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Check Out Pokemon Go Running On A VMU

A while back we reported on guacasaurus_mex (aka Tom Napior) and his quest to port a Pokemon style game to the VMU. It all went a bit quiet as Tom worked on other more important stuff, but now he's revealed the final product running on a lowly VMU:


As he states in the video description, Tom won't be releasing the game for public consumption as he doesn't own the IP; and Nintendo would most likely release the hounds if he did. We can't say we blame him to be honest. With that in mind, we'll have to make do with the video above which shows a pretty competent little Pokemon clone, complete with a randomly generated map. Other features include over 25 Pokestops, a fully functioning Pokedex and full audio.

We had a little chat with Tom, and he told us the following:

"At this stage I've decided not to release Pokemon Go VMU publicly. When I started this project I had no idea Nintendo were so strict on this kind of thing, unlike a company like SEGA who couldn't care less when it comes to fan art. Given it's pretty clear now what their stance is on fan games, I think this is the right decision.

"It's not all a loss though, I have fully functioning map generation, character movement and collision detection code written which I can use in a number of original games I have planned. I already used the timing based mini game concept in my last game Zombie: Player vs Monster.

"I would say the game is 90% complete in it's current state. The only thing I need to do is add more Pokemon (there are about 70 in the game at this stage). Some are just impossible to draw with the limited pixels available, especially in the map grid, but to a lesser extent in the gym battles as well. I'd probably like to tinker with the sound a bit more if I ever release it as well."
- Tom Napior
For more of Tom's original VMU games, check out his Instagram account here. Also have a read of our interview with the man himself here.

The Hazuki Wall: A Statistical Analysis Of US Dreamcast Sales Figures

Statistics. We all love a good statistic. So does YouTuber Vince19, and so he set about creating a video that goes deep into the statistics behind the sales of Dreamcast games in the United States. As Vince19 reiterates several times throughout the video, this is not one of those explorations of the highs and lows and ultimate cancellation of the Dreamcast. It is a pretty in-depth analysis of sales figures and variables and means and medians...and a whole host of other mathematical terms I have no real understanding of. You have been warned.


That said, I'm sure that if you watch the entire video you'll get a good understanding of the variables that lead to some games selling more than others, and the general downward trend in US sales as time went on from the initial release of the Dreamcast on 9.9.99 to the final game being released in the form of NHL 2K2. Whether a game was featured on the cover of a US magazine or in a TV commercial is also looked at with meticulous detail, and the findings are rather surprising.
One of the most interesting theories put forward in the video is that of the 'Hazuki Wall,' a visual representation in sales figures of big-name Dreamcast games that were released around the same time as the PlayStation 2 was launched in the US. Shenmue, Jet Grind Radio, NBA 2K1 and Tony Hawk 2 were all released in the same window and plotted on a sales/date chart show us the 'Hazuki Wall,' Sega's last line of defence against the coming onslaught from Sony's leviathan:
It really is a fascinating look at the numbers behind the demise of the Dreamcast and I would implore you to set aside 40 minutes and give the entire video a viewing. Our thanks go to Vince19 for putting this video together and also name checking The Dreamcast Junkyard in the video as a source.

What do you think about this hypothesis and the Hazuki Wall? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion in our Facebook group or on Twitter.

