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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.

Brand new 'The A to Z of Dreamcast Games - A Collector's Guide' incoming, including 'physical' version

We're having a bit of a book bonanza at the Junkyard this year! Not only are we helping to contribute towards Andrew Dickinson's Dreamcast: Year Two and fellow Junkyard member James Harvey's recently announced new project covering Dreamcast racing games, I can now confirm that this year will also see the release of the new and updated 'The A to Z of Dreamcast Games - A Collector's Guide'

A few years ago, I released a free downloadable guide, which proved quite popular - currently racking up around 7,000 downloads, it was an attempt to catalogue every single retail Dreamcast release from all regions (and independent releases as well), give a brief review of each title, and give collectors, or just the curious, a handy companion on their journey through the Dreamcast library.

Well, as promised all those years ago, an update is about to land - and this time, there's going to be a physical release too. A downloadable version, for free, will still be available in the future, but a limited number will be printed first and available to anyone who wishes to have a 516 page 'pocket' guide close at hand. Or propping a door open, or for whatever reason you wish, really.

So what's new this time around?

  • Updated and corrected release listings, including all new Indie releases up to (at least) April 2021. Now covering nearly 700 individual games, and around 1,900 different versions.
  • Covers included for each and every variant release around the world.
  • Revised collecting guides for each region and indie games. 
  • An updated 'upcoming games' section, listing all currently 'in development' titles.
  • Various 'boxout' sections throughout the guide, dealing with different areas of the wider Dreamcast collecting world, from regional oddities and budget releases, to homebrew games and translation projects.
  • Will include separate 'checklists' for each major collecting area - no need to deface the guide if you don't want to!
Now, I want to be clear about this right from the start - this is not a book full of pretty pictures or particularly insightful commentary on the history of the Dreamcast, neither are the reviews an in depth analysis of each game. This is instead more like a companion piece for a collector - a guide through the various different releases on the console, in a relatively concise format. If you've seen the last version of the guide (if you haven't, here's the announcement article and download link from a few years back) you'll know what to expect, and that will still be the basis for this new physical release. A downloadable version will be available, a short while after the printed release, and that will be, and remain, free.  

Due to the level of interest the first guide received, and all of the wonderfully positive comments, remarks and questions that I've received over the last 2 and a half years, a physical version of this guide seemed like the logical next step to take. How *exactly* we go about doing that, I've still not yet decided, with various possibilities out there - whether through a standard 'pre order' model, a crowd funding system or something else. This includes allowing the book to be sold via respected retro sellers. Whichever route that is decided upon, I am committed to keeping the price as low as possible, and the ethos of the printed version of this guide will remain a non-profit basis for myself. With that in mind, any excess money left over will be donated to some of the many fantastic community members out there keeping the Dreamcast alive with ports, homebrew and other projects. The guide is, however, fully written - with the exception of reviews for the next few incoming indie releases - so once the route we take to printing is confirmed, it will not be long before releasing. I'm looking to keep the cost of the printed version of the guide as low as possible - with the aim of it being no more than £20 before postage. 

Keep your eyes on the Dreamcast Junkyard for further news regarding the next stage of this project, which will hopefully be in mid April - with a hopeful release date of the print version of the guide by June at the latest! If anyone has any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to get in touch with me via all the usual forms of digital communication - but the easiest of all is to contact me on twitter (@space_turnip). I'd like to get a handle on how many people would be interested in a physical version, so don't hesitate in contacting me. 

Finally, my thanks to Lewis Cox, co-Junkyarder, who not only designed the fantastic new cover for the guide, but also did the mockups shown in this article and has been massively supportive throughout this entire endeavour.

Bokomu No Tatsujin Translation Project Released!

In my last article I talked about how I discovered a trailer for an unreleased horror game for the Dreamcast hidden within a game called Bokomu No Tatsujin. This is an obscure life sim that released with little to no fanfare in early 2002 by the equally unknown Fujicom Co, creators of only one other Dreamcast game: Bomber Hehhe!

I mentioned that I found said trailer by pure accident while poking around in the games files. The reason why I was doing so was because... I was in the middle of translating the game for a laugh?? I should probably explain how this new found hobby came about, despite actually having next to zero knowledge of Japanese!

Typing Jet: The lost Jet Set Radio game?

