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Showing posts with label DLC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DLC. Show all posts

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
Let's kick things off with Yukawa's very own Dreamcast game. This 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... 

Sonic Adventure's Christmas DLC and How It Broke the Game

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Sonic has landed a movie role in which he plays an eldritch abomination.
Anyway. Let's ignore Sonic's mistreatment in the present and look back to Christmases of old, specifically the Christmas of 1999, when the millennium bug was striking fear into the hearts of common man and the Dreamcast was the coolest console money could buy (don't get it twisted: it still is). 
During the dates of the 17th of December and the 28th of December, Dreamcast gamers had the ability to install one of the first instances of downloadable content (DLC) ever (at least the kind we've all grown accustomed to in the last two generations) to their trusty VMU.
The "Christmas Party" download brings festivity to your game of Sonic by placing Christmas trees outside the station and in the town center. When players make Sonic jump at them, festive messages will come up on screen, wishing them a Merry Christmas. The music will also change to the Acapella version of "Dreams, Dreams" from Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams. Hopefully no one back in '99 thought this was a sign that a NiGHTS sequel might be coming to the Dreamcast.



New Projects Archive Dreamcast DLC & VMU Files

We're big fans of digital preservation here at the Junkyard (we've even been preserved ourselves, by The British Library no less), and hopefully with all of these articles, podcasts and other such nonsense we're helping the legacy of the Dreamcast survive in our own little way. Others with far more technical nous are going a step further though, and are creating online repositories for Dreamcast-related digital files that could very well slide into obscurity and vanish altogether in time.
Not a digital archive.
I've touched on the subject of digital preservation several times in the past here, and it's a topic I'm very passionate about - I even worked for the UK National Archives in the field back in 2013. This gave me a great insight into the very real issue of preserving digital files and bespoke media formats and the Dreamcast is a console with its fair share of these. Happily, two separate projects have been brought to my attention that aim to address the somewhat scattered nature of Dreamcast digital files and bring them together in one (well, two) definitive libraries that are open and free for all Dreamcast fans to access.
Sites like Blue Swirl list fan-made VMU games.
The first aims to preserve DLC files for all manner of games; while the other is dedicated to archiving VMU mini-games. And while there are many sites currently online (or accessible via Wayback Machine) that offer similar services already; many offer incomplete lists, are plagued with broken links or only offer homebrew and fan-made mini-games.

The Land Before DLC: Toy Commander

Toy Commander is one of the Dreamcast's best games in my opinion. Not only is it an original take on the traditional 3D shooter in that you fly toy aircraft and drive ground units around a fully realised 3D house (toys which are actually being played with by a kid - the titular Toy Commander), but it really is an enjoyable experience. Missions are well balanced and varied in design, and on top of all that it has a great sense of humour. Oh, and it looks bloody fantastic even by today's standards. Yes, No Cliche really did pull a rabbit out of the hat when they put Toy Commander out as a launch title. It looked like something that was truly next-gen and played a mean game as well. Sadly, Toy Commander never recieved a true sequel and it remains a game that was born and died on the Dreamcast; the semi-sequel Toy Racer was little more than a mini game and was only playable online anyway, so those of us who either couldn't afford the dial-up tariff or simply weren't allowed to hog the only phone line in the house to play online games (like me!) missed out on the full experience.