A homebrew Dreamcast MIDI Interface Cable appears!

Source: Sega Retro

The Dreamcast is home to a number of fairly obscure peripherals and cables, all of which offer enhanced functionality when paired up with either a dedicated piece of software or a flux capacitor. Most of these weird and wonderful oddities were only ever released in the Dreamcast's native Japan, and as such have fallen even further into the abyss of esoterica; with one such item being the HKT-9200 Dreamcast MIDI Interface Cable.

Source: eBay

The Dreamcast MIDI Interface Cable essentially allows the more musically inclined amongst us to connect a device such as a microphone or keyboard (the musical kind, natch) to a Dreamcast. Coupled with the equally obscure O.to.i.Re MIDI Sequencer, it transforms the Dreamcast console into that sentient piano from that cartoon I can't remember the name of. Oswald? Oswald the Piano? No...that's not it. Just a sec.

Oscar's Orchestra! Remember that? No? Well anyway, it was a cartoon with a talking (and slightly horrific looking) piano that could fly as well for some reason (I think). Where was I? Oh yeah - Dreamcast MIDI cables. You could make music on a Dreamcast using a MIDI connector and a piece of software called O.to.i.Re. Here's a superbly translated description from the defunct Sega Japan catalogue page:

You can easily make music by selecting your favorite phrase from more than 3000 types of phrases and pasting it on the track. A completely new musical expression tool. By supporting DreamPassport2, you can attach save data and distribute it to the Internet. You can now share data between users. It's a work I made so much, so I want everyone to listen to it!

You can use a microphone device to convert Hanauta to MIDI data and input / output it as an instrument tone. You can also enter data from an external MIDI keyboard using the MIDI interface (sold separately). (Caution: This software can be used without a microphone device or MIDI interface.)

Naturally, because we live in this version of reality, Dreamcast MIDI shenanigans are now quite collectible (read: expensive), and not wanting to be left out of the burgeoning MIDI-authoring scene, a tech savvy gentleman by the name of Ben Ryves took it upon himself to go above and beyond the call of duty, creating his own fully working Dreamcast MIDI connector from scratch. Here's the video:


Pretty impressive stuff we're sure you'll agree. You can read the full breakdown of how Ben created his (very professional looking) cable at his website here - be prepared to be blown away by the level of detail the directions and schematics go into. Particularly impressive to me is the creation of a Dreamcast serial port connector from a donor PCI Express slot, which reminds me of the work of Luke Benstead and his quest to reverse engineer Dreamcast system link cables from old PC parts.




Personally I don't have a musical bone in my body outside of tapping my hands on the steering wheel when I'm sat in traffic listening to some classic My Chemical Romance or Daphne & Celeste; but for those out there who fancy creating some banging MIDI choons on your Dreamcast, this could be a game changer. Will you be utilising Ben's directions to fashion your own MIDI Interface Connector? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks to Ben for allowing us to use his video and images on here, and thanks to DCJY Discorder Daikath for alerting us. Another reason you should go and join our Discord!

Dreamcast Console Shells in 2021

As recently as 2018 we debated why, or more accurately if; there would be a market for third-party shells. And it would seem that finally there is 'a market' of sorts, in the sense that there are now at least 3 areas of purchase available should you want a shell in the great old year of 2021. 
With this I am obviously talking about various sellers on eBay rather than the retro section of your local Jimmy Games Emporium R Us or whatever stores are left these days, but there are now options out there if you want a new shell for your trusted Dreamcast and you aren't Kayne enough for the Dreamcase Metal shell.

Another Dreamcast Evangelion typing tutor is now playable in English!


He's only gone and done it again! Derek Pascarella has just released his fourth Dreamcast translation project of 2021. Previous efforts include Sakura Wars Columns 2 and Taxi 2, as well as Neon Genesis Evangelion -Typing E Keikaku-, which today's game is kind of a "sequel" too. That's right, Evangelion fans, dust your Dreamcast keyboard off once more and get typing: an English translation patch for Neon Genesis Evangelion - Typing Project Advanced has just dropped!

