Showing posts with label Kickstarter Funded. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kickstarter Funded. Show all posts

Review: Tapeworm Disco Puzzle

2022 began much as 2021 ended - with a bumper crop of healthy Dreamcast indie games for us all to enjoy. It seems the answer to the question "what did you do in lockdown" for many in the scene was "make a new Dreamcast game" and you know what? If the only positive thing to come out of that whole ordeal was more Dreamcast games, then that’s a small win for us here at the Junkyard. Give us more indie games! 

In January 2022, one Tapeworm Disco Puzzle arrived at the Junkyard headquarters. I say "headquarters", it's actually just a wooden shed in the New Forest that we initiate new members in, using a combination of audio-visual psychological warfare techniques, a pair of secateurs, a copy of Spirit of Speed 1937 and a signed picture of Peter Moore. I may have said too much. Forget you read that. Anyway, Tapeworm Disco Puzzle is one I'd been looking forward too for some time, as it was announced as a "spin-off sequel" to Lowtek Games' title Flea! which had released a couple of years earlier. I previously reviewed Flea! here on the blog and thought it was rather good. Tapeworm Disco Puzzle, just like its predecessor, is an 8-bit title that, whilst limited technically due to its Nintendo Entertainment System origins, packs a whole lot of game and bags of charm onto its disc.
Much like the Dreamcast version of Flea! I reviewed previously, Tapeworm Disco Puzzle is a NES game that has been ported to the Dreamcast. Lowtek games originally ran a Kickstarter for the title back in December 2020, which was successful funded - probably thanks in no small part to the positive reception that Flea! had garnered previously. A Dreamcast and a PC port were also listed alongside the NES cartridge as part of this initial campaign, and it finally made its way out to backers within a little over a year's time, which is a quick turnaround time by Kickstarter standards.
If you've ever played Lowtek Game's first outing Flea! (which is probably a fair few of you now, since its re-release by WAVE Game Studios), you'll be familiar with the colourful pixel world that designer Alastair Low has created. A world of greedy, blood-hoarding monarchs, "refu-fleas" and undeniably cute, hopping heroes; it was a credit that for such a simple title, it created a genuinely charming little in-game universe. This world is expanded upon in Tapeworm Disco Puzzle, in a rather odd way. Your main character this time is the tapeworm, proprietor of the local night club where all the fleas like to hang out. Problem is, something strange is happening to his parasitical patrons, so as well as making sure there's plenty of banging party tunes and enough blood to go around, you'll have to try and work out just what is going on. Along the way, you'll come across some other club-owning worms, as well as all manner of other denizens of this surprisingly well-crafted mini-universe that Alastair has created.
Whilst inhabiting the same universe as Flea!, Tapeworm Disco Puzzle - as its name may suggest - takes an altogether different approach when it comes to gameplay. This is a grid-based puzzle title, in which you must collect musical notes and blood with your tapeworm. Our hero, however, is limited in size, so to collect all the elements, you need to work out the best way to navigate the stage, as well as collecting tapes which will increase your worm's length (ahem...) which will allow you to reach areas that you'd otherwise be unable to. It sounds simple - and to be fair, the core concept here is - but the game quickly throws all manner of different elements in. Wormholes see our hero popping up in other areas of the stage, fleas will often be present in stages (the only way to collect blood) and it's your task to assist them, buttons need to be covered by your extended worm body to open doors, and there's plenty of bad guys spread throughout the stages too, which you'll need to avoid contact with.

HarleQuest! - A new 3D Dreamcast Game launches on Kickstarter!

HarleQuest! Kickstarter artwork
A game that I know myself and the other members of the Junkyard team have definitely been excited for is HarleQuest!, which started its life as a prototype called Dungeon Ross for a Global Game Jam event that was held back in late 2016 in Dundee, Scotland. The developers were a two-man team made up of Ross Kilgariff (also known as ross.codes) and Alastair Low (of LowTek Games). We covered a more fleshed-out build later in 2017, and it was looking mighty impressive, even back then.

Since those days of yore, Ross went on to  work on contract with LowTek Games, porting Alistair's NES games Flea! and Tapeworm: Disco Puzzle to the Dreamcast, both of which have gone on to be regarded as DC indie staples in their own right. This gave Ross a taste of the process of bringing a new game to the Dreamcast, and along with being introduced to WAVE Game Studios (who re-released Flea!), it also inspired him to turn his and Alastair's 3D prototype into a new independent game!
Dungeon Ross being demoed
Dungeon Ross being demoed
We've been following along with Ross' development progress on Twitter for quite some time now, and it's fair to say the footage of HarleQuest!'s work-in-progress gameplay has never failed to wow us. While we champion Dreamcast indies of all shapes and sizes here at the Junkyard, there's nothing quite like seeing a fantastic-looking 3D game for our little box of dreams, and HarleQuest! is exactly that. This top-down roguelike dungeon crawler boasts a distinctive style too, with character designs that almost hark back to games like MediEvilJersey Devil (does anyone remember Jersey Devil? No one?) or 40 Winks. With all this going for it, no wonder we were buzzing to learn it was coming to Kickstarter on April 1st.
HarleQuest artwork of its main character
And no, before you say it, this isn't an April Fool's prank. On this wretched day of fools (which has only been amplified to insufferable levels by the very internet with which I am beaming you this very information), I am happy to tell you that HarleQuest! has launched on Kickstarter, with a goal of £11,250. Let's take a look at it.

The game's pitch reads as follows: 
"HarleQuest! is a tough-as-nails roguelike with technical combat, randomised dungeon layouts and tons of weapons and loot! Combat encounters require precise control and care, enemies lurk around every corner and bosses guard your only exit. Death is permanent. This is not a game for the faint of heart.

