Revival Solstice 2016 Show Report

The weekend of the 30th-31st July saw Revival Retro Events' Solstice take over Walsall's Bescott football stadium for the UK's largest dedicated retro gaming event. The Dreamcast Junkyard was there to spread some love for Sega's final console and the event was an outstanding success. It wasn't all about the Dreamcast though, as pretty much every retro system imaginable was on display in the large gaming hall - all fully accessible and available to play. Even extremely rare systems such as the Pippin Atmark and NUON were on offer, and I took the opportunity to experience Marathon on the Bandai/Apple console and Tempest 3000 on the VM Labs hardware.
On the subject of Marathon on the Pippin, it ran way better than I was expecting and had a silky frame rate - far better than Saturn Doom, for example. Those two games were probably the (non-Dreamcast) highlight for me, but there were plenty of arcade machines and pinball machines on offer, and retro consoles going back to the very dawn of gaming were on show.

OutbreakX - Another New Dreamcast Game?

News has reached us via Dreamcast News and the Dreamcast-Talk forums that there might - might - be another new game coming for the Dreamcast. Early shots hint at a 3D platformer with shooter aspects, and looks (to me at least) like the bastard lovechild of Blinx: The Time Sweeper and Gears of War. This is no bad thing, obviously. The game, titled OutbreakX is the work of a solitary programmer who goes by the forum name '111' and as stressed multiple times in the reveal post, is only around 10% complete.
That said, 111 confirms that the current build is running on Dreamcast hardware and is likely to be entered in the recently reported DCJAM 2016 homebrew competition. Also, emo cats are criminally underrepresented on the Dreamcast.

The NTSC-J Dreamcast Alarm Clock

The humble alarm clock. Quite an innocuous piece of technology, but one that strikes fear into the very soul of those lucky/unlucky enough to have been born into a capitalist dystopia in which earning a paltry wage is a necessity. Every morning, the incessant and skull-splitting cacophony of either a traditional alarm clock or a mobile phone's electronic wail drags us from our slumber, heralding the start of a new day chained to a desk or doing some other mundane task for hours at a time. It needn't be like this though, oh no. The first remedy to this revolting scenario is to find a job we actually enjoy. The second (and easier option) is to employ the use of an alarm clock so overtly fabulous that waking up to it is never, ever a chore. Ladies and germs, I present to you the NTSC-J Dreamcast alarm clock:
I actually acquired this specimen with the help of my DCJY co-writer Ross. You see, he lives in Japan and after I spotted this clock on a Japanese auction site I asked him to bid on it for me and then send it to the UK after the auction ended. He obliged, and a mere three weeks later the clock is sat on my bedside table in rainy Britain.

Dreamcast Magazine Issue 15

Issue 15 of Paragon Publishing's Dreamcast Magazine was fired from a gigantic pink howitzer and onto newsstands across Blighty on the 2nd November 2000. This is one of my favourite issues simply because of the iconic Phantasy Star Online cover art, but it's also one of the most awesome-packed editions of the magazine; and there's barely any hint of a slowdown (unless you count the Half-Life review!) for the Dreamcast or Sega.

Considering the Dreamcast's cancellation was announced only 4 months later, this makes it quite a perplexing issue to look back at. The Dreamcast was only a year old (in the UK, at least) and the 'second wave' of AAA Dreamcast titles was just about to hit, and this magazine is a showcase of that.
News of the VMU MP3 player being cancelled is mentioned in brief (see above), but this doesn't sour proceedings in the slightest, guv'nor. Half-Life, Jet Set Radio, Metropolis Street Racer and Silent Scope dominate the reviews section like sweaty 128-bit ogres, while the previews section is absolutely full of new games. Outtrigger, Sonic Adventure 2, 18 Wheeler, Phantasy Star Online...if you'd only ever read issue 15 of Dreamcast Magazine there'd be enough here to convince you that the future was very, very bright for the good old Dreamcast...

A Quick Look At Fighting Force 2

Clones. You can't live with 'em, you can't fight a global future war without 'em. Luckily, the Knackamiche Corporation is on hand to secretly develop a genetically modified super soldier from recycled body parts, mutated human DNA and left over Ginsters pasties. We can all sleep soundly in our beds tonight, safe in the knowledge that good old Knackamiche will be there to dispatch certain death should anyone start causing trouble. Unfortunately, the Si-Cops think human clones are a bad idea and they've unleashed special agent Hawk Manson to single-handedly destroy every computer, desk, mug, photocopier and calculator Knackamiche owns. Yay!
The Feng Shui was all wrong.
Fighting Force 2 has very little to do with the first Fighting Force game - a game that famously started life as a prototype for Streets of Rage 4. Sure it features a returning protagonist, but gone is the side-on viewpoint and traditional roaming beat 'em up gameplay; and in its place is a third person, over the shoulder camera angle and Tomb Raider-esque exploring and shooting. That Fighting Force 2 comes from Core Design and Eidos further increases the chances that it'll be likened to the Lara Croft adventures of the era, but where those games were (arguably) quite enjoyable, Fighting Force 2 is far from it.