Xeno Crisis Dreamcast Port Confirmed, Twin Stick Support Considered

We recently reported on the addition of a Dreamcast stretch goal for upcoming Mega Drive shooter Xeno Crisis. It seems that the wave of Dreamcast love shows no sign of stopping though, with a veritable tsunami of support deluging The Bitmap Bureau's latest offering on Kickstarter. The £35,000 funding goal has now been exceeded and as such a Dreamcast port is guaranteed.
For those not familiar with Xeno Crisis, the game is a retro-inspired top down shooter that casts the player in the role of a hardened marine battling hoards of hostile aliens. What really appeals to me is the overtly Aliens feel to proceedings, with more than a few nods to HR Giger's aesthetic designs and the visual style and themes of James Cameron's 1986 movie sequel plain to see. And, as a massive fan of the first three films in the Aliens franchise (seriously, the rest of the franchise can go and die in a corner), this pleases me greatly. On top of these lovely, death soaked trappings, the promise of procedurally generated stages and some pretty intense firefights make Xeno Crisis a game I'm really looking forward to.
The only real concerns I have at this stage are just how well a twin stick style shooter will control with a Dreamcast pad, but I'm sure the lads and lasses at The Bitmap Bureau have all that figured out. If I could make one tiny suggestion though, it would be for Twin Stick (as in HKT-7500 Twin Stick) compatibility for the dreamcast version. Seriously, if the Bitmap Bureau guys are reading, hit me up - you can borrow mine for the purpose of testing!
Other new features added to the game include a two player co-op mode, and the the option to back Xeno Crisis for just £15 and receive a downloadable version of the game that can be burnt to a CD in the comfort of your own home. This is quite an interesting way of doing things and something we've previously discussed here at the Junkyard. Without the mass infrastructure of an online store for the Dreamcast, game producers offering downloadable disc images looks like a decent alternative, albeit one that brings its own set of issues surrounding file sharing and the like.
Either way, I'm pretty excited about Xeno Crisis and this news just adds another reason to be cheerful as a Dreamcast fan in the modern era. Intrepid Izzy is coming soon, as is Xenocider and others. Now we can add Xeno Crisis to the list.
Have you backed Xeno Crisis? Excited as I am for this release? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation in our Facebook group or on Twitter. You can find the Kickstarter campaign here.

Update:
Following a brief conversation with The Bitmap Bureau, it looks as though our offer of supplying a Twin Stick has been graciously accepted, and the team will investigate if Twin Stick support is viable for Xeno Crisis. If this comes off, then Xeno Crisis would be only the second Dreamcast game that 'officially' supports the Twin Stick, after Virtual On. The power of social media, eh?!

New Wireless Dreamcast Accessories On The Way?

From the lovely chaps and chapettes over at Nintendo Life comes this rather interesting bit of news. It seems that Retro-bit, creators of wondrous clone systems and other gaming paraphernalia have signed some form of deal with Sega to manufacture undisclosed 'hardware' for the Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast. Judging from the blurb on the Retro-bit website, these will likely turn out to be wireless controllers. This is from the Retro-bit website:

Acknowledging the continual growth of the retro-gaming market, Retro-bit, a premier publisher and manufacturer of classic gaming products, today announced a licensing agreement with SEGA of America to produce accessories for SEGA’s gaming platforms, including but not limited to the SEGA Genesis, SEGA Saturn and SEGA Dreamcast.

The first products and concepts under the agreement include several accessories that feature the same great quality as their original Sega counterparts like the original console port, but also with modern upgrades such as a USB® port for PC compatibility and Bluetooth® wireless technology. These new products are slated to debut in the Innex booth #21023 in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center during CES 2018.
Super Retro-Cade - the kind of thing Retro-bit manufactures 
The ambiguity continues at a pace of knots with the following statement from some bloke with an important sounding title:

"With retro gaming on an upswing, we are pleased to offer officially SEGA licensed accessories in their original format as well as apply the innovative classic gaming enhancements that have become the hallmark of Retro-Bit. We’re excited to unveil the first of these new products and concepts at CES, and do so alongside an exciting 2018 product catalog."
- Titi Ngoy, President and CEO at Innex Inc. the exclusive distributor of Retro-Bit

The Dreamcast does actually have a range of wireless controllers, light guns and what not, courtesy of Chris Diagolou's DreamConn technology. However, if Retro-bit can reduce costs and make an alternative that is a bit more friendly on the old wallet, then it's a win win situation for everyone. Apart from Chris. Erm. Hopefully we'll know more after CES 2018.

Source: Nintendo Life

FuZzCasT Home Entertainment - Dreamcast Video Returns!

Cast your mind back to the dawn of the new millennium. Like everyone else, you were probably still happy enough renting VHS video tapes, but at the same time were also covetously envious of those shiny new (and expensive) DVD players displayed prominently in the high street stores. You were keen to kickstart your foray into the digital video future, and even though Sony was promising to deliver DVD to the masses with its looming PS2 juggernaut, your blood bleeds blue and your loyalty to Sega and the Dreamcast could not be shaken. But what to do?
Ooooh, shiny.
You had heard rumours of a video card for your venerable Sega Saturn but you could never find one. Whispers from the orient described some strange voodoo witchcraft involving burning movies to CD-ROM, but after you endured the interminable age that it took to download the file over your 33.6k dial-up modem on your Windows 98 machine, the experience was underwhelming. Watching a movie on your 13" CRT monitor just didn't have the right pop-corn munching vibe. 