Recently I was perusing one of my favourite subreddits - r/lostmedia - and I came across a post from a user named u/step-ladder. The post was enquiring about a little known Jet Set Radio game that was developed for mobile phones back in 2001. The game, titled Typing Jet, was released as part of a collection of Sega spin offs for the Japanese J-Phone range of devices, and prior to reading this post on Reddit I was oblivious to Typing Jet's existence. The post also makes reference to a single image (below) that is available of Typing Jet online, and as someone who loves a good mystery, I needed to know more.

Typing Jet appears to be a rather simplistic typing game, in which the player types words in order to make the onscreen character (resembling JSR favourite Beat) trick over obstacles as they approach. Several other users had posted replies, but alas the question had remained unanswered - is Typing Jet really a lost game? Inspired, I used what scant information other users had posted and off I went, tumbling down what turned out to be something of a Wayback Machine sponsored rabbit hole.

Armed with the knowledge that Typing Jet had been released alongside a title called Ulala's Channel J and a variant of The Typing of the Dead on a service called Sega Parade, I first tried searching for that name, and was served up with the url www.segaparade.com/nz. It's a dead link, and the site is not stored on the Wayback Machine either. However, using the Google 'cached' feature and several variations of the url, I was able to surface quite a bit of information on the games released. Alas, none of the hits gave me the elusive Typing Jet.

At this point, it's probably worth discussing J-Phone. Indeed, J-Phone is an interesting topic in and of itself and could probably spawn an entire article were I so inclined to research and write such a thing, but I'll keep it fairly brief in this instance, just to give a bit of context (and because I'm in no way an expert on the topic!). In an nutshell, J-Phone was a mobile phone technology launched in Japan in the late 1990s which allowed compatible devices to connect to an online service similar to iMode - a sort of precursor to high speed mobile internet such as 3G. J-Phone enabled devices could access this service via a menu, and then through a portal exclusive games, email and other online options were all accessible. It is through this portal that the games referenced above could be played, for a monthly fee of several hundred Yen a piece. According to this article, linked to in the original r/lostmedia post, the price of Typing Jet was set at ¥200 per month (which is about £1.32/$1.84/€1.51 at the time of writing).

I mention all of this because my next port of call was the J-Phone website, the url for which I gleaned from a photo posted on the Ulala Channel J Fandom page. Further down the page, there is a shot of a promotional hand held fan with the J-Phone logo and url. As you can probably tell, Columbo ain't got sh*t on me. Again, using the Wayback Machine I perused the Japanese version of the site from around the time of the release of Typing Jet, but wasn't really able to find any mention of the game - only stuff relating the differing models of handset and references to Vodafone, Sha-Mail and things called J-Sky Photo and J-Sky Editor. Interesting, I'm sure you'll agree...but not really relevant to Typing Jet.

Trailer for unreleased horror game 'If It Happen' found!

'ello! Been a while since I wrote an article here hasn't it? Anywhoo, I have a video here that - as far as I know - has not been documented online before. Weirder, I actually found this video hidden within a released game! Check it out in all its 240p upscaled to HD glory! It's proper spoopy!

So where did I unearth this, I hear you ask? The game this trailer was found on is called Bokomu no Tatsujin, a quirky life sim created by Fujicom Co, who's only other released game on Dreamcast is the building topplin' sim Bomber Hehhe, which also has a trailer on this disc.

I plan to talk about Bokomu more in a future article, but to summarise there is a shop in this game that lets you purchase appliances for your home such as a computer, an air conditioner and - most importantly here - a television. Once you eventually pony up the cash for this TV you can view both the Bomber Hehhe and this horror game trailer on it.

It took me some time but I saved up enough cash to buy the telly...
...and this is how the trailer is displayed in-game. All squashed and rubbish.

Obviously the above is not a great way to watch the video so I directly extracted the TV.SFD file from Bokomu's GDI, which was thankfully at a proper 4:3 aspect ratio. This is how I actually discovered the video in the first place, rather than the technique described above, as I was digging through the files for reasons I will go in my upcoming Bokomu article. Oooh, intrigue!

Within the assets of the game there is this unused menu showing the two game trailers, where the game is listed as (roughly translated) 'Horror Short Stories', although that is likely to be a placeholder name.

I had a mooch around Fujicom's web archived website to see if there was any mention of the game but no dice. The only mentions of this games existence online is a IGN article from 5th June 2001 called 'New Dreamcast Titles revealed' which lists the game as 'If it Happens': the English text that appears at the start of the trailer, along with a list of other games that were cancelled such as 'Hamster Story' by Culture Brain, which was apparently a microphone compatible pet sim! Oo-er.

