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Showing posts with label Expanding The Dreamcast Collection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Expanding The Dreamcast Collection. Show all posts

The hunt for Premier Eleven - the lost Atomiswave soccer title

As we've detailed here in the recent past, the Sammy Atomiswave is a gold mine of interesting and lesser known titles that are now playable on the Dreamcast. This is thanks to talented Dreamcast community members such as megavolt85, yzb and others; and is possible in part due to the hardware similarities between the prematurley cancelled arcade system and the Dreamcast on which it is based.

Although the vast majority of the games released on Atomiswave have now been ported to the Dreamcast, there still remain several 'lost' titles that are either in the hands of private collectors; or really are lost to the annals of gaming history. One such game is the now almost legendary Chicago 1929/The Roaring Twenties - a racing game set in prohibition era America. Another of these lost 'holy grail' Atomiswave titles is a football/soccer game developed by Dimps Corporation and titled Premier Eleven.

Source: The Arcade Flyer Archive

As is well documented, the Dreamcast's stable of soccer titles never really hit the heights of titles on contemporary systems, with PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox owners all having superior kick ball experiences at their disposal. But what of Premier Eleven then? Details are relatively scant on just how good this game could have been, but the small amount of video available online shows a Virtua Striker style experience with some outstanding animation and excellent visuals. Regardless, I for one would love to sample Premier Eleven simply out of pure curiosity (and my love of soccer games); and who knows - Premier Eleven could be the top tier football game Dreamcast owners have been waiting for.

Alas, that's unlikely to happen. Not least because Premier Eleven was never relased. Or was it? Here's where things get interesting. Over on Dreamcast Talk, there's a thread all about a Premier Eleven arcade board coming up for sale on eBay. The thread was started back in January 2021 by user Ro Magnus Larsson and the eBay auction is still live, with the seller 'neotropolis' asking for $15,000 in return for a 'fully working, 100% complete' example of Premier Eleven. The listing goes on to claim: "To my knowledge, this game only exists in the form you see here; a true holy-grail centerpiece for any arcade-gaming collector!"

What would appear to back this claim up is that the only footage of this game actually running comes from the previous owner of the Premier Eleven board up for auction. Upon learning of the video, several members of the Dreamcast Talk forum commented on the upload pleading for owner 'bowser 123' to dump the rom, but they responded saying that they'd already sold the board to the person who now has it listed on eBay: "I made this video because I sold the game for USA, specifically for an ebay seller called neotropolis, I think he is still selling it for a fortune, even if I wanted to make the dump I couldn't because I don't have it anymore."

So end of story right? There is one known copy of Premier Eleven for the Atomiswave. The person who owned it made a video to show it working, and then sold it. The buyer now has it listed on eBay for $15,000 and it's unlikely that the rom will be dumped unless a super wealthy Dreamcast fan buys it and releases the rom online out of the goodness of their own heart. Well, not quite.

There is some proof that this copy of Premier Eleven is not in fact the only known version out there. First, back in 2017 when we covered the discovery of a dev kit containing previously unseen Chicago 1929 assets, friend of the Junkyard and MSR authority RJAY63 commented: "I actually played Chicago 1929 at Southsea Island Leisure Arcade (Clarence Pier, Southsea, UK) circa 2005. They briefly became a test site for Sega Amusements with an Outrun 2 SP set-up and quite a few Atomiswave titles. Only played it once but I wasn't very impressed so I'm not surprised it got canned."

The key information here is the Southsea Island Leisure Arcade in Hampshire, UK. And furthermore that this location was a test site for Sega Amusements back in the 2000s. This could be written off purely as a baseless rumour, if not for the further evidence backing this up in the form of photos. Photos of a Premier Eleven arcade cabinet running at Southsea Island Leisure Arcade, circa 2004:

Dreamcast Talk forum member Baseley0o frequented the same arcade as RJAY63, and also took photos of the machines at the time, stating: "This game deffo went out into circulation/arcades. I took these snaps at my local arcade Clarence Pier, Southsea (UK) not too long after Atomiswave came out and one of them was Premier Eleven. I'm unsure if the 2004 date my camera shows is accurate. I thought maybe 2003 but it's a while back now! The arcade in question wasn't a test site for anything that I recall, though did have the odd surprise like these."

