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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. 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 who 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.

Orc Face Games: New SEGA Dreamcast Indie Game Publisher from HarleQuest! Developer

The Kickstarter for Ross Kilgariff's 3D Dreamcast dungeon crawler HarleQuest! may have launched on April Fool's Day 2023, but it is quite clear from the community hype surrounding it that it is definitely no joke. Back in January, we asked Junkyard readers to tell us their most anticipated indie release as part of our Top 25 Dreamcast Indie Games poll, and HarleQuest! won out unanimously, receiving 80% of the total vote.

As the release of HarleQuest! draws closer, and our mitts frankly perspire at the prospect of getting a physical CD copy of the game in them, the universe (or rather, Ross!) has thrown us a curveball with regards to how the publishing of the game will now be handled.

Originally WAVE Game Studios were announced to be producing all the physical versions of HarleQuest!, but Ross has now chosen to self-publish the game through his brand new indie development and publishing studio, Orc Face Games. On Twitter, the brand new Orc Face Games account tweeted the following:

"Hi everyone! With the recent decision to self-publish HarleQuest! for the SEGA Dreamcast, we have started Orc Face Games - a new development and publishing studio! Stay tuned for a video announcement next week, along with the results of our recent Dreamcast indie game survey."

The survey that Ross is referring to in this tweet is one he put out at the beginning of the month, which asked a variety of questions that aimed to "gain a better understanding of the people who play independently made Dreamcast games in 2024". It's a great sign that Ross has looked to the community for feedback when setting up this new studio, and I'll be intrigued to find out what the consensus is from those who voted in the video he'll be putting out next week on his YouTube channel.

We reached out to Ross to get the scoop on everything Orc Face Games…

DCJY: Great to chat to you once again, Ross, and congratulations on the new venture! What can the Dreamcast community expect from Orc Face Games going forward?

Ross: As a publisher, our top priority is to build trust with developers. We live in the indie/homebrew community daily and want to do our part to help developers actually get things over the line into a polished physical release at a reasonable cost. A little down the road we will offer help with every aspect of development including funding, our 3D engine + tools, creative (art, music, sound, branding), porting... but for now we're looking to team up with developers who have an existing game or demo in the works and want to get the physical version made and into players' hands. In any case, if you're a developer at any stage, please reach out to us! We'd love to hear from you even if it's just for a chat!

That sounds great. Obviously HarleQuest! will be the first release from Orc Face Games, but do you have any plans for future titles that you can let us in on?

There is a concrete plan for what's happening after HarleQuest! and it involves a full 3D remake of an indie Megadrive/Genesis game for the Dreamcast. We know exactly what that's going to look like and it's going to be insane! After that, we will be starting a larger project again with a new IP which is still in the early stages, but it'll be bigger than HarleQuest! - that's all I'll say on that for now! As a developer, our focus is finishing HarleQuest! and making it the best game possible.

We’re certainly excited to get our hands on HarleQuest!. For those who missed the Kickstarter, where can they pre-order a copy? 

HarleQuest! pre-orders are now up on the Orc Face website for anyone who missed the Kickstarter! The site is still pretty simple but it works. We'll spruce it up a little before the HarleQuest! launch. In the meantime, you can visit [the Orc Face Games website] to pre-order the game in your preferred region style.

***

I look forward to seeing Orc Face develop into the next big-deal Dreamcast indie publisher. With an experienced developer like Ross at the helm, passionate developers could really get the help they need to help get their games pushed out to the community at large. With that in mind, I wish Ross the best of luck with this new studio. You can follow both him and Orc Face on Twitter for updates.

Are you excited to see what the future holds for Orc Face Games? Let us know in the comments below, or on any of our usual social media hangouts.

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Let's Take a Look at Replacement Dreamcast VMU Shells - Kickstarter from VGNYsoft

 

Back on the 14th of March, VGNYsoft (aka Videogamesnewyork) launched their Kickstarter for replacement Dreamcast VMU (Visual Memory Unit) shells. These new VMU shells are formed of five parts, will be injection moulded, and available in a variety of colours. For more information, including a talk with Dan of VGNYsoft, check out our previous article about the campaign. The campaign has already reached its funding goal, and at time of writing has five days left to go.

