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.