So what does all this mean? To me, it points to the very real possibility that there is more than one single copy of Premier Eleven in existence. That there is a small chance that somewhere - possibly even in the UK - the Premier Eleven Atomiswave cartridge in final, working form exists. And this is very exciting, for various reasons - not least for video game history preservation.

All of this would not have been possible without the investigation of the Dreamcast Talk forum members and people like RAY63 and Baseley0o; but there's still a lot of work to be done to discover the fate of the Premier Eleven game that was playable in Southsea in the mid 2000s. 

To this end, I have contacted Sega Amusements to ask if they have any records of what happened to Premier Eleven and if they can help to shed any light on this mystery. Likewise, for what it's worth I've emailed Dimps via their corporate website. Furthermore, Southsea Island Leisure Arcade is still in operation to this day, and according to the UK Government's Companies House website, the same directors who ran the location in the mid 2000s are still in charge. It's probably a long shot that they would even remember the Premier Eleven machine being placed in the arcade (or indeed what happened to it), but I've also reached out to them, too. If this article can help to shine even a slither of light into the darkness and assist in the release of this long lost Atomiswave title, then all the better.

For now though, I guess waiting for a reply from Sega Amusements or Southsea Island is our best bet. Unless anyone wants to cough up $15,000 for the copy on eBay...


Update

After I published this article, I took a trip down to Clarence Pier in Southsea and located the very arcade in which the photographs above were taken. Naturally, in the intervening decades since Baseley0o took the photos, the arcade has been completely redecorated and there relatively few recognisable video arcades on offer; much of the floor space now being taken up by gambling machines and toy grabbers. 

I'm not sure what I was expecting really - maybe a faint glimmer of hope that the passage of time had somehow avoided this little corner of Hampshire and that the Premier Eleven Atomiswave machine might still be there in some forgotten corner, covered in dust and be happily chiming away to itself in attract mode. Alas, this wasn't the case - the machine had obviously long since been removed. I asked a member of staff but they had no recollection of it either, again this is not surprising considering how long ago the photos were taken.

In a slightly more bountiful turn of events, I did recieve a response from Sega Amusements, with several members of the team responding to my emails. The most interesting reply came from Martin Riley, the International Sales Manager:


Hello Tom,   

Yes, actually I was the one who placed those games into the Southsea arcade, but it was later than 2000.   

I was the Sales Manager at Sammy Europe based in London at the time that we launched Atomiswave into the UK. In your picture you can see the standard modular version first launched, and then the squarer box cabinet which was the deluxe version for the larger arcade. 

Premier Eleven was indeed a game we looked to launch in UK market and only really tested, but it didn’t go into wide circulation. However, I’m not 100% sure it was the only prototype. This was from either Japan or USA Sammy studios and was supposed to be an on-line version with servers in each country, but was a little before its time and wasn’t popular, or worked as planned, if I remember correctly, and in the end was never continued. So, you are right that there are very few of these cartridges around as it was never on general release in the UK.

I hope this helps.

Martin Riley

International Sales Manager


This update doesn't really add a great deal to the quest to locate other copies of Premier Eleven, although it is cool that we managed to track down the very person who put the Premier Eleven cabinet into that arcade in Southsea.

Lost Atomiswave fighter KenJu ported to Dreamcast

The number of Atomiswave games ported to the Dreamcast continues to grow, and one of the latest offerings from developer megavolt85 over at Dreamcast-Talk is one we thought deserved a bit of attention. 

KenJu is a 3D fighting game from DreamFactory which was intended for release on Sammy's arcade system, but was apparently cancelled before it could be launched into brick and mortar arcades. The KenJu story has a happy ending though, as you can now get a glimpse at this fairly enigmatic polygonal scrapper either on actual Dreamcast hardware or via emulation! Here's a video of some (ham-fisted) gameplay by yours truly:

There's not a great deal known about KenJu, other than it was in development by DreamFactory (of Tobal No. 1 fame), who for unknown reasons decided not to release the game and consign it to the dustbin of history. Until now, that is. As far as I can ascertain, KenJu was due to hit arcades in 2005 before it mysteriously vanished without trace. KenJu did resurface in 2016 when a collector of Atomiswave boards released footage of it running, and then it slipped back into obscurity once more. The game has a fairly appealing visual style, with psuedo cel-shaded polygonal characters fighting in some nice looking 3D arenas.

