<-- -!>

Featured Article

I mode! You mode! We all mode for i-mode!

I want you to take a little trip with me down repressed memory lane. Cast your mind back. It's 2001. Everyone keeps telling you the Dreamcast is dead, but you're not having any of it. There are AAA titles still to come on the horizon, Dreamcast Magazine is still on the newsstand (barely), and you've got an eye on Lik Sang and Play-Asia for some exclusive import goodness. You're a true believer and you're not jumping the Sega ship yet (or ever). 

But you have a problem. You can't stay tethered to your 15" CRT TV and curled up against the warmth of your precious blue swirl baby. You have to leave the house. You have stupid lectures to attend, and that interminable bus ride awaits. If only there was some kind of portable Sega device you could take with you to while away the drudgery of public transport.

You look to your shiny new Neo Geo Pocket Color, but it's just not Sega enough for you today. You look to your forlorn and dust-covered Game Gear lying under a pile of socks in the back corner. Those capacitors have blown and leaked and it's never coming back to life. In desperation, you fish out the VMU from your Dreamcast controller, but the batteries are dead and there's only so much of Voldo's Volleyball minigame you can take. Out of options, you trudge out into the gloom, resigned to your terrible fate. 

Meanwhile, in Japan...

In June 2001, Sharp released a new generation "J-Phone" - the J-SH07. It was the first J-Phone to be compatible with Java applets, and it also came bundled with Ulala from Space Channel 5 as a kind of virtual pet / avatar on the device.

The more you used your phone, the better your "rating" gets, and as a reward, Ulala dances for you and sometimes changes costumes. You could download more Space Channel 5 related goodies from the "Ulala no Channel J" service.

Watch the Sega shareholder meeting that ended the Dreamcast

I'm sure most of you who have even a passing interest in the history of the Dreamcast will have seen the numerous videos of the Sega New Challenge Conference 1998; during which Sega's final console was first revealed to the world. Obviously, at the time nobody knew the Dreamcast would be the ultimate entrant in Sega's home console hardware catalogue, but c'est la vie innit bruv.

What - I'll wager - most people haven't seen, is the bookending 'Structural Reform Plan Briefing Session, Sega Co. Ltd' meeting held on January 31 2001 during which the Dreamcast's short life was extinguished, and Sega repositioned itself as a software pubisher. I know I certainly hadn't - until now. To be honest I didn't even know a recording of the meeting existed online, not in the public domain anyway, but it seems one savvy YouTuber captured the live feed and subsequently posted it to his channel:


As you'll see from the upload date, Dave Freeman posted this to his YouTube channel back in 2015 and states in the description that he captured it himself from a live feed; and judging from the number of views (around 5000 at the time of writing) not a great number of people have seen this. Through the power of modern technology (well, YouTube) it's now possible to add auto-generated English - or indeed any other language - subtitles to the video so it is fairly easy to grasp what is being said if you don't speak Japanese. To do this, activate closed captions and then select the little settings cog, click on Japanese (auto generated) and from the next menu select Auto-translate. It will then present you with a scrollable list of supported languages.

Anyhow, I stumbled upon this while searching for something else entirely unreleated and thought it was worth sharing here. As ever, apologies if this is old news but I found it quite fascinating. Dave - if you are reading this I tried to find a way to contact you but couldn't - but rest assured, this recording is of historical significance so you were totally right to archive this shareholder meeting for posterity.

Preview: Non Casual Encounter - Prologue

Non Casual Encounter (or, if you prefer, Encuentro No Casual in its native Spanish) is a brand new visual novel for Dreamcast. Developed by SEGASaturno Productions, the game is set for a full physical release in 2022; and we have been given an exclusive preview of the game's 'Prologue' chapter, hence the title Non Casual Encounter - Prologue. Confused yet? I know I am...and I'm the one typing these words.

If the name SEGASaturno Productions seems familiar, it's because this is the same indie studio that brought us the quirky Dreamcastnoid: 128 Bit Wars a few years back - you know, the Arkanoid clone where you had to smash PlayStation 2 consoles and which came on a miniature CD in a tiny case? Yep, that one. Non Casual Encounter is the follow up release from the veteran Spanish outfit - which incidentally is aligned with the popular Spanish language forum SEGASaturno - and the Prologue is a teaser for what is to come in the final game.

