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Bernie Stolar has passed away aged 75

Bernie Stolar has sadly passed away at the age of 75. The news of the former Sega of America president's passing broke over the last few days, and we thought it only right to mention it here on a Dreamcast-centric blog. Stolar was president of Sega of America from 1996 to 1999 and famously sat in the hotseat during the Dreamcast's formative years, before leaving the role to make way for Peter Moore.

Prior to working at Sega, Stolar was instrumental in the creation of Sony Computer Entertainment America, and later he worked for toy giant Mattel and then later gaming service ZOOM Platform alongside friend of the Junkyard Jordan Freeman (pictured below).

We were lucky enough to welcome Bernie to the Dreamcast Junkyard back in 2018 when he agreed to answer some of our questions about his time at Sega of America, the Dreamcast and - most importantly - his favourite Dreamcast games. Mentioning that Rush 2049 was one of his favourite games gave me a huge sense of vindication, waxing lyrical as I do about it being one of the finest games on the Dreamcast - if the former president of Sega of America and father of the Dreamcast agreed, that's good enough for me!

The sad news of Bernie Stolar's passing comes mere weeks after the news of former Managing Director Hidekazu Yukawa's death in 2021, and this marks a very poignant time for fans of the Dreamcast. 

Our thoughts and best wishes go to Bernie's friends, family and colleagues.

DCJY welcomes WAVE Game Studios & SEGA Powered

Episode 106 of our podcast DreamPod has landed, and it's a rather special one. This time, your regular hosts Tom and Andrew welcome Daniel from WAVE Game Studios and Dean Mortlock, editor of SEGA Powered magazine.

Anyone visiting this here blog will undoubtedly be aware of WAVE Game Studios as they are the Norwich-based publisher which is single handedly revitalising the indie publishing scene right here in 2022; while those who have more than a passing interest in SEGA magazines of yesteryear (and the present!) will recognise the name Dean Mortlock, as he was editor of the legendary SEGA Power and later Saturn Power before returning with SEGA Powered magazine in 2021.


Why have we got both of these fine gentlemen on one episode? Well, that's because issue 5 of SEGA Powered magazine (set to be avaliable in early July 2022) will feature a cover mounted Dreamcast demo disc, full of bitesize (and bespoke) game demos and videos! This partnership between WAVE and SEGA Powered represents the first time a Dreamcast demo disc has come on the front cover of a magazine since the early 2000s - and you won't want to miss it.

A look at the demo disc sleeve!

Listen to our chat using the embedded player above, or you can grab the episode over on Buzzsprout, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts...or wherever else you usually get your podcasts from.

Follow SEGA Powered on Twitter here (and look out for our gander at issue 5 here in the near future); and follow WAVE Game Studios here.

Retrospective: The Flashback series on Dreamcast

With the recent announcement that a true Flashback sequel (imaginatively titled Flashback 2) is heading our way in late 2022, we thought it appropriate to cast our minds back to the recent past and take another look at the officially sanctioned Flashback titles released on the Dreamcast. 

It's not really common knowledge that Flashback was given a full physical release, complete with a hyper fragile PAL case, back in 2017. Well regarded publisher JoshProd was behind this fantastic edition of Delphine Software's sprite based action adventure, and the release was even given a full seal of approval by original creator Paul Cuisset.

We reviewed the game at the time, and gushed at the lovingly crafted package. From the excellent (and authentic) box art and printed disc, to the additional extras lavished upon the Dreamcast remaster, it really was excellent and packed with content.

This included such notable features as a full and uncut intro cinematic (previous console versions featured a cut down intro from the Amiga version), the option to enable pre-rendered cut scenes from the PC release, full voice acting, alternative soundtracks, 16-bit emulated versions, and quick saves using the VMU. 

Furthermore, quality of life improvements came in the form of numerous graphic filters and fully customisable controls. Underneath all the polish though, Flashback for Dreamcast was/is just plain old Flashback...but when 'plain old' Flashback is as good as it is, that's no bad thing.

