Dreamcastic Christmas 2023: Heart-warming Tales from DreamPod Listeners

Ahead of recording episode 125 of the DreamPod, which first aired as part of RadioSEGA’s illustrious Winterfest and is now available in all the regular places, we appealed to our listener base to send us their festive Dreamcast-related ideas, memories and musings. And thankfully, in generous Christmas spirit, our mailbag promptly filled-up with a hefty slab of responses ranging from the witty, to the heart-warming, to the downright impressive. Quite a few were discussed on the pod, but many are undoubtedly worth sharing on the blog too, and so here we are. 

Thanks to all the wonderful Junkard-ers (yardies?) who made submissions, tuned into the podcast or are currently reading these hungover scribblings of mine. The Junkyard wouldn't be what it is without you and we are blessed to have such a wonderful community gathered around the site eighteen years on from its founding. 

So, if you'd like to amplify your festive cheer, pour yourself a glass of Creamcast ale, and read on.

 Our guest on DreamPod 125, Pat from Sega Saturn, SHIRO!, lovingly embracing the Dreamcast that Santa brought him as a child.

Christmas Cracker Extravaganza

In typical parochial British fashion, I had assumed that Christmas Crackers were a widespread phenomenon, when in fact, it turns out they are pretty much contained to the shores of the UK. Nevertheless, we had some fantastic responses from all over the world to our call for Dreamcast-themed Christmas cracker ideas, several sent in by folks who had no prior familiarity with the concept (but evidently got with the programme quite rapidly).

Horror host extraordinaire Uncle Clutch knocked it out of the park, delivering a set of eight sublime watercolour paintings. Feast your eyes on their magnificence below, and, if you ever happen to meet the dude in person, be sure to buy him a drink (or three) on us.

Copyright Uncle Clutch, 2023. Not to be reproduced without permission of the creator.

Copyright Uncle Clutch, 2023. Not to be reproduced without permission of the creator.

Drum and Bass superstar Pizza Hotline delivered a detailed pitch for some garish Hello Kitty crackers: “A mixture of pink and blue semi-transparent non-recyclable plastic Hello Kitty crackers, like the consoles. There’s confetti inside that consists of mini plastic hello kitty faces and Dreamcast swirls which gets everywhere, sticks to your carpet and clothing, and no matter how much you brush or hoover it, it won’t come off. The prizes in the crackers are any of the capsule toys from Shenmue 1 or 2. You might get a poorly formed Sonic or Virtua Fighter character, or, better yet some dice or a mini forklift. It’s a Christmas miracle! When you pull each cracker, they don’t go BANG. Instead, they make the annoying VMU beeeep sound, and, instead of jokes you get awful one-liners from Shenmue. However, if you’re lucky you might get the odd inappropriate line from Blue Stinger’s Dogs Bower too. ‘Years ago I was Chinese’, ‘Try asking Chinese people about Chinese’, ‘Ugly like the worst sin’, or perhaps ‘Our jackets are too cool for that scum. I want guys like you to wear them’”. 

Of course, we assume that the emphasis on plastic-heavy construction is in fact a tongue-in-cheek throwback to the excesses of the late '90s and not something for David Attenborough to be worried about. 

The Hello Kitty Dreamcast has certainly become a bit of a style icon in recent years.

Bobby (purveyor of the magnificent Wandering Through Shenmue YouTube channel) provided an equally detailed pitch for some crackers that we would love to see on our tables – and gets top marks for including a bad joke: “I believe the cracker itself should be in the shape of a VMU. They could even come in different colours seeing as we had so many to pick from when the Dreamcast was originally released. To open it, you put your fingers where the finger grip traditionally is and pull the protective dust cap right off. In addition, the VMU screen will have traditional Sega images that are slightly altered. Sonic wearing a Christmas hat. Amy with mistletoe above her head. Nozomi wearing a scarf.

All of the hats will bear the traditional Dreamcast swirl logo. I suppose if the cracker is released in Great Britain the swirl will be blue, whereas if it's released in Japan or North America, it will be the traditional orange. But what's inside? How about some rubber erasers in the shape of different character heads from Sega franchises. One of them could have Skies of Arcadia characters. Another one would have Sonic characters of course. Maybe the other would have Virtua Fighter characters.”