DreamPod - Episode 36: RacePod

Music in this episode of DreamPod comes from Metropolis Street Racer, Daytona USA 2001 and Sega Rally 2. Be sure to visit fellow Sega Network site Sega Driven and also Lewis’ other site UK Scummscene if metal and rock music are your thing. Once again, massive thanks to our Patreon supporters; and if you like what you’ve heard please consider leaving us an iTunes review as it really helps to get the podcast noticed.

Developer Interview: Yuan Works

Yuan Works wowed the gaming community in 2007 with the release of their first indie game Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles. A charming mix of tile-based puzzling, role playing and mini games, Wind and Water blew many away with its outstanding pixel art visuals, catchy music and cutting sense of humour. The game went on to be a massive hit on the Dreamcast as well as the other platforms it graced, and recently received a re-print through publisher Dragonbox Shop.
We've documented our love and admiration for Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles many, many times here at The Dreamcast Junkyard and fellow Sega Network site Dreamcast Hub recently published a review of the game. We wanted to go a bit deeper though and find out more about Yuan Works, the developer behind one of the Dreamcast's most highly regarded indie gems; and so we got together to interrogate them about the history of Wind and Water, the future of Dreamcast indie dev and to ask if they know the identity of the elusive Dreamcast barber...
DCJY: First off - thanks very much for taking the time to talk to us and the Dreamcast community at large! Could you tell us a little bit about Yuan Works? Who are you and how did Yuan Works start as a developer?

Yuan Works: We are an independent game company founded by brothers Yuan-Hsi and Yuan-Hao Chiang. Although we have received help from others before, 90% of the work we do was pretty much done fully by ourselves. Yuan-Hsi is in charge of the art, aesthetics, music and sound, while Yuan-Hao focuses on programming and testing, as well as other parts of design (think website, manual). As for the gameplay and direction, we worked together by designing a concept and sending it back to the drawing board as many times as we needed. We grew up with all kinds of classic games, which inspired us to create our own.

Small fact about us: We are half Costa Rican, half Taiwanese and in Chinese culture, siblings and cousins sometimes share the first character of the name — in our case, Yuan. Yuan-Hsi is better known as 'Yuan' while Yuan-Hao is better known as 'Hao,' which can get very confusing at times.

French Magazine 'JV - Culture Jeu Video' Features Dreamcast, Interviews DCJY

The Dreamcast Junkyard, as I'm sure you're aware, is a trans-dimensional hub of Dreamcast-related nonsense. When we're focusing our combined efforts to spread the love for Sega's final console in this realm though, we endeavour to embrace the world's fandom. To this end, you may have noticed the little Google Translate button down there on right (go on - have a look if you're viewing this on a desktop computer) so people of all denominations and speakers of all languages may enjoy our random blathering.
Hot off the press...
Occasionally though, we are lucky enough to be invited to share our thoughts and Dreamcast knowledge with other entertainment media producers and recently I was invited to take part in an interview with French video games magazine JV Magazine (aka Culture Jeu Video) for their imminent Dreamcast special issue.

A Rechargeable, Backlit VMU Appears!

You may be familiar with the name Chris Diaoglou. He's the man behind the DreamConn wireless Dreamcast controller, which is now on its fourth revision and features improved firmware and a host of new functions since my video review. Most notable of these is PC connectivity and a VMU browser app. Chris is planning to apply his impressive wireless technology to a selection of other Dreamcast peripherals too, and we're hoping to bring news about those in the coming weeks. For now though, here are some exclusive images of his latest creation - a VMU with a backlit screen and a rechargeable lithium polymer battery:
One of the major criticisms of the humble VMU is its ability to suck those CR2032 cells dry in a matter of hours, resulting in that skull-piercing beep every time you turn your Dreamcast on. That could be a thing of the past though, as Chris's VMU incorporates the aforementioned Li-Po battery that recharges as the unit is inserted into the controller. Charging states are indicated by an LED located on the bottom of the VMU, with a red light indicating that the battery is charging and a blue light indicating fully charged status.