The release of Flashback on Dreamcast went almost unnoticed by the mainstream gaming press though, and it was quickly forgotten about as the game was subsequently ported to modern platforms such as the Nintendo Switch. Naturally, the Dreamcast is a bit of a niche system these days so that's understandable, but the fact remains that the Dreamcast port of Flashback is as solid as they come and could arguably be viewed as the blueprint for the current gen re-releases that came after it.

What hapenned next was similarly seemingly ignored in the main - the 1995 follow up to Flashback, titled Fade to Black, was also given a fully approved 'official' physical release on Dreamcast. Fade to Black first came to the PC and PlayStation in the mid-nineties to some moderate success, eschewing the prequel's side on, rotoscoped gameplay for a more modern (for the time) leap into 3D. 

Once again assuming the role of main protagonist Conrad B. Hart, players of Fade to Black were thrown into another sci-fi adventure involving the wanton shooting of old foes the Morphs, solving of simplistic puzzles, finding keys and getting hopelessly lost...but this time from a pseudo over-the-shoulder perspective.

Again released by JoshProd and given full approval by the rights holder and designer Delphine Software and Paul Cuisset, Fade to Black on Dreamcast was released in 2018 to very little in the way of fanfare outside of the Dreamcast community. The Dreamcast release, in a similar fashion to the prequel, is a sort of mash-up of the other versions of the game, with the main bulk of the game seemingly based on the PC iteration. 

This is especially evident in the comparatively clean visuals and relative lack of severe pixellation and texture warping associated with a lot of PlayStation titles. Something that sets this game apart from the other indie Dreamcast releases of the era is that it is indeed a fully 3D game, that runs well on the Dreamcast and showcases just how well the Dreamcast might be used for the porting of other classic DOS or Windows games (something that has come to further fruition with the recent release of Postal). 

Controls can take a bit of getting used to, especially since the game employs a Soldier of Fortune style 'hold down a button to access a secondary menu' type system; and you can't manually aim Conrad's sidearm making for some frustrating firefights. Overall though, Fade to Black is a decent third person adventure, albeit one that is very much of its time.

There are a couple of interesting asides about this Dreamcast re-release of Fade to Black that are worthy of note. The first is that the game was originally published by Electronic Arts, an organisation which famously went on to completely ignore the existence of the Dreamcast. Does this make Fade to Black the sole Electronic Arts game to be officially released on Dreamcast, then? 

Also intriguing is a rumour abounds that the Dreamcast game has totally redrawn box art (drawn by Philippe Dessoly, see above) because the original high resolution versions of the Fade to Black artwork are lost to the mists of time. How true that is, I can't be sure, but it makes for a nice bedtime story.

So there we have it. Not one, but two Flashback titles came to the Dreamcast in an official guise. Most people reading this probably already knew this, but for those who didn't...well now you do. Both releases are superb renditions of their respective source material, and are well worth seeking out (go here for Flashback and here for Fade to Black - note these are not affiliate links). 

It's probably worth mentioning here that I am more than a little biased in my views as a huge fan of the series, having owned or played pretty much every single release of Flashback across numerous different plaforms over the years. Of course the Atari Jaguar version is the best (and has the superior variant of the box art), but the Dreamcast version gives it a run for its money. Fight me in the comments.

World Cup Qatar '22 lands on Dreamcast

The Dreamcast never played host to an official FIFA World Cup title for a couple of obvious reasons - namely that the console lived and died in the four year gap between the France '98 and 2002 Korea & Japan competitions; and that Electronic Arts held the licence for the official simulation of the tournament. Yes, we know there was also a Konami-produced World Cup '98 game, but they were too busy vomiting out Grinch games onto the Dreamcast to bother porting any of that ISS goodness.

I suppose the closest we ever came to getting an official football tournament tie-in game was Sega Worldwide Soccer 2000: Euro Edition, which aimed to capitalise on the 2000 European Championships; and while that game is decent enough, it doesn't really come anywhere near the best football offerings hosted by contemporary platforms.