A couple of things to mention up top. First - this game represents *gasp!* the first time in my life I have ever played a visual novel, so I go into this blind. I know the Dreamcast has a glut of this type of game (check out DreamPod Episode 73: Visual Novels for a deep dive) but somehow I have simply never attempted to play one. Second - thanks go to Alfonso Martínez González from SEGASaturno Productions for deeming us worthy enough to test this sample of his new game. As he explains, the Prologue will be available as a physical release and will launch around Christmas 2021, with the full Non Casual Encounter releasing in 2022.

As this is a prologue to the final game, the main reason for its existence is to explain what players can expect in the full release of Non Casual Encounter, and honestly, it hits that target rather well. From the very start the sense of humour and self aware, fourth wall breaking dialogue is very well done, and even with the somewhat stilted English translation it is still easy to appreciate the tone. The game knows that it is a visual novel and pokes fun at the genre, inviting you in once instance for example, to ask a character about the lack of music. Complaining about this lack of ambience prompts the narrator to command the Dreamcast to start playing music from the game CD.

In another sequence a bizarre noise starts repeating and I wasn't sure if it was a glitch or something wrong with the game, until the character you're conversing with mentions the noise and explains how to make it stop. It's all very Eternal Darkness, and I really appreciate this type of humour. I don't want to give too much away as there really isn't a great deal of game here - it is after all a prologue - but what there is is certainly entertaining. True, there's not a lot of variety in the gameplay - simply reading the text, pressing A and occasionally choosing between different response options won't be everybody's cup of tea - but from what I have seen so far in this ~20 minute long prologue (with a few additional surprises for those who can unlock them) I am very much looking forward to what becomes of Non Casual Encounter's full fat release in 2022.

Non Casual Encounter - Prologue is likely to be released (physically, on a disc pesented in a cardboard sleeve) around Christmas 2021 for a budget price in order to whet peoples' appetite for the full game. We'll be keeping an eye on this cleverly written little adventure, and no doubt have a full review once it is released.

Keep an eye out on SEGASaturno for more information in the near future.

Previously unseen prototype Dreamcast logo discovered

We do love a bit of internet archaeology here at the Junkyard, and this little snippet of news has 'digital Lara Croft' written all over it. Reddit user u/LeFaggo recently posted the image above to the r/Dreamcast thread, along with a link to the original source - the Japanese Patent Office.

Could this be a hitherto unknown prototype of the Dreamcast swirl we all know and love? The discussion in the thread points out that this mysterious trademark was actually filed after the familiar Dreamcast swirl that made its way onto the final console design; but it is also noted that sometimes trademarks are filed weeks or months after their creation just to keep them in the system, so to speak.

Either way, it is an interesting glimpse at what could have been. Rather surprisingly, this image doesn't appear anywhere in the excellent Sega Dreamcast: Collected Works by Read-Only Memories. Surprising because the authors had full access to Sega's own internal archive; and the book features many concept images for the Dreamcast's shell design. Perhaps this prototype trademark was filed way back in 1998 and simply forgotten about, hidden in plain sight for over 20 years.

Thanks go to Rich from Dreamcast Years, who then alerted my my colleague Andrew Dickinson to this, who in turn WhatsApped me while I was trying to light a bonfire. Oh, and thanks of course to the ever alert r/Dreamcast community for another excellent and intriguing discovery.

Paprium, Tunnels, Intrepid Izzy, Nakoruru, Shadow Gangs, SEGA Powered - Dreamcast news round-up November 2021

Oh hi there. It's been a bit of a busy few weeks hasn't it? The petrol thing seems to be over (for now) but that hasn't stopped all manner of interesting things occuring in the world of Dreamcast...and as you'll no doubt be able to tell from the title of this post, I thought it would be convenient to simply put all of these news snippets together into one post here at the Junkyard, so here it is. A bit like that infoburst you used to get at the end of Bad Influence, but in text form. Bad Influence? No? Never mind. So what's been cracking then? Quite a bit actually...