"The unlikely hero of our story is Estienne, a jester who has been thrown into the dungeon by a cruel and capricious king. He must run, spring, tumble and sneak his way through the twisted depths below the castle. Can you help Estienne regain his freedom and put an end to the King's tyrrany?

"Go it alone, or invite a friend to play couch co-op!"
Working on versions for both Dreamcast and PC, Ross states that with the help of backers, he can take HarleQuest! from being a "simple, fun" game, to a "fuller,  more feature-packed" title, and potential stretch goals of £15,000 and £20,000 even hold the promise of digital versions for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation/Xbox respectively. Ross' goal is to deliver the game by October 2024.

But we're here for Dreamcast, and with the help of WAVE Game Studios, HarleQuest! can be delivered to our doorsteps in the professional, high-quality DC packaging that WAVE are very much known for. This means proper pressed discs (CD-ROMs) that are region-free, a full colour instruction manual, and your choice of EU Blue, US White or JP Orange theming in a standard CD jewel case. To get yourself this physical Dreamcast release, the lowest you'll be paying is £35 (excluding postage), although a genuine EU PAL case “upgrade” is on offer for the purists at an additional charge of £10.
A photo showing a Dreamcast controller, keyboard, and two versions of the physical HarleQuest! Dreamcast game
A lower tier that includes both digital versions (Dreamcast and PC) is available, for those who run ODEs, etc. There is also a £10 "goodies pack" tier, which gets you an enamel pin, a sticker and badge pack, as well as an embroidered patch (to sew onto your battle jacket, of course). It doesn't get you the game by itself, but could definitely be added onto the physical game tier to get you some extra goodies.
HarleQuest! gameplay footage showing the main character about to fight a hoard of skeletons
If you're looking for the real deal stuff though, look no further than the collector's and developer's editions. Including the physical Dreamcast game, the collector's edition includes a metallic print inlay, enamel pins, stickers, badges, an embroidered patch, a branded beanie (to wear while you rock your HarleQuest!-branded battle jacket), a personalised letter of thanks from the developer, as well as the ability to help "shape the game as it’s being developed". This basically means people who back this tier get priority on the feedback and ideas they share with the development team. 
HarleQuest! gameplay of the main character fighting a knight
The developer's edition includes everything from the collector's edition, but also grants you full access to the game's source code, art files, audio files and tools, as well as a copy of the game's design document with extensive details on every aspect of the game. This edition would also grant you permission to distribute a modified version of the game on the HarleQuest! website (non-commercial), and it even says that if you do make something great with the HarleQuest! assets, engine, etc., Ross would maybe consider it for a commercial release! Let's hope this could be the start of more special things to come from the Dreamcast indie scene.

Wrapping up these two editions, if the campaign reaches a stretch goal of £25,000, vinyl figures of in-game characters will be added to them! This would be really awesome to see, and I sincerely hope the campaign can reach this stretch goal.

If you want to try the game before you back the Kickstarter, Ross has released a demo .CDI which can be burnt onto a CD-R or put on an ODE. In this demo, you have to defeat all the enemies in each room to win! You can download the demo here.

Finally, and this is the most important bit: we have until Sunday the 30th of April to get this Kickstarter fully backed (and reach those stretch goals), so in order to get that "fuller, more feature-packed" version of HarleQuest!, the Dreamcast community will need to get backing! Again, you can back the Kickstarter here.

Gemaboy Zero heads to Dreamcast in 2023!

Taking the prize for the first news story I could be bothered to report on in 2023 (don’t worry, there are plenty more to come - just needed a bit of a break after the festive period!), Nape Games have announced that the ‘retro’ version of their successfully Kickstarted Switch/PlayStation 4 title Gemaboy Zero X will also be gracing the Dreamcast. A companion release to the NES variant, Gemaboy Zero is a slightly paired back iteration of the current-gen game, which promises backers an ‘action, exploration and platform Cyberpunk Ploidmania’ experience. Their words, not mine.

Nape Games are no strangers to the Dreamcast scene, having previously released Reknum and Ploid on the platform; and Gemaboy Zero promises more of the same high quality Metroid-style gameplay that fans of this particular developer will be familiar with. Personally, I haven’t played any of the previous Nape Games Dreamcast releases; but you have to hand it to them - while the Spanish outfit might not be the most recognisable of indie studios out there, they have clearly poured a lot of time and effort into creating their own stable of interesting and original IP, with the Ploid canon in particular carving out its own niche and deep world building.

From the Gemaboy Zero Kickstarter page: “Within the RETRO version for the NES and Dreamcast we will include the new GemaBoy Zero adventure, which will be a parallel adventure to GemaBoy Zero X, a growth adventure for our protagonist Omega while he perfects his Skillmaster ability and thus, be the definitive PLOID X!

If any of that makes sense to you, then congratulations - you are clearly fluent in the lexicon of the Nape Games universe! For the rest of us, basically Gemaboy Zero is a cool looking, retro-themed Metroid-style platform exploration adventure that is worthy - on first glance at least - of your attention. Visit the Kickstarter and the Nape Games website for further details.

I’m reliably informed that Nape Games usually have copies of their Dreamcast titles available to purchase after campaigns have ended, so even though Gemaboy Zero crowdfunding closed in December 2022 it’s well worth keeping an eye on these links to stay informed of when physical or digital will be available to purchase by us plebs who didn’t back it.

Are you a fan of Nape Games’ output on the Dreamcast? Will you be acquiring a copy of Gemaboy Zero? Are you a pleb like me? Let us know in the comments!