The general consensus is that KenJu looks a little like Project Justice: Rival Schools 2, but for me that's pretty much where the similarities end. It has some interesting characters and plays pretty well, but it seems to be missing that certain something...which may hint at the reasons for why it was quietly canned. That said, it's quite good fun and the fact that the Dreamcast is able to recreate the game so flawlessly opens up the door for even more ambitious Atomiswave games such as Premier Eleven. Who thought we'd ever see the day the Dreamcast got a decent footy (soccer) game?!

It's worth noting that as with the other Atomiswave to Dreamcast ports released so far, KenJu is only available as a GDI file, so you'll need some additional hardware to play it on an actual Dreamcast. Personally, I had no joy getting the game to run under either DreamShell or RetroDream using both a Compact Flash modded system or an SD Card reader via the Dreamcast's serial port. It did however run using a GDEMU, so you may want to give that method a go if you're determined to play KenJu on original (well, original modded) hardware. That minor hiccup aside, KenJu seems to be perfectly playable and also mostly complete.

If you'd like to download the game for yourself, visit the Dreamcast-Talk forum thread here. Huge thanks once again to megavolt85 and other forum members who not only continue to expand the Dreamcast collection, but are also preserving some of the Atomiswave's most intriguing and lesser known titles.

Have you played KenJu on your Dreamcast or on an emulator? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Let's play some Atomiswave games on Dreamcast!

As discussed in a recent article here at The Dreamcast Junkyard, Dreamcast-Talk forum members megavolt85 and yzb have been porting Atomiswave games to the Dreamcast. While many people reading this will no doubt get a lot of joy from playing these esoteric titles on an emulator - as did I initially - we thought we should get these titles running on an actual Dreamcast and see how they play with a standard HKT-7700 gripped in our mitts. So that's what we did!

Below is the fruit of our labour, which in reality was no more difficult than grabbing the various GDI files for games such as Dolphin Blue, Maximum Speed, King of Fighters XI, Samurai Shodown VI, Faster than Speed and Metal Slug 6, and dropping them onto the Compact Flash card which slots nicely into the side of the Compact Flash modded Dreamcast. Booting through DreamShell allows you to navigate to the files on the storage and simply boot them as you would any other game. I'm pretty sure this would work with any other type of solid state storage device you may have in your Dreamcast too, so let us know in the comments if it works with things like MODE or GDEmu. If you have any specific questions though, be sure to head to the FAQ on Dreamcast-Talk. Enough waffle, enjoy the video below!

Have you tried any of these games? If so, what are you thoughts? And are there any hidden gems on the Atomiswave crying out to be ported to the Dreamcast? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to head to Dreamcast-Talk, join the forum and thank megavolt85 and yzb for their stirling work.

Atomiswave games are being ported to Dreamcast...which is awesome

The Atomiswave, for those who may not be aware, was an arcade system co-developed by Sammy and Sega and released back in 2003. As explained in Ross's excellent deep dive on the hardware here, the origins of the arcade platform are thought to have been born out of Sega's pivot out of the home console market, leaving the firm with a surplus of hardware it had no use for (namely, bits of Dreamcast tech). 

The Atomiswave was first unveiled at the Japan Amusement Show in 2002, and piqued the interest of some of the biggest names in the arcade scene at the time, with SNK, Dimps, Psyko, Treasure, Compile, IGS, Visco and Tecmo all lending their support to the fledgling platform.

And lo, the Atomiswave became something of a hit among arcade gamers, hosting numerous inventive and colourful titles; and Sammy went on to purchase CSK's shares in Sega before eventually buying out the company in 2004. The intriguing thing about the Atomiswave is that even though its hardware was quite similar to the Dreamcast and NAOMI systems it was based on, Atomiswave games were incompatible with Dreamcast and so considered to be solely the preserve of dedicated arcade collectors. Until now, that is.

That's because developer megavolt85 has begun porting Atomiswave games to the Dreamcast, and if you head over to the Dreamcast-Talk forums you'll be able to see (and download) the fruits of their (very obvious) labour. So far, several Atomiswave titles have been ported to Dreamcast, and the GDI files made available. Of the handful of titles released so far, I have only played Faster than Speed - an arcade racer which plays (and looks) like the bastard lovechild of Need for Speed Underground and Scud Race.