Oh 'eck, Paprium is coming to Dreamcast!

Yes, everyone's favourite 16-bit Kickstarted ode to Streets of Rage, Paprium, is now coming to Dreamcast thanks to a new stretch goal reached as part of the 'next gen' campaign. Developed by Dreamcast stalwarts Watermelon, Paprium was released for the Mega Drive / Genesis back in 2020 to much critical acclaim and an equal amount of backlash for various reasons I won't delve into here. As a side note, I always thought it a bit odd that there was no Dreamcast version as part of the original campaign, synonymous with the console as Watermelon is after the success of Pier Solar. 

That puzzlement has now been put to bed though, with the Dreamcast being lovingly included as a stretch goal in the latest resurrection of the original Kickstarter campaign to bring the game to...er...modern consoles. The Dreamcast version will apparently be a little unique according to the blurb on the campaign page, which is never a bad thing:

NEW ADD-ON! PAPRIUM is also coming to the SEGA Dreamcast! 6 years after Pier Solar HD, this is to be the second Dreamcast Release by WM! This version of the game is different, in-between the 16-BIT release and the STEAM/PS4/5 release, it boast some exclusive things and take full advantage of the Dreamcast features such as VMU and a 3 player mode without the need for a multitap (of course)! Please note the game is in 4/3 ratio (just like the 16-BIT edition of the game). 

- Paprium Kickstarter

Will Watermelon shit the bed once again with this new release? I really do hope so - we all love a bit of drama. And since I've backed the Dreamcast version, it'll give me something to moan about when it inevitably ships late or gets cancelled. Anyway, check out the Kickstarter campaign here, and get ready to pap. Not even sure what that means. Onwards!


DreamPi creator Luke Benstead is digging Tunnels!

Not actual tunnels, you understand. But I'm sure Luke (aka Kazade) and his development partner David Reichelt are at least as handy with a shovel or a JCB as they are with a Dreamcast. What am I blathering about? You may recall we recently featured news about Simulant, a game engine created with Dreamcast indie development as its raison d'être. As a timely Halloween treat, Luke and David have released a promising Simulant-based demo titled Tunnels which sees players traverse a network of dingy caverns (or, um, tunnels) brandishing what looks like Gordon Freeman's property for protection. Here's a video:

Tunnels is fully playable on stock Dreamcast hardware and it looks like a promising little demo considering how quickly it was put together. From the Simulant development blog: 

Tunnels is a mini-demo of the Simulant engine. It's been written over the past three weeks as a demonstration of what Simulant allows you to do in very little time. Both Luke and David have day jobs, and this has been developed in their spare time - probably an hour a day each at most - and a good majority of that time was spent improving Simulant itself!

Along the way flaws were discovered in Simulant and many were fixed, others will be fixed later. Some planned features were dropped due to limited time, but may reappear at some point. In the future we'll use Tunnels as a test bed for new Simulant features, and as a regression test.

- Simulant Dev Blog

You can grab the demo from the Tunnels itch.io page here and follow the development of Simulant on the blog. Oh, and listen to DreamPod episode 80 if you want to know more about Simulant and the history of the engine.


Intrepid Izzy: Special Edition is now available to order!

We now turn our attention to another Kickstarter-funded title - Intrepid Izzy from Senile Team. If you missed our review of the exquisite platform-cum-beat 'em up, be sure to check it out here. In short, Lewis thought it was a stellar addition to the Dreamcast's stable of indie titles, and easily one of the best to hit the console, even going as far as to label Izzy as "The King (or Queen?) of Dreamcast indie platformers" - they even put that quote on the back of the box for good measure!

The good (better?) news is that a Special Edition of Intrepid Izzy is now available to pre-order from WAVE Game Studios, and comes with a soundtrack CD and a choice of region (PAL, NTSC-U, NTSC-J) packaging styles. 

The initial print run of 750 units [of Intrepid Izzy] sold out almost immediately, prompting a reprint just 28 days after release. The fastest known for an independently released Dreamcast title.

In response to considerable demand for both the game and the music featured therein, WAVE announced that a limited run two-disc Special Edition will be released on November 20, 2021. This version includes an audio CD with the full official soundtrack, and is available in European, North American, and Japanese cover art variants.