The Dreamcast Games Of 2017

2017 has been something of a bumper year for Dreamcast releases, what with JoshProd, Orion, Retroguru, Alice Dreams and Senile Team all putting out new software on the system. The range and diversity of these titles has been pretty incredible too - especially when you consider that the Dreamcast was officially disowned by Sega well over a decade ago. 2018 promises even more new additions to the ever-growing library, with Intrepid Izzy, Xenocider, Saber Rider, SLaVE and a bunch of other games we have been sworn to secrecy over all due to hit our favourite little white box.
As we near the year's end, I thought it would be fun to have a little look back over the games that were released for the Dreamcast throughout 2017, and give a bit of kudos to those developers and publishers who continue to support the console with new software. The vast majority of the titles that have come to the Dreamcast in a physical case during 2017 have invariably come with high quality bespoke artwork, authentic packaging and - in some cases - unique extras or inventive aesthetic design. And while it's easy to look at some of the releases and pour scorn on them for being fairly basic in terms of visuals or gameplay, the majority of them have been crafted as labours of love, and not with financial gain in mind. For that, all of the creators should be applauded.
It's worth noting that this list only includes games that have been released for the first time this year, so even though games like Ghost Blade, Alice's Mom's Rescue and Sturmwind were given re-releases, they don't count (although I'll make a note of them at the foot of this article). Furthermore, 2017 marks the first time since Karous in 2007 that official third party support has been bequeathed to the Dreamcast, as even though they were published by JoshProd, Visco's games do qualify as official releases owing to the fact that Visco is listed as a third party T-code publisher (thanks to Scott Marley for that nugget of information). Anyway, let's get down to business and look at - in no particular order - the Dreamcast releases of 2017. Man, it still feels weird typing that sentence...

Xeno Crisis Kickstarter Adds Dreamcast Stretch Goal

Xeno Crisis from Bitmap Bureau is a top down shooter planned for the Sega Mega Drive, and while we were aware of this intriguing campaign we didn't cover it as...well, it's a Mega Drive game. That looks like it's about to change though, as Xeno Crisis recently smashed through its Kickstarter goal of £20,000 and has had a Dreamcast port and a two-player mode added as stretch goals. Naturally, with this news we have backed the game (a standalone pledge of £30 secures a Dreamcast copy in NTSC-J style case), and hopefully the £35,000 total for this will be met.
"Xeno Crisis is a new, original title for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis which will be released both as a physical cartridge and also as a downloadable ROM. At its core, it's an arena shooter that takes inspiration from the likes of Smash TV, Contra, Mercs, Granada, Alien Syndrome, Zombies Ate My Neighbours, Chaos Engine, and Shock Troopers.

"A Dreamcast version of Xeno Crisis is something we discussed some time ago, and given both the phenomenal reception of the Kickstarter campaign and feedback from the community, we felt like now was the time to commit to it!

"We’ve added a new pledge for those of you who just want the Dreamcast version. Backers of the physical editions of Xeno Crisis will be able to add £20 to their pledge to receive the Dreamcast version."
- Bitmap Bureau on Kickstarter


So, does the addition of a Dreamcast stretch goal interest you? Or are you totally burned out on Dreamcast Kickstarters by this point? Let us know in the comments, in our Facebook group or on Twitter. Oh, and you can find Xeno Crisis on Kickstarter here.

Thanks to @Gawny7789 of NPodcastSystem for the heads up on this.

Get Festive With These Dreamcast Christmas Jumpers

Looking for something to wear to the office Christmas party that belies your affection for the greatest console ever created? Want to effortlessly exude a level of festive swagger and style that transcends all cultures and language barriers? Want a garment so decadent in design that you'll still look like the coolest mofo on the block while you sit there unable to move after stuffing your disgusting bloated face with a metric tonne of chocolate and turkey on Christmas Day? Then look no further than this Dreamcast-themed Christmas jumper design from Coto7.
Available in a range of colours (and also several different garment types, including hoodies and varsity jackets), the 'All I want for Christmas...is a Sega Dreamcast' apparel is perfect for showing the rest of the world which way your gaming bread is buttered. The design is screen printed rather than embroidered (and appears to be the standard Dreamcast stock image ripped from Google), but the £20 price tag isn't overly extortionate and Coto7 offers free shipping on all UK orders and reasonable shipping to other arts of the world.

