Arcade Racing Legends - New racing title smashes through Kickstarter goal

The last few years in the Dreamcast indie scene have been an odd time. Long gone are the days where every new title announced seemed to be a German Shmup; the French are here now, and with JoshProd they've redefined the very nature of the scene. 3 waves of successful releases, has seen all manner of titles come our way - from classics like Flashback and Fade to Black, to ports of Visco Neo Geo titles like Breakers and Captain Tomaday, forgotten adventure gems like the Escapee and some more modern ports, like the recent (and excellent) Finding Teddy. It can't be stated enough just how much life JoshProd have brought to the scene - so it was unsurprising that when they announced a Kickstarter for a new 3D racing title to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the console, a lot of people (us included) got rather excited. Arcade Racing Legends is that new title, and with their initial goal already exceeded, we thought it was about time we took a look at what could very well be a new high point in the Dreamcast's Indie library.

Now technically, it's Pixelheart who are the guys behind this project. The Kickstarter is under that name, also the name of the website where you can purchase the previously released titles. It seems to be the same team as JoshProd, for the most part, though. Pixelheart have informed us that the development team includes Jerome Lignier and Jo the code master, both having more than 20 years experience in the games industry. Regardless of name changes, the Marseille-based group went live on June 27th with a professional looking pitch and talk of honouring and paying homage to the great legacy of Sega's racing lineage. Offering a range of pledge levels, from copies of the game right the way up to track and car branding, and with plenty of nifty little rewards in between, from die cast cars and card sets to fancy looking Polo shirts and racing caps, there was plenty to tempt the scene. The initial goal of €25,000 was met with more than half the time remaining, and (at time of writing) they're roaring on towards a series of stretch goals which include a full Pit Stop story mode, split screen play and ultimately, a potentially very interesting online mode.

The stated ambition of the developers is to create a game that will contain several nods to great Sega franchises - and this seems evident in the early beta the team released, as well as numerous mentions of classic cars from numerous titles. Sega Rally's Lancia Delta, Out Run and Daytona USA inspired cars and a rather lovely looking Crazy Taxi inspired number. Arcade racing is certainly the order of the day here as the name suggests, with the arcade mode offering exclusive vehicles as well the usual array of boosts and power ups that you'd expect -  although Pixelheart have promised both an Arcade and Simulation mode, and tentative promises of a story mode (if the required goals are met) are very interesting indeed.
The car selection certainly looks promising!

The early beta showcased the games 3D engine, which is an optimised version of the one used in 4x4 Jam (a game I really rather liked - click here for that review) and showed tracks used in an earlier iOS title. This did cause a minor stir in the community, with a belief that this was in fact just a port, but further clarification from the development team of why they used these assets, and progress on the title being shown regularly, has put any fears at ease. In a similar way, some concerns raised about using real-world licenses without permission have been tackled by explaining that they will be removed in the final game - so no need to worry about Sega's legal team coming knocking any time soon (they're rather polite to be honest, we know from experience). 6 tracks are currently promised, covering the range of standard racing environments, and there's a 2 player 'dual' mode which will feature, regardless of whether the stretch goal of split screen racing is reached. There's also the promise of a variety of musical styles to accompany the game.

Of course, as previously stated, there are some really rather juicy stretch goals on offer - and the one that grabs the attention the most has to be the potential for a full Online mode. Whilst it's obviously too early to speculate on what this would look like, the prospect of the thriving online DC community getting a brand new title to play is exciting. No doubt i'd get my arse handed to me by our resident racing expert (and real life race driver) James Harvey though. Again. There are also plenty of opportunities for high-level backers to support in game-branding, from track side banners to fully branded cars. Some of these have already been snapped up, and are looking rather lovely.

Having now played a newer build of the game, which includes early work on the Crazy Taxi inspired model, I have to say that I'm rather excited by this project. Sure, it's still early days, but the graphics are solid, the handling is getting there, and the tracks look interesting. Some of the vehicles to be added look really interesting (follow the team on Twitter as they announce latest car sponsorship's and some really nice designs) and some of their planned content has the potential to deliver a compellingly deep side to the arcade thrills. There's work to be done of course, and to be a truly great racing title on the Dreamcast (and there's no lack of competition here) there's going to have to be some tightening of the controls and handling on the different tracks, and some general polishing up, but so far it's looking very promising indeed

The Kickstarter is still live at time of writing, so there's still plenty of time to back the project and get yourself some sweet tier rewards too. Now, if anyone wants to pay for a DCJY branded car in the game, I can officially send you a signed, potentially risqué picture of Tom Charnock as a reward...