Garou: Mark of the Wolves Coming Soon to PS4 & Vita

Following hot on the heels of The Last Blade 2, another beloved Dreamcast/Neo Geo fighter is making the leap onto Sony's next generation family of consoles - this time it's Garou/Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves. As reported on the official European PlayStation blog, SNK's seminal one-on-one fighter will come with cross-buy and cross-play meaning you'll only have to buy it once, and will have access to the game on both Vita and PS4 (yes, I'm looking at you Darius Burst Chronicle Saviour).
Not sure about the sidebar artwork...
Garou is widely regarded as one of the finest fighting games on the Dreamcast and features some truly outstanding animation and gameplay. Indeed, it was praised very highly on our recent DreamPod fighting special and while the game never received a PAL release it can be found in both NTSC-U and NTSC-J flavours for a reasonable price on occasion.
Artist's impression.
One of the most interesting features of this remaster (if you can call it that - the original is already pretty masterful) is the inclusion of online multiplayer; so if like me you have no friends, you can still battle against other real people via the wonders of the internet. From the PlayStation blog:

"For this title, we at SNK have decided to adopt Code Mystics’ proprietary netcode once again, which was used on our previous Neo Geo classic The Last Blade 2 and received praise from both fans and the press.

The team in Vancouver is doing a fantastic job on Garou’s online multiplayer, giving new life to a legendary fighting game classic and ensuring the online gameplay brings SNK fans and series newcomers a great experience similar to the good ol’ days in the arcades."
- SNK via PlayStation Blog

There's no release date as yet, but interestingly the blog entry also alludes to further SNK games coming to Sony's platform in the future. Garou 2 anyone...?

Source: PlayStation Europe Blog

Back In My Play Celebrates 'Summer of Dreamcast'

Back In My Play is a US-based retro-gaming podcast presented by Kevin Larrabee, and covers all manner of topics. Previous episodes have featured interviews with industry giants like former Sega of America chief Tom Kalinske and veteran developer Mike Mika; while other episodes have covered such varied subjects as the Mega Man series, The Legend of Zelda and Japanese game music. Kevin's co-hosts also come from a wide variety of backgrounds and include writers Josh Hillyer and Greg Sewart; the latter of whom is a former Electronic Gaming Monthly journalist.

Recently, Back In My Play started a new series looking at all aspects of Dreamcast collecting and history titled the 'Summer of Dreamcast,' and episodes have all focussed on a different topic of Dreamcast fandom. From the hosts' first encounters with the system, to the various launches around the world and even an interview with Yu Suzuki. I was also invited to appear on an episode in the Summer of Dreamcast series and I had a great time shooting the breeze with Kevin about the UK advertising campaigns, my memories of the launch and also some PAL exclusives and indie/homebrew gems you may have missed - this is episode 401 detailed below! You can find all of the episodes of Back In My Play's Summer of Dreamcast by following the links below:

Back In My Play: Summer of Dreamcast
Sega Dreamcast 101: US History, Hardware and Accessories
Sega Dreamcast 201: US Dreamcast Games
Sega Dreamcast and Shenmue 1-3 w/ Ryan Payton
Sega Dreamcast 301: European and Japanese Games/Hardware
Sega Dreamcast 401: Homebrew, European Market, More (Featuring me!)
You can also find Kevin's Patreon page here - if you like what you've heard on any of these podcast episodes, be sure to donate if you can!

Dreamcast Magazine Issue 14

Issue 14 of Paragon Publishing's Dreamcast Magazine hit store shelves on 5th October 2000 and featured a menacing Ryo Hazuki staring out from the cover. Other big games name checked include Jet Set Radio, Le Mans 24hrs and Ultimate Fighting Championship. Unlike many previous editions, Issue 14 doesn't really showcase many unreleased gems although both Gun Valkyrie and Heroes of Might & Magic III are previewed.
One of the most interesting tidbits of news involves a referenced interview in which Yuki Naka reveals an early name for the Dreamcast that was considered by Sega was the 'Sega G-Cube,' while another mentions a patent lawsuit involving Sega and a company called Optix Media. A quick Google search reveals nothing about this patent dispute, and neither does the article.

The Unsolved Mysteries of Leona's Tricky Adventures

Here at the 'yard, we're big fans of Leona's Tricky Adventures - one of the finest and most polished indie games released on our favourite little box of tricks. You can find our review of the game here, and if you hurry, there's still time to enter our recent competition to blag yourself a free copy.

