A Quick Look At Tech Romancer

You have to hand it to Capcom. The Japanese firm really did pull it out of the proverbial bag when it came to putting top notch games out on the Dreamcast. Man, just imagine the Dreamcast without Capcom. There'd be no Power Stone, no Street Fighter, no Resident Evil. Gunbird 2, Mars Matrix, Marvel Vs Capcom...they're all a result of Capcom throwing pretty much everything and the kitchen sink at Sega's system. Capcom were pretty damn cool back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, eh?

One game that rarely gets a mention though, is mecha fighter Tech Romancer; a 3D one-on-one brawler with a slightly ridiculous name but which exudes a level of production value rarely seen in an original franchise without an anime or manga heritage to fall back on. Furthermore, it might sound like a game in which Metal Gear Rex sends C-3PO a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates, but to dismiss Tech Romancer on name alone would be a big mistake.
Upon booting Tech Romancer (known as Chronicle of Super Steel Warrior Kikaioh in Japan), you're greeted with an overly enthusiastic title screen and intro sequence that feels straight out of a 1980s Saturday morning cartoon that was appropriated from the Far East and syndicated; but only after being dubbed dubiously into English without a single fuck given. The only thing missing is the tracking interference regularly seen on VHS tapes you used to get from Blockbuster that had already been watched and rewound several thousand times before you rented it.
Herein lies the great deception though, for this game and all of its perceived heritage is nought but folly. Just like Wainhouse Tower, Tech Romancer and all of its apparent lore is a fabrication of something grander. While it may appear to be a game based on some obscure cartoon series you didn't know existed (because you're just not cool enough, frankly), Tech Romancer is a totally original IP that was created just for the arcade original, and this subsequent console release. All of the robots and animation sequences were designed by Studio Nue, a well-known animation studio responsible for some of the most widely regarded and respected anime productions around; and it's down to this mastery that you be forgiven for thinking you'd completely missed something awesome.
As an example of pure aesthetic genius, in which pedigree and kudos is demanded from its audience from the off, Tech Romancer is an unadulterated lesson in how to get things totally spot on...

A Statistical Analysis Of Dreamcast Launch Sales

Our good friend Vince19 has been at it again, this time analysing the launch window sales of the Dreamcast in the United States, and drawing comparisons to a host of other retro, contemporary and current gen systems. We recently featured Vince19 's other statistics-based videos here at the Junkyard ( heck out a statistical analysis of overall US games sales and a statistical analysis of Dreamcast game prices), and they're both well worth a watch if bias-free and purely factual analysis are something you're a fan of. Plus, Vince19's soothing mid-Atlantic accent is strangely soothing. Check out the latest video below, and see how the Dreamcast stacks up against the competition in terms of units shifted in the first few days of release:

Remember to give Vince19 a follow on Twitter to stay abreast of his uploads, and you can find his YouTube channel here.

Rare Dreamcast-based digital aquarium sells for US$3650

Ever wanted to own one of the rarest variations of the Dreamcast hardware? With touchscreen controls and an exclusive game where you can interact with digital fish? Sorry to say you've just missed out, but it would have set you back over US$3650. so you probably aren't that gutted.
We've previously covered the Sega Fish Life Digital Aquarium here, and here. If you're too lazy to click the links, it's basically a rare curio from Japan that was mainly sold to businesses like restaurants. While waiting for their steaming bowl of ramen, patrons are soothed by the realistic looking digital fish gently swimming around, and you could even tap the glass to interact with them. Unlike real aquariums, business owners never had to ever worry about forgetting to feed them or cleaning out a scummy tank. Japan thinks of everything.
Chilean-based Juppon Gatana retro store finally sold their unit to an identity obscured ebay member r***i, who dominated the auction with a bid of US$2000 on 22 Feb, and defended against 3 other serious bidders, before the auction ended yesterday at a cool US$3650. Juppon Gatana's reserve was met, so presumably the unit will soon be on its way to a happy (and decidedly poorer) new owner soon.
Here's hoping r***i has the ability and philanthropic compassion to digitally preserve the Sega Fish Life GD-ROM and dutifully release it into the wild, so that maybe one day us mere mortals might be able to experience its esoteric delights via a suitably modified emulator. I jest, that's probably not going to happen...stupid hoarders.

Update: 40 Winks Dreamcast Stretch Goal Announced

Just a quick update to let you all know that the 40 Winks Kickstarter campaign has indeed announced a Dreamcast port stretch goal if funding exceeds US$200,000. *glares at every gumshoe reporter who contacted us on Twitter, Facebook, or just spitting-chip-at-me-on-the-street to insist I update my original rant* Happy now?
The appropriateness of a Dream-themed platformer on the Dreamcast has not escaped me.
Not much new to report other than that. I think most of my reservations still stand. Further comments on the campaign page indicate that a back-up of the source code for the PlayStation version might still be available, which would help aid as a guide for a native Dreamcast port. They seem to know what they are doing and what they are talking about, but I'm still uncertain about whether they are underestimating the task ahead of them, or whether I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.
In any case, 200k would burn a significant hole in anyone's pocket, so wages for some devs to have a crack at it would be covered for at least a little while. If it all goes pair-shaped, a Bleem! based wrap-around solution could also be drawn upon as Plan B, which would also be fine.