These are available in a range of sizes, and in mens, womens and childrens styles. Check out the 'All I want for Christmas...is a Sega Dreamcast' at Coto7 or on Amazon.

Will you be sporting one of these at festive events over the annual period of commercial greed and overindulgence? Let us know in the comments, in our Facebook group or on Twitter.

A Quick Look At Gunbird 2

Whenever there's a discussion about the best shmups on the Dreamcast, the usual names get bandied about. Ikaruga, Mars Matrix, Sturmwind, Under Defeat, Castle Shikigami 2, Dux. Well, maybe not that last one...but you get the idea. As epic and deserved of praise as all of those games are, there's one that rarely gets a look in when said hypothetical discussion is taking place - Gunbird 2. And since the original Gunbird has recently been released on the Nintendo Switch, I thought it would be fun to jump into the sequel Gunbird 2, and see if it really does deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as its illustrious peers in the genre.
The Dreamcast is well known for certain genres: 2D fighters, arcade racers, crap football (soccer) games...and shmups. Apart from the Saturn and the NEO-GEO, I'm pretty confident that there is no other home hardware format that boasts such an exquisite library of shoot 'em ups, and in amongst the crowd of quality examples rests Gunbird 2. Released in arcades by Capcom in 1998 and then ported to the Dreamcast in 2000, Gunbird 2 builds upon the prequel's gameplay and features, adding several new characters, updated visuals and some pretty fantastic writing and unusual extra features.
A top-down, vertically scrolling shooter, Gunbird 2 will feel very familiar from the off to anyone who has ever played a shmup in this vein. I personally have never played the original Gunbird either in the arcade or on the Sega Saturn, so the fact that it is coming to the Nintendo Switch interests me greatly; and if it plays anything like as well as the Dreamcast sequel a fun time is almost guaranteed...

DVD Support Heading To Dreamcast

Artist's impression. Um.
DVD is the one that got away when it comes to discussing the Dreamcast and the age-old reasons for its failure to go stratospheric. One of the many reasons people held out for a PlayStation 2 was because it offered the consumer the opportunity to try out new-fangled digital versatile discs, and it was an inspired tactic if you look at it from a business perspective. Yes, the Dreamcast was (and still is) a hoofing system and plays host to some of the finest vidya gaemz known to humanity; but back at the turn of the century the promise of owning a console that could also play movies out of the box was too great to resist for the majority.
An IDE modded Dreamcast is required at present
Anyway, it seems that the ever-inventive Dreamcast community has worked out a way to allow the Dreamcast to 'see' an external DVD drive as a storage medium and attempts to run games stored on DVDs have been successful. At present, the DVD drive is being used as an alternative to a standard IDE HDD with consoles modified to accept such a storage device, but with more development time it appears that running DVD movies on a Dreamcast is entirely plausible.

The original thread over at Assembler Games tells us a little more, and I also spoke to programmer Luiz Nai who is assisting the DreamShell developers in this quest. Here's what he told me:

"If you have the IDE-Mod in your Dreamcast just connect a DVD-IDE drive on your Dreamcast. You put the ISO files on the DVD and select them as you do on the HDD. At present, games files in CDI or GDI format are incompatible as games that use CDDA (Compact Disc Digital Audio) would not work. Also, the Dreamcast certainly has the power to run DVD movies but at the moment the priority is to get the DVD drive to read games. At present, the project is in the debug phase and the game Millennium Soldier has already been tested successfully."
- Luiz Nai

Probably don't start getting your DVDs in out of the garage just yet then, folks. And if you do you can probably just play them on literally any other device in your house (including some fridges, apparently). However, for another example of how the Dreamcast community strives to add new functionality for no reason other than it can, look no further.

Source: Assembler Games

The Shenmue Yokosuka Sacred Spot Guide Book

The Shenmue Chapter One Yokosuka Sacred Spot Guide Map

So Shenmue III didn't make it's scheduled launch window of December 2017, but all's not lost...because according to the website of the respected Japanese video games magazine Famitsu, a Shenmue: Chapter One Yokosuka 'Sacred Spot Guide Map' will be coming to Yokosuka soon....Wait, what?!?

