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Only In Your Treams 2. Sort Of.

Following hot on the already flaming heels of Father Krishna's fucking ace post about his (worrying) 'platonic' love for his Treamcast (see below), I thought it was about time that we dove deep into the murky pool of the obscure, took a huge lung-filling gulp and then slowly drowned.

And with that slightly macabre analogy, let me introduce the fittingly named Divers 2000 CX-1:

Looking like the illegitimate bastard nightmare child of an old style Apple iMac and a Chao, the Divers 2000 is, for all intents and purposes, an all in one Dreamcast - but where it differs from the Treamcast is that it is actually an officially licensed Sega product. The target audience for such a hideous creation isn't immediatley clear upon first glance...and after a good hundred more glances you'll still probably be none the wiser as to whom, or indeed what, the Divers 2000 is aimed at.


Featuring an integrated CRT monitor, Dreamcast console, 4 contoller ports, top loading GD-Rom tray and TV tuning capabilities, it's probably not that bad a guess that the Divers 2000 was intended to be a sort of all-in-one multimedia unit that did everything - played games, surfed the internet, allowed video conferencing (via the bundled camera), played music, and showed TV through an internal receiver. However, one question burns me like a poker ripped straight from Satan's furnace and shoved straight up my ringpiece:
Why not just use a normal Dreamcast plugged into a fucking telly?!

Show me more, please Guv'nor. Or I'll pick your eyes out, chew them up and then spit the resulting mass of iris, pupil and jelly back in your face. Cough.

And as if showcasing the Divers 2000 wasn't enough, there's more.

Yes, this guy recently became one of the coolest guitarists on the planet (fuck Hendrix) when he revealed this:


It's an Amp in the form of a Dreamcast. Bill S. Preston Esq is probably turning in his squalid dole scrounger flat as I write this; sour that some other guy thought of it first, put the pics up on the net, and reaped the glory. While all he did was ride the wave of Wyld Stallyns' meagre success, fall off the Keanu Reeves bandwagon and fade into vodka soaked obscurity.

Want more?! Well how's this - my latest review of the massively wierd, lazy and overall quite shit Stupid Invaders over at Defunct Games - still the net's ultimate resource for retro reviews and articles. Go there now!

Only In Your Treams...

So, if you thought about it long and hard, what would be your greatest Dreamcast purchase ever..?

From your first console, to that special game that you've loved to play. From a sought after peripheral that revolutionised your gaming experience, to a rare piece of promotional merchandise or even some Dreamcast branded clothing... For they are all out there, in second hand game shops, on eBay, or in someones attic, laying dusty and forgotten, just waiting for us obsessives to find and shell out hard earned dollar for. Well I know what mine is and it sits like a proud and mighty king, ruling over my Dreamcast collection, undisputed, as my best buy ever.

It is my Treamcast. Thats right Treamcast. With a 'T'. I cant remember how I found it. Through an accidental typing error on my shitty, shitty keyboard? Through spending many a saddo hour trawling through eBay and Google? Through a tragic and expensive obsession with an outdated and technologically trumped games console?Or through the mystic forces of fate and the cosmos, which drew me and my loved one together?

I think it was a combination of all of those things. I searched eBay and a plethera of console and game dealers world wide in an attempt to find one. At first it seemed futile. I persisted like a moth battering itself repeatedly against a 60 watt bulb, sat for days in front of my monitor, with girlish tears in my eyes and blisters on my typing finger.

Eventually one came up on eBay for the hefty price tag of £350 "with over 200 pieces of software" which turned out to be CD re-writes. I didn't want that load of shite, so after much haggling via email and a few strange phonecalls I agreed on £100 and a Raleigh Chopper, which I handed over to a perma-tanned, bleached blonde, tatooed, slightly gay looking behemoth, in a motorway service station car-park in Leicester (I kid you not). I didn't even know if it worked! (Fortunately, after a night of shitting myself that I'd thrown good money away, and nervously heading to Maplin's for a 'step down adaptor', I found out that it did... Sort of...) And I have been in love ever since...


"So where did the Treamcast originate Father Krishna?" I imagine you might ask me if you were at all interested. Very well... Shortly after the demise of the Dreamcast, some enterprising pirates in Hong Kong decided to buy up (or more likely hijack) a load of consoles cheap. They took the cases off, moulded some new ones, and made a few modifications. The first was to add internal speakers and an external volume control.




