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Showing posts with label Online. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Online. Show all posts

Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon & DX for Dreamcast is back online!

More exciting news for the up to 6 billion players still enjoying online Dreamcast gaming today has surfaced recently, with the resurrection of the online service for the rather catchy title: Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon & DX.

As reported by Dreamcast Live, this is the first ever Japanese-exclusive online Dreamcast to be revived and so it is rightly getting a fair bit of attention within the online Dreamcast community in an ever-growing catalogue of Dreamcast games playable online again.
Online play supports 2-4 players in a battle to the death, and from the early test matches that have taken place, the team who reverse engineered the server to bring it back online have done a fantastic job with the game working well with minimal lag.

Released in 2002, Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon & DX is based on the anime television series of the same name. Interestingly, this was the last ever online Dreamcast game to be officially released, which makes the resurrection that little bit sweeter.

As well as online battles, Arcade and Campaign modes allow you to don a giant mech suit and cause havoc at various ground locations and even in space. It's fair to say it was not the most groundbreaking release in the new millennium but it's always wonderful to see new games brought back online in 2020.
And let's face it, who wants to play Call of Duty on a Friday night when you could be playing Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon & DX via a Dreamcast dial-up modem instead?!

All jokes aside, this could become a very popular game within the online Dreamcast community as it offers slick gameplay with battles coming thick and fast.

How about you? Will you be connecting to the server to take on other gamers? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.

UPDATE: Well, I've since spent considerable time playing online and I have to say that I'm close to being addicted! The game is so much fun to play online and there is very little lag to speak of, even if you're playing 2v2 with people in Europe, America and beyond. More useful links here for you in the form of the Online Leaderboard and a Connection Guide from Dreamcast Live, with screenshots helping you break the language barrier and get online easily.

Top 5 Dreamcast Online Games...That Never Actually Existed

The Dreamcast’s online capabilities out of the box were no doubt somewhat revolutionary for a console back in 1999. Sega couldn’t have played up the fact that a modem was included much more than they did; with a heavy push on web browsing and emailing when the Dreamcast first launched.

The promise was that online gaming would follow shortly and whilst we did get some outstanding online experiences eventually, I think looking back now, it is fair to say that Sega didn’t really live up to their pre-release “up to 6 billion players” hype. There were some great games designed around their online features, but there were just not enough.

The sad part is that the Dreamcast was ahead of its time when it came to online gaming on console, and I can’t help but think that with a few more quality online-focused releases earlier in the Dreamcast’s lifespan, it could have turned an also ran feature into THE reason to buy Sega’s wonderful grey box.

Walk with me as I uncover the five Dreamcast online sensations that never actually existed, but I think wish really should have...

Toy Racer Retrospective: Dreamcast Online Gaming

If you ask most Dreamcast fans what their favourite games are on the system, it’s not unusual to hear things like Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure, Phantasy Star Online, Crazy Taxi, and so forth. One answer you don’t hear very often is Toy Racer; a budget Toy Commander spin-off focusing primarily on online multiplayer racing.

For me, Toy Racer is one of my favourite and easily most played Dreamcast titles - not because it’s necessarily a fantastic game - but because it genuinely changed the way I enjoyed video games forever by fully opening my eyes to the world of online gaming.
Released in 2000, Toy Racer was developed by No Cliché and published by Sega themselves. It only ever saw the light of day on store shelves in Europe, as a planned US release never ultimately materialised. Toy Racer enjoyed chart topping success in the UK thanks mostly to its insanely budget price of just £5 (approx $6-7 today, but more like $3-4 back then) - the same price as a Dreamcast demo disc - and this was certainly a huge reason why I took a gamble back in the day.
Being a student at the time, new gaming purchases were a rare occurrence. But how could I resist at such a low price for a new racing game promising endless multiplayer fun!  Up until this point, I’d been intrigued by online gaming but had never really invested any significant time into it. I didn’t own a gaming PC and my free copy of Chu Chu Rocket (thanks to being an early sign-up to the Dreamarena) didn’t really have any lasting appeal for me beyond the initial novelty of playing against other real people via the power of the internet...

You Can Now Access The Original Jet Grind Radio Website From Your Dreamcast

While the promise of online gaming was a big part of Sega's marketing campaign when trying to flog the Dreamcast to the masses, many games simply didn't have any online gameplay portion. That didn't stop certain games proudly displaying the fact that they offered 'online functions' on the packaging, though. Usually, what this meant was that high scores could be uploaded to a leader board; or that certain things could be downloaded from a dedicated portal to a VMU that added extra features. For example, ghost car times in racing games, or mini games that could be played on a VMU screen. Some games offered more than others in this area, and one of the best when it came to added online extras was the awesome Jet Grind Radio.
As detailed in this story over at Dreamcast Live, the Jet Grind Radio website has been resurrected in (almost) its entirety, meaning that you can once again hook your Dreamcast up to the internet and browse the various pages that could be accessed from the game's main menu. Hidden away in this treasure trove from yesteryear are a graffiti gallery and ranking page, along with a hints and tips section that actually corrects some of the information printed in the physical manual. This isn't the first time a game's bespoke website has been revived, as the Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 sites were both brought back online recently too.

