Reaperi Cycle Reappears With A Playable Demo

Remember Reaperi Cycle? We covered it back in 2018 and since then it's all been mysteriously quiet. Until now, that is. I won't lie - I thought Reaperi Cycle was nothing more than vapourware. How many other Dreamcast games have we seen come and go over the years? A flashy announcement, a teaser...then nothing. It's happened multiple times so forgive me if I'm a miserable old cynic. That doesn't appear to be the case with Reaperi Cycle though, as a fantastic playable demo has recently been released on itch.io.
The demo, which allows you to play the opening sequence of Reaperi Cycle casts you as the disembodied soul of the protagonist, mooching around a mysterious study trying to unlock the secrets of a strange floating cube. The demo is offered as a .cdi file that can be played either in an emulator or burnt to a CD and played in an actual Dreamcast console. It's advised that you employ the latter method of sampling this delightfully curious little demo though, as there's nothing better than seeing a brand new game playing on the old warhorse in the year 2020.
Taking the form of a point and click adventure, you initially control the ghostly form of said protagonist, but because you have no physical body you are only able to glance at hints that are already presented to you - no opening of books or sealed scrolls. It's a nice touch. Also, the atmosphere afforded the game through the poignant background music and the incredibly esoteric clues should be applauded. Visually, the world (what I've seen of it) looks lovingly built, full of little details and lots of references to the dark arts and ancient magic - a tone that's right up my street. From the Reaperi Cycle itch.io site:

"Reaperi Cycle is a SEGA Dreamcast game filled with alchemical knowledge, old tales and mystical symbols. It's the hidden path in the forest, seen by very few. Are you one of them?  


"You find yourself as a spirit, devoided of a physical body. As you try to recover your original form, you'll meet with an old magician who is willing to help you, in exchange of a few favors. Don't waste any time! The earth spins around the sun and the phenix will appear, once again, whether you're ready or not!"

The environments appear to be using nicely modelled sprites laid on top of some well drawn 2D backdrops - it creates a visually appealing style, quite reminiscent of SNES-era RPGs. In terms of actually playing the demo, there's very little hand holding and I must admit I was left stumped at times. This is a truly cerebral experience, make no mistake. And to be honest, it's actually quite refreshing in this day and age.
The Reaperi Cycle demo - titled The Guild Hideout - is available via itch.io now, and while there's no set price, you can pay what you like for the developer's work. Going from what I've played so far, Reaperi Cycle could be a really interesting new release for the Dreamcast, and we'll be keeping an eye on it after this stellar playable demo.
Find out more about Reaperi Cycle at itch.io. Have you played the demo? What do you think? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

5 Dreamcast Racers Which Didn't Quite Make the Podium

There is no shortage of 'best racing games' lists for the Dreamcast - a system which had some of the most critically acclaimed racing games of the early 00’s. Everyone knows just how good Dreamcast classics like Metropolis Street Racer, Daytona USA, Sega Rally and Ferrari F355 Challenge were. Absolutely fantastic driving games that really did move the genre forward in their own way, and games that as a Dreamcast fan reading this article, you’ve probably spent many hours playing.

As you should know by now, here at the Junkyard we like to think outside of the box a little. So here we go, then. In no particular order, I present to you my alternative top five Dreamcast racers that you might not have played yet:

Tokyo Highway Challenge / Tokyo Extreme Racer
Released for the PAL launch (and confusingly called something different in every territory - Tokyo Extreme Racer and Shutokou Battle in the US and Japan respectively), Tokyo Highway Challenge is a game that I rented plenty of times when I was younger and have since put many hours into. I think it’s one of the most underrated racing games on the system and thanks to its evening setting, it still looks fantastic when played today in a smooth 60fps.
Tokyo Highway Challenge sees us buying cars, tuning them up and taking to the Japanese highways to challenge other hoons in a race for cash. Each other driver belongs to a gang, and when you’ve beaten all drivers in a particular gang, you get to face off against their leader.
It’s all a bit like a 'racing fighting game' where all races are 1v1 and you have an energy bar at the top of the screen. Whoever is behind on the road starts to see their energy bar deplete, ticking down faster as the gap between first and second increases. A simple concept but a refreshing one for those who don’t want to race lap after lap.
The biggest criticism of the game is a well noted one - just one 'track,' which itself isn’t particularly big, even though you do get the option of racing in either direction around the highway loop. Nevertheless, the tuning and upgrade system is fantastic and an essential part of the game. As you get further in, your tuning skills will make the difference between winning battles or not, regardless of how well you can drive!