A small ten inch LCD screen, complete with contrast and brightness adjustment, was attached on a hinge, opening up like a lid from the main body of the console. As well as the mains power lead, the makers added a clever little 'plug in' for a car lighter, so the Treamcast could be played in your 'ride' whilst cruising down the highway (by the passenger obviously...). This meant that it was a "Travel (or Transportable)" Dreamcast which is where the 'Tr' part of the name came from (Geddit?)

God knows where they came up with the controllers, because they look suspiciously like bad white copies of Saturn pads. No VMU action happening with these babies! Finally they chucked in an MP3 adaptor and a little device which allowed the Treamcast to play VCDs. Clever eh?

As if this wasn't enough, they wrapped the whole package up in a lovely little laptop-style handbag-size case, complete with a strange squared spiral motif, not a million miles away from the original Sega swirl.

So how does the little tyke play? I'd love to say perfect, but I'd be a bare faced liar who would burn in hell. It likes Japanese and America games (no need for a Utopia, Codebreaker or DCX disc) , pirate copies and CD-Rs. It doesn't like PAL games, which it shoves to the side of it's little screen putting the top of the visuals at the bottom of the LCD.

The colours displayed are very washed out and tinkering with the brightness and the contrast between games becomes a cumbersome chore. Occasionally it switches itself off, occasionally it won't turn on. It is fickle about the discs it reads and inconsistent even about reading the ones it likes.

You may as well chuck the Saturnesque controllers in the bin and replace them with regular ones otherwise you won't be saving shit. But regular DC controllers work fine. All in all a pretty frustrating piece of kit! Still it's rare, it's coveted, it's a piece of console history, and the first mod for Dreamcast that I ever saw... and I love it. Due to it's slightly tetchy nature I don't play it much. But I like to look at it. And hold it. And stroke it.

It's spawned such lovelies as this...

And even this...

And I dare say this...

More Bleem! Footage.

Recently Lan-Di from DCforums has been submitting a batch load of self-booting Bleem discs featuring rare Playstation games that work rather well on your much prettier Sega console. Yes, the murdering kung fu master that Ryo is after is in fact a DC torrent seeder. Who would've thought? I haven't tried them all out as of yet, but I have downloaded 4 of these (well, 5 actually, but one of them wouldn't go any further than a couple logos. Doh!) and now posted videos of them all for your viewing pleasure. I spoil you lot, I really do.

These are mostly games you won't very likely find for 5p at a boot sale (in fact, most of them never saw the light of day outside of Japan), so I have no gripes about downloading them. If it's Tekken or Ridge Racer you want, you may as well find the proper copies, and run them off a disc of the beta emulator on it's own.

First off, we have Cowboy Bebop, based on a very popular (Also a personal favourite of mine) anime telly series starring a bunch of Bounty Hunters in space. Trust me, it's much cooler than it sounds. Shame the same can't be said for this game of the same name.

Rather than playing any of the cast from the series, the whole game involves you flying one of the fighter planes from it, and game play wise this is nothing more ha a on rails shooter set to dull scenery. You get bog standard guns and a much handier laser that locks on to enemies. You can also rotate your ship and move it about, but it doesn't really make a whole lot of difference until you get to the boss areas, in which it becomes pretty darn hard to line up your ship in the direction you want it. You'll notice in the video that once I'm in the boss area, the level suddenly flips upside down and I spend the whole time trying to line it back up while getting beaten down by un-dodge-able fireballs.



Emulation wise, the graphics have the texture issues seen with many games running in Bleem beta, in that they don't load up quick enough and you end up with patches of white all over the place. Also, judging from screenshots of the Playstation version I've seen, there is supposed to be animations of the characters that pop up in little boxes, but none of them show up here. The music works fine, but the SFX are a bit of a mess and only play when hey feel like it (which is barely ever). Pausing then un-pausing the game seems to make random SFX and voices echo like mad for a few seconds. Over wise, it's as playable as such a bog-standard game can be.