- WAVE Game Studios

The fastest selling out indie Dreamcast game, eh? Who knew? Not I. Did you? You do now! Intrepid Izzy: Special Edition launches 20 November 2021. Head over to the WAVE Game Studios website to pre-order it for £34.99. There's also a cool vinyl figure available too, if that's your bag. Actually, buy two and make them fight; with the loser being burned with a magnifying glass.


A new Dreamcast fan translation project - Nakoruru!

Some say he can translate a Japanese Dreamcast game manual without even reading it. Others say he can detect an obscure NTSC-J dating sim hidden at the back of a retro game store from a distance of 40 miles. All we know, is his name is Derek Pascarella. And if you've never seen Top Gear, that reference will go right over your head. If you've been following the Dreamcast fan translation scene for any amount of time, you'll be familiar with the work of Mr Pascarella, who has previously worked on English translations of Dreamcast titles such as Sakura Wars Columns 2 and Neon Genesis Evangelion Typing Project Advanced.

Now he's back with another translation project, Nakoruru: The Gift She Gave Me, which is a visual novel title set in the Samurai Shodown universe. This isn't actually new news per se, with both MegaVisions and SegaXtreme sharing the original Dreamcast Talk thread back in August 2021. What is new news though, is that our very own Lewis Cox has joined the Nakoruru team as an English language editor, and for this reason alone I wanted to refresh some mention of this intriguing translation project. If you'd like to know more about Derek's past translation efforts, check out DreamPod episode 93 here.


Those pesky Shadow Gangs are kicking bountiful handfuls of ass on Dreamcast!

Oh Shadow Gangs, where for art though Shadow Gangs? Shall I compare thee to a 1990s Sega arcade game featuring a ninja that was then ported to home consoles? So wrote Chaucer, rather anachronistically, back in the mid 1970s after a particularly heavy session on the old crack pipe. Which is quite fitting, seeing as Shadow Gangs is a 1980s themed/inspired side scrolling beat 'em up that people have likened to Shinobi. I haven't played Shadow Gangs myself, but I do recall it being mooted to be heading to the Dreamcast at least as far back as 2016 - possibly even earlier (thanks Dreamcast Today - I knew I hadn't imagined that). The game was released on Steam and other consoles in the fairly recent past however - to generally positive reviews - and now a video has surfaced of a port running on the creaking old Dreamcast. Here you go:

Looks like a fairly accurate rendition to me, and it seems pretty much identical to the video on the Steam page. It appears that another Kickstarter to get Shadow Gangs fully up and running on Dreamcast is on the cards, and we'll no doubt share the news once that project is launched.


SEGA Powered brings SEGA Power back from the dead, with the (unofficial) Power of Sega!

Not exclusively Dreamcast related this one, but I just needed an excuse to type that subheading. Back when I was a wee lad, SEGA Power was one of a number of physical mags I would regularly purchase, and so it was a bit of a no brainer that I would back one-time editor Dean Mortlock's love letter to such an iconic tome. Dean is assisted by Niel Randall (DC-UK), Paul Monaghan (Maximum Power Up) and Marc Jowett (SegaMags), so the knowledge and pedigree is assured. 

The teaser issue of SEGA Powered looks like it will hit all the right marks for fans of the magazines of yesteryear, and I for one will be intrigued to see what kind of Dreamcast-related content is included. Check out the Kickstarter campaign and bag a copy of the mag here. Update - the Kickstarter for SEGA Powered has now ended but I am reliably informed that a website for the magazine will be launched so you can buy a copy/subscription even if you missed the campaign.

There's plenty of other Dreamcast related stuff going on around the internet but I thought I would leave it there for the sake of brevity. Oh, and I got a bit sick of typing the word 'Kickstarter,' but I digress. Be sure to check out all of the other wonderful Dreamcast news repositories dotted around the information superhighway for even more interesting little projects bubbling happily away.

We plan to do these round-ups more regularly from now on as it's just a bit more concise than having multiple posts about stuff, so if there's anything you spot that you think we should include in future news posts, let us know in the comments. Cheers!