[lock-on] Volume 003 Dreamcast special smashes crowdfunding goal in 6 hours!

[lock-on] from Lost in Cult has established itself as a high quality gaming journal ever since Volume 001 was successfully funded via Kickstarter back in April 2021. Featuring long form features from established games journalists, bloggers, YouTubers and influencers; and interviews with high profile game developers, alongside stunning bespoke artwork; [lock-on] has truly carved out a niche for itself as a proper high brow publication. I'm purposely trying not to use the word 'magazine,' because that's not really what [lock-on] is - it's every bit the journal it claims to be. Think a collection of essays peppered with amazing visuals and you're on the right track.

Anyhow, [lock-on] Volume 003 hit Kickstarter at 6pm on Monday 7 February, and was fully funded to the tune of £24,000 just 6 hours later. And why am I telling you any of this? Well, its because Volume 003 is a full on Dreamcast spectacular! Full disclosure alert here though - [lock-on]'s Editor-in-Chief is one Andrew Dickinson, who you may know as one of the hosts from our podcast DreamPod (as well as Dreamcast Years), and furthmore three of the team here at the Junkyard - myself, Rich Elsey and Lewis Cox - will have Dreamcast-related features published in the journal.

Don't let me contributing put you off though - there are many, many familiar and talented folk from the world of gaming content creation involved with [lock-on] Volume 003, many offering Dreamcast related musings which will make up a large percentage of the 200+ page tome. Names such as Adam Koralik, John Linneman, and Simon Cox and Jörg Tittel from the Official US Dreamcast Magazine head up those writers known for their affinity with Sega's little white box; with many more also contributing.

As with Volumes 001 and 002, [lock-on] Volume 003 will be adorned with incredible artwork, with the hard cover version in particular featuring a lovely Shenmue inspired illustration (the soft cover features equally impressive Sable art); and pretty much every square centimetre of available real estate is plastered with some of the most amazing illustrations from some of the most well known and respected artists in the gaming space.

That's not all though, as some tiers of the Kickstarter come with a digital EP from synthwave musician RyoX - titled Visual Memories EP - which features remixed music tracks from Shenmue, Resident Evil CODE: Veronica, Skies Of Arcadia, Space Channel 5 and Sonic Adventure. That'll sound lovely wafting out of your stereo on a warm summer's evening - mark my words.

[lock-on] Volume 003 looks set to be a real treat for fans of Sega's final console, and though the Kickstarter has been successfully funded, you can still back it to recieve a copy of the physical journal (at the time of writing). Previous copies of [lock-on] tend to become quite sought after as publisher Lost in Cult doesn’t generally do reprints, so my advice would be to head over to the Kickstarter campaign page and chuck some money at it, pronto!

Follow Lost in Cult on Twitter or visit the Lost in Cult website for more information.

Let's take a look at SEGA Powered magazine

SEGA Powered is a brand new Sega-focused magazine that was successfully funded on Kickstarter back in 2021. Naturally, several of us here at the Junkyard threw our cash at the campaign when we heard that somebody was attempting to bring us a games mag that echoed the feel and style of those 90's rags we grew up reading. And now that it's finally here, how does SEGA Powered live up to those lofty expectations?

Pretty well, actually. For starters, SEGA Powered is helmed by Dean Mortlock, a veteran of the games journalism scene of the 1990s. Dean was the Editor of both SEGA Power and its successor Saturn Power - the pair of them magazines I read as a child and later a teen - and so I knew this was going to be decent. Dean is supported by former DC-UK and Edge staffer Neil Randall as Dep Ed, along with Staff Writers Paul Monaghan (who you may know from the Maximum Power Up podcast); and Marc Jowett from SegaMags. There's enough gaming experience, credibility and knowledge contained within the noggins of this foursome that you know these guys know what makes a good games mag. And I know that you know that I like a good games mag. And you know what? SEGA Powered is a good mag. Check it out in the video below:

SEGA Powered issue uno weighs in at 78 pages, and there's a really good mix of content covering modern Sega news and games, alongside a healthy serving of retro themed reviews and features. Sonic features on the cover and Sega's mascot is treated to a multi page 30th anniversary spread. What's especially nice for us Dreamcast fans though, is the amount of Dreamcast-specific content. There are reviews of Virtua Tennis and Intrepid Izzy, some good information on Dreamcast indie titles, and an interview with Roel van Mastbergen from Senile Team. There's also a rather excellent 'directory' of the essential games for every Sega console, along with prices you should expect to pay for them. No Spirit of Speed 1937 in the Dreamcast section though, which is honestly quite alarming.

I'm reliably informed by Paul that issue 2 of SEGA Powered is already well underway and we're excited to see what's next for the magazine. As a passive-aggresive suggestion, I'd very much like to see a revival of Mean Yob's letters page in future issues, and possibly even Games Master Magazine's Grip Chimp for highly specialised peripheral reviews. Oh, and an Amiga Power style 'reader art' section where the editorial staff essentially laugh at how bad the submissions are. If you build it, they will come.

Jokes aside, SEGA Powered is yet another high quality physical gaming peridocal that has been funded by fans and lovingly crafted by people who clearly know what they're doing. If you missed the Kickstarter campaign and would like to get hold of a copy of issue 1 though, be sure to head to the SEGA Powered website (when it launches in early 2022) or grab a copy from one of the gaming events the team will be attending in 2022. Oh, and give them a follow on Twitter here.

Shadow Gangs (Dreamcast Edition) hits Kickstarter!