Next up, Crazy Climber 2000. Apparently this is a classic retro game from the 1980s. I've never heard of it, myself. The game features a 3D remake and the original game. As far as Bleem emulation goes, this is possibly the best compatibility yet. It works perfectly in all departments, and even the retro version of the game works like it should. Much like Cowboy Bebop, though, it's just a shame that the game itself doesn't live up to the great compatibility.

For starters, the graphics leave much to be desired, and is about as basic as you can get. Remember Virtua Fighter running on the 32X? That looks 100 times better than this does. But the graphics are nothing compared to the failure that is the actual game play.



The arcade version played with two joysticks, you see. One for the guys right arm and one for his left arm. On the console controls, this translates as the d-pad for his left arm and the four main buttons for his right arm. While classics like Pac-Man are extremely simple and instantly accessible, Crazy Climber is far to complex for it's own good. Not only are the controls awkward, but even on easy mode the game really has in in for you. Once you finally start getting the hang of things, about five men, perfectly set up to make avoiding them impossible, will pop out of their windows and toss flower pots at you. Sometimes flower pots can just hit your side and bounce off, but too often for it's own good, they'll bounce onto your head (sometimes MULTIPLE times) to make sure you fall.

Then there’s the closing and opening windows that make you fall if you get your fingers caught in them. These closing windows tend to gang up on you in their dozens, and because you can't grab onto a closed window, you end up trapped with no where to go but down (Falling, that is. You can climb downwards!). In short, this game is frustrating to say the least, and hardly what I would call a retro classic.

Now, onto some good games. Yes, for every 50 bad games the PSX had, there was one that was well worth the visit. The first of two Bleem compatible examples is Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, which I'm sure if you were ever a Playstation-owner you will have heard of. This is a funky 2D platformer with 3D landscapes starring a rabbit/racoon/thingamajig with big ears and a little blob for a friend that resides in a ring. You can float in the air with your ears, and shoot a little close range laser thing that turns any critters that get in your way into a balloon with can in turn help you smash things and reach higher places. It's all rather charming.



On the Emulation front, this game works pretty darn well in places an not so well in others. The graphics, for example, appear to have no major problems what so ever, which is especially surprising as the Bleem emulator is not known for handling 2D sprites all too well. The SFX only play when they feel like it, although this is more often than Bebop and there are generally no glitches there either. However, it's the music that truly suffers in the emulation. As you'll hear at the start, you can just about hear it but it's drowned out by horrid flickering noises. I fond that the music can be stopped all together by opening the disc drive once a level as loaded, but this makes the next level slow down to a halt, so it's best off to just play with the volume down. Shame, really, because everything else is fine.

Finally we have the oddly titled N20: Nitrous Oxide by Gremlin. The game plays a lot like Tempest, only in this you are flying through a lopped tunnel that you can rotate around and you have to shoot bugs of all sorts. All of this is set to colourful, trippy graphics and dance music. The speed in which it moves can at times be dizzying, especially if you intend on spinning around the tunnel a lot.



The emulation for this game is very much perfect. I couldn’t spot a singe glitch in the graphics nor any problems with the music. I presume this game was supposed to have SFX, though, as the emulator doesn't pick up any. Unless of course the game didn't have any to start with, in which case please correct me. The game has so many colours flying about that YouTube compressed the video, a LOT.

So there we have it. More peeks into the most intriguing DC emulator out there. In other news, I've updated the Junkyard Wiki quite a bit, with a few game profiles set up here and there. I have so many more to do!

Oxygen Thief

I revisited the small provincial carbuncle of Leigh again last weekend. My journey was one of 'pleasure' rather than business, and indeed turned out to be filled with such delightful events as having my face, arm and left nipple zapped with a taser; being threatened with a chainsaw; playing ten pin bowling in the street at 1am; witnessing two grown men throw gravel at each other with shovels and, lest I forget, trying to get two terrapins to shag. Of course, most of this behaviour was influenced - nay fuelled - by considerable volumes of alcohol, but they all pale into insignificance when compared to the activity that followed only a day later: I visited a Gamestation and found Dreamcast games in abundance!