Why Sturmwind Is Still Incredible

Sturmwind is one of those Dreamcast games that really needs no introduction. Duranik's sci-fi shoot 'em up was initially released by RedSpotGames back in 2014 and we covered the launch here at the Junkyard at the time; but the game was re-released in early 2017 to much fanfare - and rightly so. But how does it hold up today? Has it aged badly and is it worth your time? In a couple of words, no it hasn't aged badly; and yes, it is very much worth your time. Here's the first stage to wet your appetite:


Sturmwind started life as an Atari Jaguar CD title called Native, but development was eventually switched to the Dreamcast due to the Sega system's more advanced technical abilities. You can find playable demos and videos of Native by doing a quick Google search, and there are a couple of Easter eggs included in Sturmwind that give a nod to the Jaguar-based origins of the game.
If you aren't familiar with Sturmwind though, or have maybe heard the name but aren't sure why it's such a revered title, then this is the article for you. Hopefully, we'll be able to do this magnificent example of independent game development justice and explain why it is such an impressive achievement on the Dreamcast...

Is The Dreamcast Controller Really That Bad?

One of the recurring criticisms I see levelled at the Dreamcast is that the standard controller is rubbish. It's almost become the de facto response when people discuss the Dreamcast - it's a great console...but that controller! Urgh! From complaints about the trigger travel distance, to the lack of diagonals on the d-pad, to the cardinal sin of having only one analogue stick, the evidence is overwhelmingly damning for the humble HKT-7700. If something is repeated enough times, it eventually passes from the realm of hearsay and into law, right?

With this article, I thought it would be interesting to have a look at the Dreamcast's standard controller and investigate whether it really is all that bad, or if it is just a victim of hindsight. In the grand scheme of all things gaming, the Dreamcast's controller is one of the less heavily lambasted - the Atari Jaguar and Nintendo 64 controllers have come in for far more criticism than Sega's offering ever has. However, with the aforementioned examples, gamers who have spent any amount of time with these examples will usually attest that even though they might look a bit unwieldy they're actually pretty comfortable to use. Without going too far off topic, the Jaguar controller is labelled as heavy and cumbersome; but in actual fact is very light and very ergonomic in the hand. Likewise, the Nintendo 64's unorthodox tri-pronged design draws derision in this age of dual analogue sticks and built-in rumble, but back in the day the design of the thing was revolutionary.
But what of the Dreamcast controller? It's true that it is very easy to look back at hardware of the past and casually pour scorn on it, and there are countless listicles on clickbait sites about 'the top 10 worst controllers,' usually written by people who have never even used said hardware; simply basing their opinions on photos they found on Google. As someone who played a Japanese Dreamcast shortly after launch (it wasn't mine - a friend bought one), and then got my own about a week after the UK release in October 1999, I think I'm pretty well qualified to talk at length about the Dreamcast controller. I dread to think how much of my adult life has been wasted spent with a Dreamcast controller in my hands, and so I have some opinions on how it sucks but also on how it's actually pretty good. I also threw this topic open to the good people of the Junkyard's Facebook group and I'll share some of the best comments later on in the article. For now though, let's kick things off with a good look at the controller, its origins and its various parts.
It's pretty clear from the basic design of the unit that the origins of the Dreamcast controller are a derivative of the Sega Saturn 3D controller. The button and analogue stick placement, twinned with the general bulbous two-ponged aesthetic are clearly throwbacks to the earlier concept, and placement of the triggers and d-pad only amplify this. While there is an image floating around online (and this magazine scan) that shows a multitude of alternative prototypes for the Dreamcast controller, it's pretty obvious that someone thought the 3D controller design was the one to go with and so it was adapted and updated.
In truth though, the subtle changes made to various aspects of the 3D controller as it evolved into the Dreamcast controller are somewhat puzzling, and while some offer improvements, others are clearly a step back. For instance, the d-pad...