TR Fight Stick Opens 'Dreamcase' Metal Shell Pre-Orders

Cast your mind back to November 2018 and you may recall an article here at the Junkyard about a custom Dreamcast shell being designed by TR Fight Stick. Fast forward to February 2020 and you can now pre-order said custom shell. Named Dreamcase, the case allows you to take the innards from your favourite console and plonk them inside a metal prison that claims to keep the contents at a perfect operating temperature courtesy of a silent fan.
It's worth bearing in mind that your Dreamcast needs to have been modded with a GDEMU or similar device before stuffing it inside the Dreamcase, as there's no way to play GDs once the shell replacement has been completed. Well, without taking the lid off again...which defeats the object somewhat.
The design will probably divide opinion as it makes the Dreamcast look more like a small form PC than an actual Dreamcast, but for those who want to give their console the ultimate visual makeover, this could be just what you are looking for. Some of the info listed on the TR Fight Stick website includes:

  • Blue Backlight (Homogeneous)
  • Compatible with GDEMU and DCHDMI
  • New Technology DC 12V Mini Power Supply
  • Extender PCB for SD-Card 
  • Game Swap Button for GDEMU
  • Compatible with 56K Modem and DreamPİ
  • 40MM Silent Fan ( Noctua Supported ) 
  • Not Supporting original GD-ROM nor USB-GDROM 
  • Metal Sticker with Serial Number for Each Case
It looks as though TR Fight Stick will need pre-order numbers to reach 100 units before they can go ahead with mass production (each unit costs $149.99 plus shipping and comes without a power supply), so time will tell if there is enough demand for the Dreamcase to become a reality. Check out the Dreamcase at the TR Fight Stick website.
Credit for this news snippet goes to my DCJY colleague Martin, who discovered this while Googling for Fight Stick parts. So what do you think? Will you be taking the plunge and splashing out 150 big ones? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Book Review: Dreamcast: Year One

Full disclosure before I begin this review: I - and other members of the Junkyard team - backed this book on Kickstarter. I was interviewed in the book and also did some fact checking. That said, I wasn't paid and stand to gain no financial reward for any of this. Now thats sorted, on with the review.
Dreamcast: Year One backers also get a cool little sticker to go with the book
The popularity of books exploring every corner of the gaming landscape shows no sign of being on the wane, and the latest crowdfunded offering is now plopping through letterboxes around the globe. Dreamcast: Year One is the third book in the 2 Old 4 Gaming template after the superb Sony PlayStation Vita: Year One and Years Two & Three, written by Sandeep Rai. This latest Dreamcast-flavoured tome was written by long-time Dreamcast fan Andrew Dickinson (founder of the Dreamcast Years podcast and website) and successfully Kickstarted back in April 2019.


Now that the book is finally here, how does it stack up against the competition? Quite well, actually. And the main unique selling point Dreamcast: Year One has over the other recent releases is that it focusses primarily on the UK release of the console. As someone who resides in the UK and saw the release first hand on this fair isle, the perspective is one that struck a chord with me on a personal level and so I was naturally intrigued by the premise.
The artwork is truly sublime throughout
As alluded to earlier, I was interviewed by Andrew for Dreamcast: Year One, and was asked about my history with the Dreamcast and also the story behind the creation of this very blog and the community surrounding it. For that alone I am grateful, as it allowed me to share my own experiences as just a normal random bloke who somehow found a niche with a blog about a failed Sega console. But enough about me.
OK...maybe a little bit more about me
Dreamcast: Year One opens with a fairly intricate deep dive on the history of the Dreamcast, going all the way back to the 16-bit era, the Sega Saturn story and the development of the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation. The introductory chapters are about as comprehensive as you could get if you're a newcomer to the Dreamcast and wanted to educate yourself on the story so far. Particular highlights for me include the section on the Sega New Challenge Conference in 1998 - something which fascinates me still to this day, such is my obsession with the Dreamcast tech demos that were showcased during that event.

Real Racer IX: Cancelled Game or Student Assignment?

