DreamPod Episode Two

iTunes featured DreamPod in their 'New & Noteworthy' section this week, which was very nice. We've also had some great iTunes reviews and general feedback from listeners and we're very grateful. We've still got a few minor issues to iron out with the sound quality (I personally intend to invest in a decent USB microphone as soon as I can afford one!), but as is often the case when recording over the internet, it's never going to be studio quality. In any case, here's the new episode! If you enjoy it, let us know in the comments or by leaving us an iTunes review.

The Games That Never Were: Episode 4

YouTuber and friend of the Junkyard pcwzrd13 has come up with the goods yet again by posting episode 4 of the popular series The Games That Never Were - a look at some of the titles that were tantalisingly promised for our favourite beige, whirring and wheezing box...but for whatever reason were drop-kicked into the nearest bin. And then spat on by a tramp. Probably.

This latest instalment features such agonisingly-canned games as Castlevania Resurrection, D-Jump, Galleon and, Redline Arena. Before you ask - yes, that is an Oxford comma. Whether it's usage is warranted or correct here bothers me not one iota, however. I digress.

This video is particularly interesting as we plan to discuss some of the more promising cancelled Dreamcast games in episode two of DreamPod. Stay tuned for more information on that...but first, enjoy pcwzrd13's awesome (and thought-provoking) video:

As ever, please be sure to check out Dreamcastic Channel for the previous entries in the Games That Never Were series and expand your burgeoning knowledge of the alternative universe that is hinted at every time you are on the cusp of falling asleep. Lastly, it is (with gratitude) down to the video's auteur that I'm able to experience one of the games featured. Bet you can't guess what it is...

My First Podcast and A Resolution

A couple of days ago, I had the fortune of participating in our blog's podcast. And from that experience I learned one important thing:

It's still a bit of a mystery to me!

I do not know nearly as much about the Dreamcast as I should! Despite having gotten the console near the end of its life time and playing it since then, much of the stuff discussed was stuff I was hearing for the first time. Like, the game "Under Defeat" being the last game released on the system, or the worst game on the system (From our poll, it's Spirit of Speed 1937). Or the fact that the Dreameye was a thing.

Listen to the podcast if you haven't!

Plus, I haven't played the classic Jet Set Radio/Jet Grind Radio! This is a situation I'm trying to remedy even as I type.

Another game on the "Get This" list!

Therefore, I must resolve to learn more about my Sega consoles in general, and our beloved Dreamcast in particular. What makes it popular today? Why do I still like it after all these years? What other great games haven't I experienced yet? All this and more, next time on Dreamcast Junkyard!

Also, listen to the podcast! :P

Official UK Dreamcast Magazine: Demo Editions

It's pretty much standard practice for a console to have it's own officially-licensed print magazine, and the Dreamcast was no different. The Official UK Dreamcast Magazine is well known for it's more mature tone and it very much felt like a clone of the Official PlayStation Magazine, what with the monthly DreamOn demo discs stuck to the font cover and the premium price of £5 in an era where £3 was more common for a monthly gaming publication. For this reason alone, I tended to purchase Paragon Publishing's unofficial Dreamcast Magazine and occasionally Dreamcast Monthly and DC-UK. I must also admit to having bought Mr Dreamcast on one occasion but the less said about that, the better. That's not to say I never bought ODM (as it was known) though, as I did when I was feeling particularly flush; but back in 1999 that wasn't a regular occurrence...and still isn't. But enough about my Bob Cratchit-esque lifestyle.

We have covered the various UK-based monthly Dreamcast periodicals in a previous post here at the Junkyard, but this is slightly different to that article (it has 95% less swearing). It appears that when pitching the idea of an official magazine to Sega, Dennis Publishing pulled out all the stops to win the contract and went as far as producing a full-blown demo magazine to present to the big wigs, of which around 50 issues were produced. Thanks to regular DCJY visitor and Dreamcast collector Blue Swirl, we are able to present these rather amazing images of the Official UK Dreamcast Magazine's unreleased demo issue.
Pretty sure the hippy is from Body Harvest on N64
You will note several differences between the final version and the demo, such as the different title font and graphics, and also the use of silver and the Dreamcast logo on the sides of each page. Blue Swirl offers more details on the differences between the dummy run and the final product:

I got one of the magazines on eBay and I got the other two from someone who as a hobby preserves magazines by scanning them. I said to him I was a bit of a Dreamcast nut and wondered if he would part with them, and to my surprise he was more than happy to let them go to me as I am a collector.