Pinched from Mike's @DreamcastPics Twitter account.

There's not been much reason for non-Japanese speaking Dreamcast fans to pick up this pretty impenetrable typing tutor since its release in 2001 (later in the same year as Typing E Kikaku) other than the fact it came bundled with a rather nifty fan and a cloth in a nice pretty box (pictured above). But basically, like its predecessor, it's a lot of fun typing mini-games that are Evangelion-themed - an anime series which is regarded as one of the best ever. And now it's playable to English speakers.


To play the game, Derek has supplied a patched GDI for those using an ODE (such as GDEMU/MODE) and a patched CDI for those who want to burn the game onto a CD-R. Also make sure you take a look through the release notes before you play the game. Links below:


While I'm still here, I just wanted to mention that we had Derek on the latest episode of the DreamPod podcast, along with Sakura Wars Columns 2 co-translator Burntends. It was a great episode, check it out!

Indie Dreamcast platformer Intrepid Izzy is up for pre-order!

Dreamcast indie darlings Senile Team, creators of the excellent Rush Rush Rally Racing, have just put up pre-orders for their upcoming Dreamcast release, Intrepid Izzy, a charming platformer complete with its own beat-em-up twist on the genre. Intrepid Izzy hit Kickstarter back in 2017 with a campaign that covered PC, Dreamcast and PS4 releases. The game released on Steam in July of last year, and now the Dreamcast version that we've all been eagerly awaiting for is imminent too! Senile Team are trying to aim for a release sometime in August, but it all depends on manufacturers and deliveries. Be sure to follow them on Twitter and watch out for a more concrete release date.

For those who didn't back the Kickstarter, but are looking to pick this game up, pre-orders are now live on two websites: UK-based WAVE game studios and Germany-based DragonBox for PAL and Japanese style box arts respectively. If you are living in the UK like myself, I'd recommend purchasing from WAVE, as DragonBox currently has a minimum purchase of €157 required to checkout for those living in the UK. Maybe something to do with the VAT stuff that came into effect in January? No idea. Obviously not throwing any shade at DragonBox, I've purchased some excellent stuff from there before, just want to make people aware before they get confused as to why they can't check out! WAVE also ships to the USA.
Senile Team provided us with some information on where the release is up to which is relevant to Kickstarter backers and fresh pre-orders alike:

Release-wise, we are very close indeed. The game and soundtrack CDs are now being manufactured, and are expected to reach us in July. But we still need a few other items to be manufactured before we can release the game, most notably the extras that make the [Kickstarter] Collector's Edition so ultra fancy.


So yeah, what are you waiting for? Go hit that pre-order button. Links below:


Disclaimer: we aren't sponsored by the developers in any way, we just want to support high-quality indie releases for Dreamcast!

Dee Dee Planet: Beta of Cancelled Dreamcast game Released Online!

Do you like ChuChu Rocket!? Of course you do. Anyone who has ever picked up a Dreamcast controller enjoys Sonic Team's insane grid-based space mouse puzzler. It's a classic, and for some, was an introduction into online console gaming. But not everyone is aware that ChuChu was actually supposed to be the first in a series of Dreamcast network-enabled games. The second game, Dee Dee Planet was actually completed by developer Dori Dock and ready to be released, but due to a bug in the online mode, was unfortunately cancelled at the last second. Ever since then, it has remained yet another intriguing mystery in the Dreamcast's (never-ending, it seems) legacy.

PC's photo of the GD-R. Nice Ultimate Collector's Guide in the background!