After managing to explain to the fourth member of Greenday (who, incidentally, was working behind the counter) that I DIDN'T WANT TO PRE-ORDER A FUCKING WII, I managed to procure the following titles for my ever-growing stash of blue boxed loveliness (loneliness):

Star Wars: Jedi Power Battles

Even though I'm not a fan of the Star Wars franchise in any way, shape or form, I have seen all six movies and played pretty much every SW game there has ever been (except Yoda Stories, because it looks wank). Even stranger, with the purchase of Jedi Power Battles, I now own all three Star Wars games released for the DC (Episode 1: Racer and Demolition being the other two). All three range in quality drastically - Racer is arse-meltingly good, Demolition is just arse and Power Battles is, well, also a bit arse. It sort of follows the story of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (which was also, surprisingly, arse) and you get to 'battle' through various appropriatley themed levels with your (very) trusty lightsabre in hand.

Is it Cosmic Smash? Is it Power Battles? I just can't tell!

Or is it Chaos Control?

Most of the enemies encountered along the way are of the robotic variety and will crumble at the merest of touches, and you can also deflect their own laser fire back at them with your blade. But that's about as good as it gets in Power Battles. Apart from the light sabres and the legendary intro music (complete with yellow writing that vanishes into an invisible sphincter in the middle of the screen (more arse!)), there's not a lot to recommend it - animation is extremely ropey, the graphics look like they were created by Bertha (right, yesterday) and it could be any old generic platformer if you took out Ewan McGregor and the Yoga "Mmmm!" noise every single fucking time you collect an item.

Chicken Run

Not a game I've ever actually seen on sale before - even on eBay, but one I knew existed somewhere out in the ether due to a review I saw in a mag once. It's basically the official game that accompanied Aardman(Wallace & Gromit)'s animated movie of the same name. The most noteable thing about Chicken Run is that it doesn't feature Mel Gibson's voice. The second most noteable thing is that on the back page of the instruction manual, it states that 1287 chicken pies were eaten by the game's production team during the development. Cheers for that information guys!

These are clearly PS1 shots...

...but the DC ones are practically identical

Moving on to the game itself, it plays a bit like a super-watered down version of Metal Gear Solid in that you, as a hen, must venture out of the chicken coup and into the various areas of the farm in order to collect items that will help you build a plane to escape. Or something along those lines. I mention MGS in comparison because Chicken Run is more an exercise in not being seen by the guard dogs who are wandering around, or the farmer himself. If you do get seen, you invariably get mauled to death by the dogs and ripped limb from limb in a bloody cloud of feathers. Tony Martin then pops up and shoots a gypsy through the window in the background. Graphically, Chicken Run is only marginally better than the average PS1 game and is full of hilarious glitches and fuck ups; but the sound is of such outstanding quality it makes you wish they'd put the same amount of effort into the visuals. Fans of the film will be interested, but the rest of us (normal) people will see it for what it is: a slap dash cash in that not even Mel Gibson would lend his alcoholic, drug addled, anti-semitic name to.

Stupid Invaders

Not really the kind of thing you expect to see on the Dreamcast: a title that should really only have been released as a freeware PC game. It's a bare bones point and click adventure (that, gasp, uses the mouse!) where you take control of a group of aliens who, whilst returning home from a picnic in space, manage to crash on a depressing, rainy, putrid planet inhabited by mindless worker-ant type beings whose only interest in life is destroying themselves and eating burgers. It's called Earth. Now my Ford Prefect bit is out of the way, I'll continue.

It's all a bit Ren & Stimpy if you ask me

These aliens, whose number totals five and have names such as Bud Buddiovitch and Stereo Monovici, happen to crash near a small quiet town and decide to set up home in an abandoned house whilst repairs are carried out on their ride. Unfortunatley, the local nutty professor (there's one in every neighbourhood, folks) Dr Sakarin finds out and decides he wants to perform experiments on the aliens (and, possibly, full cavity searches). He sends out a bounty hunter called Bolok to capture them and thats basically the premise of the game. Getting away from Bolok...and the Earth.

Tip: that bird cage is IRRELEVANT

On first glance, Stupid Invaders appears to be the best looking game you've ever played due to the high-res pre-rendered backdrops and well animated 'claymation' characters, but look a little deeper and you'll realise it's no more than the sum of it's parts - flat 2D images. The gameplay consists mainly of wandering from screen to screen picking up items and then using them to solve a puzzle in the very next room; and scratching your head in bewilderment as it attempts to amuse you with one of the many, many bizarre cut scenes or visual jokes thrown in. It's billed as a 'adult' themed game, and yes, there are various refences to poo, wee, wanking, homosexuality and sexual perversion...but funny? risque? pull the other one guys - Duke Nukem 3D was more risque than Stupid Invaders. It's not a terrible game by any means, just a bit pointless on an arcade-geared console like the Dreamcast.

Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future
(Faint...thud)

...

Oh...where am I?! Don't do that with my toothbrush Mr Glitter! Oh...wait a second...oh, I must have had a funny turn there: BECAUSE I HAVE JUST WITNESSED ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GAMES THAT THERE HAS, IS, AND EVER WILL BE!

It's called Ecco, and it's on the Dreamcast. Don't bother buying that Xbox 360 Mr Warbucks...here, buy this twenty quid Dreamcast and five pound copy of Ecco instead. Now, go home, plug it in and prepare to have your retinas tickled by Sega's version of the feather duster.

Look! Sun beams BREAKING THROUGH THE WAVES!!

If you're still in the dark about what I'm trying to say - you clearly are a bonafide oxygen thief, but i'll get to the point - the 3D world, characters, effects...everything visually represented in Ecco...is unbelievably beautiful. One of the best looking games I've ever played - bar none. And that's not even taking into account the sublime sound effects and watery music; the silky smooth way your super-intelligent, warm blooded avatar moves through the oceans and lagoons, and the countless mini-quests and missions availible.

Pretty fishies! EAT THEM!

When you think of the Dreamcast, you conjure up images of Shenmue, Jet Set Radio, MSR, Soul Calibur, House of the Dead, Sega Rally, Urban Chaos...well, maybe not the last one, but definatley the others. Well add another to that list: Ecco. Find it, get it any way you can - you owe it to your Dreamcast to witness the production values and love that has gone into creating it. STOP READING THIS AND GO FIND A COPY OF ECCO! NOW!

And as an added bonus and testiment to my love for Ecco and his 'slippery when wet' fuselage, here's an Ecco wallpaper robbed from a vastly superior website:

Enjoy!

Existenz - That rubbish movie sponsored by Dreamcast!

I'm sure at least Tom has seen this poster for a movie that was released in 1999 (2000 in the UK) that, for some reason has the Dreamcast logo featured on it (can you see it? It's just under the Z of the title). So why did Sega pay to have their console's name slapped on this movie poster? What does this movie have to do with Sega, or even video games at all? Well, to solve the mystery, I've rented the movie out on DVD. Hoping to find subliminal DC advertising a lot like that I spotted in the Josie and the Pussycats and that Janet Jackson video. Like the creepy Dreamcast stalker I am, my results are a mixed bag of interesting and a complete waste of time.

Reading up on it, the film at least has some relevance to video games, in that the story is about an organic computer game...thing, that is inserted into a hole in your spine that takes you into some sort of alternate reality that is too life-like for it's own good; and soon enough the characters can't tell when they are in the game and when they're not. In other words, it's another Matrix type film. Although with all due respect it did come out the same year as the Matrix, that movie got a LOT more attention than this, and in my opinion, for a very good reason.

As interesting as the idea may sound (at least at the time), I personally thought this movie, after just watching it not too long ago, was an ugly, dreadful, pointlessly gory, poorly acted pile of tripe. One of the worst films I have ever had the misfortune to watch, in fact, and why Sega would want their name any where near it is beyond me, it's more like something Sony would want to use as a advertising sceme (Ever see that "Playstation 9" commercial they did for the PS2? Yeah, it's almost the same concept as this film!) The plot may of been a bit more bearable if it wasn't for the unnecessary body horror that was just thrown in at every opportunity. There was barely a scene in this film, even the basic conversation scenes, without some kind of lizard, frog, or mutant organic controller thingy being mutilated and slaughted in full detail on screen. It just wasn't needed! Oh, and the ending was a predictable cop out and a "You're taking the piss!" moment at the same time.