It's actually a pretty fun racer, with lots of tracks and vehicles and some really nice handling. Oh, and it looks gorgeous. I've been playing this on ReDream on a MacBook Pro, and compatibility with some controllers has been a bit iffy, but as far as I can tell from browsing the forums, other emulators on PC work even better so your experiences may be better than mine. I did try to also play the game using an actual Dreamcast by loading the GDI file onto the Compact Flash modded Dreamcast, and while it would display the Faster than Speed custom artwork in Dreamshell, the game would not boot. So close...yet so far!

Edit - I got games working on a Dreamcast (thanks to Pcwzrd13 once again!). Check out the results.


One thing is clear though - this game and the work of megavolt85 is a revelation for the Dreamcast library. That Atomiswave games can now be sampled - in my case for the first time ever - is truly amazing; and a massive boon for digital preservationists. And this could be just the start of a whole new side of the Sega arcade library being opened up to Dreamcast owners who never knew such experiences existed. Exciting stuff indeed.




Apart from Faster than Speed, other Atomiswave games to be ported to Dreamcast in 2020 include King of Fighters XI, Metal Slug 6, and Samurai Spirits Tenkaichi Kenkakuden, and we'd be a bit daft to think that even more Atomiswave games are not on the cusp of being ported to our beloved console.

Head over to the Dreamcast-Talk forums to find out more. Thanks also to @pcwzrd13 for alerting those of us (me) who have maybe been a bit lax on keeping up with Dreamcast news this year.

Expanding the Dreamcast Collection Part 5: The Sega System SP

It’s been an interesting journey, and one that I for one have certainly learnt a lot from, but unfortunately this won’t quite be the send off befitting a series of systems that once dominated the arcade scene for over a decade. You see, rather than going out with a bang, the Dreamcast family of hardware ended with a silent wet fart - a shart, even -  from a once great arcade behemoth. Hardly riveting stuff, but for the sake of completion and bringing this barrel-scraping topic to a close, let’s take a quick look at the not-so-almighty System SP.
The System SP. Picture taken from www.system16.com - a great resource for
all things arcade related, so check it out.
Now how’s that for an opening to get your attention? How could you possibly resist the temptation to expand your ever increasing knowledge of pointless Dreamcast trivia? So gather round and prepare to be bored to death! You - yes you, the person whose time would be far better spent learning to play an instrument or practicing that language you’ve intended to learn for the past decade.
This is how the Dreamcast ended up. A sad/hilarious sight indeed.
Where was I again? Oh yes, the System SP. Time to share a few useless tidbits about the most boring, pointless and least interesting system in the Dreamcast family. Well, we had to wrap it up somehow...

Expanding the Dreamcast Collection: Part 4 - Atomiswave

“Welcome back to the stage of history.” It's been a long time coming, and for that I can only apologise, but this mammoth article has finally been completed so let's take a look at the fourth system in the Dreamcast family of hardware: the Sammy Atomiswave. Out of all the hardware in the family, the Atomiswave is perhaps the most similar to the Dreamcast on a technical level and was supported by three names in gaming synonymous with the console's library: SNK, Sammy and Sega. With this in mind, if you consider yourself a fan of the Dreamcast, or the Neo Geo for that matter, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice by overlooking it.

A Quick Look at Dolphin Blue

Just like our previous article exploring the history of the Sega Driving Simulator, this began as a sub-section of the upcoming part 4 in our 'Expanding the Dreamcast Collection' series regarding the next in the line of arcade systems to share similar hardware to the Dreamcast; the Atomiswave system. People often ask me…wait - who am kidding…let me start again. In my imagination, people often ask me to name the 'exclusive killer app' for each of the systems in the Dreamcast family and I usually struggle, but with Atomiswave, an answer is easy to produce; not only is this the best Atomiswave game, but this could well very be the single best exclusive across the entire Dreamcast family of arcade hardware. Read on to find out more.