VGNYsoft were kind enough to send us some samples of the upcoming VMU shells; a clear one and a silver one. It took me about 10 minutes to put the shells on two of my grubby old VMUs, and, well, the result is amazing. The build quality of the new parts is frankly rock solid, and held up during the replacement process. If it wasn't for the lack of Dreamcast logo and text above the buttons, these could easily be mistaken for the original Sega VMU shells. 

For a more detailed overview, check out the video below that I slapped together, where I um and ah a lot.


A big thanks goes out to VGNYsoft for sending us these shells. Are you excited for these replacement VMU shells? Have you backed the Kickstarter? Let us know in the comments below, or via one of our many social media pages.

Top 12 Disney Games on the Sega Dreamcast

The Sega Dreamcast's short lifespan (relatively speaking) didn't lend itself to a large number of "big" licenses coming to the console. Alongside Sega's own franchises, we received a third-party lineup that was - again, relative to other consoles - not huge, with a couple of noticeable exceptions (think Capcom). This proved to be both a blessing and a curse for the Dreamcast. It allowed the console to hold a rather unique place amongst its peers: it wasn't plagued by sub-standard licensed games, but was also missing some rather popular titles, which led to the console being considered a little more "niche". Of course we did receive our share of big name releases, and alongside the sports leagues, professional skateboarder and vehicle licenses, we did see a small but not inconsequential number of games that fell under the umbrella of the worldwide media behemoth Disney.

Many of Disney's licenses, above and beyond their big-eared animated rodent, are popular the world over. And, as long as there have been licensed video games, Disney have been publishing tie-in games in order to ring as much money out of their animated movie releases as possible. Unlike some of their competitors though, Disney has a rather unique place in gaming with a series of titles released, especially in the early '90s, that were really rather good. Far from being quick movie adaptations, the likes of Castle of Illusion, Aladdin and The Jungle Book helped define the 2D platformer age and have aged particularly well both technically and in the nostalgic memory of players. 

Disney's legacy on the Dreamcast is perhaps not quite so fondly remembered, but there were still some decent animated adventures. Plus, thanks to the company's subsequent attempts at monopolising the entertainment industry, these days the Dreamcast now finds itself the home to several Disney-owned licenses that are worthy of at least a look. Some of the games on this list are probably not what you were expecting to see when you clicked onto this article (sorry!), but thanks to Disney's rather aggressive business pursuits, all of the games on this list technically now fall under the umbrella of The Mouse, even if they didn't originally on release...

(All pictures in this article were either taken by myself using my rather mediocre screen capturing setup, or from the fine folks over at MobyGames.)


12. Disney's Dinosaur

Just breaking into the top dozen of Disney titles on the Dreamcast is this tie-in with the somewhat forgotten 2000s movie "Dinosaur" - which always seems to be referred to as "Disney's Dinosaur" for some reason. Whilst it isn't one of the company's biggest or most fondly remembered films, it was still a decent family-friendly romp, and anything with dinosaurs in is always going to have a ready-made fanbase of kids who can't get enough of the prehistoric reptiles. 

As a game it has some interesting points – it's a puzzle adventure title aimed at the kid's market where you switch between a trio of characters, each of whom have different abilities and skills, and make progress by utilising the right character for the right task. The isometric/top-down graphics are nice and there are loads of snippets from the film included, but the game suffers from being just a bit average – which is a criticism that can be levelled against the movie as well. The puzzles aren't all that interesting, relying on the sort of generic setup that the all-encompassing "action-adventure" genre revels in. The combat is disappointing and the controls leave something to be desired. It's not a terrible game, especially if you're part of the target market or a fan of the film, but it's all a bit too generic and unremarkable to make it any higher on this list.


11. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command

Next up and just missing out on a spot in the top ten is an adaption of an animated TV series which itself is a spin-off from Disney Pixar's ever-popular Toy Story franchise. Centred around the exploits of the Buzz Lightyear character (although not the toy version we've come to love, but rather the character which the toy is based on in the film's own lore) this is a fun if sometimes generic action-adventure title, developed by Traveller's Tales (who are more well known today for developing the incredibly popular and multi-license spanning Lego games).

The action involves platforming, running, shooting and beating similar looking baddies, quite typical for a licensed game of this type. Whilst it is never particularly innovative, it does at least deliver an approachable and enjoyable gameplay experience. Graphically, the PlayStation roots of the game are rather glaring with blocky characters and a lack of texture that stands in stark contract to the best the Dreamcast has to offer, although they are still bright and colourful (it's worth noting the Dreamcast version was the first to release, although it's glaringly obvious that it was developed in tandem with the inferior hardware of Sony's machine). The links to the Sony release are also evident in the game's general performance, which holds up for the most part, although sometimes descends into bouts of slowdown. The game does deliver in other areas though, with a decent soundtrack and plenty of snippets of dialogue taken from the show, as well as some sort video clips. The issue throughout the game is that there isn't anything to really criticise - it does a good job at bringing the TV series to life for its young audience, but can never escape being a quite average, middle-of-the-road licensed title that feels very similar to a bunch of other similar games in the early 3D age. For those who love the character and have nostalgia for the series, it's worth a look today and it's far from being a bad game - but don't expect a poll-topping title here. 


Online Multiplayer discovered in Spirit of Speed 1937!

Incredibly, the most infamous racing title on the Dreamcast, Spirit of Speed 1937 - the Dark Souls of racing games itself - had online multiplayer all along, and we had no idea.


As many of you know, I have previously spoken to the original Broadsword development team on numerous occasions, including a lengthy interview featured in the excellent Dreamcast: Year Two book released last year. Recent discussions have revealed that online multiplayer not only existed in the Japanese version of the game, but it’s now back online thanks to recent efforts.

The online mode was added after the official European and American releases and is only available in the Japanese version of the game, according to the original Broadsword development team:

“We wanted to add online multiplayer into the original release, but the deadline dates for launch prevented us from ironing out a few network bugs. With the Japanese version releasing 9 months later, it gave us the opportunity to do more testing. Ultimately we still decided against officially releasing it just before the Japanese disc went gold, but left the netcode there hidden away. If servers had existed, it would’ve worked online, but they never did.”

That is, until now!

Since this revelation, we connected the original developers to Dreamcast network development expert Luke "Kazade" Benstead, who has helped them re-create the server to restore the online functionality.

The hidden network mode can be accessed on any Japanese copy of the game. On the “Press Start” screen, simply press and hold Y, X, A before hitting the start button and you’ll be taken to the hidden menu allowing network play to be started.
We’ve only tried a few online matches so far, but they’ve all worked great. The online Dreamcast community is constantly growing with new titles being resurrected every year - this is certainly one we were not expecting. Are you excited to hit the Spirit of Speed 1937 courses online? Let us know in the comments below…

April fools!!!

10 Very British Games for the Sega Dreamcast

The British are an odd bunch. We're not really a country (look we're not, you have to admit it. It's like someone got a bunch of nations together who don't really like each other all that much, told them the same rich pricks are in charge of them all and everyone was like "oh okay" and went on about their business. Other than the Irish, obviously), but we have contributed far more than our share towards modern culture (partly by being real arseholes to just about everyone else and insisting they consume our culture whilst invading them), have terrible cuisine, terrible weather and a really, really shit flag. Yet the internet (and by "the internet", I mean Americans on the internet) views all of us Brits as a bunch of posh people who live in country estates who apologise to each other every other second; generally a bunch of genial, mostly nice and horribly polite people with bad teeth. Of course, the Europeans don't see us like that, and instead see us for our true selves - a bunch of gammon-faced troublemaking binge-drinking tourists who invented the sport they're now better than us at. And of course by "us" I mean "the English" because somehow the Welsh and Scottish get a free pass from everyone else despite them both sitting right alongside us when we were arseholes to the rest of the world. So yeah, we're not really a very nice country all in all, if you can even call us a country. What has this to do with the Dreamcast? Absolutely nothing - other than the fact that there are several games on this little Japanese 128-bit wonder that try and come close to truly capturing the real essence behind "being British" - and those games are my target for the latest in my ongoing series of lists about Dreamcast things.