Things are about to change though, as a fan-made 'official' World Cup Qatar '22 game has now launched for Sega's retro beast, bringing all the thrills and spills of the 2022 Qatar World Cup to the Dreamcast...sort of. When this title was first announced a few months ago, I was quite rightly very interested. I'm a huge fan of football and football games, and so to get a new indie developed football game on the Dreamcast sounded like mana was finally being delivered from heaven. Then the news filtered through that this 'new' game was little more than a fan mod of one of the most lacklustre efforts on the Dreamcast - European Super League - and my anticipation was replaced with the normal background disappointment that only a Manchester United supporter can truly understand. Sigh.

So then, I write this news piece in two minds. On the one hand World Cup Qatar '22 (or D.E.S. / Dreamcast Evolution Soccer, as it sometimes refers to itself) is simply Virgin Interactive's European Super League in wolf's clothing. It plays the same essentially - and I hate to say this - but it's a bad game. On the other hand though, one can't help but be impressed by the effort that has gone into this release. Meu Dreamcast, the team behind World Cup Qatar '22, have gone to great lengths to add all manner of cosmetic changes to the base European Super League game, with an impressive FMV intro, up to date international squads, kits, new pitch textures, crowd effects and even play-by-play commentary (of sorts) - something the original game oddly lacked. 

Strangely, there are lots of remnants of the original base game left unedited though, such as team names during gameplay and player likenesses - I'm pretty sure Edgar Davids never played for England, for example. The game is still only a 95% complete beta according to the file name though, so maybe these things will be ammended in time.

In summary then - World Cup Qatar '22 is a game that can't really be faulted when it comes to sheer dedication on the part of the modding team. It's a free update for an existing game that adds a whole lot in terms of aesthetic upgrades; but when the engine underneath is so lacking in terms of quality there exists something of a dichotomy. It's like buying a Lamborghini only to discover someone has replaced the engine with that of an Austin Princess. 

That said, it is totally free to download and try for yourself, so there's nothing to lose in giving this spirited upstart a trial. If the squad behind this release have the inclination to turn their attention to a superior base game (say, UEFA Striker or Virtua Striker 2), then things are looking promising for the future. If they give it 110%, naturally. Back to the studio.

At this point allow me to apologise for all of the piss poor football cliches included in this news report. And now you've forgiven me, feel free to grab World Cup Qatar '22 for Dreamcast over at the Dreamcast Talk forums, and/or check out some gameplay comparison footage here.

A Farewell to Hidekazu Yukawa (plus a round-up of all the Dreamcast games he starred in)

Yesterday, Yahoo News Japan reported that Hidekazu Yukawa, the senior managing director of Sega Japan during the early part of the Dreamcast's life, passed away from pneumonia in June of last year at the age of 78. His family had kept this sad news private until now, but it is reported that Yukawa had been sick for the past 5 years (source). Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Yukawa is nothing short of Dreamcast royalty, so this sad news has understandably led to many words of tribute from fans (and even former colleagues, such as Yuji Naka) across social media. 

Yukawa became an overnight success in Japan after starring in a series of very amusing and surprisingly honest commercials (watch them here) where he rises up from the depths of self doubt (and being bullied by PlayStation-loving children) to spread the good word of the Dreamcast and lead the fight as the senior managing director of Sega Japan. This bout of fame resulted in Yukawa's image being used on Dreamcast console boxes (pictured below), merchandise (such as the Yukawa keyring also pictured below) and print adverts.
Photo kindly taken for us by KingMonkey
We too wanted to pay tribute to Mr. Yukawa, and thought we’d do it in the best way the Junkyard knows how - by geeking out about Dreamcast games! After all, what's a better way to pay tribute to Yukawa than to boot up the console that he championed so mightily, and play one of the multiple games he starred in? Here they are:

Former Managing Director Yukawa's Treasure Hunt
Where's a better place to start than with Yukawa's own Dreamcast game? This (very) simple game was released exclusively in Japan near the Dreamcast's launch and was tied into a short-running competition. The game has you play as Yukawa himself, with the aim being to dig up various tiles to complete puzzles that make up images of Dreamcast-related memorabilia. During March 20th 1999 and April 11th 1999, players could submit their victories online to be entered into a raffle to win real-life Dreamcast goodies, or even ¥10,000. 