The magazine has approximately 140 pages but that consists of the first 70 pages printed twice, I guess they did this to give it some bulk. 

Some content is exactly the same but with a completely different layout, there are some pages that are not in the final issue and some features have different content, like the Gadgets Gizmos and Websites feature. The Fourplay feature has some different content too plus there are some fashion photos not present in the full issue, and it also has a small feature where they ask what the cast of Red Dwarf think of the Dreamcast. Another thing omitted from the full issue was the gatefold front cover. 

There isn't a staff section but there is the editors note.

Interestingly I noticed they originally went with an out of 6 for the review score system.
The 6 point scoring system can be seen here
It's interesting to see these pre-production mock ups and this gives an idea of the amount of work that must have gone into competing for the official brand license. Maybe there are some other mock ups in the hands of collectors which were created by competing publishing houses? If there are, and you have one please let us know. On this note, DC-UK was originally intended to be Future Publishing's pitch for the official license, so it would be fascinating to see if there are any officially branded demo issues.
Thanks to Blue Swirl for all of these images and information, and be sure to check out the eponymous blog, BlueSwirl.

DreamPod Episode One

After the success of Episode Zero, you'll no doubt be pleased to learn that Episode One is now here! And although it has the same name as that Star Wars car crash from a while back, Jar Jar Binks is nowhere to be seen. Hurrah! Be sure to check us out on iTunes and YouTube too, and if you like what you hear please leave us a rating or a review.

The Bugs Of MSR

I make no secret that Metropolis Street Racer is one of my favourite racing games. Sure, I've been pouring hours into Driveclub over the last few months, but no game helped me hone my virtual racing skills more than Bizarre Creations' amazing real-world masterpiece. The way in which deft taps of the handbrake coupled with feathered use of the accelerator allowed me to rack up immense amounts of Kudos was just unrivalled at the time, and while it was bettered - in just about every way - in the following Project Gotham series on the Xbox and Xbox 360, Metropolis Street Racer will always have a place in my heart alongside the likes of Sega Rally, The Need For Speed and Outrun.
This post is slightly different from my recent frothing love letters though. This time I'd like to focus on an aspect that is very rarely mentioned when MSR is discussed, and that is the way the original PAL issue of the game shipped with various (fairly serious) bugs and glitches, and even had to be recalled by Sega. The first batch of MSR GDs featured some fairly major errors that Bizarre Creations either missed or weren't able to iron out in the time Sega had given them before being told that the game simply had to hit the shop shelves in November 2000, and thanks to an interesting blog I recently discovered here is a complete run-down of the bugs lovingly included (for our displeasure) in the various iterations of MSR:

  • Completing Street Race challenges without the required number of Kudos would be considered successful nonetheless (first PAL version)
  • The game would sometimes corrupt VMUs (first PAL version)
  • After some time of playing, Tokyo races would always be at night (first PAL version)
  • When using a keyboard to enter names etc., the keys were mapped incorrectly. Pressing C would give B, pressing B would give A etc. (first PAL version)
  • The "Quick Race" screen in the multiplayer mode would be blank and thus impossible to play (first and second PAL version)
  • The Alfa Romeo GTV cannot be gained legitimately as the 'time to beat' was set too low at 31 seconds (first and second PAL version)
  • The Street Race in Chapter 17, Challenge 8 cannot be beaten legitimately as it was mistakenly set to infinite laps (first and second PAL version)
  • Special Events could be completed without the required car or clock time (first and second PAL version)
  • During wet conditions, it still rains inside tunnels and under bridges (all versions)
  • Ghost cars loaded from a VMU can become corrupt and crash into the sides without reason. This includes ghosts saved within Time Trials (all versions)
  • Two Time Attack records (Asakusa Eki-Iruguchi and Koen Minami) are pre-set to 0.000 (all versions)
  • Creating a Time Trial with 'misty' or 'foggy' weather will default to 'clear' weather once a ghost car is saved (all versions)
  • When selecting a personal music playlist as the default choice, MSR reverts to its own preset list when resuming a game (all versions)

I did also discover that turning off the tire smoke effects and the rear-view mirror improves the frame-rate immeasurably...but that's hardly a bug, and is the only thing I can add from personal experience. Um. Moving on...