But the biggest hurdle is general apathy and overall Kickstarter burnout. It seems fairly premature to be courting the interest of the Dreamcast community at this stage. Other campaigns that have tried and failed at least had a demo running on real hardware as a proof of concept. Maybe if they can provide such a demo before the funding deadline, I'll change my tune, but with so many "fully-funded" Dreamcast games apparently stuck forever in development hell, we've been thrice bitten, frice shy.


P.S. If this gets close to $200k, I'll probably be a hypocrite and still back it. I never learn.

DreamPod - Episode 57

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First new DC game of 2018 - Ghost Blade! (again!)

Breaking news (ok, month old news that I just found out about) that is sure to make our very own Ross jump for joy. We have a release date for the first Dreamcast release of 2018, and it will be another in JoshProd's series of US/J-NTSC style reprints. Ghost Blade will be available to own again on March 23rd 2018.

Help Support SEGA Raise Funds For Special Effect!

SEGA Europe is raising money for the most noble of causes - gaming charity Special Effect, an outfit devoted to enabling those with disabilities to enjoy the most awesome pastime of all time: gaming! The Gameblast 18 event will see various members of the SEGA and Hardlight teams take part in a 24-hour gaming session, during which a multitude of games will be played, rivalries will be formed and souls will will undoubtedly still burn well into the wee hours.

The entire stream will be...erm...streamed on that Twitch thing - you know, that thing the cool kids are all using these days. Personally, I have very little idea what Twitch actually is, and that's because I only ever browse the internet with a Dreamcast and a copy of Dreamkey 3.0. Can't knock me for living the dream, can you?
Anyway, SEGA Europe is trying to raise just £2,000 for Special Effect in an attempt to help all of our fellow gamers who have serious disabilities enjoy games in the same way everybody else does. I'm pretty confident we can help them smash this total though. With me? Then go here to Just Giving and donate what you can. I just gave a tenner because I'm skint after buying a new motorbike, but every little helps. You can also watch the stream here or by using the window below once the stream starts at 6pm UK time on Friday 23rd February. Thanks all!

Watch live video from SEGA on www.twitch.tv
It appeats that SEGA Europe successfully reached their target of £2000 - well done to all involved and all those who donated!

Dreamcast Hunting in Akihabara

A couple months back, during Japan's Silver Week national holiday, I took a short trip to Tokyo to meet up with a few old friends. Seeing as I was already in the area, I took a day to check out how the gaming scene was doing in the world famous Akihabara (it would have been rude not to really). I focused specifically on the Dreamcast for this article, but it's a similar story for most other consoles. Read on to see my findings...

VS Link cable now available from Dreamcast Live

Dreamcast Live's VS Link Cable
Like myself, I'm sure many of you out there have fantasised about owning the Dreamcast VS link cable for quite some time now. While only compatible with a handful of games, the thought of playing multiplayer F355 Challenge, Virtual On and more, without compromising half the screen, is enough to leave me frothing at the gash. The problem is (or rather WAS), the official and even third party Dragoncast cables are both extremely rare, usually fetching around $200 or more on eBay.
Tom Charnock playing with himself...the loser that he is.

Kickstarter: Not every retro game gets a Dreamcast stretch goal

Another day, another retro game Kickstarter. Refreshingly, today's effort is slightly more interesting affair in that it is targeting the Nintendo 64 audience for a change, aiming to publish a near two decade old cancelled game from the era.

40 Winks (aka Ruff and Tumble) did see the light of day on the original playstation, but the Nintendo 64 port was cancelled when its publisher GT Interactive went belly up, and when Infogrames picked over the carcass, the game ended up in the chaff pile instead of the wheat. Piko Interactive has recently picked up the rights to the game, and have already secured their modest US$20,000 goal within one day. They plan to develop, test and manufacture some brand new minty N64 cartridges for the game, so that it can be finally realised in physical form all these years later.
Some good ol' 90s era 3D platforming (apparently, never heard of it)
Hang on, isn't this the premiere destination for all things Dreamcast? Why are we suddenly talking about the Nintendo 64? Well, with every successful Kickstarter campaign that features a retro, or retro-inspired game, it's only natural that the masses start shouting "Dreamcast Stretch Goal! Dreamcast Stretch Goal!" And with good reason.

Component Video Heading To Dreamcast Courtesy Of HD Retrovision

Recently here at the Junkyard we took a look at the different types of A/V connection that you can use with your Dreamcast. The various types of cable that most people will be using to get an image ono a television or monitor will fall under the umbrella of either RF, composite, RGB SCART, S-video or VGA. It looks like we'll soon be able to add another connection type in the near future if HD Retrovision has anything to do with it: component.

We did mention this very fleetingly in the aforementioned article, but it seems that those clever lot over at HD Retrovision - purveyors of high quality cables for all manner of retro systems - have been experimenting with a Dreamcast YPbPr component cable for some time now, and the tweet above shows that they have a working prototype that allows for 480p images for VGA-compatible games and 240p for those which aren't.
This is particularly interesting for those who want to play games like Hydro Thunder and Air Force Delta et al without the need to constantly switch cable types. Hopefully we'll hear more about this interesting development in the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the HD Retrovision website here.