Peripheral Review: Brook Wingman SD

Disclosure: The Brook Wingman SD was sent to us for review.


The Brook Wingman SD is an interesting device, coming from the powerhouse that is Brook Accessory. I’ve got one of their PCBs in my SEGA Virtua Stick High Grade, which permits its use on multiple formats with ease… and no lag. Brook have quite a catalogue of products, and I believe are building a decent brand name for themselves with quality useful products. 


What is the Wingman SD? In short, it’s a dongle, that allows the gamer to connect a multitude of modern peripherals to their Dreamcast as well as the Sega Saturn (check out Brian's article on The Saturn Junkyard for a look at the Saturn functionality). You can connect your 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch Pro controllers to the Dreamcast for some high quality gaming fun.

There was something a touch surreal pairing my PS3 controller to the DC… but it was incredibly easy to do, and worked extremely well, without any perceived lag. Same goes for the Xbox One controller. The Xbox controllers are often regarded as some of the most ergonomic (and I agree), and using them to play Sega Rally 2, Rez (OK I have that on 360 and PS4), Shenmue, Headhunter, Re-Volt, was really great. The device comes into its own with FPS, though, bringing the DC into the 21st Century proper. Some prefer keyboard and mouse, which you can do on DC, but I am a fan of controllers. And now, Quake, Unreal Tournament, etc… have proper dual analogue support. And wireless!! What a revelation! 


Shenmue Undub: Definitive Edition available now for Dreamcast

Source: Shenmue Forever/Phantom River Stone

One of the most memorable aspects of the original Shenmue - for me at least - was the voice acting. When I say 'original,' naturally I mean the PAL version, y'know living in the UK and all. That disconnect between 1980s Japan and Ryo speaking with a slightly disjointed American accent; and the ensemble cast of weird, over-acted, oddball voices that assaulted the ears whenever you dared interrupt some NPC while they wandered aimlessly through Dobuita before vanishing into thin air outside Tom's hot dog van. That's peak nostalgia right there, kids.

It's apparent that not everyone shares my fondness for this audio aesthetic though, as a number of fan projects over the years have attempted to 'undub' the Western version of Shenmue, replacing Corey Marshall's dulcet tones with the original audio from the NTSC-J release of Shenmue. The latest attempt at this, according to the fine folks over at Shenmue mega-site Phantom River Stone is the definitive edition of these undub efforts, and have now presented to the world the fittingly monikered Shenmue Undub: Definitive Edition.

Source: Phantom River Stone

Before I continue, you really should check out Phantom River Stone in general if you're a Shenmue fan, as along with resources like Shenmue Dojo and Adam Koralik's YouTube channel, it really is a marvellous repository of Shenmue trivia and random musings. But back to Shenmue Undub: Definitive Edition. Created in collaboration with Shenmue Master, Shenmue Undub: Definitive Edition is reckoned to be the ultimate restoration of the Dreamcast title, with original Japanese voice overs, English subtitles and even minor bug fixes and restored original textures. Here's a rundown from Phantom River Stone:

  • Based on the Kogami Undub: this version builds upon the most complete fan-made Undub version, which was created by Kogami and runs on the Dreamcast.
  • Full English subtitles: the official translated lines are used where available. A small number of the Japanese spoken lines (around 3%) which did not have English equivalent translations available have been translated by hand. A few small corrections were also made to fix specific lines that had incorrect grammar or meaning.
  • Full Japanese audio with no down-sampling.
  • PAL-compatible save files: saves can be carried over to the PAL version of Shenmue II.
  • CDDA audio tracks included: recorded audio tracks play as expected during the game (e.g. the music that plays when Ryo rides home from the harbor with Nozomi on the back of his motorcycle).
  • Coca Cola branding: the branding for the vending machines and soda cans in the game shows the Coca Cola branding, as seen in the Japanese version of Shenmue..
  • Fixes for small glitches identified in the previous Undub version (e.g. conversations when Ryo knocked on house doors did not play out properly).
  • Fits on standard CD-R discs: the images have been stream-lined to allow them to be played on a Dreamcast console using standard CD-R discs, with no missing or cut content.
It's worth it for the authentic Coca-Cola cans alone, in my opinion. Of course, this isn't the first time enthusiastic fans have augmented a Dreamcast title - cast your mind back several years and you'll no doubt recall Dead or Alive 2 Final or the Frame Gride English language edition.
Source: Phantom River Stone
For Shenmue fans who want the authentic experience though, Shenmue Undub: Definitive Edition looks to be the real deal. You can grab the download for Dreamcast over at Phantom River Stone, and while you're there stick around and read some of author Switch's other intriguing posts.

Will you be checking out Shenmue Undub: Definitive Edition? Let us know in the comments!

Summoning Signals now has a website and a demo for Dreamcast

Summoning Signals represents one of the more mysterious upcoming releases for the Dreamcast. A point and click adventure in which the player must locate the scattered parts of a crippled spacecraft, the photogrammetry graphical style is unlike anything we've previously seen on the Dreamcast.

Coming from 12db.soft and Retro Surge Games, Summoning Signals is aiming for an Autumn 2020 release (that's Fall for our American readers), and the game now has a dedicated website and a demo available. The demo is interesting as it's not actually a demo of the main game, it's more a vertical space shooter where you have to kill a two-headed dragon with a penchant for Soul Calibur quotes...but this just fits the whole weirdness vibe lead developer Magnes is aiming for:

"I see Summoning Signals like a strange trip to a vaguely familiar planet. Some people say it reminds them of the Myst series or Lack of Love. We're inspired by Kentucky Route Zero for its visuals and storytelling, Hyper Light Drifter and Elemental Gimmick Gear for their worldbuilding and Seaman for its wierdness to name a few. Summoning Signals is a game for those who like to discover strange worlds.