As stated in the original article, the second and third releases of the game had most of these issues rectified but I still find it quite fascinating that Sega actually allowed gamers to send back their bugged copies and receive a new version for free. What happened to all the buggy games? Were they simply destroyed or were the cases re-purposed? Or did gamers simply send back the GDs in a jiffy bag? Either way, the logistics of such a program must have been a nightmare. Even so, I would imagine there are a fair few copies of the initial release still floating around in the wild. I personally don't recall experiencing any of the mentioned bugs - apart from the rain inside the tunnels one - so maybe I was lucky (or unlucky in this case) enough to never part with cash for issue one...but it would still be interesting to be able to compare the two (or three) different revisions of MSR first hand.

On that bombshell, I would imagine the only way to tell which version you have is by looking for the bugs yourself, as there appears to be only one serial number for the various PAL releases (MK-51022-50 according to the amazing Dreamcast Collector's Guide).

Source of the list: MSRDreamcast blog

While perusing the Bizarre Creations website on Wayback Machine, I stumbled across this entry in the 'notes' section of the MSR microsite:

Sega Europe have just released an official statement on MSR. This includes information for those who have found problems in the first retail version of the game, on how to go about getting a replacement disk. The statement is below:

Official Sega Europe Statement: 
The development of MSR has been an astonishing accomplishment and has since set new standards within the gaming industry - pure driving games will never be the same again. Thousands of calls have been received since launch, complementing on the sheer size and precision of the sound, visuals and game play, though undoubtedly, a game of this calibre will experience some difficulties. It has come to the attention of Sega that the first version of MSR, currently in retail, has shown some irregular, minor problems which may affect game play. Since discovering this issue, we have all have worked extremely hard to produce an updated version of the game for you, eliminating these problems.

Should you discover anything unusual then do not hesitate to call the Sega Customer Services number - 08456 090 090, where helpful Sega staff will be on hand to process your details and replace your troubled disk. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and hope you enjoy the game everyone is talking about - Metropolis Street Racer.

--------- end ---------

We, at Bizarre Creations, are also happy that those people who have experienced problems will have them solved by Sega's Customer Services, and are sure that they will be able to answer all your queries. We're sorry that we've not been able to put any more information up here on the website, or give out more by e-mail, but Sega have needed to focus customer support and the solution to the problems at their HQ.

Now there that the disk replacement operation is in place, Sega have assured us that they will be doing their utmost to help all of their customers as soon as possible - as a games publisher, they are already set up to provide swift and effective support for their products. And, of course, we hope you continue to enjoy the game.

This pretty much solves the mystery of how people were meant to get a replacement copy of the game!

The Dreamcast Internet Guide

One of our unwritten rules here at the 'Yard is that no matter how small, insignificant or useless an item of Dreamcast-related paraphernalia should be, it will always be taken in and given a hot meal (usually gruel). Unless it takes the unholy form of another Dreamcast tissue box holder. Sorry - I did say I'd never mention that abomination ever again lest I have the taste slapped from my mouth by the hand of Zeus himself. So, with deity-administered happy slaps pending, allow me to introduce the newest addition to The Dreamcast Junkyard's outstanding library of (literal) literature: The Dreamcast Internet Guide.

Published by FKB Publishing in 1999, the Internet Guide does exactly what it says on the tin (cover) - it is a handy guide for any intrepid traveller who happens to have a desire to buy a ticket and take a ride on the information super-highway. Albeit, the information super-highway of the late 1990s...on a 33k dial-up modem.
As Sega was also marketing the Dreamcast as a cheap way of getting online back in those halcyon days of MySpace, it makes total sense that they would commission a publishing house to create a tome of this nature, and the book does indeed act like a sort of Yellow Pages for the internet n00b. The version featured in this post is actually a promotional copy and so large tracts of the full version's content is missing, but this is a good taster for what purchasers of the full retail copy could expect.

The first part of the book helpfully explains just what this new-fangled 'internet' thingy is all about, and then goes on to explain stuff like newsgroups, and how to save images to your VMU and turn them into a screen saver. Later sections go on to explain how the NSA are watching your every online move and could burst through your window at any moment with guns drawn. Of course, I jest. It's the FBI you should be worried about, not those amateurs at the NSA. Chortle.
Gonna eBay like it's 1999
I'm not totally clear on what the point of this promo edition of the guide is; maybe it was given away as a freebie with a magazine or some such. Either way, the screenshots offer a fascinating snapshot of how the internet used to look on either a Netscape Navigator-enabled Pentium P90, or a PAL Dreamcast rocking a fully BT-ed up version of Dreamarena. And for that, it holds a certain - if somewhat naive - charm. Well worth the 99p price I paid.