I’m a big fan of Metal Slug but like many of you out there, I found the series got a wee bit stale after the third game. Not to say that subsequent games were bad or anything, just that…well, I couldn’t shake the feeling of déjà vu, and have always preferred the purity of the original game without all the zombies, mummies, aliens and transformation nonsense. Dolphin Blue fills the void left in the wake of the Metal Slug series’ change in direction, and then some.
Even before merging with Sega, Sammy had a close relationship with Sega.
Atomiswave and the Guilty Gear series are heavily associated with both companies. 
The game was one of the last Sammy developed before the merger with Sega in 2004. Despite this, it feels incredibly Sega-like for lack of a better term; blue skies, upbeat catchy tunes, cute spunky characters with plenty of 'tude and even an appearance from Sega’s very own Ecco the Dolphin…Ok, well that last part I may have just pulled out of my arse, but many of the gameplay mechanics do revolve around a certain bad ass cetacean chum.

DreamPod - Episode 30: NAOMI Special

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If you like what you hear, please consider leaving us an iTunes review as it really helps the podcast get noticed. Good or bad, we value your feedback. Thanks!

Dreamcast 2: Arcade Version - Expanding the Dreamcast Collection: Part 3 - Naomi 2

The Dreamcast Junkyard is finally breaking its silence on the topic of the Dreamcast 2… well, sort of. The Naomi is often described as the arcade version of the Dreamcast, and the true successor to the Naomi was of course the Naomi 2, thereby making the Naomi 2 the arcade version of the Dreamcast 2! Yes? Get it...? Am I right? AM I RIGHT? Well, OK, that was pretty shameless click bait, but you're here now anyway, so why not let us tell you a bit more about the third system in the Dreamcast arcade family.

In part 3, we’ll be covering one of the other systems in the Dreamcast family, the Naomi 2. Much of the information from part 1 (such as how to play Naomi games) applies, so if you haven’t already, then I suggest reading that before making a start here. In part 2 we took a look at the Hikaru system, and while not essential to understanding this article, feel free to take a look back for a complete perspective of the family.

Part 1 – The Naomi Connection
Part 2 – The Hikaru 7

1. Naomi 2 Overview
2. Some Naomi 2 Exclusives
3. Naomi 2 Home Ports
4. The Dreamcast's Virtua Fighter 4 Passport VF.NET and History/VF4 Disks
5. Naomi 2 Games List

OK, back now? Great let’s get started.
Naomi 2 Overview
It’s often incorrectly stated that the Naomi 2 was released in the year 2000, but this seems to be another mistake brought around by poor translations of Japanese. According to Famitsu magazine, the Naomi 2 was first unveiled at the 38th JAMMA trade show towards the end of September 2000 along with Virtua Fighter 4 (then known as VF-X), Wild Riders, Club Karts, Virtua Striker 3 and the new Naomi/ Naomi 2 GD-ROM drive add-on.

The Sega Driving Simulator – Expanding the Dreamcast Collection Special

Originally intended to be featured in my soon to be completed 'Expanding the Dreamcast Collection – Part 3' article, it was decided (by me!) that this game/simulator deserved a little more attention and so has evolved into its own, albeit short, article. Take a read if such things as boring simulators interest you…or don’t... see if I care!

Did you know, that in 2002, while the English were still living in mud huts and throwing faeces into each other’s faces, on the other side of the globe, whacky big eyed constantly bowing super advanced cat-girl people (aka the Japanese) had already perfected the art of driving simulator creation? Yes, it’s true, and the creator of said super advanced simulator wasn’t Skynet, but in fact Sega! What’s more it ran on Dreamcast 2 hardware!
OK, so it wasn’t technically running on a Dreamcast 2, it ran on the Naomi 2 arcade hardware. The Naomi 2 was of course the sequel to the original Naomi which itself was basically just an arcade version of the Dreamcast, so with a bit of imagination it doesn’t take much of a leap to get from Naomi 2 to Dreamcast 2. (The rest of the above is all true and historically accurate by the way, a Facebook meme once told me so...probably).

Does it Matter if You're Black or White?

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that this post will relate to the design shift from white to black in the old US of A-NTSC land. Well, you'd be wrong, I'm not going to talk about that. It's already common knowledge and well understood, though I will just quickly mention that it's supremely handy that both designs use a standard 10.2mm CD jewel case with a clear plastic tray. These are dime-a-dozen and can easily be replaced if you want to return your collection to showroom condition.
Nope, not going to talk about these.

