You Had One Job! - European Dreamcast Game Box Screw-ups

Since the beginning of time - well, gaming - video games have come in boxes with artwork. The artwork was put there to sell the experience to you, to convince you why the game inside that box was the game you needed to leave the shop with that day more so than any of the others on the shelf around it. By the time our beloved little white SEGA box came onto the market, it was the sixth generation of gaming. Even games released for the microcomputers of the 80s had box art, so, by the late '90s, it was very much an established norm.

On the Dreamcast, there was a clear template for each region of how the box artwork should look. In Europe, you had the nice blue base template and logos; a front cover, a spine, and the back cover. So simple and elegant, everything looking uniform on a shelf... what could possibly go wrong?

Well, quite a lot it turns out...


Tokyo Highway Challenge

Right from day one, Dreamcast game publishers found sticking to simple templates difficult. Tokyo Highway Challenge (known as Tokyo Xtreme Racer in the USA) is actually one of the Dreamcast’s more under-appreciated titles. Leaning heavily into an Initial D vibe, the game places you onto Tokyo’s C-1 “highway” and tasks you with challenging and beating all the other illegal street racers in a quest to become the ultimate import racer. Quite how you do that in what are domestic cars in Japan I never did figure out, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss! So, how exactly did Crave fail on the console's European launch day with their game packaging?

Clearly using the white arc of the US theme.

Mistake: Using the US Dreamcast template on the front cover. Although it does at least look like they tried, seeing as they went to the effort of removing the little orange triangle that represents the console's power LED...


NFL Blitz 2000

Also on day one, it wasn’t just Crave that were struggling with the idea of box art. Step forward, Midway! In their defence (“DEFENSE!!!”), they did have more boxes to get right at launch with Hydro Thunder, Ready 2 Rumble and Mortal Kombat Gold all releasing alongside NFL Blitz 2000.

NFL Blitz 2000 is an arcade sportsball game. I hear it's good fun, but I won’t lie, I’ve never understood a sport called football where most of the game has the players holding the ball and running. Anyway, having graced us with multiple launch titles, I can confirm that Midway got the front and back of the game perfect. So far, so good. So what on earth could possibly go wrong from here?

Just the Dreamcast logo and the code on the spine.

Putting the game on a shelf only emphasises the issue even more... 

Mistake: Forgot to put the game's name on the spine.

Dreamcast Gaming on the High Street Stock CEXchange

This article is not endorsed by or sponsored by CeX.

With it being harder and harder to find retro games in the wild, especially PAL Dreamcast titles with an intact case, retro gaming is becoming an increasingly online-only affair.

Here in the UK, all but one of the brick-and-mortar gaming chains (GAME) have died out. There are some excellent independent game shops still soldiering on, though they are sparse and dwindling in number too. Fortunately though, we do have one last bastion of the high street in CeX (formerly Computer Exchange, and yes, it’s pronounced “sex”) where it is still possible to walk into a store and find surprisingly well-priced Dreamcast games on the shelves.
Better still, if you are looking for particular games, their website tells you exactly what they have in stock and where, allowing you to plan your very own road trip to secure your next classic. Or, if you don’t fancy the effort of leaving your house, you can order direct to your door, oblivious to the condition your purchased game is in, and running the risk of a brittle old PAL case being obliterated in the rough and tumble of the postal service.

Recently, the risks of what has become known amongst retro circles as “the CeX lottery” have been reduced marginally, as the retailer now distinguishes between games with and without their manuals (though you may still be left guessing whether or not the manual has ketchup stains). The other useful thing CeX provide is regularly refreshed pricing which tracks the current market, and, here at the Junkyard, we have meticulously studied these to bring you some small insights into the current PAL Dreamcast market.