The servers for the game have since been shut down, so there's sadly no longer any prizes to be won, but the game is still playable. In fact, it's also now playable in English thanks to a translation team consisting of SnowyAria, EsperKnight and Mr. Nobody, who released a translation patch for it back in April. Go here to get that translation patch, and for a more in-depth breakdown about the game, check out Tom's article on it here.

Shenmue and What's Shenmue
What's a better game to contain a cameo of the man that sought to spread optimism about the Dreamcast than the game that was touted to save the console: Shenmue? Well, Yukawa makes multiple secret appearances in Shenmue, and a much more prominent one in the promotional demo What's Shenmue: Search for Yukawa (former) Senior Managing Director.
Image credit: Phantom River Stone
I always thought that Yukawa's inclusion in the regular version of Shenmue was limited to him appearing as a mascot on a point of sale display for batteries in the Tomato Convenience Store. But thanks to a great article on Phantom River Stone, I learnt that Ryo can actually meet Yukawa twice, although certain conditions must be fulfilled first... 

Retroachievements Now Supports Dreamcast Games

It’s been a while since I’ve written for the yard, so apologies to the rest of the team for barging in like this unannounced but I recently realised a fantastic development in the scene had slipped through the cracks of the global Junkyard news network. Since February 2022 RetroAchievements has supported a selection of Dreamcast games!

Wait! Retro... what?

What is RetroAchievements?
RetroAchievements is a reward system much like XBOX Achievements or Sony’s Trophy system, integrated into the software emulation frontend, RetroArch allowing users to earn points for their favourite retro games by tracking game progress and recording it to their account.
Total accumulated points are calculated and displayed on users' profile pages, and if every achievement for a given game is unlocked, they receive a badge of honour for their profile.
My RetroAchievements profile page
Each set of achievements has a total of %200; %100 for getting them all and another %100 for doing it with hardcore mode enabled. Hardcore mode turns off save states, rewinds, fast forwarding etc, forcing you to play as you would have back in the day. So, if you want to get the full %200 of points, you’ll have to do it as they originally intended without any of the quality-of-life perks afforded to us by modern emulators. For example, in Headhunter, getting every achievement with hardcore set as ‘off’, will reward you with 700 points, but doing it set to ‘on’ will earn you a cool 1400 points. Finally, clear every achievement in a set on hardcore mode and you'll also receive a gold frame around your honorary badge (don’t worry though, you can still use regular VMU saves).
A snapshot of the Headhunter page
The second big component of the service is online leaderboards for retro games. These can take the form of high scores, speed runs or even something like number of enemies killed in a certain level, and are a fantastic way to bring players back to games from their past.
Some of the Crazy Taxi leaderboards can be seen on the right
These features are implemented, by a community of absolute heroes in my estimation, completely free of charge and without any advertising. While I’m no expert, I believe the way it works is that a dev searches memory addresses in a game's code to find variables that they can track, then set conditions using a single or even multiple of these variables which translate to achievements.

Somebody got Cuphead playing on a Sega Dreamcast?

Yeah, you saw the title correctly. Studio MDHR's hard-as-nails indie sensation Cuphead... on Dreamcast! Well, kind of. 

This project came completely out of nowhere, posted to GitHub by user Aionmagan three days ago, and seemed to fall under everybody's radars (including mine). That was until Dreamcast-Talk forum user kremiso happened upon it yesterday and posted a thread about it.

What Aionmagan has created is a prototype of what Cuphead on the Dreamcast could be like. You control Cuphead and you can jump, dash and shoot as one of the game's bosses, Goopy Le Grande, hops around on screen. You can't kill the boss or go any further than this single screen, but the graphics look great and animation is fluid. It's basic, but it's still a really great proof-of-concept and we look forward to seeing more.

Aionmagan uploaded some footage to YouTube of them playing their prototype, so check that out below:


Click here to go to the GitHub page for this project, where you'll find links to this playable prototype in .CDI format, meaning you can easily throw it onto your GDEMU (or you might be able to burn it onto a CD-R - I've not tested that yet). Aionmagan has also uploaded the source code for the prototype, and in the comments of his YouTube upload has also stated that he is welcoming contributions if anyone wants to help with development.

Are you a Cuphead fan? Would you love to see this prototype developed further? Sound off in the comments below!