Expanding the Dreamcast Collection: Part 2 - The Hikaru Seven

In part 2 of my Expanding the Dreamcast Collection series, we’ll be covering one of the other systems in the Dreamcast family, the Sega Hikaru. Much of the information from part 1 (such as how to play Naomi games) applies here, so if you haven’t already, I suggest you go and read part 1 now.

Back now? OK, great  - let’s get started.
Part 2: The Hikaru Seven
The Sega Hikaru was released into the arcades in the year 1999 becoming the third system in the Dreamcast family (the first and second being the Naomi and Dreamcast respectively). Development of the Hikaru was born out of the necessity to convincingly recreate fire, water and the subsequent lighting and particle effects required for such a task in the game 'Shouboushi Brave Firefighters.' Rendering such effects in a semi realistic manner was cutting edge at the time and beyond the capabilities of the original Naomi hardware, so a beefed up version of the system was hastily developed at the request of the game's development team.

The specs of the Hikaru differ from the Naomi in that it utilises a custom Sega GPU and doubles-up on many components; 2 x Hitachi SH-4 CPUs and double the amount of RAM and VRAM. Furthermore, Hikari units are standalone systems not designed for games to be easily interchangeable like the carts seen on the Naomi. Each unit comes with a ROM board containing a specific game fixed in-place inside a heavy duty metal case, much like the House of the Dead 2 board and the predecessors to the Naomi, the Sega Model 2 and 3.
Left: Model 2. Right: Hikaru
The word 'Hikaru (光/ひかる)' means 'to shine' in Japanese, and comes from the system’s ability to generate lighting effects far superior to other gaming hardware at the time. Hikaru was in fact the first piece of arcade hardware cable of rendering scenes with phong shading and Brave Fire Fighters was the first EVER game to use the shading technique. On a side note, the first game for home consoles to use this kind of shading (albeit on far more limited scale) was Space Channel 5, giving a shimmer to Ulala's dress. So there you go, another example of the Dreamcast family leading the pack in terms of advancements in the games industry.

CSK Holdings: A Brief History & Connection to the Dreamcast

Hey guys, I'm Ross and welcome to my first article as an official DCJY member. Seeing as my guest articles went down so well, Tom decided to ask me to join the team...and so I naturally obliged!

To give a little background to this article, Tom asked me if I had any knowledge about a variant of the Dreamcast that isn't well documented online. I looked into it and realised that what I'd discovered might make an interesting company profile. So, read on to find out more about the Japanese conglomerate that played a major role in the shaping of not only Sega, but also our beloved Dreamcast - CSK Holdings Corporation.
CSK Holdings Corporation?
CSK Holdings Corporation (株式会社CSKホールディングス Kabushiki-gaisha Shī Esu Kei Hōrudingusu) is a multi-billion dollar Japanese conglomerate with heavy involvement in I.T. industries.

Formed in 1968, they've played a big part in the history of Sega since 1984 when they bought the company and renamed it to 'Sega Enterprises Ltd.' Isao Okawa, a personal friend of David Rosen, became the company's chairman and two years later shares of the company were put on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to be traded.

CSK remained the parent company of Sega until 2004 when they sold their remaining shares to Sammy Corporation which led to the two companies merging to form the one we know today, Sega Sammy Holdings Inc.

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

I thought I was more or less done with Dreamcast game collecting. With over 400-500 games in my possession (depending on how you count regional duplicates, demo discs, etc.), I felt that I had pretty much royally overdone it and owned far more than was ever going to be necessary. It would be almost impossible to find the time to play them all in the remaining weekends and evenings I have left before the sun sets on my miserable pile of secrets, but that sobering thought never slowed me down. I even went the extra mile, acquiring many of the games originally destined for Dreamcast but ended up on competitor's consoles when Sega lost their marbles and went third party. I invested in arcade hardware like NAOMI and Atomiswave in order to get all the Dreamcast games that were never ported into the home. I had traveled not just one extra mile but all of the extra miles and reached every dead end. I was done.