What do you think - are you supporting this latest Kickstarter project for the Dreamcast? Excited by another excursion to the 3rd dimension in the Indie lineup? Feel free to comment and don't forget to follow us over on our Facebook page and Twitter account (@TheDCJunkyard)

The Arcade Racing Legends Kickstarter page can be found here.

How Sonic Adventure Blue My Mind: Reliving the Hype

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast’s North American launch – 9.9.99 – I’ve been thinking a lot about my earliest impressions of Sega's final console and the reasons why I saved up my meager allowance to bring one home that day.

Sonic Adventure was undeniably the catalyst.

It was the game that jumpstarted my interest in Sega’s swansong console and in video gaming as a serious hobby. Over the subsequent decades, my sharp criticisms of the game have grown starkly at odds with my enduring fondness for it; yet neither sentiment has undermined, nor ceded ground to the other. 20 years onward, I continue to appreciate Sonic Adventure for a multitude of reasons but more for how it sparked my passion for the medium – and all the incredible experiences that would follow – than for the game it ultimately was. I’ve come to terms with the idea that, in a weird way, perhaps I'm nostalgic for a game that never truly existed.

Spoilers ahead for Sonic Adventure and Sonic 3 & Knuckles...and my childhood, for that matter.
Thanks to this magazine, I've been living the dream(cast) for the last 20 years. – EGM, Issue 112
In the beginning, 13-year old me was casually perusing the Electronics Boutique video game shop at a local mall. My mom was off shopping for shoes, or books, or circular saws, or whatever it is moms buy and I just wanted to kill some time. I wasn’t at all serious about video games; I still went outside back then. The nine-year-old Sega Genesis was the newest console I owned, and I had fallen completely out of the loop on what was happening around the then-modern gaming scene. Gazing at the rows of unfamiliar game boxes and jewel cases lining the store walls, I was bewildered. It’s like I had suddenly warped into gaming’s cynical, dreary future:
  • Tenchu: Stealth Assassins? Turok 2? Apocalypse starring Bruce Willis? Looks like all the games are trying to out-badass each other these days. How edgy.
  • Spyro the Dragon? Guess anthropomorphic dudes with ‘tude games will never die, huh? Oh, but this one breathes fire? Radical.
  • Glover? Jeez, brand tie-ins must really be out of control if the Hamburger Helper mascot has his own game now.
I was largely detached from the newfangled games of that era and honestly, it didn’t seem like I was missing out on much. But then I finally noticed something a bit more…let's say, familiar?

It was the November 1998 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. As I peered closer, I noticed the cover image looked vaguely like Sonic the Hedgehog. Hold on, it was Sonic the Hedgehog…except...was it? I recognized the blue spines and iconic red shoes – check and check – but this Sonic was staring at me with creepy green eyes and pointed coolly with his massive cartoon hands, inviting me to open this magazine to find out just what he’d been up to in the years since we last destroyed the Death Egg and returned the Master Emerald to Angel Island.

And so I did...
Beautiful. Glorious. Bullshots. – Also EGM, Issue 112
Turning right to the cover story, I was bombarded with a spread of gorgeous screenshots. Yep, it was Sonic the friggin’ Hedgehog alright, along with his furry pals Tails, Knuckles, and...other critters. The gang was all here and apparently they were poised for a triumphant return. And boy did their new game look amazing. To my untrained eye, these screens looked like some high-grade, expert Pixar-level stuff. I was already sold. I knew then and there I’d be buying this Sonic Adventures game and whatever platform it would…wait, Dream…Cast? Uh, Dreamcast? That sounds like some Engrish shit. Is Sega serious? 
The Sega None of the Above seems like an odd choice for a console name – but then again – so did the Dreamcast back then. – EGM, Issue 112, once again
But then the hype got real.