A Quick Look At SnoCross Championship Racing

Snow. Everybody loves Snow. His 1992 hit Informer sat pretty at the top of the US billboard charts for seven weeks, for example, proving that yes - everybody loves Snow. Of course, I jest. I am of course referring to the frozen white stuff, not the Canadian reggae artist from the 1990s. Snow is great fun and if it's not threatening to destroy the planet like in that film with Donnie Darko and Bilbo Baggins in it, it also heralds the coming of winter and Christmas. One of the most useful properties of snow is that it can be scooped up, fashioned into a throwable missile and then launched at someone's face with great force, thus enabling the age-old practice of the snow ball fight. As well as this, people with lots of money can use snowmobiles to race on it. And that's exactly what happens in SnoCross Championship Racing.
Developed by Unique Development Studios (aka UDS), SnoCross is actually the only title this obscure Swedish studio ever produced for the Dreamcast, having previously worked on No Fear Downhill Mountain Biking for the PlayStation. The game was published by Crave Entertainment and Ubisoft in 2000 for the Dreamcast and it sits alone in the racing genre as the only snowmobile racer for Sega's console. That said, it isn't the only game to feature snowmobiles as the D2 Shock demo that shipped with Real Sound: Winds of Regret also features a sort of open world mini-game where the player is tasked with locating various objects in the snow covered wilderness, careening about on a snowmobile.
The first thing you notice about SnoCross upon starting the game proper is just how bad it looks. It really does look like a PlayStation game, with boxy riders and badly textured, low detail environments par for the course. There are some nice little visual effects, such as reflective ice sheets and lens flares from the vehicle headlights, but for the most part SnoCross just looks bad. In fact, it's probably one of the worst looking games on the Dreamcast, and easily identifiable as one of those titles that was most probably developed with the original PlayStation in mind, before being slightly upgraded and chucked onto a GD-ROM as an afterthought.
That said, where SnoCross makes up for this visual horror show is in the gameplay and options. There are the usual quick race and time attack modes to play around with, but the main meat of SnoCross is in the main championship. There are three different tiers of difficulty, all of which are represented by ever increasing snowmobile - or sled - engine capacities. It's a bit like Mario Kart with differing displacements equating to skill level, with 500cc the lowest and easiest and higher ccs used to identify an increase in difficulty. All of the vehicles are officially licensed too, meaning Yamaha logos are abundant. On top of this, the championship does throw in some nice features, such as being able to win cash from races that enable you to buy new parts and upgrades for your sled, and also pay for repairs to various components that get damaged during races. No loot boxes or upgrade cards here, y'all (topical joke - check).

Dream Library: The Dreamcast Foreunner To Nintendo Virtual Console

Being able to download games to your chosen platform is a pretty standard feature these days, and one we've all come to expect from our gaming devices, mobile phones and computers. Where would we be without the convenience of being able to simply browse an online store front, be it the Nintendo e-Shop, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live or Steam, and just select a title we want to play and then have it ready to go in a matter of minutes?

While there's a lot to be said for buying physical games, either because you're a collector or you like the option of being able to trade your games in to fund the next purchase, exclusively downloadable software is most likely the future we're heading toward. However, it isn't a new technology. If you look back through the annals of gaming history, you'll find a number of antiquated hardware systems that offered downloadable software as an option and by and large they all worked and only really differed in their availability and hardware. There was the Nintendo Satellaview that offered exclusive titles for the Super Nintendo (some of which have been the subject of admirable preservation efforts); and there was a similar service offered by Sega in the form of the Sega Channel. There are earlier examples still, and you can find a rudimentary run down of some of them here.
The Dreamcast too, offered such a service and it was called Dream Library. Unlike the aforementioned utilities though, Dream Library didn't offer Dreamcast games for download; instead it offered Japanese gamers the option to use their Dreamcast as an emulation device with which to download and play a selection of Mega Drive and PC Engine games right in their browser. Similarities with Nintendo's popular Virtual Console are quite apparent, but Dream Library precedes Virtual Console by six years, give or take; and the main difference is that games were rented temporarily with Dream Library, rather than bought outright.
A fairly short-lived service, Dream Library ran from June 2000 to January 2003, and it did suffer from a few technical issues that meant it wasn't as perfect as it probably initially sounds. Still, it was quite an ingenious service and another example of Sega's thinking outside the box when it came to pushing the Dreamcast as a jack of all trades. Not only was Sega pushing its hardware as a gaming machine, but also a business machine, an affordable alternative to a web browsing computer and also an emulation device. I'm still wondering how the console failed to crack the mainstream during its natural lifespan, but as usual I'm digressing.