But thanks to the hard work of one of the Dreamcast scene's biggest stalwarts, and our good buddy, PCWzrd13, the final beta for the game has been found. PC spent a long time trying to find anyone who worked on Dee Dee Planet, and after a long search, was able to contact an individual in Japan (who won't be named for legal reasons) involved with the game. This person intended to send PC a GD-R containing the beta a year ago, but those plans were delayed due to the pandemic. But we're now a year on, and PC finally has the disc in his possession. And yes, it's been dumped online for you all to enjoy!

Sakura Wars Columns 2 has been Translated into English!

This year in Dreamcast has already been one for the books. The indie titles, the Easter eggs, the unearthing of massive franchise entries once thought to be lost. One of the biggest deals for me personally has been the current surge of translation projects gracing our favourite system. Just like House of Pain back in '92, Dreamcast translation fever is in effect, y'all. Outdated Hip-hop references aside, most recently, we've seen many patches released, with plenty more in the works (you can see a megathread of all of the upcoming projects here). One individual in particular, Derek Pascarella, has been particularly busy in the first quarter of this year, releasing translations of Neon Genesis Evangelion -Typing E Keikaku-, and the infamous French-exclusive Taxi 2. While the translations of those games were more of a solo effort on Derek's part, he decided to take it up a notch for his next project, so much so that he had to recruit the talents of a whole team. This brand new patch is an English translation of Japan-exclusive Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2. Derek was kind enough to send me some early builds of the translation prior to the public patch release, so thank you, Derek.

Released in 2000, Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 is the second instalment in a short-lived Columns spin-off series to the Sakura Wars franchise. For those not in the know, Sakura Wars (aka Sakura Taisen) is a Sega franchise that was ridiculously popular in Japan, where it remained exclusive for a very long time. The mainline entries in this series are known for their fantastic steampunk plots set in the Taishō period of Japan (with the plots of later entries finding their way to other countries), as well as a seamless combination of tactical RPG gameplay with visual novel sections, where building up relationships with members of your squad strengthens their morale in battle. If you want to read a bit more about Sakura Wars I've covered it on the blog twice now, with the most recent coverage being on the very good PS4 reboot that was released in April of last year. I've also chatted about it a little on the DreamPod too. 

At face value, Sakura Wars Columns (as the game's title was localised by Derek et al.) appears to simply be a Sakura Wars reskin of the classic Sega falling-block puzzler Columns, which probably saw its most prominent success as Sega's flagship puzzle game for the Mega Drive (or Genesis for you Americans!). But Sakura Wars Columns 2 stays true to the roots of its franchise, with story modes available in the game incorporating its signature visual novel/date sim-style gameplay in between blasts of gem stacking puzzle mayhem. All 12 characters of the Imperial Combat Revue's Flower Division have their own dedicated storylines (all of which are extremely charming - as is typical of the writing in Sakura Wars), as well as various strengths and weaknesses when it comes to column stacking. And with a tonne of different modes, unlockables and extra content, it's a really great package. I imagine Japanese gamers who picked this game up back in 2000 weren't disappointed, especially since it contained a network match service that allowed players to face off with each other online. These network capabilities have long since been retired, but let’s hope the release of this translation inspires the awesome peeps over at Dreamcast Live to restore them. Knowing them, they're probably already working on it.

Retrospective: European Super League

If you spend any time on the internet these days, especially perusing Dreamcast news sites, forums and discussion threads, you'll inevitably encounter the notion that the system was 'ahead of its time.' In some ways, this is probably true - the VMU, the myriad A/V connection types, Spirit of Speed 1937, the internet connectivity and online gaming in an era when it wasn’t really standard for consoles...I could go on. 

There's another example of the Dreamcast being ahead of its time though: European Super League. Yes, 20 years before the eponymous debacle that shook European club football to its foundations, the good old Dreamcast was predicting the future of the beautiful game. And in time honoured fashion, the Dreamcast's version of the European Super League was every bit as dodgy as the real-life iteration that appeared (briefly) in early 2021.