Good news! Everyone's favourite 80's inspired side-scrolling beat 'em up Shadow Gangs has finally hit Kickstarter! I say finally, because Shadow Gangs for Dreamcast has been a long time coming - news of it coming to the Dreamcast can be found as early as 2016. Since those first murmurings of a Dreamcast port, Shadows Gangs released to Steam and Xbox in 2020, with a Switch port following at the beginning of 2021 - to almost universally positive reviews. 

More recently, developer JKM Corp teased us with a clip of the port we've been waiting for running on a Dreamcast, with news that the Dreamcast version was pretty much finished, and a Kickstarter would be on its way soon. Well it's now here, with options for both digital and physical editions available.
But JKM Corp isn't just giving us any old version of Shadow Gangs, oh no. Considering the game's pretty obvious Shinobi influence, it is only right that Shadow Gangs would come to a Sega console with a bang.

According to the Kickstarter campaign, the Dreamcast version will have 7% more vertical resolution compared to other versions, and will also feature controller rumble - a feature exclusive to Dreamcast. The game will also benefit from its later release date in the sense that certain features will be tweaked in this version thanks to the feedback of fans who played the PC and console original, making it more accessible to everyone. Listening to fan feedback will always get a thumbs up from us.

For those looking for a more ass-kicking experience though, multiple difficulties will be available, including the absolutely ridiculous Crimson Ninja mode. Shadow Gangs may well become the Dark Souls of Dreamcast beat 'em ups. Dark Gangs? Sorry.
 
There are many perks for backing at different tiers, including a hefty collector's edition that comes with an artbook and a shirt, as well as a load of other collectable items. To get a physical Dreamcast release though, you'll need to stump up £45 or higher.

There are also some stretch goals, including a re-recorded soundtrack with a full band, PS4 and PS5 versions, and the promise of a sequel if the funding reaches the required levels.

Regardless, we're excited to see yet another new game come to the Dreamcast, and that it is one with such a pedigree is hugely exciting. Head over to the Shadow Gangs Kickstarter here to pledge your support.

Paprium, Tunnels, Intrepid Izzy, Nakoruru, Shadow Gangs, SEGA Powered - Dreamcast news round-up November 2021

Oh hi there. It's been a bit of a busy few weeks hasn't it? The petrol thing seems to be over (for now) but that hasn't stopped all manner of interesting things occuring in the world of Dreamcast...and as you'll no doubt be able to tell from the title of this post, I thought it would be convenient to simply put all of these news snippets together into one post here at the Junkyard, so here it is. A bit like that infoburst you used to get at the end of Bad Influence, but in text form. Bad Influence? No? Never mind. So what's been cracking then? Quite a bit actually...


Oh 'eck, Paprium is coming to Dreamcast!

Yes, everyone's favourite 16-bit Kickstarted ode to Streets of Rage, Paprium, is now coming to Dreamcast thanks to a new stretch goal reached as part of the 'next gen' campaign. Developed by Dreamcast stalwarts Watermelon, Paprium was released for the Mega Drive / Genesis back in 2020 to much critical acclaim and an equal amount of backlash for various reasons I won't delve into here. As a side note, I always thought it a bit odd that there was no Dreamcast version as part of the original campaign, synonymous with the console as Watermelon is after the success of Pier Solar. 

That puzzlement has now been put to bed though, with the Dreamcast being lovingly included as a stretch goal in the latest resurrection of the original Kickstarter campaign to bring the game to...er...modern consoles. The Dreamcast version will apparently be a little unique according to the blurb on the campaign page, which is never a bad thing:

NEW ADD-ON! PAPRIUM is also coming to the SEGA Dreamcast! 6 years after Pier Solar HD, this is to be the second Dreamcast Release by WM! This version of the game is different, in-between the 16-BIT release and the STEAM/PS4/5 release, it boast some exclusive things and take full advantage of the Dreamcast features such as VMU and a 3 player mode without the need for a multitap (of course)! Please note the game is in 4/3 ratio (just like the 16-BIT edition of the game). 

- Paprium Kickstarter

Will Watermelon shit the bed once again with this new release? I really do hope so - we all love a bit of drama. And since I've backed the Dreamcast version, it'll give me something to moan about when it inevitably ships late or gets cancelled. Anyway, check out the Kickstarter campaign here, and get ready to pap. Not even sure what that means. Onwards!


DreamPi creator Luke Benstead is digging Tunnels!

Not actual tunnels, you understand. But I'm sure Luke (aka Kazade) and his development partner David Reichelt are at least as handy with a shovel or a JCB as they are with a Dreamcast. What am I blathering about? You may recall we recently featured news about Simulant, a game engine created with Dreamcast indie development as its raison d'être. As a timely Halloween treat, Luke and David have released a promising Simulant-based demo titled Tunnels which sees players traverse a network of dingy caverns (or, um, tunnels) brandishing what looks like Gordon Freeman's property for protection. Here's a video:

Tunnels is fully playable on stock Dreamcast hardware and it looks like a promising little demo considering how quickly it was put together. From the Simulant development blog: 

Tunnels is a mini-demo of the Simulant engine. It's been written over the past three weeks as a demonstration of what Simulant allows you to do in very little time. Both Luke and David have day jobs, and this has been developed in their spare time - probably an hour a day each at most - and a good majority of that time was spent improving Simulant itself!

Along the way flaws were discovered in Simulant and many were fixed, others will be fixed later. Some planned features were dropped due to limited time, but may reappear at some point. In the future we'll use Tunnels as a test bed for new Simulant features, and as a regression test.

- Simulant Dev Blog

You can grab the demo from the Tunnels itch.io page here and follow the development of Simulant on the blog. Oh, and listen to DreamPod episode 80 if you want to know more about Simulant and the history of the engine.