I was browsing the hellscape of Reddit the other day, looking for something to frustrate me, when I found a rather interesting photo featuring demo footage of an unreleased Dreamcast game called Real Racer IX. Despite being tangled up in the antics of the Junkyard, I'd never heard of it. Not even a murmur. Real Racer IX never saw any kind of release, whether it be official or unofficial. All we have is the photograph below to serve as evidence of its existence.
This photo was taken during the Spring Tokyo Game Show of 2001, which was held from the 30th of March to the 1st of April. It shows a chap doing his best Wesley Snipes impression in a trendy leather jacket, as he plays the demo of Real Racer IX. Next to him, a much smarter-looking guy is watching him play. Obviously the assumption here is that the guy on the right was probably someone who had some kind of involvement with the development of the game, and was overseeing the demo booth. The game itself, like its name suggests, is a racing game, appearing to be of the long-distance running variety.
The gameplay onscreen shows a female athlete running down what looks like the longest, loneliest highway in existence. Despite the woman being the only runner on screen, the HUD shows a position counter of 6 out of 6, meaning there was bound to be a mob of computer opponents lurking somewhere around the corner ahead. The guy playing was probably just a bit rubbish.
Doing a reverse image search on the photo in question, I was led to one result: this old article on a Japanese gaming website called "Game Watch", detailing the Tokyo Game Show of Spring 2001. Browsing through, there's some bits about presentations from Nintendo (showing off the upcoming Game Boy Advance!), as well as Capcom and Konami, and it appears that Microsoft were gearing up to unleash their first ever game console into the Japanese video game market, with what looked like a pretty heavy advertising campaign, featuring Bill Gates holding a Burger in one hand and an Xbox controller in the other. This can be seen in the photo below, trapped under the most unphotogenic bowl of Ramen I've ever seen.
Relegated to the end of the article, is the only bit of Dreamcast-related information, and that is where we find the photo that prompted this entire search...

Using Google's Translate App To Play Japanese Dreamcast Games

A few years ago, our man in Japan Ross O'Reilly went to the trouble of researching which Dreamcast games might best be utilised when trying to learn how to speak/read Japanese. And a thoroughly entertaining and educational article it is too. However, being a typical lazy English lout, I have no desire to bother learning how to speak another language. I just shout very loudly in English whenever I go on holiday. Usually while not wearing a shirt, and having previously drunk at least 7 pints of suspiciously cheap lager. But I digress.
Harnessing the sheer power of technology and questionable privacy controls, I recently discovered that the Google Translate app on my phone has the ability to 'live translate' any text the camera may be pointed at. Slowly putting two and two together, I deduced that by pointing my phone at any Japanese text displayed on my TV screen, I might well be able to finally play through some of the impenetrable Japanese Dreamcast titles I have in my possession.
Naturally, this would work for games in any supported language, and on any platform, but for the purposes of making this nonsense vaguely Dreamcast related I'm using Dreamcast games. How did I get on? Let's find out...

Retro Fighters StrikerDC Controller Pre-Orders Open

The best Dreamcast controller the world has ever seen. That's the bold claim made by Retro Fighters of its upcoming StrikerDC controller. Will this hubris come back to bite Retro Fighters on the arse? Yes. That's because everyone knows the best Dreamcast controllers were made by Mad Catz, were the size of a dinner plate and had triggers that rattled and/or cut your fingers. That's academic though, because Mad Catz is dead; and Retro Fighters are the new kids on the block. Oh, and the StrikerDC is available to pre-order now.
We've followed the StrikerDC's journey from Kickstarter to reality here at the Junkyard, and this latest offering looks set to follow in the footsteps of the previous hardware releases from the company that claims to 'fight for retro.' Personally, I've never held a pad from Retro Fighters, but all signs point to previous peripherals released for the Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn and NES being pretty sturdy, well built bits of kit.

It's a bone of contention when it comes to the Dreamcast, but I didn't find the original HKT-7700 controller to be anything other than perfectly functional (and still don't), but for those who demand a modern take on the Dreamcast's primary peripheral, the StrikerDC promises a new ergonomic design, full compatibility with VMUs, rumble packs and microphones; along with new a analogue stick, d-pad, familiar analogue triggers and additional digital shoulder buttons.


The StrikerDC comes pre-packaged with a 12 month warranty, and is now available for the general public to pre-order at the not insignificant price point of $49.99 from the Retro Fighters website. Shipping is expected to commence in April 2020. Several members of the Junkyard team did actually back the StrikerDC on Kickstarter so you can expect a review as soon as they receive the final product in their gnarled, tobacco-stained claws.

Have you pre-ordered one? Did you back the StrikerDC? Do you own one of the other controllers from Retro Fighters? What do you think of the price? Am I asking too many questions in this last bit? Let us know down below in the comments.