Before you spit your cornflakes out, I know European Super League was a multi-platform release...I'm just desperately trying to somehow craft a relevant introduction to a retrospective on what I consider to be a pretty turgid football game.

To give some context, we have mentioned the Dreamcast's relatively lacklustre complement of football (soccer) titles here in the past, but European Super League is one we haven't looked at in any real depth. In fact, I'm pretty sure the only summary we've ever published goes a little like this: it has 16 teams. There is no commentary. It is unplayable. It has graphics like a Master System game. Do me a favour.

But now we're taking a slightly more in-depth look. Cough. Lining up alongside the likes of Sega Worldwide Soccer 2000, Sega Worldwide Soccer 2000 Euro Edition, UEFA Striker, UEFA Dream Soccer, Virtua Striker 2 and 90 Minutes, European Super League completes a team of also-rans that would make even the ever-optimistic Ted Lasso weep; and while that may sound a little harsh - as some of those games are at least passable - not one of them comes close to recreating the fun or spectacle of contemporary footy games on competing platforms.

Upcoming Dreamcast Indie releases - 2021 and beyond!


We're quite lucky to be Dreamcast fans at the moment, living through what feels like a renaissance for the machine -  with Sega giving a little bit of merchandise love to the machine, a proliferation of hardware mods that allow access to older titles, full HDMI support, new controllers, a growing collection of Dreamcast related literature, ports of Atomiswave arcade titles, and an ever impressive indie library. There's a remarkable amount of activity around a machine which is approaching 23 years of age, and we here at the Junkyard are embracing it with a smile on our face, a VMU in our pocket, and a dwindling bank account as we welcome the second coming of our digital dream box. And long may it continue!

The year 2021 is set to be the biggest - by some way - year for indie releases in the systems history though. There is a quite staggering number of titles on their way - more than 30 by some counts - and a fairly large number of those will be in our hands sooner, rather than later. Whilst most of you will have already backed the titles you've seen, there's a good chance some may have slipped you by, or maybe you've just not been aware of the tremendous indie barrage about to assault the console. Fear not, for we're hopefully going to set that straight today.

Before we list all the indie titles on their way, we want to make a couple of observations. This list only includes titles that are set for a physical release. That will preclude some of the homebrew software being developed, and of course won't touch on any ports being developed. We're also not going to include anything which is *only* based on rumours. As you can imagine, we have heard several of these! Furthermore, expect some *big* announcements of titles in the coming months - we can't say anything about them at the moment (we're such teases), but this article will be updated as new titles are announced!

On with the list!

Alice Sisters

Published by JoshProd - set for release early 2021

The first of numerous JoshProd titles in this list, Alice Sisters is a follow up to previous indie platformer Alice's Mom's Rescue, a quite charming little game from prolific previous indie developer Orion. Like the original, this appears to be a 2D platformer, but with the interesting addition of co-op mechanics. Each player guides one of the sisters (or a single player can switch between them) through a promised 28 stages, each using different abilities to combat the games puzzles. 4 game modes are also promised, and screenshots show a charming, colourful world, very much in the style of Orion's previous titles.

A DC release was hinted at in the summer of 2019, but little was revealed for this cross-platform release (a Steam and Mega Drive/Genesis release are also on the cards), but the trailer dropped by JoshProd in February 2021 has the game running and looking as charmingly fun as I hoped it would. I'm looking forward to this one, a proven developer, a genre we've not seen much of, and an intriguing co-op mode which could be very enjoyable indeed.

You can pre-order the PAL version here, the US version here and the Japanese version here.
You can also download the PC version of the game from Orion's itch.io page here.