However, even in our high esteem for the game, we still recognise that it has some imperfections. One of the main criticisms leveled at the game (mainly vocalised from the bleary-eyed, pasty-skinned, obsessive-compulsive completionist shut-in minority at the back of the room, who've toiled away through sleepless nights to finish every puzzle and find every gem) is that the end of the game isn't entirely satisfactory. It seems as if KTX had big plans for Leona's Adventure, and not all of this grand vision was realised in the final product. This means the game has a kind of incomplete feeling towards the end, with a number of dead ends and mysteries left unsolved to confuse and bewilder the hapless player seeking to satisfy that itch of achieving a state of 100% complete nirvana.

Hopefully, these loose ends in the story will be addressed in a potential (and hoped for) sequel, but until then, here is a dossier of screenshots highlighting the things you can safely ignore on your quest to beat the game into total submission. This will save you the trouble of wondering around the game world aimlessly looking for that next puzzle fix (like my bleary-eyed pasty-arse did). Be warned, end of game spoilers are featured heavily.

DreamPod - Episode 35

Music in this episode comes from Duranik's amazing shmup Sturmwind. Yuan Works' Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles can be purchased here; the Propeller Arena petition is here; and further details on the Xbox controllers is here. As ever, if you like what you've heard please consider leaving us an iTunes review and our Patreon is located here.
Check out Back In My Play's Summer of Dreamcast series here, and there'll be a full feature on the series once the episode featuring me (Tom) is released. One last thing I forgot to mention on the podcast is that I did an interview with Adam Lundgren of Swedish Dreamcast site Dreamcast Sweden, so please go there and have a look at that too.

Competition: Win Leona's Tricky Adventures For Dreamcast!

Leona's Tricky Adventures hit the Dreamcast earlier this year and wowed us with its great music, endearing visuals and engaging puzzling/adventuring gameplay. We did a massive review of KTX's fantastic indie release recently, and a developer interview - tap/click the links below to find out more:
On the back of this, we've teamed up with KTX Software to offer five lucky people the chance to win a brand new, sealed copy of Leona's Tricky Adventures for the Dreamcast! Want in on this action? Just click the button below and enter the competition. And once you've done that, head over to KTX Software's website and Steam store to check out the other great games they offer!

New VMU Game Street Race Available Now

A few months ago we brought you news that Instagram/DCJY Facebook group member @guacasaurus_mex (or Tom Napiorkowski, as his human friends call him) had successfully ported Flappy Bird to the humble Dreamcast VMU. Looks like Tom's been busy since then and has just released his next game to make use of the removable storage nugget: Street Race. This is quite an ambitious title for the tiny dot matrix and humble Sanyo LC8670 CPU beating at the heart of the VMU, but somehow Tom has managed to cram 6 different tracks, grey scale graphics and rudimentary audio effects into Street Race.
There's a gameplay video below and you can download the CD image file here or the SD reader file here. Both work in a similar fashion to the Flappy Bird files in that you need to use the bundled VMU Tool software to add the Street Race file to your VMU. This is impressive stuff from Tom/Guac, and we can't wait to see what else he creates for the Dreamcast's unsung hero.

It should also be noted that the download files for Street Race contain the original Flappy Bird game too, so there are now two reasons to get those VMU battery supplies stocked up!

Get A Grip With PS4 Thumb Sticks

The standard Dreamcast controller comes in for a lot of flack whenever people struggle to find something more worthwhile to moan about. In days gone by, the youth of the day would complain about torrid working conditions down the local coal mine; or losing an arm running between looms in the textile mill where three generations of the same family lived, worked and died. These days though, it's all about the lack of dual analog sticks, where the wire protrudes, or - woe betide - that the sides of the controller are too sharp and cut into ones hands with extended use.

However, it has been brought to my attention that another complaint about the humble Dreamcast controller can henceforth be struck from the record books like the aforementioned orphan's rights to a scrap of stale bread after a 30 hour shift on the coal face: slippery analog sticks. Thanks to a gentleman by the name of James, you too can now bask in the knowledge that your convex, weathered analog stick can be replaced with the grippy, concave nubbin designed to be used in the PlayStation 4's Dual Shock 4 controller:

Fanboy Alert!

Clickbait titles are awesome aren't they? And you my friend, have fallen for that one up there. That said, this is quite interesting/dumfounding so stick around. I was looking at Etsy t'other day and I came across a Dreamcast-related peripheral that literally nobody asked for: an extra mains-powered fan that connects to the rear of the console and acts as a type of beefed up heat extractor:
I'd never seen this before, and I didn't think the Dreamcast generated enough heat to warrant an extra turbine being added to keep it running at a safe temperature...but apparently this thing exists.