So, without further ado, let's take a look at the ten most "cor blimey, fish n' chips, bottla wateh, tea and crumpets, god save the king" games on the Dreamcast.


Disney's 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue

Set mostly in London (aren't all UK-based video games?), this Disney adaptation contains Big Ben, posh English people and dogs. All quintessentially British. The little canine stars travel to various locations either directly modelled after real-life locations (or at least as far as "modelled" can be attributed to a Dreamcast-era movie tie-in) as well as some more generic locations with a British feel. As the game is based on a live action movie and not an actual Disney animated film (which was always a bit of a weird mix), there is some definite artistic license taken, especially as developer Toys for Bob are based in the distinctly un-British state of California, along with Prolific Publishing, who dealt with the Dreamcast port. This all results in a "Disneyfied" Britain that will be familiar to most of us but doesn't quite reflect the hard streets of London or the rubbish-strewn, annoying middle class walker-infested countryside we all love. At times, you half expect Mary Poppins to emerge from a chimney with a hopping Dick Van Dyke singing some ridiculous song behind her. Disney's bastardisation of British culture is something we should all bemoan, especially if you've ever visited the city of Bath and had to contend with the culture-shocked American tourists despondently trudging the streets who thought that everything would be posh, cultured and historic but instead have to contend with crackheads trying to sell shit-stained PS2 games from a carrier bag to people on the street. And that's just Bath - can you imagine their reaction if they visited Swindon?

This is Piccadilly Circus. Sort of. Points for the phone box, but it's slightly less busy than I remember it.

The first appearance of a red double decker in the article. Surely more will come?

The British countryside in all its glory. Sort of.

Britishness Rating: As British as Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Dancing chimney sweeps should, however, make a return.

British Town it Best Represents: London, I suppose. If you're American, anyway. 

DCJY welcomes SEGA SATURN, SHIRO!

 

In the most exciting crossover since Jay-Z and Linkin Park did Collision Course, in episode 129 of our podcast, the DreamPod, Brian and Lewis are joined by two stalwarts of both the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast community: SaturnDave and Patrick (TraynoCo) of SEGA SATURN, SHIRO

SHIRO! originally started in 2017 as a podcast dedicated to the Saturn, but has since grown into a website, YouTube channel and community dedicated to spreading the love of Sega's misunderstood 32-bit wonder, and later the Dreamcast. We at the Junkyard are fans of the work these guys do, so it was great to finally get them on the pod to talk all about it, as well as their love for the Dreamcast.

In this episode, we go into detail about SHIRO!'s origins, the present and future of the Saturn, the strengths and similarities of both consoles, and much much more. We also put SHIRO! on the spot and ask them to name their top three Dreamcast titles.
You can listen to this episode of the DreamPod and all of our previous episodes on Buzzsprout, along with all great podcatchers... and remember. You MUST play Sega Saturn!

Replacement VMU Shells head to Kickstarter - VGNYsoft give us the Lowdown!

 

Based out of New York video game boutique Videogamesnewyork, publisher VGNYsoft have been well known in the Dreamcast scene for a long time now for publishing a whole load of indie games stateside for our beloved Sega console. For a list of what they have released in the past, check out Mike's Complete Guide to Commercially Released Dreamcast Indie Games.

I was particularly excited last year to see them venture into releasing custom VMUs, starting with a limited edition of Hermes featuring a Hermes-branded VMU, which I showcased on the blog back when it came out. This was then followed by a Blockbuster-branded VMU (actually authorised by the Blockbuster's owner Dish) which was offered as a prize for the fourth World Video Game Championship at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. I rightly presumed these two VMUs were a sign of more to come, and today at 12pm EST VGNYsoft will launch their campaign for replacement VMU shells in a variety of unique colours.