Andro Dunos 

Published by JoshProd - set for release September 2021

Whilst Pixelheart / JoshProd made a big deal about the release of a brand new sequel, going as far as presenting a special event on Youtube for it's launch, the pending release of the original Andro Dunos went a little under the radar. It's perhaps not surprising though that this early 90's horizontal shooter is making it's way to the Dreamcast. It'd been rumoured for months, the acquisition of Visco's library by the publishers made it an obvious choice, and for many DC players, they've been enjoying the game via emulation for some time anyway. A decent, colourful example of the genre, it's become a minor cult favourite with some fans, and certainly won't be out of place in the plentiful supply of indie shooters the system is home too. There are possibly a few issues regarding how the emulation (presuming it will be played via emulation, like other Neo Geo ports from JoshProd) will work, and it's own sequel is now taking much of the attention away from this release, but it's a welcome addition to the library.

You can pre-order the PAL version here, the US version here and the Japanese version here.

In White 1999: The Time D2's Laura Appeared as a Model in a Japanese Fashion Magazine

Kenji Eno seemed to look at game design differently to other developers. If you've played his major Dreamcast outing D2, you'll know exactly what I mean. He was always pushing the boundaries of what made a game a game. Something he very much championed was the idea of a 'digital actress.' It's a bit of an odd concept to explain, but perhaps the most modern equivalent we have is the likes of Hatsune Miku, a fictional character that has transcended her original source material (as the mascot for a piece of music software) to become a celebrity in her own right, crossing over into other forms of media, almost like she's following some kind of real world career path. 

Laura, created by Kenji Eno, was very similar. She's a familiar face we see in Eno's D trilogy, but in each game she 'plays' a completely different character, in the same way real-life actors play different roles in movies. In D, she is Laura Harris; in Enemy Zero, she is Laura Lewis; and in D2, she is Laura Parton. Despite sharing a similar-looking character model, they are all different characters who are involved in completely separate storylines.
Laura Harris (top left), Laura Lewis (bottom left), Laura Parton (right)

Being the creative genius he was, Kenji Eno's vision for Laura did not end at games. Prior to the release of D2 in Japan, Laura modelled clothes designed by Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto in the August 1999 issue (no. 268) of the Japanese fashion magazine High Fashion (or simply "HF"). Not only was she included within the issue's pages, she was featured slap-bang on the cover too. 

I can't imagine how stressful it must have been for many hard-working fashion models back in 1999 to have a precious front cover spot pinched from them by a 3D-rendered Dreamcast woman. Below are all the covers of High Fashion from January 1997 to December 1999 (source). Laura definitely stands out amongst the other mortals - a definite case of "one of these things is not like the others".
Video game characters modelling clothes isn't unheard of these days, though. In the last decade, we've seen Final Fantasy XIII-2's troupe of characters model a range for Prada in Summer 2012, while the game's main character Lightning did a virtual shoot for Louis Vuitton in 2016. But this photoshoot of Laura could potentially be one of the first instances of this odd concept to ever occur. 


I was so intrigued, I tracked down this issue with the promise to myself that I'd document it here for the enjoyment of all who love the more esoteric side of Dreamcast lore, and as an extension, the legacy of Kenji Eno and D2. So here we go. I present to you issue 268 of High Fashion magazine. Feel free to click on any of the scans if you want to view a larger version of them.

Demonic indie The Textorcist hits Dreamcast, special edition limited to 666 copies

The Textorcist was released on Steam back in 2019 and received some pretty high praise from the gaming press and players alike. A mash up of traditional top down RPG, bullet hell shmup and - naturally - typing tutor, Headup's offering is nothing if not original. Or bonkers. You decide.

Either way, you'll no doubt be aware that The Textorcist is now heading to the Dreamcast, courtesy of Gamefairy. The game will come in a choice of two different editions, with a standard editon and a special edition (limited to 666 copies - nice) both being available to preorder now.

The Textorcist casts the player as Ray Bibbia, a private exorcist who must traverse a tradional looking top down world, battling enemies using his bible and reciting prayers and spells while dodging bullets. The controls are the thing that intigues here though, as the game is primarily meant to be played with a keyboard. As the battles rage, the player types the spells as they appear on the screen.