Intrepid Izzy: Special Edition is now available to order!

We now turn our attention to another Kickstarter-funded title - Intrepid Izzy from Senile Team. If you missed our review of the exquisite platform-cum-beat 'em up, be sure to check it out here. In short, Lewis thought it was a stellar addition to the Dreamcast's stable of indie titles, and easily one of the best to hit the console, even going as far as to label Izzy as "The King (or Queen?) of Dreamcast indie platformers" - they even put that quote on the back of the box for good measure!

The good (better?) news is that a Special Edition of Intrepid Izzy is now available to pre-order from WAVE Game Studios, and comes with a soundtrack CD and a choice of region (PAL, NTSC-U, NTSC-J) packaging styles. 

The initial print run of 750 units [of Intrepid Izzy] sold out almost immediately, prompting a reprint just 28 days after release. The fastest known for an independently released Dreamcast title.

In response to considerable demand for both the game and the music featured therein, WAVE announced that a limited run two-disc Special Edition will be released on November 20, 2021. This version includes an audio CD with the full official soundtrack, and is available in European, North American, and Japanese cover art variants.

- WAVE Game Studios

The fastest selling out indie Dreamcast game, eh? Who knew? Not I. Did you? You do now! Intrepid Izzy: Special Edition launches 20 November 2021. Head over to the WAVE Game Studios website to pre-order it for £34.99. There's also a cool vinyl figure available too, if that's your bag. Actually, buy two and make them fight; with the loser being burned with a magnifying glass.


A new Dreamcast fan translation project - Nakoruru!

Some say he can translate a Japanese Dreamcast game manual without even reading it. Others say he can detect an obscure NTSC-J dating sim hidden at the back of a retro game store from a distance of 40 miles. All we know, is his name is Derek Pascarella. And if you've never seen Top Gear, that reference will go right over your head. If you've been following the Dreamcast fan translation scene for any amount of time, you'll be familiar with the work of Mr Pascarella, who has previously worked on English translations of Dreamcast titles such as Sakura Wars Columns 2 and Neon Genesis Evangelion Typing Project Advanced.

Now he's back with another translation project, Nakoruru: The Gift She Gave Me, which is a visual novel title set in the Samurai Shodown universe. This isn't actually new news per se, with both MegaVisions and SegaXtreme sharing the original Dreamcast Talk thread back in August 2021. What is new news though, is that our very own Lewis Cox has joined the Nakoruru team as an English language editor, and for this reason alone I wanted to refresh some mention of this intriguing translation project. If you'd like to know more about Derek's past translation efforts, check out DreamPod episode 93 here.


Those pesky Shadow Gangs are kicking bountiful handfuls of ass on Dreamcast!

Oh Shadow Gangs, where for art though Shadow Gangs? Shall I compare thee to a 1990s Sega arcade game featuring a ninja that was then ported to home consoles? So wrote Chaucer, rather anachronistically, back in the mid 1970s after a particularly heavy session on the old crack pipe. Which is quite fitting, seeing as Shadow Gangs is a 1980s themed/inspired side scrolling beat 'em up that people have likened to Shinobi. I haven't played Shadow Gangs myself, but I do recall it being mooted to be heading to the Dreamcast at least as far back as 2016 - possibly even earlier (thanks Dreamcast Today - I knew I hadn't imagined that). The game was released on Steam and other consoles in the fairly recent past however - to generally positive reviews - and now a video has surfaced of a port running on the creaking old Dreamcast. Here you go:

Looks like a fairly accurate rendition to me, and it seems pretty much identical to the video on the Steam page. It appears that another Kickstarter to get Shadow Gangs fully up and running on Dreamcast is on the cards, and we'll no doubt share the news once that project is launched.


SEGA Powered brings SEGA Power back from the dead, with the (unofficial) Power of Sega!

Not exclusively Dreamcast related this one, but I just needed an excuse to type that subheading. Back when I was a wee lad, SEGA Power was one of a number of physical mags I would regularly purchase, and so it was a bit of a no brainer that I would back one-time editor Dean Mortlock's love letter to such an iconic tome. Dean is assisted by Niel Randall (DC-UK), Paul Monaghan (Maximum Power Up) and Marc Jowett (SegaMags), so the knowledge and pedigree is assured. 

The teaser issue of SEGA Powered looks like it will hit all the right marks for fans of the magazines of yesteryear, and I for one will be intrigued to see what kind of Dreamcast-related content is included. Check out the Kickstarter campaign and bag a copy of the mag here. Update - the Kickstarter for SEGA Powered has now ended but I am reliably informed that a website for the magazine will be launched so you can buy a copy/subscription even if you missed the campaign.

There's plenty of other Dreamcast related stuff going on around the internet but I thought I would leave it there for the sake of brevity. Oh, and I got a bit sick of typing the word 'Kickstarter,' but I digress. Be sure to check out all of the other wonderful Dreamcast news repositories dotted around the information superhighway for even more interesting little projects bubbling happily away.

We plan to do these round-ups more regularly from now on as it's just a bit more concise than having multiple posts about stuff, so if there's anything you spot that you think we should include in future news posts, let us know in the comments. Cheers!

Review: Intrepid Izzy

When it comes to the Dreamcast indie scene, the name "Senile Team" is surely familiar. You might know them best for bringing us Beats of Rage, the moddable open source beat 'em up engine for Dreamcast (and other systems) that provided the basis for countless community-developed mods of series from Splatterhouse to Resident Evil. Or maybe you've had the pleasure of playing their first commercially released game; the excellent Rush Rush Rally Racing (or its update Rush Rush Rally Reloaded). Either way, it's definitely clear that Senile Team has pedigree when it comes to the Dreamcast, and now they're gearing up for the imminent August 20th release of their latest title, Intrepid Izzy.