New Dreamcast Games Coming In 2020

It's 2020 - hurrah! We made it all the way to another decade as a fully functioning species on this so very fragile planet we call home. But enough about that communist nonsense. You came here to read about the greatest home console released in 1998 and then again in 1999, and more specifically new vidya gaemz set to be released on said ageing hardware at the dawn of this new decade. I realise that last sentence is really quite cumbersome and uncomfortable to read, and if I were a proper 'games journo' I'd probably restructure it and make it a bit easier to mentally digest. But I'm not a proper games journo, and besides, if I were I wouldn't be writing about something as idiotic as games; I'd be on social media posting the hottest of takes and having arguments with random people about Star Wars and politics. But I digress.
So here we are then. The Dreamcast has celebrated its twentieth year as a thing (or twenty first, if you happen to live in Japan), and yet we are still looking at even more brand new software releases over the next 12 months. Granted, the steady stream of releases is slowing somewhat, but that the Dreamcast community still has new titles to look forward to is nothing short of amazing. And we aren't talking about homebrew releases either (not that there's anything wrong with homebrew, of course). We're talking proper, boxed retail releases with manuals and cases and discs and everything. Will the Dreamcast enjoy more physical releases than the Nintendo Switch this year? Only time will tell, but here's a hint: it won't. But again, I digress.

Enough of this pointless preamble. Here's a brief run down of all the games we know of (so far) that are heading to a Dreamcast GD-ROM drive near you in 2020...

Xeno Crisis (Bitmap Bureau)
Xeno Crisis wowed gamers on both the Mega Drive and modern platforms when it released in late 2019. Bitmap Bureau's successful Kickstarter campaign resulted in this rather brilliant homage to retro shooters like Smash TV bringing some proper old-skool top-down arcade action back to TV (and Switch) screens, and the Dreamcast version was added as a stretch goal. Luckily, enough people wanted a version for Sega's old warhorse that this became a reality and Xeno Crisis is set to hit the Dreamcast some time in early 2020.
There's no definite release date as yet, but Bitmap Bureau assures us that it is coming along nicely and everything is up and running on actual Dreamcast hardware, and there's even going to be support for the Dreamcast Twin Stick. Which is good news for all nine people who own one. I have played the Switch version of the game and I must say that it is a really enjoyable and polished homage to the shooters of yesteryear, with some great humour and nods to the sci-fi movies it clearly takes inspiration from.

Visit the Bitmap Bureau website for more information.

Arcade Racing Legends (PixelHeart)
The second fully 3D indie racing game to hit the Dreamcast after 2017's rather impressive 4x4 Jam, Arcade Racing Legends looks to pay respects to some of the most iconic vehicles from Sega's arcade heritage and bring them all together in one place. It's a nice idea, and one I'm surprised Sega hasn't capitalised on itself. What this means is that you can pit the iconic vehicles from Daytona (Hornet), Sega Rally (Lancia Delta and Toyota Celica), Scud Race (Porsche), Crazy Taxi (Axel's Cadillac) and other well known franchises against each other across a range of original tracks.
Like most of the other titles listed here, Arcade Racing Legends is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign (my colleague Mike Phelan wrote an impressively detailed article about this here), and while the campaign page states that the game would ship in December 2019, this doesn't appear to have happened just yet. As a big fan of racing games, I'm hopeful that Arcade Racing Legends will live up to the promise, and add a new dimension to the stable of indie titles coming in 2020.

Visit the Arcade Racing Legends Kickstarter campaign for more information.

Intrepid Izzy (Senile Team)
With such iconic titles as Beats of Rage and Rush Rush Rally Racing already in their portfolio, you'd be daft not to have high hopes for Senile Team's latest Dreamcast offering Intrepid Izzy. The action platformer looks like a playable cartoon, with some very clean character designs and inventive gameplay elements. You play as the titular Izzy, ass-kicking her way through a number of 2D platform stages and engaging in light RPG elements. There's also a pretty cool move list implemented, meaning that traditional commands for executing fireballs and special attacks are seamlessly integrated into proceedings.
I've already had the pleasure of playing a demo version of Intrepid Izzy on the Dreamcast, and I really liked what I saw. Tight controls, great visuals, infectious music...all the right ingredients for another Dreamcast success methinks. Senile Team released an update on Kickstarter in late December 2019, in which it was revealed that the game will be entering testing very soon with a PC release to follow. There's no concrete date for the Dreamcast and PS4 versions, but rest assured they will both launch in 2020 and hopefully continue Senile Team's run of excellence on Sega's platform.

Visit the Intrepid Izzy website for more information.