And how about that bad cracker joke? Make sure you are seated for this one folks.

“Q: What do you tell your friend when the laser on your Dreamcast is having a hard time reading a disc because it's dirty?

A: It's thinking”

Dreamcastic Christmas Tales

Translation patch supremo Derek Pascarella put a smile on our faces with his story that I’m sure many will be able to relate to – especially those of us who are bad at keeping secrets.

“It was just before Christmas 1999 when I made the phone call. As a Sega obsessed youth, I'd already procured my launch edition console just a few months earlier on September 9th. While I was losing my mind over the awesomeness of playing Sonic Adventure, Soulcalibur, and Power Stone, my cousin Joey oozed with envy. We were living on opposite ends of the East Coast at the time, so he hadn't even got the chance to play mine yet.

Leading up to that fateful Christmas of 1999, I'd mentioned something to my parents about how much I anticipated all the new Dreamcast stuff that they (or Mr. Kringle) had in store for me. As always, I was told to be patient, but that wasn't all... I was also told that my cousin Joey was getting a Dreamcast for Christmas that year, so when we flew over to see their family after the holidays, he and I could play each other’s games. So, picking up the old land line, I dialled my cousin, brimming with excitement, and the conversation went something like this:

‘Joey, you're getting a Dreamcast for Christmas? That's awesome! What games did you ask for?’

‘Wait, what? There's no way, my parents said it's too expensive. Hey, Mom... Derek says I'm getting a Dreamcast for Christmas!’

(Insert here my aunt yelling in the background about how I ruined his giant surprise Christmas gift.) 

From here on, a chain reaction of phone calls took place between my aunt and my parents, and several rounds of scolding followed, which taught me the lifelong lesson to never accidentally spoil someone's surprise gift. Fast forward to our visit to his family, where my cousin and I played endless hours of Dreamcast, grinning ear to ear, the memories of which are etched into my heart, forever.”

At the Junkyard we strongly suspect that Derek later escalated his phone shenanigans when he took on the role of the mysterious 'fonejacker'. That's right, we're on to you Derek... 

Damien Etourneau invited us to take a trip down memory lane to pre-Euro France where he experienced a genuine Christmas miracle as a student. Never mind that the story took place in May, it still qualifies as a Christmas story in our eyes because of the game that is at the heart of it:

“I live in France, and at the time (May 2001), I was going to high school. One day, one of my teachers was ill and did not come in. In such situations, we were allowed to go outside or go to a special room to study or do our homework. I didn’t want to study so I went outside.

But, just before leaving the school, my eyes were drawn to a small tuft of grass nearby where I saw a strange little piece of paper. I had an idea what it was, but at the same time, it seemed too good to be true. So, I bend down, pick it up, and to my amazement, it was indeed a 100 Franc note. Just there, on the ground! The Euro had not yet been introduced, and I think at that time, 100 Francs was equivalent to £10 or so.

I looked around, and there was absolutely no one present. No teachers, no supervisors, no students, no one. People were all in class or outside the school. I was all alone with this banknote. I decided to take it... and I rushed to the video game store that was not far from the high school. I looked at the used Dreamcast game shelves and saw this unfamiliar game, Blue Stinger, that was priced at 99 Francs. It was as if it was fate; I had just found exactly the right amount to buy it only minutes ago, and it was practically the only one I could afford with that amount. So, I bought it.

After school, I played it and it became an instant favourite. And of course, I especially love to play Blue Stinger, a game that is riddled with Christmas themes, during the holiday period. With its unique atmosphere and characteristic humour, it's a game that puts me in a perfect Christmas mood. 

And by the way, I always kept the receipt from that miraculous day when I bought my favourite game. Thanks to the person who dropped that bill, and sorry for spending it without trying to find out who it belonged to!”

Rest in peace, Dock Games.