The Kickstarter campaign for Intrepid Izzy went up back in 2017 with PC, Dreamcast and PS4 releases promised. The Steam version has been available since July 2020, but it's the Dreamcast version that many people, including us at the Junkyard (obviously) have been eagerly awaiting. Prior to Intrepid Izzy's Dreamcast release, I was supplied a review copy. Staying true to the Junkyard, however, this review will reflect only my honest opinions, with no influence from the developers or distributors.

The game starts with our protagonist Izzy, who is presumed to be a bit of an Indiana Jones explorer-type (she's known to be Intrepid, after all), opening a treasure chest in a temple only to release an evil blue genie whose main priority after finally being released is chaos on the world. From the initial cutscene, you are immediately given a taste of the game's carefree sense of humour, which often leans towards the drier side of things, and can occasionally get a bit bizarre. Just right for us at the Junkyard, then.

So how does Intrepid Izzy play? In the simplest terms, it's a 2D action platformer, with lovely, hand drawn artwork and fluid, cartoon-like animation (created with custom-made animation software) that gives me vibes of the ever-popular Shantae series. But to just call it an "action platformer" wouldn't be doing the game justice, because Intrepid Izzy is actually pretty deep, dude. While the initial stage is a rather left to right affair, you soon realise that the game has a very non-linear approach to its levels. That's right, Intrepid Izzy's core gameplay is what trendy gaming pundits might refer to as "metroidvania." I'm talking levels within levels, with a focus on light puzzle solving and backtracking. Get that key to open that door there, find a helmet to ride the minecart to a new area, find a new costume to grant you the power to get past an obstacle you passed earlier, and so on. 

Putting on Intrepid Izzy feels like you're embarking on an adventure, and one that is relatively easy to jump into whether you're a seasoned veteran of this style of explorative platformer, or a complete newbie to it, like I am (unless Kirby & the Amazing Mirror counts). Intrepid Izzy's platforming feels and controls great, and with the constant intrigue of treasure and new areas lurking around every corner, it gets pretty addictive. On countless occasions while exploring, I was conscious that I needed to save and come off so I could continue adding to this review, only to find myself attempting one more puzzle, or leading myself down one more passage.

As you traverse the game's many maze-like levels, you will encounter magic mirrors that grant you quick passage to the game's various other levels, as well as a fast track back to Awesometown, a pleasant town that functions as the game's central hub. You will be returning to Awesometown frequently to recover health by sleeping at Izzy's house and making repeat trips to the town's restaurant to replenish recovery and boosting items (which you purchase with coins that you've picked up throughout your quest). Less frequently, you will be dropping by the house of a bearded wizard, who can upgrade your health at the cost of enough heart fragments, which are hidden sparingly throughout the game's levels. Finally, perhaps taking a page out of Shenmue's book, the last building of significance in Awesometown is an arcade where you can play some basic but fun arcade games - such titles include "Plerg", "Ultra Bazoop" and "3D Wheel".

The other big gameplay element of Intrepid Izzy brings us back to Senile Team's Beats of Rage roots. Implemented alongside the platforming is a beat 'em up combat system that is used to solve environmental puzzles and dispatch enemies. You'll be using these fighting moves throughout your journey to rough up various foes, including huge screen-filling bosses. There are also plenty of occasions during exploration where you will enter a room, only to be locked in, with your only path to escape being to defeat a few waves of enemies. These bouts happen quite frequently, to the point where you soon realise that the combat in Intrepid Izzy is just as important as its platforming. 

Mortadelo y Filemón: Spanish Point & Click Kickstarter for Dreamcast


Appearing on Kickstarter recently out of nowhere, Mortadelo y Filemón is the Dreamcast game coming in 2021 that you never knew you wanted until now! The game is a point and click adventure which is based on a popular Spanish comic series. 

From the project overview:

"Mortadelo y Filemón: El Sulfato Atómico is a point and click style adventure game, available in Steam, which has players trying to steal back a spray that turns insects into giants.

In this game our characters must rescue the atomic sulphate created by professor Bacterio of the claws of Bruteztrausen, general of an enemy state. This sulphate is a spray that increases the size of the insects, making them reach measures of meters! They will have to enter the State slyly to arrive at the governmental palace and take the sulphate.

Let's take a look at Shenmue World from Shenmue Dojo

You may recall we featured the upcoming Shenmue World magazine Kickstarter here at the Junkyard in the recent past. Well, the day has arrived. What day is that? The day of Shenmue World's arrival, of course! Yes, Shenmue Dojo's crowd funded ode to all things Shenmue has started to drop through letterboxes around the world, and we thought we would give you a bit if a sneak peak at what comes in the package.

Please note that if you'd rather wait to see all this stuff for yourself, probably don't watch the video below as it contains major spoilers. Well, major spoilers if you backed the project without reading what you might get in return for your cash. Also, sorry about the little noise in the video. It's just something my ancient Sony camcorder does. I'll invest in a new one at some point. Suggestions for a decent, cheap camera that doesn't make a whirring noise appreciated!

The magazine weighs in at 162 pages and is packed with interviews, character profiles, Shenmue history, facts and figures and a history of the Shenmue Dojo itself. There's a lot stuffed into this inaugural issue, and anyone who backed it is unlikely to feel short changed. Furthermore, the additional items that come with the magazine are really rather cool and comprise a music CD, postcards, signed photos, stickers and a poster. It's a great package for the price (it was £20 including shipping, if I recall), and James and the rest of the team should be congratulated for creating a top quality magazine.