CeX is actually how I unintentionally ended up re-entering the rabbit hole of all things SEGA Dreamcast back in 2016, when I stumbled upon a very nice condition Virtua Tennis for a mere £3.50 - which was possibly one of the most expensive “bargains” I’ve ever had.
How it all started (again)!
Believe it or not, despite what many say, the Dreamcast does still have a good selection of affordable games. Sadly, the console is also beginning to see an increasing number of titles with three-digit prices. We’re all aware of the MoHos and the Cannon Spikes, but 2024 seems to have ushered in more unexpected additions to the high-stakes ranks, and seeing as I have little else to do on this rainy British bank holiday Monday, I figured what better time to delve in to this than now?

The Dreamcast Directory: Websites We Love in 2024

Late last year, in a gratuitous act of procrastination, I authored a piece for the Junkyard that surveyed the hefty range of Dreamcast websites that had sprung up in the console’s “post-Sega” era but which had sadly since bit the dust. In reality that piece was an excuse to indulge in some nostalgic daydreaming about the period when I first came across the console as a nerdy teen: a bizarre time when the burgeoning unofficial world (Goat Store, Beats of Rage, Treamcasts) sat alongside the last vestiges of Sega’s official involvement (idiosyncratic Japan-only shmups and surprisingly resilient online game servers).

As this list of deceased Dreamcast websites was pretty lengthy—and could have been even lengthier if not for a couple of oversights—readers could be forgiven for assuming that the hobby of maintaining websites dedicated to a 25-year old console was fading away. Fortunately though, they would be badly mistaken, and therein lies the purpose of this follow-up: to shine a light on the plethora of websites that are alive, kicking, and proudly serving the Dreamcast scene in 2024.

In no particular order, I present to you the Junkyard’s comrades-in-arms:

Dreamcast-talk (https://www.dreamcast-talk.com

Founded in 2004, and thereby pre-dating the Dreamcast Junkyard by a year, Dreamcast-talk is undoubtedly the lodestar of the scene. The website’s founders set out to establish a forum where DC-heads of various stripes could converge to chew the fat, sans what was perceived to be the overly restrictive administrative practices of certain prior forums. Dreamcast-talk quickly achieved that goal, and has continued to do so persistently and reliably for two decades now. Theoretically it's a fairly easy gig: set out a bunch of themed boards where relevant topics can be discussed, weed out spam or egregious flaming, and undertake technical maintenance from time to time. In practice though, maintaining a forum can be a bloody nightmare, and the fact that a day rarely goes by without fresh posts being made or a new member signing up is a testament to how important Dreamcast-Talk remains. 165,348 posts made and not out: as solid an innings as you are likely to see from an internet forum. When the gold anniversary hits in 2054 I promise I’ll deliver a better present than a couple of paragraphs in a rambling blog post…

DCEmulation (https://dcemulation.org

DCEmulation is another of the scene’s OGs that is still trucking in 2024. Actually, screw that. Given that it was founded in September 2000 (!), and is by my estimation the oldest Dreamcast-focused website to grace the worldwide web today, it would only be fair to say that DCEmulation is the OG of the scene. When the historians finally turn their academic gaze to our beloved little white box, DCEmulation will probably be mentioned in every other footnote. 

As the name suggests, DCEmulation’s initial focus was on documenting and discussing the development of emulators designed to run on the Dreamcast. Naturally, due to the type of audience and contributors that flocked to it, this focus quite quickly broadened out to cover Dreamcast homebrew development in its entirety. A few years in, spats between admins resulted in some splitting (which is succinctly summarised by our German brethren at Sega-DC.de), but thankfully this behaviour wasn’t endemic. In fact, efforts turned from splitting to amalgamation in 2010, when DCEmulation incorporated the forum for the unofficial Phantasy Star Online server, Sylverant.

Although the DCEmulation Wiki has now been mothballed, the forum, which alongside the Simulant Discord server is home to some of the most knowledgeable Dreamcast coders out there, is still in active service after 729,068 posts. Props to [darc], Bluecrab, and the whole DCEmulation community for keeping the show on the road all these years. 

Sturmwind Reissue coming from VGNYsoft - Includes Sturmwind VMU Shell!