The only positive moment I can really think of in the film was the first few minutes before all the crap kicked in, because none other than former Doctor Who Christopher Ecclestion has a short role in it, although even he couldn't seem to act in this and was putting a naff accent of some sort on. Another scene that stuck out as amusing and very vaguely related to the Dreamcast was just after the main bloke in the film has his "Bioport" installed (i.e: a nasty little hole in the back of his spine to plug the phallic looking plug for the game thing), has a can of "XE-60" spayed on the hole to make it work better. The can is a blatant reference to WD-40. This little scene brings back memories of spraying WD-40 into one of the sockets in the back of the Dreamcast to stop it from randomly resetting. Ahh, bless.
So other than this, what does the Dreamcast have to do with the film? Well, nothing much except that Sega have used the DVD to advertise the console. As soon as you put the disc in, one of the main menus is a Dreamcast logo. Click on this and what do you get? A cut down version of that promo video 'Dreamography'! You know, the one with the bloke sitting on his sofa dreaming about the games that prances about with a broom and has a Playstation in his bin? It's that, only a lot shorter.

All the third party games have been stripped from the videos, as well as a few of the Sega ones. When he mucks about with that elastic band, the Code: Veronica clips have been replaced with Sega GT (which makes no sense at all), and when he's dreaming about Shenmue (complete with soundtrack) it cuts to the footage of Ecco instead...then cuts out the part where his mates come in with the console and pretend to play 4 player. Maybe this is an earlier version of the promo. Still, it's in very nice DVD quality here, and my guess is that this promo was screened with the film in cinemas too, for all five people that went to see it. I've even gone to the effort to rip the promo for you, so you don't have to rent the crappy film to see it.



Also, when the DVD is run on a PC, there is a auto start of a flash animation telling you all about DreamArena. that DC-only website that was the Euro Dreamcast's homepage. I'm pretty sure this presentation was also featured on one of the DreamOn demos. I've uploaded it here for you all to see in it's unexciting but for me nostalgic glory.

This was ripped from the autostart webpage. Ooooh~!

So now you know. Avoid the film unless you like lizard guts in every shot, a stupid mind-feck plot and piss poor acting. I've done all the Dreamcast research so you don't have to. As if my dignity hasn't already taken a blow from finding Dreamcast stuff is the most parallel of places, maybe I should rent Josie and the Pussycats so I can at least get screen caps of the film's hidden Space Channel 5 goodness. I know not to sit all the way through that movie already however, so I won't suffer too much. 


The things I do for you guys, honestly!

Sega 64

With a little bit of educated Googling, it's possible to find information on pretty much anything on the net. Into shit eating porn? cool - just type it into the little white oblong box and you can be privvy to more turd guzzling than you could ever imagine. Likewise, if pictures of prototype Dreamcast hardware is your vice (as is mine), then typing said parameters into the all consuming corporation's search box will invariably throw up such delights as these:


YAWN. Old. News. Seen them all before here at the Junkyard. How about some 1997 era 'Sega 64' / 'Dural' shots instead?

Here you go:

How cool?! These pics were featured in the Frontline section of issue 8 of defunct games mag Saturn Power (Christmas 1997). The reproductions here were taken with my shod-tastic digital camera and not, as one would prefer, a proper scanner - but as is my mantra, used many times in the past - you can't have everything. Moving back to the pictures, the article states that the images were 'leaked' from a source in Tokyo and then published by Gamefan Online. The images are pretty low quality, and are covered in Japanese text which I suppose, back in '97 lended an air of authenticity to them. What's interesting though, is that the article gives some technical specs about the system, including the implementation of a DVD drive, AC-3 sound ("phenominal, but very expensive"), and the ability to shift 1.8 million polygons per second ("very tricky to imagine").

Someone needs to invest in a spell checker methinks

The controller appears to be a bastardisation of the original Saturn analogue pad, but with the X,Y and Z buttons given the boot. Also, there only seem to be two controller ports which, given that the N64 was already availible with it's revolutionary 4 port design, would appear to a step backwards for the Sega64/Dural/Blackbelt/whatever.

Even though it is stressed in the article that the images could very well be a hoax, there are still some similarities with the final design of the Dreamcast - the colour for one, and the pad isn't that dissimilar, while the layout of the buttons on the console itself (save for the ommission of a reset button) is quite reminiscent and it also appears to feature a vent on the side, hinting at the implementation of a fan based cooling system.

Of course, it's obviously not the console as it is today, but still an interesting bit of history.

Read All About It!

