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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.

What games are currently supported?
At time of writing, there are currently 5,268 games across 40 systems with sets of achievements including every Sega console and add on ever released (with the exception of Pico and Pico Beena). Of which, there are currently 51 Dreamcast games supported:
18 Wheeler American Pro Trucker
Cannon Spike
Cardcaptor Sakura
Crazy Taxi
Dead or Alive 2
Donald Duck Goin’ Quackers
Dynamite Cop
Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future.
Evolution
Grandia II
Gundam Renpou vs Zeon DX
Headhunter
Jet Set Radio
Virtual On: Oratario Tangram
L.O.L.
Looney Tunes Space Race
Magic the Gathering
Marvel vs Capcom 2
Mortal Kombat Gold
MSR
Neon Genesis Evangelion Typing
Pen Pen Tricelon
Phantasy Star Online Ver.2
Power Stone
Power Stone 2
Project Justice
Puyo Puyo Fever
Rayman 2
Resident Evil 3
Rez
Samba de Amigo
Sega Bass Fishing
Sega GT
Sega Smash Pack
Shin Seiki Evangelion: Typing Evolution
Silent Scope
Sonic Adventure
Sonic Adventure 2
Soul Calibur
Space Channel 5
Space Channel 5: Part 2
Sword of the Berserk: Gut’s Rage
Tech Romancer
Tokyo Xtreme Racer
Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2
Toy Commander
Triggerheart Exelcia
Typing of the Dead
Under Defeat
Wacky Races
Who Wants to be a Millionaire?


How do I start?
Set up is fairly easy and can be explained in a few quick steps:
1. Head on over the RetroAchievements website and create an account.
Click here to create an account
2. Check the Dreamcast games, click on one and then scroll down to the Official Forum Topic link at the bottom of the page. Here you'll be able to check which version/s (PAL, NTSC or JP) are supported. Meanwhile find GDi format games online and unzip them to a folder on your PC. The Internet Archive may or may not be a good place to start looking for these, but you didn't hear it from me.
3. From the Retro Arch website, download the latest stable version of RetroArch, install it and open it.
Download the latest STABLE RetroArch
4. In the Settings menu enter your recently created RetroAchievements ID and password. You can also turn on Hardcore mode if you fancy yourself as a bit of a hardnut and want to go for those %200 completions.
Achievements Settings
5. From the Main Menu click on the Online Updater. Next, choose Core Downloader. From here scroll down to the Dreamcast/ Naomi emulator Flycast. Click on it and it should begin downloading immediately. Once downloaded a blue # symbol should appear next to it.
Download the Flycast emulator
6. Go back to the Main Menu. From here, click Load Core and choose the Flycast core.
Load the Flycast Core
7. From the Main Menu select Load Content and choose the unzipped GDi format game you want to play.
Load the GDi format game
8. If all has worked correctly the game should load up. Exit to the Quick Menu with F1, then scroll down to achievements to see the current game's details.
Headhunter's list of achievements via the Quick Menu
9. Enjoy!

What are currently some of the hardest and easiest games to %100?
These sets have only been around since February at the earliest, so they may be subject to change. As is often the case with new sets, developers balance achievements and sets by increasing or decreasing the difficulty of certain achievements and sometimes even add or remove ones altogether which are deemed impossible or too hard by the community.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the hardest, and easiest Dreamcast sets I’ve managed to find thus far.

Hardest
Crazy Taxi
Come first on all the in-game leaderboards, get an S License on the maximum difficulty, complete the Crazy Box challenges with ridiculously strict time limits. This won't be easy, but those who’ve previously finished the game on Dreamcast may get a sadistic kick out of pushing themselves to the absolute Crazy limit.

Dynamite Cop
This one has a few achievements involving beating bosses without taking a single hit that only one person has so far attained (we are not worthy!). There are even two that not a single person has managed to beat at time of writing: 1. Defeat the Kraken boss without being hit. 2. Beat the 100-man survival mode. Will you be the first to %200 this game?

Sega Smash Pack

There are a ridiculous number of achievements for each game contained within this compilation for anybody who fancies torturing themselves with perhaps the worst attempt at emulation of Sega hardware ever commercially released. The Virtual Cop 2 achievements I’m sure are fun (that one was properly ported after all), but I won’t be going anywhere near the rest of the collection. So far, out of the total 451 achievements, one person has got 214 of them... Whoever you are, wherever you are out there, please seek help!
The list of achievements for Smash Pack are Ridonculous
Easiest
Pen Pen Triceleon
Just get golds on every course and Icelon. The hardest part about this set is forcing yourself to play through this piece of dog sh... I mean, mediocre launch title.

Power Stone
Quite an easy %200. Basically, complete the game on the highest difficulty with every character and make sure to do it at least once without continuing. There are a couple other bits and pieces but nothing too hard. It’s the only Dreamcast game I’ve managed to %200 so far, so I’m sure you can do it too!

Who Wants to be a millionaire
Simply look up the answers to the questions with your smartphone without using a lifeline and win the million pounds. Then go back to clean up the remaining achievements easily. To be fair, it’s only worth a measly 26 points... and deservedly so.
A quick easy set for you RetroAchievement badge whores
Closing
While I do %100 the occasional modern game, I’m not a huge fan of contemporary achievements such as those offered by XBOX or Sony, but in the case of RetroAchievements, I absolutely love them. It’s brought new challenges and ways to play games that I’ve been playing for 30+ years and thought I’d mastered and done everything the game had to offer. Ways to play games that I would have never imagined. One example that comes to mind is completing a special stage in Sonic 3 running only backwards. Let me tell you, that wasn't easy!

For those of you who stick up your noses at emulation, I’d urge you to give it another try. The scene is always evolving, and Dreamcast emulation is at a much better place in 2022 than it was even a few short years ago. Going through the games supported by RetroAchievements, I was pleasantly surprised by how well each one ran on the Flycast emulator. On my machine at least, the games ran well, with no noticeable glitches and an unperceivable amount of lag.

For me RetroAchievements adds so much to these old games, playing them on RetroArch via emulation has given my genuine hardware a serious run for its money when it comes to vying for my attention as of late. It’s free and easy to set up, so why not give it a try and see if it's for you? Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing what other Dreamcast achievements the future has in store!

2 comments:

Kev Mason said...

Firstly, great to see you back posting.

I've never tried Emulation of the DC and never had the interest too, but I am currently Dreamcastless and this sounds incredible! So will be checking this out at some stage.

Tom Charnock said...

Nice article Ross, great to see you back around here!