 

Duranik's shooter Sturmwind is renowned by Dreamcast fans the world over, often seen as the best indie game on the console - whilst it held onto second place in both our 2016 and 2024 Top Dreamcast Indie Games votes, it also ranked at 35 in our 2023 Top 200 Dreamcast Games poll, becoming the highest-ranked indie game on the list, and beating out many beloved contemporary releases on the console. Just shows how much love the game has.

Of course, with such acclaim comes demand, and unless you look to eBay, the last proper re-release of this title (from PixelHeart) is now sold out. Step in, US-based outfit VGNYsoft, who have a brand new reissue of the game now up for pre-order, and most exciting of all, there is also a limited edition available which comes with a Sturmwind-branded VMU shell!
No CD-Rs! 😉
VGNYsoft recently went to Kickstarter with their brand new injection-moulded VMU replacement shells. We chatted to Dan from VGNYsoft when the Kickstarter launched, and he made us aware that they were planning to include indie game-branded VMU shells as part of future indie releases. Well, they are certainly starting this new wave of limited releases off with a bang by starting with Sturmwind!

The regular edition of the game will cost $39.99, while the VMU edition, which is limited to 500, retails for $59.99. This limited edition will include the regular game in a box with the Sturmwind VMU shell. The parts included are a black silicone pad, the D-pad and the outer shell itself. YGNYsoft previously sent us some of their shells to look at it, and they are really high quality, built as tough as official VMU shells. You'll of course need to supply your own donor VMU, but it'll thank you for it when it looks cool as hell. 

The pre-orders launch at 10am EST (that's 3pm UK time) on the 15th of May, and are available from VGNYsoft themselves. For those outside the US, you can order from Video Games Plus. VGNYsoft have also told us that they may have some available to order from suppliers based in Spain and Japan, along with Play-Asia at some point in the future.
Looks legit.
Are you going to grab this reissue of Sturmwind? Are you excited for more indie-branded VMU shells? Let us know in the comments below or via one of our many social media pages!

GladMort: New Kickstarter from JoshProd/PixelHeart!

It's been a little under a year since SEGA Dreamcast indie scene stalwart publisher Pixelheart (also known as JoshProd) last released something new for the console, with their most recent release Andro Dunos II finally landing back in July - but it's been even longer since they last turned to Kickstarter to gauge interest for a new project. It was Arcade Racing Legends the first time round, and now it's GladMort, a 2D action-platformer that pays homage to titles like Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Metal Slug and Magician Lord.

Like quite a few of PixelHeart's releases, GladMort was developed for Neo Geo first and foremost (by Chipsonsteroids), with Dreamcast (a full port with enhanced music) and PC ports also available. The game is 95% complete, but just needs backer support to push it over the line and finally get it released. At the time of writing, the Kickstarter - which launched earlier today - has already soared past its funding goal, so you can now back the campaign with confidence knowing that everything will definitely be going ahead.
Looking at the gameplay footage, the game looks excellent visually, as is most often the case with Neo Geo games. Playing as the titular GladMort, the gameplay has you traversing through five levels, dispatching enemies, while also trying your best to avoid traps and... death. Considering GladMort pays homage to Ghouls 'n Ghosts, though, you might end up doing that a lot... Challenge is something the game wears as a badge of honour. The developers have made a demo available for download that you can play on your computer. Give it a try and see how you fare.

Obviously PixelHeart will be producing the physical Dreamcast editions of the game in their typical "configuration", i.e. the Japanese and American style versions will have a reversible manual that allows you to choose between the Japanese and American cover to display (with the separate backer tiers simply being for sealed game collectors to choose which cover is displayed when the game is sealed), while the PAL-style edition comes in a PAL case with a bonus soundtrack CD (there is also a stretch goal for a reversible PAL manual as well).
Provisional covers, not final.
So there you go, something new from PixelHeart! Once again, click here to go to the campaign page. Will you be backing GladMort on Dreamcast? Maybe even Neo Geo?! Let us know in the comments below, or via one of our many social media pages.