Check out the Shenmue Dojo website and Twitter, and the Shenmue World Twitter if you'd like to find out more. Let us know in the comments if you backed Shenmue World and what your thoughts are.

Shenmue World magazine from Shenmue Dojo smashes Kickstarter goal in less than 24 hours!

I initially planned to publish this article a day ago as a way to help spread the news that Shenmue Dojo had launched a Kickstarter for a fan magazine called Shenmue World. Looks like I needn't have bothered though, as the community has come together in less than 24 hours to fund the project! 

Full disclosure here - several members of the Junkyard team have also backed Shenmue World - so allow us the benefit of the doubt when we describe this project as 'thoroughly deserving.'

Let's step back in time first, though. You may be wondering what all this is about. Basically, Shenmue Dojo is one of - if not the - best known Shenmue fan sites / forums when it comes to...well, Shenmue. Obviously. The clue is in the name. How many people come here for PlayStation 2 news? I digress. 

Personally I have been visiting Shenmue Dojo for well over a decade, and the site actually started in 2000 - five whole years before the Junkyard was but a twinkle in my eye. Quite simply, these guys know their Wude from their Master Chen...if you catch my drift.

Anyway, Shenmue World is a new fan magazine created by Shenmue Dojo and headed up by Jim Brown (aka SkillJim), one of the head honchos over at Shenmue Dojo. A year in the making, Shenmue World is a completely independent fan-created ode to all that is good in the world of Shenmue.

According to the video over on the Shenmue Dojo YouTube channel, the magazine has already been finalised in principle, and the Kickstarter was simply put in place to allow Jim and his team to start a mass print run. The magazine (or at least the initial prototype) looks like a Shenmue fan's dream - lots of original content, features and articles focussing on literally every aspect of Shenmue.

The good news - as intimated in the headline of this article - is that Shenmue World has been fully funded to the tune of £6500 in less than 24 hours, and so the magazine will be produced and everyone who has backed it to the correct tier will receive a physical copy at some point in the not-too-distant future.

We here at the Junkyard realise that not everyone uses Twitter, so allow us to use our own platform - this blog - to point you in the direction of the Shenmue World Kickstarter if you wish to get your mitts on a copy of the magazine.

As ever, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments, and please do visit Shenmue Dojo's website and follow them on Twitter.

Review: Flea!

2020. It's not been great, has it? But whilst we all seclude ourselves in our homes, proclaiming how bored we are whilst ignoring our game backlogs, something has been stirring in the Dreamcast Indie scene. The year kicked off with the rather glorious Xeno Crisis - perhaps the finest Indie game yet on the DC, and we've got some delights on their way with the high speed thrills of Arcade Racing Legends from JoshProd, the wonderful Xenocider in all it's 3D glory from Retro Sumus, and Indie masters Senile Team back with the fantastic looking Intrepid Izzy. That's not even mentioning the impending release of Summoning Signals, JoshProd's Indie onslaught with 8(8!) more titles, and almost certainly others that we've simply forgotten to mention! It's a never ceasing cause of amazement for all of us here at the Junkyard that we could see more than a dozen titles added to the library in a matter of months.


It seems though, that even more is on the horizon - including a game which has come as somewhat of a surprise - Flea! which is out now and available from the developers own Etsy page here. A successfully funded Kickstarter project this year, the game was designed for the NES, but has jumped it's way onto our chosen platform, caught us all by surprise, and left us itching to tell you more. I promise that's the last awful Flea pun I'll be making...

Playing as your cute little Flea protagonist Henry, your task is to collect blood from the games 80 levels, blood which is being horded by the greedy King, and is desperately needed by the Refu-fleas. To that end, each unit of blood you collect can, at certain points, be converted to extra lives. It means that very quickly you'll rack up substantial numbers of lives - but that's something you'll most certainly need here. The game creator, Alastair Low (featured on the DCJY before, for the very cool Dungeon Ross), clearly has a fondness for tough NES era platformers, as Flea! is designed with plenty of tricky sections and death is frequent. Luckily, such death is not permanent in Flea's world, for a few seconds later you're back on the hunt for blood at the beginning of the level. Just as quickly as you build the life stock up though, you'll see the numbers going down when you get to one of the games tougher stages.

The game's deaths don't come by way of Uzi wielding parasites or anything so extreme though - here, death will come by way of your continually jumping little critter finding his way into a particularly nasty obstacle. These litter the stages, and whilst only a few syringes seem to be your issue early on, you soon come face to face with other creatures and more extravagant obstacles. Not every creature you meet is a bad guy though - there are plenty of colourful and interesting characters throughout the game to interact with as well.

The game is a tough one to master, in the time honoured 8-bit fashion. However, this toughness doesn't come with unfairness - if you die, it's due to a mistake you've made. Control is generally simple - Henry jumps continually, but you can press the A button to keep his jumps lower (a skill you will require early on in the game), and later on you can dash as well (although I've got to be honest, I've not actually got that far yet! I've never said I'm any good at games...). The main challenge here is to maximise your blood collection whilst navigating the obstacles with well timed jumps. The instant restart of the single screen levels makes any frustration minimal, luckily, but the game does induce a feeling of rage when your life supply dwindles as you fail at a decidedly crafty stage for the umpteenth time - but there's a not insignificant amount of satisfaction when you finally make it. It's a classic risk-reward strategy of gaming of yore, tried and tested, and it works well here, a tribute to the games developer once more.