Edit: It's come to light that this promo edition was sent out to magazines for review purposes while the full version sold in shops for around £10.  The source of this information is pretty trustworthy - it comes from somebody involved in the production of the book!

DreamPod Episode Zero

It's been a long time coming, but we finally pulled our collective fingers out and recorded our first podcast episode. We settled on the name DreamPod as both 'Dreamcast' and 'podcast' end in...um...'cast,' and so we just lopped that off and added the remnants together. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyway, the first episode is here and can be listened to now:

Future episodes will be publicised as normal but will be listed in the 'podcast' tab up there on the right, underneath the page header. We hope you enjoy the first episode and in future we intend to get members of the listenership on as guests as audience participation is something we really want to push. Big thanks must go to RetroCollect.com for the use of their server for the recording of this episode while we get our own permanent server set up.

Edit: we are now also able to bring you our episodes of DreamPod on both iTunes and YouTube, so feel free to check out the links (and leave comments/reviews!). Thanks.

Dreamcast Emulation Comes To Raspberry Pi 2

Got to be honest here - the Raspberry Pi hasn't really appealed to me at all. While I can see the point of this tiny programmable device and it's value as an educational tool, I've just never felt the need to actually purchase one. My standpoint on the the Pi may have just been shifted slightly though, because somebody has managed to get a version of the Reicast emulator up and running on the modest hardware. As reported on RetroCollect.com, the emulation isn't 100% and can get a little choppy (see TechTipster's YouTube video below for a demonstration) but from a technical perspective it's a pretty impressive feat. The Raspberry Pi 2 only costs around £30 in the UK and has decent specs including 1 GB Ram and a Cortex A7 processor, but is lacking horsepower in the GPU department. Regardless, this demonstration shows just how far technology has come - that a credit card-sized circuit board can convincingly emulate a system like the Dreamcast is nothing short of amazing. That said, nothing beats playing Dreamcast games on authentic hardware and this build of Reicast is still very early, but as a starting point the future looks very bright for this project.

You can find out more about the Raspberry Pi 2 on the device's Wikipedia entry here.

Source: RetroCollect.com

Developer Interview: Elysian Shadows' Falco Girgis

Elysian Shadows Team hit the gaming headlines in the summer of 2014 when their eponymous indie RPG Elysian Shadows made it's Kickstarter goal in a matter of weeks. Since then, Elysian Shadows Team have been a constant fixture in the gaming press due to the open and entertaining nature in which lead programmer Falco Girgis and his colleagues have kept us involved in the development process via blogs and the popular YouTube series Adventures in Game Development. Often outspoken yet never dull, Falco very kindly agreed to speak openly to The Dreamcast Junkyard and tell us a little bit more about the rest of the development team, the history of his project, his impression of other upcoming indie games, and just how Elysian Shadows has quickly become one of the Dreamcast's most eagerly awaited games...

DCJY: Could you give a little bit of background on the Elysian Shadows team – who you are and what your roles are in developing Elysian Shadows?

Falco Girgis: Right now we’re just four dudes from different countries who work together every day in our underwear via Skype, haha! Falco Girgis and Tyler Rogers are the resident rednecks, from Alabama. Falco is the one behind the fancy tech like the lights and physics. He’s the engine and toolkit developer and the resident graphics guru. Tyler Rogers marries Falco’s tech with the pixel art and audio to achieve the creative vision we’re aiming for through his Lua scripting. He’s focused more on the gameplay experience while Falco is focusing more on the technology powering the game. Patrick Kowalik and Daniel Tindall are our pixel artist and our level designer respectively. Patrick lives in Poland and Dan lives in Britain. We met both of them through our YouTube series, “Adventures in Game Development.” They both messaged us looking to join our cause.

A Closer Look At Dreameye

As mentioned here many, many times in the past, present and (probably) future, the Dreamcast has a fantastic number of peripherals - both official and third party. Just look back through our recent articles and witness the unrivalled majesty of the DreamPhoto Treamcast mouse for a good example of the latter. While that isn't technically a Dreamcast peripheral per se, you get the gist of what I'm saying...hopefully. So with this in mind let us turn our gaze, rather fittingly, to another of the Dreamcast's lesser-known peripherals: Dreameye. While it's true that our very own Gagaman wrote a short article on Dreameye back in 2009, I thought it was time that we took a closer look...