We got a chance to talk with Daniel Mastin of VGNYsoft and get the scoop on this brand new Kickstarter campaign, along with some teases about upcoming indie releases.

Credit: Adam Koralik

DCJY: Hi Dan! Thanks for chatting to us about your Kickstarter. I think we can speak for a lot of Dreamcast fans when we say that we are excited for the prospect of replacement VMU shells. What can people expect from the Kickstarter? And what was your reasoning for going to Kickstarter as opposed to just selling them via your normal store?

Dan: The Kickstarter is a way to connect with the community before all of the production numbers become finalized. The initial production is set to include six colors, with stretch goals and a community vote to help add additional colors. Each VMU shell includes five injection-molded parts: the front, back, cap, battery door, and the D-Pad, and will have an MSRP of $16. In future productions, we will continue to introduce new colors as we produce more. 

Where did the inspiration come from to produce replacement VMU shells?

The idea came to light as a culmination of circumstances. Our retail store handles a considerable number of repairs and shell swaps for customers. Additionally, our publishing company (VGNYsoft) continues to produce and release numerous indie games for the Dreamcast, and our warehouse happened to have an abundance of new, sealed clear green VMUs. With some creativity, we pieced together the concept of elevating Dreamcast indie releases to the next level! 

So were the Hermes and Blockbuster VMUs early tests for this idea?

Hermes was our proof of concept, we used new [official] VMUs for that production. The Blockbuster VMUs were a very small batch built using some of our early production samples.

You are based in the USA, will fans overseas be able to get hold of these VMU shells?

The Kickstarter will ship to most international countries, and we will also collaborate with international retailers to offer additional overseas solutions once the production is complete. 

You previously released a Hermes-branded VMU. Can we expect to see more custom VMUs to tie in with other Dreamcast indie releases?  

Custom VMUs are the secret sauce behind the entire production and the foundation for funding the very expensive injection molding process. We have a lineup of future limited edition releases that will feature custom-printed VMU shells. The first one will be announced in just a few weeks before the VMU shell Kickstarter is finished! 

That's exciting to hear! Finally, is there anything else that Dreamcast fans can expect from VGNYsoft in 2024?

VGNYsoft recently released North American versions of Ploid and Reknum from Nape Games (who also has a new game currently on Kickstarter). We have a few titles in the works for 2024 as well, which will be announced soon. In general, we are always looking to build deeper engagement with Dreamcast indie developers. Our goal is to help uplift their projects and bring them to a wider audience through high-quality physical productions.

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Thanks to Dan for giving us the lowdown on the Kickstarter campaign. Click here to go check it out for yourself, and be sure to let us know in the comments below which colours you'd like to see VGYNSoft produce next.

Star Wars: Dream of the Rebellion - Rogue Squadron Inspired Prototype Playable on Dreamcast!

As casual Star Wars fans tie themselves in knots with questions such as "who shot first? Han Solo or Greedo?", homebrew developer Frogbull is asking the real questions. There were three Star Wars games on the Sega Dreamcast; Jedi Power Battles, Demolition, and Episode I: Racer, but why do none of them let you pilot an X-Wing?!?

If you haven't encountered Frogbull before, they are the talented individual who showed off a proof-of-concept back in November of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty running on the Dreamcast, which was actually built using Luke Benstead's Simulant Engine and other homebrew tools. They also showcased similar prototypes of the first Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy VII running on the Sega Saturn, too. Their mission as a developer is clearly to prove these games can run on these Sega systems that they never got a chance to release on.