The final audience-submitted story we’ll share in this blog post came from a regular of our Discord channel, MikeRox. And, if it fails to warm your heart, then we don’t know what will!

“Back in't day [N.B. Mike is from up North] when I were a wee lad I got a Sega Saturn from Halifax indoor market in the summer of '99 for a whopping £30. That summer I spent lots of time with the Saturn, merrily picking up other really cheap clearance games, and for the first time I really started to fall in love with Sega. We had always been a ZX Speccy and Nintendo household before, so the Saturn introduced me to a whole new style of gaming.

Having developed my new found love of Sega arcade brilliance, a few months later, on a trip to the local cinema I stumbled across these random demo pods for something called a ‘Dreamcast’. My curiosity was only enhanced when the print marketing started to hit and I saw that Sega Rally 2 was to be coming out on the Dreamcast. Having spent hours upon hours shaving hundredths of a second off my lap times on the Saturn port, that was it, I had to have one!

However, being an unemployed school bum, buying a brand-new gaming system was a very lofty ambition. If I saved every penny of my pocket money perhaps I would have been able to get this Dreamcast system in 2002 or 2003, but the wait would have been unbearable. So what was a humble Yorkshire school boy to do? Well by this point I had been playing trombone for the best part of eight years and unlike most things, it turned out to be something I was quite good at.

Luckily for me, December rolled around, and it was the one time of year where it was socially acceptable to busk in the street, cheering people up with festive carols. I had done it before, and when you are 10 it's amazing how many £1 coins little old ladies will throw at you. Having hit puberty, it turned out the difficulty level of busking increases dramatically, but I was not to be put off.

Bringing festive cheer to the streets of Huddersfield, my tally rose slowly but surely. Busking for an hour or so every Saturday, I was able to get most of the way to that magical £199 for the console. Chuck in a December birthday and I was able to buy my Dreamcast on the 23rd of December 1999, bringing it home with Sonic Adventure.”

Carols… But, You Know, Dreamcasty Ones

Last, but not least, we received some creative ideas for Dreamasty carols. Adrian O'Neil demanded that our founder, Tom Charnock, rock-up on his doorstep and belt out Sonic Adventure 2’s ‘Escape from the City’. We're still working on that one Adrian. I wouldn’t hold your breath for Christmas 2023, but who knows what 2024 will bring. 

I mean, who wouldn't want to have Daddy Dreamcast singing on their doorstep?!

YouTube maestro Dreamcast Enjoyer also put in a call for a doorstep carolling experience that we would love to make a reality: “Me and my wife are chilling by the tree drinking hot chocolate when there's a knock on the door. I open it to see Dr Robotnik standing there. He immediately shouts ‘GET A LOAD OF THIS’ upon which a robot orchestra that he has built starts playing the Egg Carrier theme tune (a song that keeps us on the move). The whole time Robotnik would be standing there doing one of his awkward idle animations and I would be going nuts dancing.”

However, top of the class is undoubtedly Drew Onia, who delivered the lyrics for a tastefully modified version of ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer’. We strongly urge all readers to pound some eggnog and bellow this out during your Christmas dinner tomorrow…

You know Saturn and Xbox and Super Nintendo
PlayStation, GameCube, and SNK’s Neo Geo
But do you recall
The most amazing console of all?

Dreamcast the online console
Had a dial-up modem
And if you ever played it
No one else could use the phone

All of the other consoles
Used to laugh and call it names
They never let poor Dreamcast
Garner many sixth gen games

Then on 2000's Christmas Eve
Peter Moore came to say
Sign up for our ISP
Get a Dreamcast console free

Then how the gamers loved it
And they shouted out with glee
"Dreamcast the online console,
You'll go down in history!"

* * *

If you'd like to help the Junkyard cover its running costs, then feel free to drop a few quid in our bucket over at buymeacoffee.com/dcjunkyard. Of course, we appreciate times are tough, so if you can't afford it then we understand.

To those who celebrate it, we wish you a very merry Christmas!

1 comment:

Lewis Cox said...

Some excellent submissions from everyone. Also appreciate the Fonejacker reference, Lozz!