And then this happened:
Damn you Mike Phelan!
It turns out I was not done, I was in fact far from done. There were all these tiny little dark and twisted narrow detours and blind alleys that my Dreamcast searchlight had originally failed to reveal. Games I never knew existed. Little known games by developers I loved. Games whose impenetrable Japanese seemed less frightening with the helping hand of Mike's accessibility guide. My collection now seems woefully incomplete and my interest was reborn. I think I might just get a few more games, maybe a couple of dozen, no more than two score tops. I don't need all of them, I can totally stop anytime I want. Seriously.

Guest Article: Future Proofing Your Dreamcast

In the second of a series of guest articles from our man in Japan Ross O'Reilly, we'll be looking at how you can pimp your Dreamcast to within an inch of it's life and enjoy most (well, some) of the lovely features a modern games system benefits from. HD output, bountiful storage and online capabilities are all things we take for granted these days and with a bit of knowledge and a fat wallet you can enjoy the same with a Dreamcast right now. Let it be known that I have neither of the aforementioned. Ross, over to you.
So, you want the so called 'Dreamcast 2' (don't get me started on that!), you want a HD Dreamcast, right? You want the ability to play Dreamcast games online? Download DC software and run it on original hardware? Play with a wireless DC controller?

Well, what if I were to tell you that all of those features are available to you right now, today.
Yes, I apologise if I sound patronising to those of you who are regular readers and keep up with Dreamcast developments, but I'm here to tell you anyway, that all of those features and more are available to you already...just so long as you have deep enough pockets to shell out on the numerous devices required.

Let's start from the top...

Guest Article: Expanding The Dreamcast Collection Part 1 - The Naomi Connection

Ross O'Reilly is no stranger to the world of NTSC-J Dreamcast collecting or arcade gaming. Not least because he lives in Japan and his apartment is stuffed full of arcade machines and Dreamcasts. Here in this first of a series of guest articles at The Dreamcast Junkyard, Ross explains why the Dreamcast collection you have may seem complete, but is in actual fact far from it. The Dreamcast's history is intertwined with that of the Naomi arcade machine, and here Ross explains how you can expand your library of Dreamcast-style games by getting involved in the Naomi scene. At this point, I'd also like to point out that all of the quality artwork is the work of the author. Cough.

Ross, over to you...
I’d assume that many of you reading this already own a substantial Dreamcast collection or have at least played a wide variety of games on the system. It’s been almost 18 years since the console was first launched in its home territory of Japan, and while it’s still getting support (unofficial at least) to this day, the number of new titles has of course dwindled since its heyday.

Most gamers, even fans of the Dreamcast, moved onto greener pastures long ago. But what’s the hardcore Dreamcast fan to do?

Support the indie scene: A worthy cause no doubt, but let’s be honest, the quality of these titles are rarely anything special and never up to the standard of the Dreamcast’s best Sega developed games.

Import: Finding games that were unreleased in your home territory can be great fun. Whichever region you’re from, I can guarantee that there are a tonne of great games that never came to your shores. Many of us have already done this for years though; the list of import games we’ve yet to play is diminishing fast. What next?

Complete sets: The hardest of hardcore collectors can go for a complete set, but if we’re honest, the Dreamcast wasn’t that good; there were still a tonne of crappy games that came out for it. Do you really want a shelf half full of absolute rubbish you’ll probably never play and certainly not enjoy? Oh, you do? Well, even if that’s the case, I presume you wouldn’t turn down the chance to find some new 'good' games to play.

But don’t worry, there is still hope! In this series of articles, I’ll detail how you can expand your collection and find more than enough fresh content to keep you happy and out of the whisky bottle for at least another year or so. All you have to do is ever so slightly redefine the meaning of 'Dreamcast game.'

The Final Indignity

When Sega released the Dreamcast on November 27, 1998, they kick-started the 128-bit generation, or what would now be known as the 6th Generation of gaming consoles. After years of working on a 'Saturn 2' to beef up the 3D capabilities of their flagship device in response to Sony's all conquering (but ageing) PlayStation, they were primed and ready to go to contrarily sweep away their recent history of failure to reclaim the lost throne in the West and also to build upon their newly found and long sought after success in the East. 