At times the game does mix things up a little, ditching the single screen approach and going for a forced scrolling platforming experience - a sort of endless runner type affair, only, er, it ends. It shows a little bit of versatility off that makes for a nice change of pace, and again technically, it runs smoothly.  

Visually, it's not going to blow anyone away. It's clearly a NES game, with chunky pixels and bright colours, a look evocative of an age before the Dreamcast, but one which is very much back in fashion. Of course, it looks this way through functionality (being an actual NES game) rather than style alone, but it's competent, cute, fun and cheery. In fact, I'm officially starting a campaign to get Flea! to become the official mascot of the DC indie scene, as I look at his cute little face looking at me from my VMU during the game. The stages vary in their colour schemes - different beasts that the fleas infest - but all have that 8-bit colour and brightness to them, which is very visually appealing. 

There's no denying the games NES roots though. The pixels are colourful, the action is smooth, but this isn't the sort of title that's going to push the hardware. That doesn't matter at all, of course, as the core gameplay is fun and challenging enough to justify itself a place in the library, but we know there will be some out there who will baulk at the idea of a Dreamcast game looking this way. To them, we blow a giant raspberry. Personally, it's a style of game we've not had much of on the console, and I welcome it's arrival. 

I also welcome the chiptune music, so insanely catchy that I found myself humming it to myself on the bus this morning. It perfectly captures the fun, nostalgic retro-ness of the game, and deserves special mention just for that. The packaging is also great - a US style look (despite Lowtek Games being a Scottish based developer), it has a great disc image, and full colour manual (although it's only 2 pages), and the cover is great. For a game none of us were expecting, it's level of professionalism in design was surprising but most welcome. 

The game is available for £30 from Lowtek Games Etsy store, limited to just 200 numbered copies,  and you can find the games creator Alastair on Twitter  so go give him a follow!


 

Book Review: Dreamcast: Year One

Full disclosure before I begin this review: I - and other members of the Junkyard team - backed this book on Kickstarter. I was interviewed in the book and also did some fact checking. That said, I wasn't paid and stand to gain no financial reward for any of this. Now thats sorted, on with the review.
Dreamcast: Year One backers also get a cool little sticker to go with the book
The popularity of books exploring every corner of the gaming landscape shows no sign of being on the wane, and the latest crowdfunded offering is now plopping through letterboxes around the globe. Dreamcast: Year One is the third book in the 2 Old 4 Gaming template after the superb Sony PlayStation Vita: Year One and Years Two & Three, written by Sandeep Rai. This latest Dreamcast-flavoured tome was written by long-time Dreamcast fan Andrew Dickinson (founder of the Dreamcast Years podcast and website) and successfully Kickstarted back in April 2019.


Now that the book is finally here, how does it stack up against the competition? Quite well, actually. And the main unique selling point Dreamcast: Year One has over the other recent releases is that it focusses primarily on the UK release of the console. As someone who resides in the UK and saw the release first hand on this fair isle, the perspective is one that struck a chord with me on a personal level and so I was naturally intrigued by the premise.
The artwork is truly sublime throughout
As alluded to earlier, I was interviewed by Andrew for Dreamcast: Year One, and was asked about my history with the Dreamcast and also the story behind the creation of this very blog and the community surrounding it. For that alone I am grateful, as it allowed me to share my own experiences as just a normal random bloke who somehow found a niche with a blog about a failed Sega console. But enough about me.
OK...maybe a little bit more about me
Dreamcast: Year One opens with a fairly intricate deep dive on the history of the Dreamcast, going all the way back to the 16-bit era, the Sega Saturn story and the development of the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation. The introductory chapters are about as comprehensive as you could get if you're a newcomer to the Dreamcast and wanted to educate yourself on the story so far. Particular highlights for me include the section on the Sega New Challenge Conference in 1998 - something which fascinates me still to this day, such is my obsession with the Dreamcast tech demos that were showcased during that event.

Retro Fighters StrikerDC Controller Pre-Orders Open

The best Dreamcast controller the world has ever seen. That's the bold claim made by Retro Fighters of its upcoming StrikerDC controller. Will this hubris come back to bite Retro Fighters on the arse? Yes. That's because everyone knows the best Dreamcast controllers were made by Mad Catz, were the size of a dinner plate and had triggers that rattled and/or cut your fingers. That's academic though, because Mad Catz is dead; and Retro Fighters are the new kids on the block. Oh, and the StrikerDC is available to pre-order now.
We've followed the StrikerDC's journey from Kickstarter to reality here at the Junkyard, and this latest offering looks set to follow in the footsteps of the previous hardware releases from the company that claims to 'fight for retro.' Personally, I've never held a pad from Retro Fighters, but all signs point to previous peripherals released for the Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn and NES being pretty sturdy, well built bits of kit.

It's a bone of contention when it comes to the Dreamcast, but I didn't find the original HKT-7700 controller to be anything other than perfectly functional (and still don't), but for those who demand a modern take on the Dreamcast's primary peripheral, the StrikerDC promises a new ergonomic design, full compatibility with VMUs, rumble packs and microphones; along with new a analogue stick, d-pad, familiar analogue triggers and additional digital shoulder buttons.


The StrikerDC comes pre-packaged with a 12 month warranty, and is now available for the general public to pre-order at the not insignificant price point of $49.99 from the Retro Fighters website. Shipping is expected to commence in April 2020. Several members of the Junkyard team did actually back the StrikerDC on Kickstarter so you can expect a review as soon as they receive the final product in their gnarled, tobacco-stained claws.

Have you pre-ordered one? Did you back the StrikerDC? Do you own one of the other controllers from Retro Fighters? What do you think of the price? Am I asking too many questions in this last bit? Let us know down below in the comments.