - no other title looks so goddamned gorgeous. The interactive arenas where you can smash an opponent through a wall or off a cliff, go through said hole/over said cliff...and carry on fighting in a totally new area...is amazing. The sheer scope and ambition of DOA2's garphics really has to be seen in motion to do it justice - the animation is priceless. Punches and kics really look as if they connect, but more to the point - the character models and environments are superlative. Here - look:


Even though my word is generally final, I feel a special mention should go to one game in particular for showcasing what was possible on the Dreamcast hardware only a few weeks into it's life:

The Special Services to Dreamcast Award goes to:

Pen Pen Tricelon
Pen Pen was a UK launch title and one of the first games I played on my new DC because it was all Blockbuster Video had to rent. It's a quite rare title these days, but it's graphically still very good. You play as one of a selection of wierd creatures and must run, swim and slide through various ice themed stages in a sort of triathlon (on ice, hence 'Tricelon'). It's a bit short lived and gets a bit dull after a while, but it really stood out at the time when the Dreamcast was up against the N64 and PSX. Pen Pen - The Dreamcast Junkyard salutes you!


Finally, found this locked in time Dreamcast preview page while browsing the net - have a look!

Itchy...tasty...

I overheard some sweaty bastard in a games shop having a verbal wank over Resident Evil 4 t'other day. I personally haven't played it, but from what I've heard it's a very decent game. Regardless, over-hearing that cretin dribble and spit through his moss covered teeth got me thinking - the Dreamcast has actually played host to 3 different Resident Evil titles. Yes, the series that introduced moonwalking in a circular motion, running down corridors whilst facing diagonally into the wall, and combining herbs on a bit of paper to promote good health (?!) has been pressed onto a GD-Rom numerous times...and here, for your information are they:

Resident Evil 2
Nothing more than a cash-in, Resident Evil 2 on the Dreamcast is a slap dash conversion of the PC version. Featuring super-high res pre-rendered backgrounds, but super un-detailed lego man characters, Resi 2 has the visual appeal of that vindaloo I threw up all over my bed a few weeks back. However, the age old story of Leon Kennedy - a rookie cop on his first day at work; and Claire Redfield - plucky sister of the original's Chris who is searching for his wearabouts, who must escape the zombie infested Raccoon City; is brilliant and frought with twists and turns aplenty. The DC version features pretty much everything that was in the PSX version - including all the secrets and gameplay modes...and unfortunately those fucking loading screens.

Two shots...same location! What are the chances?!?!

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
As with Resi 2, Resi 3 is pretty much a straight conversion. Capcom are clearly advocates of the old adage 'if it ain't broke...etc.' The third game differs from the others in that you play as Jill Valentine (heroine of the first game) who is a) trying to escape Raccoon City; b) trying to bring down the Umbrella Corporation; and c) being chased through the dark alleyways by an eight-foot invincible zombie in a trench coat. Just an average day at the office then. Obviously, Nemesis features better pre-rendered back drops than the PS version, but still suffers from slightly dodgy looking zombies and characters which does nothing to hide the fact that it was converted simply to line a few pockets with minimal effort.

These grunts ain't shit compared to the Nemesis...

Resident Evil Code: Veronica
Now we're talking. The Daddy (or should that be Mummy?) of Dreamcast survival horror adventures. Created exclusively for the Dreamcast, Resident Evil Code: Veronica was the first game in the series to feature fully 3D environments (as opposed to the prequels' 2D static backdrops) and also the first game to feature a (sort of) totally new storyline. You once again reprise the role of Claire Redfield, but this time the game is set on a mysterious Umbrella Corporation-owned island that, conveniently, is also infested with zombies, mutants, giant worms and other unspeakable nasties that tend to go "BWAAAAH!" rather than 'bump' in the night. Featuring truly 'next gen' graphics (check out those game-engine powered cut scenes!), Code Veronica was eventually ported to the PS2 (and later the Shamecube) under the clever guise of Code Veronica X, but we all know that the only way to play this game is with a white joypad with a VMU plugged in.

Notice Claire's change in attire between the promo shot (top) and the final version (bottom)

The one thing that puzzles me about the Resi games on the Dreamcast is the totally disproportionate pricing of them. Code Veronica is easily the best of the lot, but is invariably found retailing for the lowest price (usually no more than a few quid); whilst Resident Evil 2 and 3 generally go for upwards of twenty pounds, either online or in a store. Why?!?!?

Answers on a postcard please.

If you need more info on Resident Evil (and who doesn't?), here's a few links that may interest you. Just don't tell Wesker.

The Official Code Veronica site...THAT DOESN'T EVEN MENTION THE DREAMCAST VERSION!!!
The Resident Evil Portal
Resident Evil Fan - a frankly brilliant fan site that documents pretty much everything you could want to know about Resident Evil