"I've always wanted to contribute to SEGA's last console library. This console (and its community) is what got me into programming and hacking 15 years ago, so it feels right to give back. Also, working with retro console has this hacker-tech-charm vibe to it.

- Magnes, via summoningsignals.com

From the game's itch.io page:

Summoning Signals is a experimental narrative game. 

You are Bertholet, an antique collector with a passion for old technology. As you are making a delivery across the galaxy, your ship starts behaving erratically and crash on an unknown planet. Get to know the planet's strange inhabitant, repair your ship and escape before the fabled Minotaur finds you.

Radio Exploration
Use your radio to call for help and communicate with the galaxy's inhabitant. Make sure to charge your battery and keep the signal alive! 

Repair system
Bertholet will need to find spare parts on this new planet to repair his ship. Break apart old machines and dig for circuits in computers! Make use of your tools to get your ship running again.

Poetic Puzzles
The world inhabitant like to speak in riddle. Are you wise enough to understand them? Use your wits to find the clues and progress through the game.

We have covered Summoning Signals in the recent past, and waxed lyrical about the interesting photogrammetry technique used (think the Google Maps 3D modelling style). I for one am pretty intrigued to know more about this indie offering, and after enjoying the outright oddness of the Reaperi Cycle demo 12db.soft released earlier in 2020, I think I'm qualified to consider myself a fan of this developer.


Keep an eye on the Summoning Signals website for updates (you can sign up to be alerted when new demos are available) and also grab that annoyingly difficult shooter demo. We'll be keeping a close eye on this one...and you should too.

Excited for yet another new Dreamcast release in 2020? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below. Oh, and follow 12db.soft on Twitter here.

A Dreamcast Launch Retrospectacle: Celebrating/Ranking the Games of 9.9.99

Well, shit. It’s been 21 years since the Dreamcast’s North American launch. That makes it old enough to drink here.

Legally.

Of course, that’s hardly news for all you folks outside of the States. In Japan, the Dreamcast has been of legal libation consumption age for nearly two years, both because it came out almost a year earlier and because the nation’s legal drinking age is 20. Doubly so for most European countries. In Germany, kids as young as 14 can drink wine and beer with their parents’ consent, which means the Dreamcast has been allowed to partake in the devil’s sauce for over seven years (with permission from the Saturn and Mega Drive, of course). And apparently you Brits have been legally allowed to drink at home since you were five (?!) years old. If true, the Dreamcast has been pounding pints in the UK since the Nintendo DS was in nappies.

Anyway, I write all of this because I find it both a convenient and unnecessarily convoluted excuse to crack open some brewskies and reminisce about the Dreamcast’s iconic launch library all those years ago. In the spirit of the occasion, I’d like to think of this feature as a Dreamcast 21 run of sorts.

I’ve always been fascinated with video game console launches and the “next gen” titles that usher us into each new era of gaming. I believe these launches provide unique insights into how platform holders aspire to position their consoles and contribute to the broader evolution of the medium. Console launches give us a glimpse into the creative mindsets of developers seeking to innovate with the new technological possibilities afforded to them. Then there’s the sheer spectacle of it all, which can also be fun in itself.

When it comes to the all-time great console launches, I can’t think of a better time than the sixth generation. Leading the way, of course, was the Sega Dreamcast. You probably don’t need me to sell you on the brilliance of its launch collection. At least in North America and PAL territories (sorry, Japan), there was almost a magic surrounding it. From day one, the Dreamcast hosted a legendary library of excellent games, many of which remain widely revered by the Junkyard community. I’ve recently replayed all 19 of the North American launch titles and I’m surprised which ones have held up at least as well as, if not better than I expected. Others, less so. More than anything, revisiting the Dreamcast’s launch library has helped strengthen my appreciation for the creative risks Sega took with its final console debut, as well as the more enduring impacts its games ultimately had on the medium.

It boggles my mind to consider the rare confluence of factors that could've enabled the Dreamcast to spoil early adopters with such a wealth of launch day riches. Back then, and for a variety of reasons, console launch lineups seemed more crucial for setting the tone and tenor of the experiences we might associate with those platforms. Perhaps the relative technical strides between generations underscored the need to show off a diverse stable of games that could never have existed previously. And before development costs skyrocketed in the HD era, maybe it was easier for more devs to begin and finish their projects in the time between receiving dev kits and preparing for launch. At the very least, developers might've been freer to work in peace without us asshat fans yammering at them on social media all the time.

So now, after 21 years, I figured I’d share my thoughts on all 19 North American Dreamcast launch titles through a not-completely-sober, retrospective lens. Here are my totally biased and nostalgia-be-damned takes on the Dreamcast’s original launch lineup. And in no particular ord—actually, screw it. I’m not usually a fan of ranked game lists but I’m a couple of beers in at this point and I’m fine with being a hypocrite.

OK. Worst to first. Let’s go...

JoshProd announce 5th wave of Dreamcast releases - 8 games incoming!

The last few years has seen a surge of new independent releases on the Dreamcast, keeping this 20 year old love affair we have with the console going strong. This year we've already seen Xeno Crisis from Bitmap Bureau - a multi platform, multi directional shooter that we liked quite a lot - and we're not far away from seeing the release of Xenocider from Retro Sumus, another title that is shaping up very well (something we can personally guarantee here at the Yard). The masters of the recent surge of releases, however, is undoubtedly JoshProd/Pixelheart. The French indie publisher has now released over 20 titles on the Dreamcast, and already had us excited for their upcoming release of the very promising looking Arcade Racing Legends, but have now upped the ante once more, with the announcement of a 5th wave of releases - all due (currently) to be released before the end of the year. I don't know about you, but any good news in this year of unpredictable craziness is most welcome.