Yesterday, Twitter was awash with hype as Frogbull released footage of "Star Wars, Dream of the Rebellion" - a Rogue Squadron-inspired prototype - playing on the Dreamcast, which you can check out below. What's more, unlike previous efforts, Frogbull actually plans to release a playable demo of this project to the public for free in two weeks in the form of a .cdi file, for play on GDEMU, emulator, and I'm sure you’ll even be able to burn it onto a CD-R. Frogbull was generous enough to send me a playable build of it early, and I must say, I'm very impressed.

Once again running on the Simulant Engine, the Dream of the Rebellion demo currently features a single mission referred to as "Star Destroyer Pursuit". On the mission select screen, you can even press Y to hear C-3PO talk about the mission. Frogbull has utilised AI to get C-3PO's voice sounding accurate, and it really does sound good. Along with music and the famous title crawl Star Wars fans know and love, this demo is incredibly polished. 

The gameplay of the mission has you following after the star destroyer in the X-Wing, shooting down approaching TIE fighters, with your goal being to get the best score possible by shooting down as many as you can as accurately as possible. You don't actually control the X-wing's forward movement, instead being limited to moving around the screen. But with the stars moving in the background and the slight movement of the star destroyer at the top of the screen, it really does give off the illusion that you are constantly moving forwards. If you dodge the TIE fighters, seeing their 3D models zoom off screen (as seen below) really is very impressive.

Finally an X-wing on Dreamcast? Who knew it'd take until 2024 to see it happen. Anyhow, if you want to follow Frogbull, you can find them on Twitter, YouTube and Patreon. May the force be with you.

Kickstarter launches for Ambitious Multi-Platform RPG “Breath of Thunder” - includes Dreamcast stretch goal!

Update (11/03/2024): Due to online feedback, the creator of this Kickstarter has pulled all the stretch goals for retro systems, including Dreamcast.

It must be Dreamcast Kickstarter launch fever recently, as another new Kickstarter campaign was brought to my attention today in the Junkyard Discord by user Techno Hammer. For a goal of 30,510 AUD, developer Jerrel Dulay wants to develop an old school-style JRPG called "Breath of Thunder" for multiple modern systems, including the Switch, PC, the Atari VCS (the newer one that no one ever talks about, not the 2600), the PlayDate and the PS Vita (as free homebrew). But the project's ambitions for being a multi-platform release don't stop there, however...

I hadn't heard of Jerrel before, but from reading up on him, it seems he has a lot of development experience with a whole range of systems, with his survival horror series Silver Falls seeing releases across multiple platforms, such as the Game Boy, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, PSP, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U, and Switch. He has even just delivered a Kickstarter-funded Silver Falls entry on the gosh darn Pokémon Mini, of all things!

This actually looks really nice.

The game itself looks to pay homage to the kind of turn-based RPGs that were beloved on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, like Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire (it’s in the name!), Dragon Quest, and Secret of Mana; though that is probably the least interesting part of this campaign. Remember how I said Jerrel had development experience with lots of different systems? Well, if multiple stretch goals are reached, this game could come to eleven more potential systems, both modern and retro, including our beloved Dreamcast. Get a load of this list:

  • Sony PSP for 48k AUD
  • Nintendo DS for 61k AUD
  • Game Boy Color for 91k AUD
  • Dreamcast for 152k AUD
  • PlayStation 4 and 5 for 168k AUD
  • Xbox Series S and X for 168k AUD
  • PlayStation 1 for 229k AUD
  • Atari Jaguar for 305k AUD (Tom will appreciate this, I'm sure.)
  • Sega Saturn for 543k AUD
  • Game Boy Advance for 611k AUD
  • Nintendo Virtual Boy for 760k AUD
  • Other consoles that haven't even thought of yet for 916k AUD

All of the stretch goals for the retro systems mention that they are "unique" versions. On Jerrel’s channel, he showcases an early concept for the Atari Jaguar version and explains that it would have pre-rendered backgrounds instead of being 3D to avoid technical hiccups. I imagine this is most likely what would happen with the potential Dreamcast version, along with other retro versions. Also, for all the retro systems, including the Dreamcast, ROMs will be distributed for free upon completion, for play on an emulator (or maybe even an ODE?)