I also stumbled across this little snippet in an issue of Dorimaga magazine that is scanned and available on Sega Retro. Here is a very rough translation of what the article says:

"In this interactive adventure game, an old hotel on the outskirts of town has a new watchman. Inside, a mysterious story unfolds.  It's not just a building, it's a place of drama, fear, danger, and crazy scenarios."

All this evidence seems to point at 'If it Happens..' being the actual title of the game, as kind of broken English-y as that sounds. Apparently Fujicom also had a racing game in development for the Dreamcast called 'Top of the Formula Racing' (more wonderful broken English for you) that is also documented online in name only. A shame there wasn't a trailer for that hidden on Bokomu too!

New Dreamcast Indie release review - Drascula: The Vampire Strikes Back

It's shaping up to be a momentous year for the Dreamcast's already active indie scene, with (literally) dozens of titles on the horizon. After the unbridled success of titles such as Xenocider and Xeno Crisis (Indie games not beginning with X are available), and some very tasty offerings in the pipeline from JoshProd, Senile Team and Headup Games, there's never been a better time for the scene - and certainly, never a more active one. 

It wasn't a major surprise, then, when yet another title was announced for the console just weeks ago. Erbe Software, a Spanish publisher, started a Kickstarter campaign for a port of a 1990's point and click adventure, Mortadelo y Filemon, itself based off a popular Spanish comic. With a low goal, and the community's ever rabid desire to see more DC games, it sailed past its modest funding target and should be with us sometime later in the year. But this wasn't the first we'd heard of Erbe Software. Back in 2020, they announced a similar, rather unambitious Kickstarter campaign for a port of another 90's point and click adventure - Alcachofa Soft's Drascula: The Vampire Strikes Back. This too sailed through its meagre funding target, but little had been heard about it since the campaign. That is, until copies started being received by the modest number of backers, around the time of their latest Kickstarter.

The original PC cover for the game. If only we got this for the Dreamcast version...

Now we at the Junkyard didn't back the game. Whilst we're purveyors of all things 'Dreamcast', we have to admit it did pass us by. But new Dreamcast games, even ports of old PC adventure titles, are never a bad thing. Only, with Drascula, things did seem a little off. First, the original developers Alcachofa Soft had allowed the game to be distributed for a not-for-profit basis some years back. With the wonders of ScummVM, the emulator which makes these classic point and click adventures easier to run on more modern platforms, some Dreamcast owners would, no doubt, have been able to experience the games rather campy, cheesy comedic horror before. 

Now, this isn't unprecedented; Dreamcast owners who've dipped their toes into emulation may have seen a few examples of games being made available via that method some years ago, only for Indie publishers to release them as 'legitimate' releases some time after (Flashback, Captain Tomaday etc. etc.). There's nothing inherently wrong with this - if the rights holders can release the game officially, that's fair enough. But with information so scarce about this release, some did wonder whether this would be a 'bells and whistles' special packaged release, or simply a version of the ScummVM engine running the game. One of these, unfortunately, ended up being the case.

Thanks to friend of the Junkyard Chris Nunn, one of the few people who backed the game on its original campaign, we've managed to grab a hold of the game and...well, we've got some thoughts... 

Xenocider digital editions now available

Retro Sumus' superb sci-fi shooter Xenocrisis is now availible - indeed you probably saw our glowing review recenetly posted here at the Junkyard. In case you didn't, here's a link, and a succinct summary would proabably go a bit like this: it's one of the most technically impressive and highly polished indie games we've yet seen on the Dreamcast, and you owe it to yourself to get hold of a copy.

There's even more reason to get involved with Xenocider now though, as two digital only versions have recently been released via the Retro Sumus website. Priced at €15 for the standard digital edition and €20 for the deluxe digital edition (which also includes the fantastic OST and a digital game booklet), Dreamcast owners who prefer to play their games using a MODE, GDEMU or other such device can now grab either of these flavours and enjoy Xenocider totally disc free while still supporting the developers.

The whole topic of downloading roms onto SD cards and whatnot is a bit of a grey area when it comes to classic consoles, but it seems Retro Sumus have fully embraced the concept by offering their first Dreamcast release as a download, and this is commendable. It could also pave the way for other indie releases to be offered in a similar fashion in the future - selling a game digitally with zero shipping costs and at a reduced price point is always a positive in our book; and that you can now achieve this legally and still support the folks creating new games is a no brainer. 

On top of the digital editions now being available, the remaining stock of physical copies of Xenocider are now available with free shipping worldwide. There's not really any excuse not to give Xenocider a whirl now.

Check out the digital editions of Xenocider at the Retro Sumus website here.