As with their previous titles, JoshProd like to announce a batch of games at a time, with varying developers, genres and packaging formats. This wave we see 6 titles that cover platforming, fighting and lots of shooting, the return of a popular indie developer and a rather interesting multi-game set. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's have a look at the list of titles announced:


  • Alice Sisters (Orionsoft)
  • Rocketron (Astro Port)
  • Satazius Next (Astro Port)
  • Tough Guy (Panda entertainment)
  • Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser (Astro Port)
  • Wolflame (Astro Port)
As well as these, there's two other new titles coming to the Dreamcast - we'll get on to them later:
  • Gigantic Army (Astro Port)
  • Zangeki Warp (Astro Port)

Dreamcast: Year Two hits Kickstarter!

Dreamcast: Year One was successfully funded and launched late last year, and those who managed to grab a copy were treated to a beautifully illustrated, fantastically detailed trip down memory lane back to the first year of the Dreamcast's life; albeit with a distinctly PAL flavour. You can read our review of Dreamcast: Year One here.

After the success of Dreamcast: Year One, it was pretty much written in the stars that Year Two would follow on its coattails...and now the Kickstarter for this very tome is live!


It's probably worth mentioning before I go any further, that author and campaign manager Andrew Dickinson has since joined the podcast and editorial team of The Dreamcast Junkyard, and many of the other contributors to this blog are involved in writing content for Dreamcast: Year Two...and that includes yours truly. With that out of the way, what can you expect from Dreamcast: Year Two?
Well, more of the same to be honest...which is no bad thing! A bigger, more content-rich book full of interviews and retrospectives on the games from the Dreamcast's second year on the market; and the Kickstarter campaign features a range a tiers that offer some pretty special backer perks. But what of the main book? I'm glad you asked:
  • Main book has over 50% more pages than Year One
  • Double the number of retrospectives than Year One
  • Brand new artwork from graphic designer Dan Tiller
  • Interviews with the likes of Corey Marshall, John Linneman and Steven Kent (and more)
  • Retrospectives written by members of Dreamcast Years and The Dreamcast Junkyard
But that's not all! Oh no - there's also the opportunity to fund a one-off Dreamcast Years magazine, and a special edition of the Dreamcast Years podcast that will be exclusively available on Minidisc. Talk about going fully authentic on the era-specific formats... (you'll probably need to get a Minidisc player if you're up for that perk, though).
Dreamcast: Year Two is totally unofficial and written by fans of the console and prominent members of the burgeoning online community. The project is initially looking for £12,000 in funding and at the time of writing (a mere hour after the campaign went live) it stands at a staggering £5,000 already.

So there you have it. Dreamcast: Year Two is all set to take the momentum from the ace Dreamcast: Year One and run with it. Want to get involved with this Kickstarter? Of course you do! Check out the campaign page here.
Finally - a disclaimer: none of the contributors from The Dreamcast Junkyard will gain financially from this campaign. In fact, most (if not all) of us who are contributing written content are also backers. In other words - none of us are being paid, we're contributing because we love the Dreamcast, plain and simple!

Will you be backing Dreamcast: Year Two? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter. You can also follow Andrew Dickinson on Twitter here. Oh, and here's the Kickstarter link again, just in case you missed it!

Exploring EMAP's Lost Official Dreamcast Magazine: An Interview With Dave Kelsall

Magazines are an important part of gaming history.

They were the only way that regular people could absorb all the news from the industry and get opinions on games before they spent their hard-earned cash on them. Like much physical media though, they have become increasingly niche as the internet and digital technologies saturate the market. News can be fed right to your phone as it happens, while user and influencer reviews are taken on board just as much, if not more, than the professionally written ones of established journalists.
For many of us who revere retro (and especially Dreamcast, of course), physical media and good-old-fashioned games journalism feels sorely missed. Personally, I can find a place for the old and the new in my life, but when flicking through old magazines I never fail to stumble upon that one thing that made them special - magic.

Okay, I don’t mean magic in the make-believe sense (and most definitely not in the Dynamo sense either), but rather that feeling of holding in your hands the key to a world that is beyond the norm. They were a guide to all of those computers, consoles and games that you had no idea were coming. They held updates on things you were eagerly awaiting, and reviews of games you’d seen in the shop but had no idea if it was worth paying £39.99 for.
When I wrote my first book, Dreamcast: Year One, I took this very specific love of gaming magazines and injected that into the pages - both in the style and also the content. Specifically, I interviewed three people involved in that scene from the time of the Dreamcast; Caspar Field (editor of DC-UK), Ed Lomas (reviews & deputy editor of Official Dreamcast Magazine) and also David Kelsall (graphic designer at Official Saturn Magazine).
The latter of those interviews was more than just a chat about the good old days though, as David had a never-before-seen pitch from the magazine publisher EMAP for the Official Dreamcast Magazine. I therefore decided to share an edited down version of his interview, along with a few of the images he shared with me, in the book itself.

I had always intended to share a longer version of the interview with the images I didn’t use, and as we approach the launch of my campaign to fund Dreamcast: Year Two I figured this was the best time to do that. So here it is!


Andrew Dickinson: David, could you please tell us a little bit about how you got into games journalism?