We're always up for games that try to do something a bit different here at the Junkyard, and The Textorcist looks like it won't dissappoint. We're reliably informed that you can use the standard Dreamcast controller if you want to, but the keyboard should be used for maximum demonic thrills. Plus, if you screw up, throwing a keyboard across the room in a rage is way more satisfying than just lobbing a controller. Cough.

We spoke to the developers at Headup to ask what the inspiration was behind The Textorcist's bizarre combination of play styles, and why bring it to the Dreamcast?

"We wanted to recreate that exact feel from the horror movie "The Exorcist" where the task was simply to recite a spell but this was made nearly impossible because of all the barf and all sorts of things thrown at the priest. 

"The point was to clash two completely different activities, like typing and dodging and see where that would bring us. I'm amazed by how much players struggle and swear but learn some real Latin prayers and to blind type and get much better at the same time without noticing. This constant duality is present at some very different layers and creates a unique game feel that made us fall in love with the idea."

- Diego, Developer

"The minute we laid our hands on the very first PC version of The Textorcist, our brains just started swirling, shouting "Dreamcast! Typing of the Dead! Keyboard! Bullets!" We simply had to recreate this game for the best console ever released. It was unavoidable."

- Dieter, Headup CEO

Unavoidable indeed, Dieter. And a nice nod to The Typing of the Dead there. The standard edition of The Textorcist comes - as you'd expect - with just the game and manual, however the 666 copy limited edition boasts a music CD and a fancy embossed case. The game is expected to ship in April 2021, and you can snap up a copy for $29.99 (standard) or $39.99 (limited) over at Gamefairy now

No doubt we'll have a review up here once the game ships, and thanks to Julian at Gamefairy for putting us in touch with Diego and Dieter.

The Great MSR Missing Persons Poster Hunt - Part 2: We Found Them!

Some time ago - in September 2017 to be precise - we published a story here at the Junkyard about a lesser known mystery involving Metropolis Street Racer, something hitherto only known about by a very small number of people. During that period I was on a bit of an MSR streak, posting multiple articles about the game, so you'd be forgiven if you missed the post in question.

Titled 'The Great MSR Missing Persons Poster Hunt,' it told the story of a chap named Grant, who had been friends with one of the artists, Mark Sharratt, during the development of MSR. For convenience, here's what Grant told us back then:

The back story is that one of my best mates 'back in the day,' was a guy called Mark Sharratt. He was working for Bizarre Creations and was one of the lead artists for Metropolis Street Racer and even got to travel to San Francisco and Tokyo as part of research for the game. He took photos of my friend, brother and myself and then secretly scanned them into the game, uploading them into the game as 'missing persons' posters, of which two were hidden in San Francisco and one in Tokyo (if I remember correctly). 

As it is with most people, friends move and lose contact over time, so unfortunately I cannot get the exact locations of the posters. I think you would be the first person to point out the missing posters if you did include them in your story, as they have been a secret between friends ever since the game came out all those years ago.

Basically, Mark took photos of Grant, his brother and their friend (on a Gameboy Camera by the looks of things), turned them into fake 'Missing' posters and secretly placed the low res scans into the final version of MSR, presumably without permission or alerting anyone to their existence. We only knew the exact location of one of these elusive posters...until now, that is.

I must admit that I had been meaning to scour MSR even more than I already have over the past couple of decades to try to find the other two posters, but we literally had no clue as to where they could be squirrelled away within Metropolis Street Racer's sprawling labyrinthine courses (other than Grant's dim recollection that two were in San Francisco and one was in Tokyo); and I was fully expecting to have to go meticulously around every circuit in those locations, looking at every facade and down every alley in the hope of catching a glimpse of the infamous posters. Alas, it seems that somebody else has done at least some of the work for me, as a second Missing poster has now been found!

