Showing posts with label Japanese Dreamcast Collecting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japanese Dreamcast Collecting. Show all posts

Retrospective: Nettou Golf - a Golfing Hidden Gem for Dreamcast

Given the plethora of Golf titles available on virtually all Sega systems leading up to the Dreamcast, it’s somewhat of an oddity that, even with the Dreamcast's shortened lifespan, there was only a mere three golf titles released worldwide, one of which was a sequel. 

Tee Off was the only golf title released in PAL regions (meaning a poor showing for the home of Golf itself!), as well as NTSC, and isn’t a terrible game. While its name change (from Golf Shiyouyo) and cover reworking completely belie its cutesy presentation and characters, it's still a reasonable enough effort. Its sequel never left Japan.

Whilst there were stories and news reports that Sega had been in the process of converting their arcade title Virtua Golf, no real evidence that this was actually in the works exists from what I can see. For more information about Virtua Golf, check out Dreamcast Today's article.

There was another golf game, however, that is probably not as well-known by many. Step forward Nettou Golf.
A Dreamcast version of this with a trackball controller would have been incredible. 
Nettou Golf isn't well-known to us Dreamcast gamers in the West due to its Japan exclusivity, but, in my opinion, it’s rather good, and surprisingly playable without needing an English translation of any sort. The fact it was published by Sega themselves (it was developed by Data East) is vaguely curious to me considering its lack of a worldwide release. Given that the name derives from "NetGolf", because the game had online capabilities, it's even odder considering Sega's global touting of online play as a big marketing push for the Dreamcast, but it was apparently decided we weren’t considered as a territory for the game. Seems like a bit of a missed opportunity at the very least given how little in the way of a translation would have been needed to cover a game in this genre.

As previously mentioned, Nettou Golf is very accessible despite the language barrier. Not only does Google Translate do a very competent job of allowing you to understand the menus and modes, but I discovered this handy site (pictured below), that despite now being defunct, appears to be a couple's attempt to provide others with enough understanding to functionally navigate through certain less heralded Japanese games that were likely never going to get a localisation of any kind. They only translated seven games prior to stopping, but luckily for us, one of them is Nettou Golf.

Using Google's Translate App To Play Japanese Dreamcast Games

A few years ago, our man in Japan Ross O'Reilly went to the trouble of researching which Dreamcast games might best be utilised when trying to learn how to speak/read Japanese. And a thoroughly entertaining and educational article it is too. However, being a typical lazy English lout, I have no desire to bother learning how to speak another language. I just shout very loudly in English whenever I go on holiday. Usually while not wearing a shirt, and having previously drunk at least 7 pints of suspiciously cheap lager. But I digress.
Harnessing the sheer power of technology and questionable privacy controls, I recently discovered that the Google Translate app on my phone has the ability to 'live translate' any text the camera may be pointed at. Slowly putting two and two together, I deduced that by pointing my phone at any Japanese text displayed on my TV screen, I might well be able to finally play through some of the impenetrable Japanese Dreamcast titles I have in my possession.
Naturally, this would work for games in any supported language, and on any platform, but for the purposes of making this nonsense vaguely Dreamcast related I'm using Dreamcast games. How did I get on? Let's find out...

A Beginner's Guide to Visual Novels on the Dreamcast

Avid fans of the Dreamcast are most likely already aware that the console enjoyed a much longer life in its home country of Japan (the last officially licensed Dreamcast game, Karous, was released in 2007). For this reason, as well as the fact 90s console developers had a track record of thinking Western gamers were frightened of anything even slightly unconventional, there is an extensive list of Japan-only Dreamcast games just waiting for fans to import. The best part is that so many are playable without knowledge of the Japanese language. All you need is a boot disc or a modded Dreamcast and voilà! you've unlocked another section of the Dreamcast library. Check out our A to Z of Dreamcast Games if you want to know the best Japan-exclusives to get your mitts on.

However, for every playable game, there are just as many that are unplayable for anyone who isn't fluent in Japanese. Anyone who is insane enough to try and collect a full Japanese set will soon realise that there is plenty of "filler" - the kind of stuff you only buy for the sake of checking another game off the list and not because you are actually going to be able to play it. You know, those games with the anime girls on the front. Games like this:
 
Some might mistakenly call these things "dating simulators", but that's a different kettle of fish entirely. No, these are "visual novels", and they do exactly what they say on the tin, they are novels with visual elements. The term was coined by developer Leaf, with their "Visual Novel Series" of text-based adventure games (source). Boot up any game like this and you'll be greeted with nothing more than walls of Japanese text and images of anime characters making various expressions. They are a very niché style of game that have never had a big following outside of Japan, especially back in the early 2000s (hence their Japanese exclusivity). Some may debate whether or not they are actually games at all, but they're still something I'd recommend to keen readers and anime fans alike. 

Their "gameplay" more or less consists of reading text and (in the case of the most common type of visual novel) occasionally answering a multiple choice question on how the main character should react or respond in a certain situation. That might not sound all that interesting to some, but I like to look at visual novels as a more visual version of a choose your own adventure book, and being a fan of anime, the artwork contained within is something I'm familiar with. A lot of the stories are enjoyable, and believe it or not, the plots aren't always romantic; there are visual novels that focus on genres like sci-fi and mystery, for example.

DreamPod - Episode 48 Featuring DC Gaga

[iTunes][Stitcher][Buzzsprout][UK Podcast Directory][YouTube]

If you'd like to know more about DC Gaga, you can find the main site here, and also find Jamie on Twitter and Facebook. The article on the Dream Library download service is located here, and you can find our previous articles on the Dreameye, Dreamcast karaoke unit and the DC-Free service by clicking on/tapping the various inline links. If you like what you've heard, please consider leaving us an iTune review and as ever, thanks to everyone who donates to our Patreon.