Dave Kelsall: It’s quite a long story! I’ve always been obsessed with games magazines (and games of course). I used to buy everything available, even books with type-in BASIC listings. I wouldn’t necessarily type them, but I liked to read the code and look at the artwork.

I was on an art trip to London with my Sixth form college and I spotted Julian Rignal (renowned games journalist and editor) sitting in the buffet clutching a camera. He was off to do one of his seaside reports on the latest arcade machines, so I went over to say hi. I didn’t live that far from Ludlow (where Newsfield, the publishers of Crash and Zzap! 64, were based) and so he invited me down to take a look around the offices whenever we were both free.

A few weeks later I went down for a visit and he very kindly showed me around, took me to the pub, and we of course played games. Fast forward a few years and I had just finished my HND in Graphic Design and I was on the train accompanying my girlfriend who was going for an interview in London for a job in the fashion industry. I happened to be reading a copy of Mean Machines and there was an advert in the News section looking for a designer. As I remember it, I turned up to the EMAP offices and enquired about the job. I think I spoke to Julian beforehand and mentioned who I was, and I was promptly shown upstairs and told to design something. They must have liked what I did as I was offered the job the next day and that was the start of a career in magazines, and initially games journalism. I absolutely loved my time there and I only left the games division when EMAP sold it to Dennis. I moved on to other titles within EMAP.

Simulant - a new game engine for Dreamcast

The name Luke Benstead is, by now, synonymous with the world of online Dreamcast gaming. That's because Luke is the man who created the DreamPi and along with DreamPipe and Dreamcast Live, kickstarted the online gaming revolution we now find ourselves in the midst of. Not content with having this impressive credit on his resume, Luke has now launched his next venture - Simulant. Simulant is a general purpose game engine designed to work with Android, Windows, Mac OS, Linux...and Dreamcast.
As Luke explained on a recent episode of our podcast - see DreamPod episode 80 here - Simulant's development actually precedes DreamPi by several years, with work first starting on it back in 2011. As many reading this will no doubt be aware, a game engine is the foundation of a game and is the toolkit developers use to create the interactive experiences we all know and love. In this case, Luke likens Simulant to something like Unity, however unlike Unity, Simulant doesn't have a graphical user interface and instead relies on the developer to use pure code.
Luke explains in his own words:

Simulant is a general-purpose game engine for multiple platforms: Windows, Linux, OSX, and of course Dreamcast. General-purpose means it can be used to build any style of game. It's similar in concept to Unity but it doesn't come with a pretty user interface - games have to be developed purely in code.

I've been developing Simulant for almost 9 years, I started it well before I got involved in the Dreamcast scene and for the majority of that time I've been the only developer. 

It's really very powerful, and is currently being used to build (at least) two Dreamcast games: Swirling Blades (my chopper game) and another 3D game called Dark Space Pioneer.

It's also spawned a whole community and a number of related projects, including a full OpenGL library called GLdc, which is being used by Summoning Signals, and the nuQuake Quake port to accelerate performance. An OpenAL audio library has also been built, as well as a software profiler for the Dreamcast called dcprof.

Even after all this time, Simulant is still in Alpha state. I'm always on the look out for skilled developers who want to help! I particularly could use help with the Android and OSX versions!

If you want to see what Simulant can do, check out Swirling Blades on itch - it's a fairly basic 3D helicopter shooter, but as a proof of concept that can be burnt to a disc and played on a Dreamcast hardware, it is impressive.
So now you know the basics, why not see if Simulant is something you'd like to try out for yourself? The Simulant project is open source, and released under the LGPL license, and the code can be found at the repository on GitLab here: https://gitlab.com/simulant/simulant

There's also a dedicated website with more information, screenshots and documentation at: https://simulant.dev.
It seems there's already a really active scene springing up around Simulant, with some well known Dreamcast indie developers testing the waters; and the Simulant Discord server has become a popular home for all kinds of Dreamcast developers. There are nearly 200 lurkers there, and about 20 or so active people, and everyone shares their work and helps out where they can. If you want to have a go at writing a game with Simulant, or if you just want to dip into Dreamcast development, then the Simulant Discord server should be your first port of call (after downloading the code, of course!).
So there you have it. A very brief introduction to Simulant. It's worth nothing that to use Simulant you'll need some level of C or C++ development skill , or at least some good experience in another language (and enthusiasm to learn), but hopefully this will bring a whole new wave of indie developers to the Dreamcast scene.

Be sure to follow Luke on Twitter for updates on Simulant. What do you think? Will you be taking your first steps into Dreamcast development with Simulant? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Review: Xeno Crisis

It's hard to know whether even the most optimistic of us would of believed that, more than 15 years after it's inception, the Dreamcast Junkyard would still be reviewing new titles for the console which we all share a passion for. Yet here we are, in a year many of us believed we'd be living on the moon and driving flying cars, still hungering after more releases, and our appetites being sated with a steady supply of some of the finest Indie releases we've ever had. Our childhood fantasies of space-age dwellings and hoverboards, neon lit utopias and colonisation of other planets may not have been met - the steady diet of science fiction fueled expectations of our youth replaced instead with social media, disappointing Sega announcements and a global pandemic - but our consolation prize seems to be an incredibly healthy independent development scene, far removed from the 'yet another Shmup' days of old.
I can only imagine Bitmap Bureau grew up with the same dizzying expectations of our future. For them, the future was clearly 'out there', rather than 'stay at home', and in this new release for the Dreamcast, it seems mankind has indeed ventured away from our terrestrial origins, and made a life for ourselves amongst the stars. Of course, for every Utopian prediction that science-fiction gave us, there was a darker, grimmer dystopia waiting around the corner. For every Star Trek, there's an Aliens, after all. It's safe to say, that the universe that Bitmap Bureau believes mankind will inhabit may have just a touch of the latter - even the title of this new release hints at that. Xeno Crisis - not 'Xeno family picnic' you'll notice, paints a universe in which the Earth's best and brightest must deal with a threat of the extra-terrestrial kind. A distress call is received, and our guys at a research station seem to be dropping like flies due to a serious bit of unwanted alien violence. Step forward Commander Darius and his elite marines, our best hope at beating this off-world menace, now tasked with taking on whatever nasties the galaxy throws at them.