Yes, just as Grant alluded to, the second poster has been found in the San Francisco area...on the very same circuit as the first poster! Kudos for this discovery goes to Dan Murray, who contacted us on Twitter to let us know he had made the amazing discovery:

What's amazing to me is that I had already been around the same circuit (in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco, on the Gough North track) multiple times while searching for the initial poster found...so how I missed the other one I have no idea! Here's the poster and the locations of posters 1 and 2 on the map, along with a better shot of the first poster:

So yes - massive thanks to Dan Murray for reigniting this search. It gets better though, oh yes. While searching for the second poster that Dan had found on the very same circuit, I inadvertantly stumbled upon the third and final one too! It appears that the Tokyo link was a red herring after all, and Mark Sharratt had hidden all three of the Missing posters in the same place, and there they remained, hidden in plain sight for the best part of two decades! So here, we present to you the third and final Missing poster (and location), locked in time:

Due to the fact that I took these shots using the DCHDMI, we can now even make out the text under the mugshots, which reads 'last seen 31.12.99' which is the British date format (Bizarre Creations were based in Liverpool), and this all marries up with the fact that Mark Sharratt is listed as the artist responsible for the San Francisco environment in the MSR credits. Video of locations below:

What we'd love to see is the people in these photos (who must all be adults by now) recreate these poses for a new set of missing posters...we'll see what we can do! For now though, another Dreamcast mystery is solved, and there's nothing more satisying than that.

An artist's impression of a red herring.

What do you think? Is this one of the best Dreamcast Easter Eggs ever, or are there better ones still yet to be discovered? Let us know in the comments!


Related MSR themed articles:

Retrospective: Wetrix+

They are tricks. And they are wet. Wet tricks. Wetrix. See? It's taken me approximately 20 years to actually realise that's what the title Wetrix means. It is quite the revelation, I can tell you. Not quite as earth shattering as when I realised Project Gotham Racing was so called because it's a tongue in cheek nod to Metropolis Street Racer's eponymous fictional setting (Batman vs Superman began on Dreamcast, folks).

So Wetrix then. Or Wetrix+ as it is known on the Dreamcast. A sort of remaster of the Nintendo 64 game of the same name, which was developed by Zed Two and released in 1998. The original game does have a fairly interesting back story, with the Wikipedia page documenting that the title began life as a tech demo within in an entirely different project, demonstrating the Nintendo 64's ability to effectively simulate the properties of water. Alongside the stunning Wave Race 64, Wetrix clearly shows that you can never have too many games that show off just how wet your digital water looks.

But what is Wetrix+ though? Well, it's a puzzle game that involves the player manipulating the game 'board' by terraforming it into a series of lake beds and valleys. Bubbles of water then fall from the sky and fill these lakes; and the sole aim is to balance the amount of landmass and water in a state of equilibrium, amassing points the longer you can keep it all in harmony. Sounds fairly simple on the surface - and it is - but there are a number of things that are thrown into the mix to tip the scales against you.

See, as well as water falling from the sky, you'll also receive bombs which will blow holes in your board, meaning that water will escape off the sides and fall into the drain (represented by a meter at the side of the screen). You'll also receive flaming meteors which will burn off any water they come into contact with. Then there's the actual game pieces themselves which are a bit like Wetrix+s' equivalent of tetraminos.

These pieces (which come in an assortment of shapes) are what you use to raise and lower the terrain in order to create your lakes and valleys...however if the landmass becomes too much for the board to take, an earthquake will be initiated, destroying your carefully designed canals and oxbow lakes. Naturally, this means more opportunity for that pesky wet stuff to roll off the board, into the drain and shortening your game session. When that drain fills up, it's game over.

So you see, Wetrix+ is a game of balance, in more ways than one. You need to monitor how much land mass you're chucking onto the game board, how much water you're losing off the sides and through holes, and also be mindful of the various hazards reigning down from the heavens. Sounds like there's a lot going on - and there is - but in practice it's all fairly straight forward once you get your head around it.