It seemed like a good idea to get in early; to build up a good quality software library over the coming year to potentially have the edge over what would turn out to be a lacklustre collection of launch games for their sword of Damocles weilding rival lurking just beyond the horizon. However, despite tempting the masses with a veritable smorgasbord of very tasty gaming treats, they underestimated the patience (and brand loyalty stubbornness) of the average consumer, who were prepared to wait for the privilege of buying a "free" DVD player with their “emotion engines.” 
Aw, what the hell, I don't got that long a lifespan anyway...
To add insult to injury, there were further unintended consequences from getting things off to an early start. The decision to use standard Compact Disc jewel cases for Dreamcast games in Japan and the US was simple, elegant, sensible and unpretentious. There was no stigma associated with the jewel case in Japan, as it was the de facto standard for just about all the recently successful video game systems (with the exception of Nintendo's bewildering use of flimsy cardboard boxes), including but not limited to the NEC PC Engine, Sony's PlayStation and Sega's own Saturn, which was not the downtrodden aborted foetus that it became in the West, but a glorious golden child that was much loved in its home country. 

I imagine that Saturn games and Dreamcast games sat proudly side-by-side in Japanese game stores, much like how the Master System and Mega Drive games would be joined at the hip in PAL territories during the early years – a state-of-the-art older brother pushing graphical prowess to the cutting edge, alongside an entry-level younger sibling who offered a large back catalogue of unique, simpler but no less charming games. 
It's surprisingly difficult to find photographic evidence of a glorious
Japanese Saturn and Dreamcast retail display from the late '90s
(or maybe my google-fu is lacking)
The jewel case was also well suited to the US market, as it created some distance from the bad history associated with the monstrosity that was the oversized Sega CD/Saturn plastic cases of old, and put the Dreamcast on equal footing with the reigning champ at the time, ensuring the new breed of casual playstation-era gamers wouldn't be confused by any unconventional game case designs. This was a victory for common sense, as Sega doesn't have a particularly good track record when it comes to designing their own game cases (the less said about the PAL territory game cases the better).

Bonus Feature: The Corpse Bride – Deleted Scenes

While researching for my previous two-part article (Part 1, Part 2), I stumbled across something interesting that I hadn't encountered before. It ended up on the cutting room floor due to space, but I thought it was worth exploring further in this diverting little side topic. If you could just scooch over a bit closer and allow me to whisper conspiratorially in your ear: the MIL-CD enhanced audio disc might not have been the only special multimedia format that Sega invented especially for the Dreamcast - they may have also toyed with the idea of snubbing the DVD Consortium by producing their own proprietary digital video disc format for movies and films. Hush, stifle your gasp, they'll hear you.
N-n-no Mr. Bighead, I didn't tell them. Honest.
You may have noticed some logos during the start up sequence of many Dreamcast games for ADX and Sofdec. These are the CRI developed middleware tools for sound compression and multi-streaming video respectively. ADX allowed for CD quality audio to be compressed and encoded into the high-density GD-ROM layer (as opposed to standard 'red book' audio tracks). Sofdec was an enhanced version of the MPEG-1 video standard which not only encoded standard FMV cut-scenes into games, but was also tailored towards providing 3D game designers with access to some pretty swish graphical trickery. Video files could be rendered as textures over 3D objects and they could also utilise full alpha blending for effects such as explosions, fire and smoke. Multiple video files could be played synchronously or asynchronously and they could also be looped and stitched together seamlessly. All in all, Sofdec is probably a substantial reason as to why Dreamcast games looked so good (and have aged well like fine wines too). CRIWARE, as they are now known, continue to flog their wares to this day, proudly waving their flag in recent games like Bungie's Destiny.

Forensic Examination Of The Dreamcast Corpse - File 2 of 2

Recently, we featured the first of two revealing articles looking at the secret life the Dreamcast lead behind the scenes after it's official death. Here, Doc Eggfan of Sonic Retro returns with part two, speculating about what happened to all those surplus GD-ROM drives...

In the first half of our exposé, we established that reports of the Dreamcast's demise in 2001 may have been a little exaggerated, and that the spirit of the system would go on to live a long and fruitful life as Sammy's Atomiswave arcade system. While this covers part of the Dreamcast's hardware legacy, there's a whole other side yet to be covered around the use of GD-ROM drives and the proprietary GD-ROM media itself. Did the Dreamcast live another second life beyond the grave? Let's find out...