You know, for a console that never really penetrated the 'mainstream' - i.e., Starbucks drinking cunts who read FHM and go to Tony & Guy for their RIDICULOUS "I've just got out of bed" haircuts - the Dreamcast had it's fair share of magazines. At least, here in the UK it did. Many a four quid of this gamer's scrounged money was spent on said periodicals, and here, for YOUR delectation, is a furiously over-zealous run down of each:


Dreamcast - The Official Dreamcast Magazine
Price: 4.99
Publisher: Dennis Publishing

The Official Dreamcast mag, sanctioned by SEGA and read by those with more money than sense, me (occasionally) included. The main attraction was the 'free' Dream On demo disk included with every issue, which, to be fair always had up to date games featured on it. The 4.99 price was a bit steep, but was justified by the demo - and the mag featured reasonably high production value and every issue was bound with a proper spine and consisted of over 100 pages so you always got a good read out of it. Stylistically, ODM sits proudly in the 'lad's mag' section - dominated by white spaces with the occasional bit of writing, minimalistic illustrations and slightly supercilious reviews. It featured a scoring mark 'out of 10,' and because it was the official tome, always had the most up to date previews and reviews. The downside was that, due to said officialdom, the mag was rarely unbiased and almost every review heaped some kind of praise, even if the game was a pile of toss. Like Army Men: Sarge's Heores. An interesting regular feature was the bit near the back, where a panel of industry insiders (usually developers or publishers) were interviewed on various aspects of Dreamcast gaming.

Overall: A tad pretentious, but a quality read nontheless - and it had the demo disk, albeit for a hefty price.

Dreamcast Monthly
Price: 2.99
Publisher: Quay

Dreamcast Monthly was a mag that, as far as I know, didn't run for any longer than a year. It was a well designed magazine but was only sold in a limited number of stores - indeed, I only ever saw it in one shop - and pretty much every issue was packaged with some kind of freebie, be it a tips book or a poster etc. The styling is very different from the Official mag in that every page is packed with info and pictures to the point where, in some ways, it's difficult to read. Dreamcast Monhly, like most mags, featured some interesting interviews with industry big-wigs, and possibly the most interesting was in Issue 8 (pictured) with the MD of Promethian Designs - the hearts and minds behind such cancelled Dreamcast classics as Picassio, Renegade Racers, and Hydro Sprint. The puzzling thing about Dreamcast Monthly though, was the inconsistency with the rest of the industry when it came to review scores. Sure, a review is merely the opinion of the person playing the game - but since when was Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation a 10/10 game, while Soul Calibur only a 9/10? Did the Man from Eidos have his own parking space down at Quay Publishing?

Overall: Another good quality magazine, full of screenshots and interesting features.

DC-UK
Price: 2.95
Publisher: Future Publishing

DC-UK was Future's flagship Dreamcast magazine and rates among some of the best magazines ever produced by that particular publishing house. It had a very similar design and review scoring system to the official mag, but also featured some great mag-specific artwork such as reviewer portraits, feature illustrations and photography. An interesting section of the mag, titled 'DC-World' covered cheats, online news, letters, player's guides, a review database and a general reader interaction bit. DC-UK was also one of the mags that was availible prior to the Dreamcast console's actual launch, and featured a VHS tape with game footage and adverts for the system.

Overall: A serious alternative to the official mag, and with the added bonus of being completely independent (ie: unbiased)

Dreamcast Magazine
Price: 2.99
Publisher: Paragon

Although Dennis Publishing had the trump card with the official Dreamcast liscense, Paragon held the upper hand when it came to sales. Why? Because Dreamcast Magazine was the best selling, longest running, highest quality Dreamcast monthly on the market. Dreamcast Magazine was there from the start, all the way to the bitter end when, with a dearth of new releases to review, they actually re-reviewed the launch games when they were bundled together with the console in an attempt to coax newcomers to the DC scene. The mag ran for over two years and featured some excellent reviews and special features. The back section of the mag had a complete UK and import reviews database, DVD reviews, cheats and reader reviews; whilst the front hosted the previews and the middle section the reviews. A whole page was dedicated to US and Japanese news (written by non other than the suspiciously named Dan Francisco) and it invariaby came wih a free tips book, poster or other free gift. Like I said, it was the last Dreamcast mag to jump ship and towards the end seemed to feature reviewers who had been educated at the Elementary School of Cliche Quoters, but for the most part Dreamcast Magazine was the best DC read availible.