It's a classic sci-fi scenario, one we've probably heard many times before, but there's a reason for it's popularity - we all want to be the saviour of the planet against a horde of ugly, puss-ridden, vomit belching aliens, whilst shooting a completely infeasible amount of ammunition and shouting out Arnie-like quotes in a terrible Austrian accent. It's violent, it's action packed, it's all shouty, sweary and loud, and most of all, it's bloody good fun.
Bitmap Bureau promised to deliver this with Xeno Crisis during a highly successful kickstarter back in 2017, with plans to release the game on various consoles, both current gen and classic, and as well as bringing us glorious 80's action flick silliness, it was going to take a not-inconsiderate amount of inspiration from classic twin stick shooters of old as well. It felt like it was ticking all the right boxes, and now it's the Dreamcast's turn to experience the games delights after various other versions had their time to shine. The important question though, as always, is, well... is it any good?

You're damn right it is...

Review: After the Fall

We first got a glimpse of Quake total conversion After the Fall back in August 2018 when the game's designer Pip Nayler treated us to a very early preview. Since then, we've also been lucky enough to sample a playable demo of the game. Now though, After the Fall is ready to be released for the Dreamcast community to enjoy on their own Dreamcast consoles, and come the end of June 2020 (Friday 26th June to be precise) you'll be able to download After the Fall - for the price of absolutely nothing - and experience this romp through a dystopian future nightmare for yourselves. You can't say fairer than that - dystopia with an entrance price of free. Step right up, folks!


As we've been following the development of After the Fall for a while now, we thought it was only right that we cast a critical cycloptic eye over the final product and give you our verdict on whether you should download it, burn it and give it a go; or leave it well alone and go back to watching the endless repeats of Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares you somehow have recorded on your digibox (or maybe that's just me).
First things first. As you will no doubt be able to tell simply by pointing your eyes at the screenshots hither and thither, After the Fall is a total conversion of Quake. The origins of this mod can be traced all the way back to the simpler times of 1997, when it was released for the IBM compatible Personal Computer device. A proof of concept port of After the Fall was started for Dreamcast some time later, but the port was left abandoned like a dog in a hot car. That's where Pip Nayler came in to rescue the abandoned Dreamcast version, like a good samaritan with a hammer and bowl of water. You know, to smash the window and give the hypothetical dog/Dreamcast port a drink of water. Not all heroes wear capes, folks. As he told us back in 2018:

"After The Fall is a total conversion of Quake that was originally released way back in 1997. It's been mentioned on Dreamcast message boards before, but nobody has ever really played it on the console as it doesn't fit in to the Dreamcast's RAM without modification. Also, the Quake community largely considers ATF fun, but hampered by bugs and some low quality artwork. My goal is to help the game gain some new recognition and give the Dreamcast community something new to play, whilst also also allowing me to get reacquainted with Quake modding.

"Lowering the texture resolution has allowed me to fit the game in to memory, and it is now playable from start to finish, but my aim is to build upon the original game and make it something really special for the community. As such, I'll be replacing some of the assets from the original game, bug fixing where possible, writing a new backstory for it, and creating some all new levels to help tell the story and make the game feel more connected."
- Pip Nayler, After the Fall Dreamcast developer

Since we played that initial build, Pip has ironed out over 100 bugs in the code, made a whole host of edits and revisions to the graphics, gameplay and the storyline, and now After the Fall is finally ready to see the light of day, over 20 years after it was originally conceived. The crucial question remains: Is it worth your time? Or has Pip Nayler wasted his precious life energy poring over a dud? I can't stretch that dog/car analogy out any further, so let's abandon that and delve in to After the Fall...

To Dream of Love: More Music of Rez

Much has been said about Rez here at the ‘Yard. Some don’t rate the game that highly, thinking it is either boring, or too simple. To me, that simply means that you do not “get” it. When you get it, Rez is like nothing else I have ever played. Well, perhaps WipEout is about as close as it has gotten for me. The reason I say this is the fusion between the “race” or challenge, the gameplay inputs, the visuals, and the music. To play Rez properly is to wear some bloody good headphones, and dedicate yourself to its gameplay. You can’t appreciate Rez if you have the sound low, off, or simply have a “5 minute bash”. Rez is more of an experience.

Rez went through a lot of changes in development (see video below), but the leaked beta is extremely close to the final game (though it's got a higher difficulty level).



I’ve yet to play Rez Infinite on PSVR, but one is on its way to me as I write. However, I do have the game on Xbox 360 and enjoyed playing through and completing it multiple times. I consider myself nowhere near an expert at the game, but definitely feel I am very well connected with it. When I see people write “it’s boring” or “it’s overrated” then to me, they simply don’t get it. It’s gone over their head. That’s fine. Though putting such things to the page makes me sound like an elitist prick (the data is still coming in on that), to say that I am more invested in Rez than the average gamer would be a fair comment. Most of my posts for the ‘Yard have been on the subject of the game; I have a copy of “Vibes”, the prototype beta of Rez:
So, why am I, once again, writing about this legendary game? It’s because yesterday I put on an album I haven’t listened to in ages; Second Toughest In The Infants, by Underworld. I was taken back into the game. 


Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon & DX for Dreamcast is back online!

More exciting news for the up to 6 billion players still enjoying online Dreamcast gaming today has surfaced recently, with the resurrection of the online service for the rather catchy title: Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon & DX.

As reported by Dreamcast Live, this is the first ever Japanese-exclusive online Dreamcast to be revived and so it is rightly getting a fair bit of attention within the online Dreamcast community in an ever-growing catalogue of Dreamcast games playable online again.
Online play supports 2-4 players in a battle to the death, and from the early test matches that have taken place, the team who reverse engineered the server to bring it back online have done a fantastic job with the game working well with minimal lag.

Released in 2002, Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon & DX is based on the anime television series of the same name. Interestingly, this was the last ever online Dreamcast game to be officially released, which makes the resurrection that little bit sweeter.

As well as online battles, Arcade and Campaign modes allow you to don a giant mech suit and cause havoc at various ground locations and even in space. It's fair to say it was not the most groundbreaking release in the new millennium but it's always wonderful to see new games brought back online in 2020.
And let's face it, who wants to play Call of Duty on a Friday night when you could be playing Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon & DX via a Dreamcast dial-up modem instead?!

All jokes aside, this could become a very popular game within the online Dreamcast community as it offers slick gameplay with battles coming thick and fast.

How about you? Will you be connecting to the server to take on other gamers? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.

UPDATE: Well, I've since spent considerable time playing online and I have to say that I'm close to being addicted! The game is so much fun to play online and there is very little lag to speak of, even if you're playing 2v2 with people in Europe, America and beyond. More useful links here for you in the form of the Online Leaderboard and a Connection Guide from Dreamcast Live, with screenshots helping you break the language barrier and get online easily.

Hands on with the 'RetroFighters DC Striker' Pad

I dislike the term Retro gaming, as a label I feel like it's too simplistic a term and not anyway near tangible enough when people try to define what it actually means. Does a game or console need to be from a certain console generation? Does it need to have been released during a certain year or have other technological parameters to be defined as retro? Do you have to be at a certain age or experience level to be able to use the term? And why do other forms of media not have the same fascination with the term that gamers do?

For me a better way to describe 'retro gaming' is as something that is historically important to your age group or own personal life. Space Invaders and Pacman are still great games I am interested in playing, whereas I dislike others from the same period and will give up on them after about 45 seconds, similarly in cinema terms I would just call 'Jaws' a masterpiece and recommend it to anyone despite it coming out 7 years before I was even born, but I don't value or label all films from that era in the same way, there is no retro in other mediums as contentious as in Video games.

10 Times Rappers Have Referenced the Dreamcast in Songs

Continuing with the music theme of Mike's article "12 great punk albums featuring songs from Dreamcast games", I found a way to tie the Dreamcast into an article talking about the second best genre of all time: hip-hop. Or Rap, if you prefer. Being a genre focused so heavily on lyrics, you'd expect the Dreamcast to have been mentioned at least once. Well, turns out it's been mentioned quite a lot. Turns out there's quite a few Dreamcast stans in the hip-hop industry. As you can imagine, a lot of these songs contain naughty words and references to sex and nefarious happenings, so if you don't want to get your sealed game collection confiscated, don't play them round your Mum's house.

1. Del the Funky Homosapien featuring Khaos Unique - "Proto Culture" (2000)
You may know Del the Funky Homosapien from his work with legendary hip-hop group Hieroglyphics. If you don't know who they are, you should at least know him from his rap verses on the song "Clint Eastwood" by Damon Albarn-fronted cartoon megastars Gorillaz.

What you need to know is that Del and collaborator Khaos Unique performed for North American Sega employees at a Dreamcast launch party in San Francisco back in '99. You can view their performance of their song "Proto Culture" here. From the on-stage chatter prior to playing the song, you can really tell that they are hardcore video game heads, and have a lot of praise for Sega. Del even says that he had already been playing Dreamcast games from Japan prior to the US launch.

The beat to "Proto Culture" features a tasty sample of Morrigan's winning theme from
Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, and lyrics to further exemplify Del and Khaos Unique's love for video games and Sega.

"Rival schools, Batsu - purchase you ought to. It came with one free CD, it's like I bought two. I hope they make part II for Dreamcast."

This song was released on Del's album Both Sides of the Brain in April 2000. A sequel to Rival Schools was released on the Dreamcast in Japan during December of the same year, so I'm sure Del was happy to see the sequel he was desiring in his raps.


12 great punk albums featuring songs from Dreamcast games

There are many reasons to love the Dreamcast. We assume you agree with us, as you're currently reading a blog entitled the 'Dreamcast Junkyard'. Arcade perfect gameplay? Check. State of the art graphics (for it's time)? Check. The last great 'hurrah' of the Sega of old? Possibly controversial, but check. Some of the best music ever committed to a video game library? Oh, you're damn right.

Whether it's the funky beats of Jet Set Radio, orchestral magnificence of Shenmue or Skies of Arcadia, eclectic soundtrack of MSR or the pure joy of the Marvel vs Capcom 2 character select screen...well maybe not the last one.. the musical magnificence of the Dreamcast can not be overlooked.

With that, we also had a fairly large number of games featuring licensed soundtracks. Ever since the compact disc became the games medium of choice in the 90's, games have not been shy about popping on some killer tunes to please their consumers. The Playstation was the epitome of this new gaming frontier, as a Sony product was always likely to be, and the merging of games with music was an integral part of the cultural impact the console had on a whole generation.

