Dreamcast Express Extra

A few months ago I managed to acquire an almost complete set of Dreamcast Express demo discs. You can read all about those here, but if you can't be bothered to click that link and you're wondering what the hell Dreamcast Express is, let me explain. Dreamcast Express was the name given to an exclusive set of demo and preview discs sent by mail to subscribers of Sega's Dreamcast Partners initiative. Subscribers were privy to content in the form of playable demos, videos and VMU saves that were stored on the discs and in some cases these playable demos differed drastically to the final product. The most glaring example of this is the Buggy Heat demo featured on Dreamcast Express volume one, in which the controls are completely different and you have the ability to 'free look' like you do in most modern racers. If you lived in Japan at the time of the Dreamcast and had the foresight to subscribe to the Partners service, you would also be treated to a rather brilliant welcome pack, and that can be viewed here, complete with English translation.
Now, at the start of this diatribe, I mentioned that I had an almost complete set of Dreamcast Express. That's because apart from the regular volumes (numbered 1 to 7), Sega issued another volume simply titled 'Extra.' I came to own this addition to the Dreamcast Express series through the kindness of reader and contributor James - the very same gentleman who recently submitted the Partners welcome pack images. James also sent me (for the price of postage alone) several volumes of the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine's cover disc series and I will be casting my gaze over those in a future post. For now though, let's delve into Dreamcast Express Extra and see what's hiding on the GD and in the booklet...

Unlike the other volumes, Dreamcast Express Extra comes in a standard jewel case with a proper booklet that also doubles as a cover like a standard NTSC-J (or NTSC-U) game. As you'd expect, the booklet details the contents of disc via a series of cool illustrations. Here are some low quality photos of the inner pages:
I was going to scan the booklet, but since I updated my MacBook Pro to El Capitan it has become unusable. So now I'm using a borrowed PC laptop...and my scanner won't work with it for some reason. But back to Dreamcast Express. The interface used on the disc is quite similar to the one used in the other volumes, but there is no mention whasoever of Candy and Dandy (the two mascots featured in the earlier volumes). The contents of the disc are quite varied and come in the form of either playable game demos or movies, and here they are:

Cool Boarders Burrrn
This gives you one character and two play modes. Weirdly, rather than have the characters you can't use just greyed out, they appear on the select screen but with their backs to the camera. The race mode course course is the first one - Mountain Review - and it plays just the same as the standard game, while the other play mode lets you try your hand at the trick mode where you barrel down a half pipe trying to do tricks. The trick mode is pretty much as broken as it is in the final game.

Sonic Adventure
This demo comprises of the first action stage from Sonic Adventure and allows you to whizz around as the titular anthropomorphic garden dweller. The odd thing about this demo though, is that the title screen is corrupted (it usually comes up as a selection of oddly-colourerd tiles or just a mish-mash of elements that you'd expect, such as the rippling water effect found in the final game), as is all the text. The time and score in the top left isn't shown and the pause menu just appears as a green square. It's all a bit weird and I'm not sure if this corruption is unique to this particular disc or it's an issue with them all. Still, it's interesting to find such a random selection of glitches.

Soul Calibur
This gives you the choice to play a cut down (three fight) version of the arcade mode, and allows you to play as either Kilick, Cervantes or Xianghua. There are some differences from the final game, but mainly these are down to it being a demo - for instance there's no intro and the title screens giving information about the game's release and features spin into view like a newspaper does in movies.

Shutokou Battle
This demo gives you the chance to drive one of five sports cars around Tokyo's perpetual night-time highway, doing battle with other drivers as you weave through the traffic. The only option here is the 'quick race' and you are presented with a series of battles. I'm not actually sure how many battles you get to play though (I'd hazard a guess at five) as I kept being beaten by racer number three!

Chu Chu Rocket
Pretty much identical to the final game, but you can only play the normal battle mode (1-4 players) and tinker with the board creator. There's a menu that details what the final release will feature, but nothing really of any note. It's cool that you can play a proper multi-player match should you find yourself with three friends and a copy of Dreamcast Express Extra but there's nothing too exciting here.

Dreamcast Express Extra contains four movies - Shenmue, Space Channel 5, Dream Flyer and Virtua Striker 2. There's nothing overly remarkable about any of them and they mostly consist of gameplay and cut scenes from the final releases. For me, the most intriguing is the preview of Dream Flyer which is a package that allowed users to create greetings e-cards and them email them to friends (or enemies) using the Dreamcast's online abilities. Anyway, rather than write a load of guff about them I thought I'd do the right thing and create a supercut and post it to YouTube. You will notice little Seaman skits between each movie and these play after every demo, regardless of whether it's a playable trial or a movie. I can't understand what he's saying as it's in Japanese (natch), but it's quite amusing and I wondered what was going on the first time I quit a demo and saw old fish face himself swimming up to the camera talking to no-one in particular. Enjoy:

I hope this little look at Dreamcast Express Extra has been informative and once again thanks to James for sending the disc to me. Don't forget you can read about the other volumes in the Dreamcast Express series here.

1 comment:

fanat said...

Agree the Dream flyer is the most intriguing part.
It looks surprisingly modern, especially the circle/analog joystick controls.

It would be totally balls if the ecards you designed in the app could be sent via real mail for a fee. Like say instead of an email you'd enter a real adress and then it'd printed automatically at some post office and posted from there.