DreamPod - Episode 54 Featuring Retro Gamer Editor Darran Jones


If you enjoyed this episode, please feel free to subscribe on iTunes, and leave us a review. You can also contribute to our Patreon here. Feel free to leave us a comment below or join the conversation in our Facebook group or on Twitter!

Finally, be sure to follow our guest Darran on Twitter, follow Retro Gamer, buy the magazine and visit the website here!

Buggy Heat: The Arcade Racer That's Matured Like Fine Wine

The Dreamcast's stable of racing games is bursting with thoroughbred stallions, with classics like Le Mans and Metropolis Street Racer proudly held aloft as the pinnacles of the genre on the system. But there is one title that many may have simply dismissed or never even given a chance to prove itself as a worthy alternative to the more well-known titles vying for attention on a crowded starting grid. That game is Buggy Heat, a Dreamcast launch title from CRI that initially wowed with its decent graphics and interesting features, but which was lost in the maelstrom and ultimately usurped by Sega Rally 2 in the initial launch lineup melee. Buggy Heat is certainly a game that is worth another look, even now, after almost 20 years have passed since it first burst onto the scene.
Buggy Heat is a game I courted in those first few months after the Dreamcast's UK launch, and I distinctly remember being impressed with the visuals in those warm and un-fuzzy post-N64 wonder years. It looked incredible at the time, and the detailed vehicles and interesting tracks initially won me over. But after a week of playing and seeing pretty much all it had to offer in terms of new environments and vehicles, Buggy Heat was forgotten and I quickly moved on to the next game I could get my hands on. It's only relatively recently that I've gone back to investigate this early offering on the Dreamcast, and in this time I've grown to truly appreciate its nuances and have rediscovered a game that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
What initially seems to be a very rudimentary pretender to Sega Rally's off-road crown is actually a pretty deep and interesting experience, that even offers a feature that wouldn't be seen again until the release of the Xbox One. Behind the paltry track and vehicle selection rosters is actually a racing title that deserves a second look, because with time - not unlike a fine wine - Buggy Heat has aged beautifully and is, for me at least, one of the best arcade racers on the Dreamcast...

Introducing VMU-boy - A RetroPie Powered Console In A VMU Case

Technology continues to get ever more powerful and ever smaller, but sometimes the ingenuity of the modding community serves up a project that beggars belief. This is one of those occasions. Allow us to introduce you to the VMU-boy, a RetroPie powered console inside a VMU shell with the ability to play a host of retro roms on a tiny LCD screen. You thought the Gameboy Micro was small? Wait till you get a load of this!
The result of some stellar work by Giles Burgess (aka Kite), the VMU-boy is truly a wondrous accomplishment and as the images and video show, the contraption fits easily in the palm of a hand. Whether it's actually practical to play games on a device so small for any length of time without causing long term damage to eyes and hands remains to be seen, but 10 out of 10 must be awarded for effort.
The specs and features of the device are fairly impressive too, as detailed in the forum post over at sudomod:

  • Pi Zero/W
  • 128x128 SPI LCD
  • Main PCB with direct Pi soldering
  • 850mAh battery (4 hrs or more gameplay!). If I could find a slightly wider battery it might even make it to 900/1000mAh!)
  • Safe shutdown!
  • Micro USB charging which doubles as USB OTG port (plug in a USB OTG adapter and it will power the USB device and connect it to the Pi)
  • Power switch and status LEDs
  • Battery voltage monitoring + charging status
  • Built in speaker amp
  • 'Basic' OSD (need to work on this more, whipped it up very quickly!)
  • GPIO buttons built into the PCB
  • All inputs available under the 'cap' at the top, including the Pi SD card so it's really easy to work on
  • Internal serial port available as a JST header (made it very easy to see my Pi was working after I had removed the HDMI port!)
  • Battery connectors (1mm JST) or solder pads. Extra pads allow putting 2x batteries in parrallel (e.g. if you have 2x small batts that will fit)


Interestingly, Kite's post suggests he will be offering the VMU-boy for sale at some point in 2018, and a link to a waiting list has already been added to the post.

Find out more on the VMU-boy, including more details on the creation of the fascinating device by visiting the sudomod.com forum here.

Thanks to @pomegd on Twitter for sharing this info with us.