Thing is, whilst many of my fellow Junkyard writers were probably spending that period in their lives chilling out to the latest trance hit, or techno rave masterpiece (or whatever it's called, it's not my area of knowledge!), I was happily indulging in my own musical journey - one that very much consisted of a bunch of sweaty gigs, slam dancing lunatics and a healthy disliking of authority. Punk. A misunderstood genre, if ever there was one, was in many ways my first love, and it is a love that is well catered for on that little Sega made mistress of my dreams. Whether it's a nod back to the spit covered, pogoing era of the 70's, the DIY led revolution of the 80's or the ska and skate infused 90's revival, there's plenty for the discerning punk fan to enjoy whilst indulging in some Dreamcast gaming.

But I'm not just going to list a top ten of DC punk songs. Anyone who has read anything else I've ever written for the Junkyard knows that ain't my style. Being a punk fan that just about remembers a time before streaming services were king, it's always been about the mighty album for me. Punk albums are wondrous, beautiful things - full of unheard delights, musical experimentation and just plain weirdness, far beyond the narrow view that some have of punk rock. They're often overlooked, criminally so, dismissed as having just one or two good songs - but nothing could be further from the truth. And I think it's time to start setting the record straight.

So come join me as I take a look at a dozen great examples of punk albums, all of which feature songs from Dreamcast games.
Bad Religion - No Control (1989) 
(featuring 'You' from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2)

Bad Religion, more so than probably any other band, were responsible for helping shape the sound that punk became in the early 90's. Whilst they were part of the early LA hardcore scene (the fantastic 'How Could Hell Be Any Worse?' standing right up there with the best of that cities output), they didn't truly come into their own until they ended the 80's with a trio of masterpiece albums, 'Suffer' came first, 'Against the Grain' rounded them off, and this, 1989's 'No Control' is slap bang in the middle. It builds on what came before, 'Suffer' being the template of what the band's sound would become, but everything is that touch quicker, that touch harder, and that tad better sounding (although 'Suffer' remains one of my all time favourite albums). Greg Gaffin's lyrics are always a level above the often simple anti-authority diatribes, and on this he effortlessly melds philosophy, politics and the human condition, all laid on top of a melodic, fast southern Californian hardcore punk sound. Bands like the Descendents, Adolescents and D.I. had done similar things before, but it was Bad Religion who perfected this sound. Songs from this album still make appearances in the bands live sets, and there's a very good reason for that. No Control is one of the very best US punk albums ever recorded.

'You' featured in Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2, and is a favourite amongst many, it's upbeat, high speed skate punk sound perfectly fitting the game.

Stand out songs:
- Big Bang
- I Want to Conquer the World
- Henchman

You can listen to 'No Control' on Spotify here.

Xeno Crisis for Dreamcast has gone gold!

Bitmap Bureau have announced via a Kickstarter update that the long-awaited Dreamcast version of their 16-bit styled, Alien-inspired shooter has finally gone gold! This means that the game has been finished and production is due to start imminently; and means it will undoubtedly join the line up of Dreamcast games heading our way in 2020. For the uninitiated, Xeno Crisis was a funded on Kickstarter back in 2018 and the Dreamcast version was added as a stretch goal alongside the standard Mega Drive, Switch, PS4 and Xbox releases; with a NEO-Geo port also on the way.
We've kept an eye on Xeno Crisis ever since it was announced, and several members of the team here at the Junkyard have played the game to death on other formats...but the wait for the Dreamcast version is almost finally over.

Mike Tucker of Bitmap Bureau says in his May 2020 update: 

"We’re sorry that this update has been delayed several times, but these updates often take a few days to put together and we thought we’d push on whilst the development of the Dreamcast version was going well, and the good news is that it has gone gold and has been sent for manufacturing! We’ve tested the gold build thoroughly on all of the Dreamcast variations we have, using a range of controllers and peripherals, and everything seems extremely solid - thanks in particular to Tom Charnock and Mike Phelan of The Dreamcast Junkyard for supplying us with various bits for testing."
- Mike Tucker, Bitmap Bureau

In the name of transparency, the various bits mentioned include an Ascii control pad and a Dreamcast Twin Stick controller, the latter of which can be seen in the video Mike posted on Kickstarter and YouTube:


Personally, I've only played the Switch version of Xeno Crisis so far, and it really is a corking retro style shooter. As alluded to earlier, it does lean heavily on the 'space marines kicking alien ass' tropes laid down in popular works of fiction we probably don't need to name check; and for that it should be applauded. It's a no-nonsense nostalgia trip, which takes you back to when games were hard as nails and there were no save points.
The premise is a simple one - enter the infested base, shoot alien scum in the head, rescue civilians and escape with your life. Power-ups and additional weapons can be collected along the way, and the stats of your chosen marine can be boosted between stages to help level the playing field when taking the fight to the xenomorph hoards and their huge end of level overlords. It's rollicking good fun and is tough as old boots...and that's part of the appeal.
The Dreamcast version in particular looks to make great use of the unique features of the system, with VMU screen logos (above), support for VGA monitors and the aforementioned Twin Stick and Ascii pad compatibility. It looks like we won't have long to wait until Xeno Crisis starts landing in GD-ROM trays around the world, and we'll be sure to give it a thorough play test here at the Junkyard when it hits.
Excited for another new Dreamcast title? Have you played Xeno Crisis on other formats? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

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Start your engines - a Dreamcast Test Drive Cycles prototype could be released soon!