A Quick Look At Propeller Arena

Alongside Half-Life, Propeller Arena is perhaps the most infamous of the Dreamcast's cancelled titles. Although both games were eventually leaked online and are freely available to download and play, the fact that these two titles never saw official releases is a bitter pill to swallow for many Dreamcast fans. And this is simply because they were both pretty much finished when they were slung into the bin with all the grace of a soiled wad of toilet paper being unceremoniously dropped into the gaping, pungent maw of a porcelain throne.
Propeller Arena has once again entered the spotlight though, as yet another Dreamcast-related online petition has surfaced - this time calling for Sega to resurrect AM2's aerial shooter and give it the opportunity it arguably deserved. At the time of writing, said petition has a paltry 37 signatures and I really do doubt that the creator of the project appreciates the Herculean effort it would take to get a game such as Propeller Arena updated for modern systems and contemporary online infrastructure. As nice an idea as it is, I think we should just appreciate what we do have - a game that was almost finished, was subsequently leaked...and turned out to be one of the greatest games the Dreamcast never officially got.

SLaVE: Another Update

It seems like only yesterday we reported on the pre-orderer's update on the status of Jay Townsend's SLaVE, the eagerly awaited Dreamcast first person shooter-cum-puzzler from Goat Store. Over the last weekend another update email was sent out to those who have already ordered their copy of this awesome-looking trip into retro-futuristic neon hell, and it details some new features that are being implemented, such as compatibility with rumble packs:

"Hey Dreamcast fans!

Jay Townsend's SLaVE is still moving! The team has been very hard at work eliminating bugs that have been found in the program and tweaking the code to get the best performance. The additional time for testing has also allowed the team to add some things to the code, such as rumble support to make the game even more polished.

At this point though, we sadly still do not have a final date for distribution of the game as we don't yet know when we will be comfortable that the bug test is done. However we intend to start putting final components of the game into production - such as the LLE coin - in the upcoming month!

Thanks so much for hanging with us and being a supporter of independent game development."
- Dan Loosen, Goat Store

This is great news and goes some way toward reassuring us that the game is still coming, however we can't help but be a little disappointed that there is still no release date for SLaVE even after all this time. Here's hoping that the final product is every bit as impressive as the game looks in video form.

Once again, SLaVE can still be pre-ordered from Goat Store here for just $20 + shipping.

Dreamcast Magazine Issue 13

Dreamcast Magazine issue 13 hit the shelves on 7th September 2000 and boasted an exclusive preview of the game every Dreamcast owner was waiting for: Half-Life. Featuring an interview with Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford (reporduced below) and world-exclusive screens taken from the game, the 7-page spread was reason enough to buy this issue, even without all of the other great content. That said, the first murmurings that developers were starting to desert the Dreamcast were reported in the news section, with information regarding the cancellation of Colin McRae Rally 2.0, Baldurs Gate, Messiah, Independence War 2, El Dorado and UEFA 2001 souring things slightly.
That said, information regarding Sega of Japan's plans for the Net@ entertainment/internet cafes is reported in the international news section, and the previews section is pretty full with news of upcoming titles Tony Hawk 2, Toy Story 2, Looney Tunes Space Race and Vanishing Point. Other news items include part 4 of the Black & White development diary, and a look at the (never released) Picassio comic book series.

Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles Re-Released

Yuan Works' Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles is one of the most highly regarded independent games on every platform it has graced, and the Dreamcast is no different. It's a charming little strategic puzzler in which blocks featuring different elements (earth, wood, fire, metal etc) must be arranged in such a fashion as to remove them from the board. There's much more to it than that though, and it features some outrageously good production values for an indie game. We have covered Puzzle Battles extensively here at the Junkyard in the past and several of our team members are actually in the game and can be accessed by way of a special code - who wouldn't want to play as Aaron, complete with sombrero; or Caleb pointing an accusatory finger?!
Caleb and Aaron - bottom row, green shirt and sombrero respectively
While Wind and Water has been available as a free download for Windows since 2011, the Dreamcast version of the game has been out of stock across the internet for some time (unless you want to pay through the nose on eBay). Recently though, it has been the subject of a much-needed reprint and can be purchased - right now - for the meagre sum of €9.99 plus postage from DragonBox. Due to the recent Brexit, that probably means that UK buyers will end up paying around £75 for it, but it's worth it. Probably. This re-issue comes with the same printed inlays and manual and for the price it's a steal.
Head over to DragonBox now to order your copy of Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles.

Source: Yuan Works Dev Blog