Overall: 100% quality, and wih us to the bitter end. Bravo.

Mr Dreamcast
Price: 2.50
Publisher: Magical Media

Christ almighty. I only ever saw this monstrosity once, and only bought it on that solitary occasion because I was facing a long and boring bus journey. It was clearly aimed at the younger end of the market as this particular issue came complete with a Fur Fighters water pistol (!) and prose that wouldn't seem out of place in a Puddle Lane Ladybird book. Readers artwork featured in the letters section, as did an eerily familiar 'vs' bit, where two totally different games were pitted against each other in a Totally Ridiculous Comparison. Hmmm. Anyway - a mag definatley for the youger Dreamcast gamer, but also a contradiction in the way the reviews were sometimes written for an older age group. Bizarre. At any rate, it didn't run for longer than a few issues. A case of drowning a retared puppy to put the little fucker out of it's misery, methinks.

Overall: Wierd.

Now you've finished reading about mags, I thought maybe you'd like to see boobs combined with our favourite console:

Shame it's a fucking Arsenal shirt she's 'wearing.'

Shenmue, Manchester Style...

Whilst killing a bit of time on the fateful day that I met up with TomLeeCee (to hand over Confidential Mission in a desparate attempt to ingratiate myself with the author of my favourite blog and get a foot in the door of the Yard), I happened to find myself in Manchester's famous oriental microcosm... Chinatown.


Rather tragically I began to muse over the similarities of said location and the virtual Hong Kong that I had spent so many hours, days and months in, playing my beloved Shenmue 2. I had 'the three gingers' with me and the biggest one caught the whistful look in my eye. He knew what was going through my mind and began to chuckle cynically, as I adopted my best Ryu Hazuki pose, turning up the collar of my brown leather jacket and slapping another blob of gel into my spikey black barnet.


As I furtively peeped down the alleyways for Lan Di's thugs, and checked my watch to make sure it wasn't 11 O' Clock (when I have to run home for bed and catch up on nine hours sleep no matter what I'm doing...) I happened to feel an unexpected attack. The littlest ginger was tugging on my sleeve and pointing towards a vending machine outside the Tomato Convenience store. Capsule toys! "Should I get one?" I mused, in a monotone American accent, whilst raising one eybrow pensively..."O.K.."


Very slowly I knelt and placed in my $5 HK into the machine... Damn! No Virtua Fighter Figures, no forklifts or crap dice. But there was large headed Marvel characters akin to the VF Kids in Shenmue and Hello Kitty crap that I could waste my money on. In order to replicate the 'thrill' of the game I bought one. It was shit.
Having nipped into an arcade for a quick game of Space Harrier, I decided I better hot foot it towards the allocated hostelry prearranged for the hand over of the first donation of Junk for the Yard. I bought a map for $10 HK and set off, pausing to admire a large chested ginger bird on a red motorbike that seemed to be giving me the eye...

Where's all this toss leading to I hear you ask? O.K. I'll get on with it... For it was then that I saw it... That familiar swirl that causes a rush of bood to my love muscle. For here in the closest place to Dobuita that I was ever going to get, was a Dreamcast mecca. A place I was sure would be an Aladdin's cave of rare Dreamcast games, sought after peripherals and associated 'lost' merchandise!!!
I walked in heart pounding, reaching into my pocket for the Phoenix Mirror that I was willing to trade for said goods...
Only to find... that it had stopped selling Dreamcast games years ago, specialising now in PS2 only... And like a sack of sloppy shit being emptied over my freshly shaven noggin I realised that I was not in Shenmue-Land at all, but in the festering bed-sore that is Manchester. Fuck.
Oh well, back home then to face rain, weasel faced scrotes on mountain bikes in Von Dutch caps and the sad realisation that life is well and truly a motherhumping bee-atch! And that's why we all need our little white boxes to escape into, as we draw our mould infested curtains, fire up a Pot Noodle and slurp on another premium strength lager before sloping off to a sweat stained mattress and closing our eyes until anothr grey day dawns.
Goodnight children wherever you are, until next time...