The internet is still reeling from the epoch-making news that the long lost Dreamcast port of Heroes of Might & Magic III has finally been dumped, but the potential releases of lesser-spotted cancelled Dreamcast titles don't stop there. The same collector who released Heroes has now started a Go Fund Me in order to release Infogrames' canned motorcycle racer Test Drive Cycles.

As you can see from the footage uploaded to YouTube by FatalistDC (below), Test Drive Cycles for Dreamcast is barely a game in truth - there's only one playable course and it is very early, and is thus full of graphical glitches and bugs. That said, it's still cool to see yet another game dragged back out of the abyss and now tantalisingly close to being dumped online.


The story of Test Drive Cycles is a familiar one. It was released for the Game Boy Color as a full retail game, but the PlayStation, PC and Dreamcast versions were all scrapped in mid 2000 according to Wikipedia. No real reason is given, but it probably came down to money in the end - there's no evidence to suggest the Dreamcast would have had any issues playing what looks to be a fairly bog standard arcade racer; unlike with Heroes of Might & Magic III, which was apparently cancelled due to technical limitations of the Dreamcast hardware.
As a motorcylist in real life, I'm always keen to see any digital recreation of the act of riding bikes - especially so it they also involve the Dreamcast in some way. That said, the very early nature of Test Drive Cycles doesn't fill me with too much enthusiasm. It's doing some interesting things - I especially like the  rear view mirrors effect employed...but there just doesn't really seem to be a lot to do in this prototype as is (although the way the rider appears in various bizarre seating positions after a crash is probably worth the entry fee alone!).
The GoFundMe for the release of the Test Drive Cycles is set at a rather modest €160 and is similarly being run by Jan Baumgartner - the same man responsible for the Heroes of Might & Magic III campaign and also the awesome CF modded Dreamcast we reviewed a while back.

Are you intrigued by this Test Drive Cycles prototype? Willing to chuck some cash at the GoFundMe to get your hands on it? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Preview: Arcade Racing Legends

Announced back in June 2019 and successfully Kickstarted a month later in July, Arcade Racing Legends is a brand new Dreamcast title originally due for release at the end of 2019, but was subsequently delayed until later this year. My Dreamcast Junkyard colleague Mike Phelan wrote a great article documenting the initial project and what it’s all about, so rather than regurgitate that information I’ll direct you here if you want to know the background story for JoshProd and PixelHeart's Arcade Racing Legends.

It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of the racing genre, and nostalgic arcade racers have always been high on my list, so naturally I was quick to back the project in the hope it would turn into a reality. As a backer, one of the most recent perks offered was a downloadable demo, so I grabbed it and thought it would be a great opportunity to let you all know how the game is shaping up.
Graphically, Arcade Racing Legends ticks all the boxes. No, it isn’t a “realistic” setting like you might find in something like Tokyo Highway Challenge but the game screams 90’s arcade racer at you, which is literally the whole point of this release. A bold colourful palette, plenty of variety from one course to the next (there are three available in the demo: Arctic, Desert and Forest), and a lovely garage menu system meant I was very pleased with what my eyeballs were treated to. It certainly looks like a game that could’ve been released back in the day, and a beautiful one at that.

Handling-wise, I was pleasantly surprised. It was my most feared element of Arcade Racing Legends even when I originally backed the project. After watching a few videos of early footage, the car handling looked a bit suspect, but after getting some hands-on time with the demo I was thankful that your car doesn’t constantly feel like you’re driving on ice. It’s still a bit floaty, sure, but the developers seem to have found a good balance here and kept it feeling arcadey without it being too ridiculous. It's actually really enjoyable to play and - for me at least - feels better to play than some original arcade racers.
Available to try in the demo are Career and Time Trial modes. I headed straight to start my Career mode and was presented with a day by day set of challenges as you advance towards turning yourself into a “professional arcade racer”. The challenges do a great job of easing you into the game step by step. On day one, for example, you just have to drive to the goal without any time pressures, just to get a feeling for the car. Day two sees you tackle a different circuit, this time against the clock, in a race to the finish. Day three puts you in the daunting position of not being allowed to use your brake pedal and yet still complete the course within a set time, and so on. It's a nice way of building things up and adding a bit of variety.
Three different cars are available in the demo, all of which have basic tuning options affecting their overall performance on the track. Followers of the Kickstarter will know there are going to be a whole load of different cars in the full release, many of which are based on vehicles from classic Sega arcade driving games like Sega Rally and Crazy Taxi, which is one of my most anticipated things about playing the full version.
The one thing I think really hurts Arcade Racing Legends, from both a gameplay and visual perspective, is that the circuits are all blocked off on both sides by continuous rows of sponsor boards. It very much lessens the experience quite a bit as you’re never in a position where you can run wide, and a mistake is rarely punished as you can just ride along the walls with very little slowdown. It all feels, and looks, just a bit bland and very lazy.
Original screenshots from the Kickstarter showed a few tracks where these sponsor boards did not appear right next to the asphalt or racing surface itself, so I really hope the full release has some wider play areas - I’d go so far as to say it’s the most important thing that PixelHeart need to address between now and the final release. The game won’t have much replayability if it remains as-is, simply because the challenge of learning the layouts of the circuits just isn’t there with the current setup.

Despite this, I’m still really looking forward to the release of Arcade Racing Legends and getting stuck into the Career mode proper when the game does finally get released. The demo did a great job of easing my concerns about the handling, and I just hope they take feedback onboard around those pesky track barriers. If they do, this could be a genuinely enjoyable game to play frequently on Dreamcast in 2020.

For those who missed the original Kickstarter campaign, pre-orders are now available here.

How about you, are you going to pick this up? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.

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