Online Gaming On The Dreamcast Is As Easy As Pi

I'm going to start this post with a confession. I never played online with the Dreamcast during the console's natural lifespan. The main reason was that we only had one phone line in the house and I wasn't ever allowed to hog the line for longer than about 30 minutes at a time to do some web browsing. Plus, it was pretty expensive using dial up, even with BT's 'friends and family' initiative and evening and weekend reduced call charges. Fast forward to 2017 though, and I've finally managed to shake off the shame of being a Dreamcast fan who has never battled with other Dreamcasters over the internet.
This is all thanks to the sterling work of Luke Benstead, Pcwzrd and all of the talented folks working behind the scenes to resurrect the Dreamcast's online abilities through the DreamPi project. After being supplied with a DreamPi unit several weeks ago (thanks Pcwzrd!), I thought it was about time that I actually got it up and running and jumped into one of the regular online gaming sessions organised through the Dreamcast-Talk forum. It was incredibly easy to set up using the instructions and various guides available over at Dreamcast Live, and with the use of an old DreamKey 3.0 disc I had lying around I was able to get my Dreamcast hooked up to the internet with little more than a WiFi-enabled DreamPi and a tiny USB modem.
As mentioned earlier, the whole online gaming thing is one aspect of the Dreamcast I never dipped into back when I had my original console in 1999, and I honestly didn't think it would be so easy or entertaining as it was playing Dreamcast games online in the modern climate. We're all so used to the effortless online multiplayer options offered by current consoles and computers that I feared trying to get online to play Dreamcast multiplayer games would be a bit of a pain. How wrong I was...

You Can Still Use Dial-Up To Surf The Internet With A Dreamcast

In recent times much has been written about the Dreamcast's ability to get online with a Raspberry Pi and a few other easily available components. The DreamPi method has single handedly revitalised the online gaming scene on the Dreamcast, and sites like Dreamcast Live have made it their mission to breathe new life into titles such as Chu Chu Rocket and Worms World Party. But what if you don't have a DreamPi or you just don't play online games in general? What other things can you still do in 2017 with a Dreamcast when it comes to exploring its online abilities? Well...um...you can still browse the internet with a dial up connection if you so wish.
Line Di. See?
I already know what many people are going to say or write in the comments sections without actually looking at this article: what's the point? What's the point in using a dial up connection and a 33k or 56k modem to go online with a Dreamcast in 2017? It's slow, most of the sites won't load anymore and it's expensive. The point is that we can. And that's the only excuse I need, to be honest.
Don't act like you've never Googled yourself!
While it is true that all of these hypothetical points are valid, there's just something cool about once again firing up Dreamkey, and throwing information through those long redundant wires and circuits that reside inside the plucky little dial-up modem stuck to the side of the console. And the best bit is that you can do it right now, with very little effort if you so desire...

A Quick Look At Free-DC

As you're no doubt aware, the Dreamcast was served by a plethora of online services depending on the territory. In Europe we got the Dreamarena service; the US got SegaNet and in Japan Dreamcast owners were treated to the Dricas service. Dricas - to me at least - looks like it was by far the most feature rich of these three services, and offered such delights as video calling (through the Dreameye) and the ability to spam your friends with nonsense in the form of Dreamflyer. Dricas itself is a truly vast topic of discussion but due to the nature of the internet I fear much of the features and functionality that users enjoyed is lost to the mists of internet lore. No amount of internet archaeology or Wayback Machine plundering can bring back a service that just cannot be accessed anymore because the servers are now in landfill (probably).
Dreamarena went through a flamboyant midlife crisis.
Dreamarena was totally serviceable for web browsing; and SegaNet was fine for gaming (at 56k speeds) over in the US as far as I can ascertain...but Dricas was the real deal. Going from the scant details I can find trawling the internet, Dricas offered Japanese Dreamcast owners some really intriguing features, including something called Dream Map which was powered by Japanese mapping firm Zenrin and allowed Dreamcast owners to locate each other on a Google Maps-style thing and connect with people in their locality. It sounds a bit like the Near function incorporated into the Sony PS Vita...but y'know, actually used by people.
Garish enough for ya?!
There was also a thing called MailChum!, which - and I quote - "...provides you with an instant e-mail penpal, from a variety of characters ranging from beautiful girls to mythical animals." Erm. Anyway, the reason I'm banging on about Dricas and other long-dead internet services for the Dreamcast is that I wanted to discuss something I knew of previously...but just didn't think anyone else would be interested in reading about: Free-DC.

Nikkei Dreams: Business On The Dreamcast

The Dreamcast is often described as a system that was ahead of it's time, and in many ways it was. You only have to look at all of the ingenious peripherals and add-ons; even the lowly memory card, the VMU, is a technical marvel when you think about it. The entire range of official and unofficial enhancements is as staggeringly large as it is diverse, but perhaps the most important of them all is the one many of us forget is even there these days - the little modem stuck to the rear of the system. While the modem and the internet services it allowed played something of a minor role in PAL territories, and online gaming was a huge success in the US, over in Japan the humble modem played a much more interesting part in the story of the Dreamcast.
While the Dreamcast is first and foremost an entertainment machine, the modem allowed Sega Japan to look beyond it's primary function and decide that the console should also be used for other, non-gaming purposes. For instance, the console was installed in Toyota car showrooms and a whole range of bespoke 'Doricatch Series' GDs were produced. These were little more than advertising demos for various Toyota vehicle models and are today some of the rarest examples of NTSC-J exclusive Dreamcast software on the planet.