Jerrel also put a video out explaining how he’d be able to tackle so many systems if the stretch goals were successful, which you can watch below.


I guess we'll have to see how the Kickstarter campaign pans out as to whether or not a Dreamcast version will be available even happen at all. Anyway, if you'd like to back this project, the campaign can be found here.

Fragmented Almanac: Teaser Trailer and an Interview with Developer Roby Provost

Last month, the Junkyard office was abuzz with excitement when we caught wind of the news that Fragmented Almanac, a compilation of two eerie narrative-based puzzle games, was soon due to be released by fledgling indie studio ANTIRUINS on our beloved Sega Dreamcast. Alas, we don't actually have an office (yet), but the flurry of activity on our Discord and WhatsApp channels did a commendable job of emulating an exuberant water cooler experience nonetheless.

The duo of games contained within the Fragmented Almanac wrapper, The Hideout and Summoning Signals, have been in gestation for many years now, and whenever we had the opportunity to sample the work-in-development, our appetites for more only grew. At times it looked like the projects were sadly destined to join the extensive list of cancelled Dreamcast games, and so it was particularly sweet to hear that they are in fact now complete, and due for both physical and digital release in March of 2024.

Of course, after a lengthy session ogling the artsy ANTIRUINS website, I only wanted to learn more. Fortunately, lead developer Roby Provost has been kind enough to spill the beans in the following interview that covers everything from the conceptual foundations of Fragmented Almanac, down to the nuts and bolts of the game's printing and distribution. To put the cherry on top, Roby also provided us with a new teaser trailer that we are delighted to reveal for the first time here on the Junkyard.

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DCJY: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Roby. To kick things off, can you tell us what players should expect from The Hideout and Summoning Signals, the two games that are being released together as Fragmented Almanac?

Roby: They are quite unique games. They're not shmups, that's for sure! I honestly think that Fragmented Almanac might be one of the most polished indie Dreamcast releases we've seen so far. As I tried to explain on our website, it is at the intersection of video game, art and alchemy. It's a game that makes you dream, or at the very least, makes you think. We wanted to make a project that lingers in the back of your mind, trying to decode the meaning of "scroll". The whole release is designed like a puzzle: full of secrets, truths and symbols. 

This being said, they are not long games. We wished we could have made the full version of Reaperi Cycle, a game which The Hideout was initially a demo of, but it was way too ambitious - especially when we first started back in 2016. Still, we think that people who enjoy strange, narrative-driven games with some puzzles will enjoy Fragmented Almanac. It's definitely a unique proposition, as games like Seaman or Seventh Cross Evolution were. Of course, I really think Seventh Cross Evolution could have been way better. Maybe we'll have to make Eighth Cross Evolution one day 😉.

And if you had to categorise them by genre, would it be fair to say they are "point-and-click" adventures, or is that too restrictive?

I honestly struggle to find the proper term for these games! You don't even click to move around, so perhaps it's more like a cursor adventure? But even that doesn't have a great ring to it. Maybe they are puzzle games? Strange, narrative-based puzzle games?

Whatever they are, they have a distinctive eerie and mysterious style. What is the inspiration behind that?

I think eerie and mysterious is just in our DNA! More seriously, most of the inspiration for our games is drawn either from ideas of the past, or visions of the future - and in particular, things that have been forgotten or that are not bound to happen. The concept of the almanac, a book or document that predicts the time, felt like a great starting point. It's interesting to think about what motivated the creation of almanacs. Were their authors trying to create a system to anticipate the future? Were they trying to provide a guide, a sense of security? Some almanacs are based on the words of religious texts while others get their predictions from the stars. It was interesting to research the many forms that almanacs take, both visually and in the information we provide.

For us, the Almanac is used to somewhat guide and inform the player. As you play the game, you'll unlock fragments and access more lore and art from the game. Muet (Simon Chiasson Greffard), one of our team members, is the one who infused The Hideout with most of its alchemical philosophies. We dug deep within alchemical imagery and symbols and tried to craft something out of it.