Showing posts with label Orion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Orion. Show all posts

The Complete Guide to Commercially Released Dreamcast Indie Games

The fact that we're still blathering on about the Dreamcast some 20 odd years after the console's demise is testament to two things - the fact that we're sad little people still holding on to a mere glimmer of nostalgia about our youth as we rapidly approach middle age, and also the fact that the community will just not let this console die. We obviously don't talk about the first of those points much (we don't want to remind ourselves that we're becoming less and less culturally literate with every rotation of this damn rock around the sun), but we do talk about how "alive" the system is all the time. Probably too much, to be honest, as many people like to put the Dreamcast firmly in the "past" folder in their brain, preferring to remember what it was like when it was new and current. This is completely understandable, to view the console solely through a sense of nostalgia especially now that we have so many ways of experiencing the console's library which don't rely on having shelves full of games (or spindles full of CD-Rs). We're in that stage of the console's post-life cycle that has many people who left their video gaming behind when they were young dipping into the console once more, stirring up their memories of happier times, and no doubt probably quite confused as to why some of us never left the machine in the past and have continued to be fascinated by Sega's last great home endeavour to this very day.

Whilst the nostalgia is to be expected, it is the vitality of the current Dreamcast scene which keeps us writing about it. In between the tired posts of social media influencers asking people if they remember Sonic Adventure or Crazy Taxi, there has been an incredibly active scene covering every element of the Dreamcast for years. We have new hardware and controllers, games with online modes re-activated, more translations of Japanese games than I can actually keep track of, books, magazines, an entire series of arcade titles ported to the console, and a strong homebrew community that is creating some astonishing things. And it's that last point that allows me to pivot, finally, towards the point of this article. Alongside homebrew ports of classic titles (as I write this, the recent demo of the Metal Gear Solid 2 port is literally mind blowing) and fun little projects, we've now had 20 years of "proper" retail-released indie titles for the Dreamcast. My aim here is to document all of these in one article. I do love a long article...

I love Dreamcast indie titles. While they are not officially licensed by Sega, there is something very special about receiving a physical version of a game to be played on a console a quarter of a century old. The quality of the Dreamcast indie scene varies, which is to be expected, but even when a game is a bit crappy, I still have a certain sense of respect that it has been released on the console at all. Of course, I am a big weirdo, and will pick up anything you slap a "Dreamcast" label on, but for those who want to be a bit more selective with their hard-earned cash when expanding their Dreamcast library, a subjective view is always useful. In this article I hope to do just that - as well as take a look back at the various versions of the games that were released, where you can pick them up today, and any other interesting things that I can cram in before losing all excitement about writing this already massive article. This will also be constantly updated (hello, future people!) with my views on any new indie release, which will hopefully allow it to be a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in the broad DC indie scene - this will of course sit alongside our regular indie reviews from the entire DCJY team (I can also recommend Laurence's superb roundup of the indie scene in this article, if you want a slightly different perspective). It's also worth checking out our directory of indie developers and publishers, where you'll find direct links to all those involved in the indie scene.

Now, I need to add some context and "rules" here. The scope of this article will not include every single homebrew port or project - the first rule of the article is that it had to have been released physically and could be purchased by anyone. Of course, you can pick up a copy of any of the homebrew ports with nice printed inlays on Etsy - so that's when the second rule comes in: the physical release must have been officially sanctioned by the developer or rights holder. Finally, only full releases will count - so no demos, hacks or mods will be included, although total conversion mods that became standalone games in their own right do count. For the context of this article, only the games that meet the criteria I've just established will be called "indie releases". Will I probably end up breaking these rules to include something that I probably shouldn't? You betcha. Welcome to the wonderful world of "Mike doesn't stick to his own rules". 

Enough of my nonsense (well, enough of this opening bit of nonsense, there's a lot more nonsense that lies ahead, I'm afraid!)  - on with the article!

The Dreamcast Games Of 2017

2017 has been something of a bumper year for Dreamcast releases, what with JoshProd, Orion, Retroguru, Alice Dreams and Senile Team all putting out new software on the system. The range and diversity of these titles has been pretty incredible too - especially when you consider that the Dreamcast was officially disowned by Sega well over a decade ago. 2018 promises even more new additions to the ever-growing library, with Intrepid Izzy, Xenocider, Saber Rider, SLaVE and a bunch of other games we have been sworn to secrecy over all due to hit our favourite little white box.
As we near the year's end, I thought it would be fun to have a little look back over the games that were released for the Dreamcast throughout 2017, and give a bit of kudos to those developers and publishers who continue to support the console with new software. The vast majority of the titles that have come to the Dreamcast in a physical case during 2017 have invariably come with high quality bespoke artwork, authentic packaging and - in some cases - unique extras or inventive aesthetic design. And while it's easy to look at some of the releases and pour scorn on them for being fairly basic in terms of visuals or gameplay, the majority of them have been crafted as labours of love, and not with financial gain in mind. For that, all of the creators should be applauded.
It's worth noting that this list only includes games that have been released for the first time this year, so even though games like Ghost Blade, Alice's Mom's Rescue and Sturmwind were given re-releases, they don't count (although I'll make a note of them at the foot of this article). Furthermore, 2017 marks the first time since Karous in 2007 that official third party support has been bequeathed to the Dreamcast, as even though they were published by JoshProd, Visco's games do qualify as official releases owing to the fact that Visco is listed as a third party T-code publisher (thanks to Scott Marley for that nugget of information). Anyway, let's get down to business and look at - in no particular order - the Dreamcast releases of 2017. Man, it still feels weird typing that sentence...

4x4 Jam, Flashback & Ganryu Head Up New Dreamcast Releases

French publisher JoshProd has finally revealed to us the details of the latest batch of titles heading to the Sega Dreamcast, and this time gamers can expect three titles that are totally new to to system. 4x4 Jam is an off-road racer featuring fully 3D visuals and sprawling open stages, while Delphine's classic 2D adventure Flashback: The Quest For Identity has been built from the ground up as a brand new, officially licensed Dreamcast port. The other games in the release line-up include Visco's Neo-Geo scrolling beat 'em up Ganryu, a new PAL-boxed version of Sturmwind, and a re-issue of Orion's retro-styled RPG Zia and the Goddesses of Magic (check out our recent review here).

4x4 Jam is actually a port of a game that has been available on both the Sony PSP and Android/iOS for some time, and is particularly interesting as it potentially opens the door for ports of similar games designed for low-powered mobile devices. The video above was recorded from an actual Dreamcast and shows off some of the sprawling landscapes and Smuggler's Run style gameplay.

Escape 2042: The Truth Defenders Hits Kickstarter

Here we go. Another independent game for the Dreamcast has hit Kickstarter, this time coming from veteran Dreamcast developer Orion. Orion last graced the Dreamcast with Zia and the Goddesses of Magic in 2016 and that game was a highly competent take on the 16-bit RPG genre.
Escape 2042 looks like an interesting mix of platforming, strategy and puzzle gameplay, and takes a lot of inspiration from Amiga puzzlers from the early 1990s as far as I can tell - stuff like Flashback and Impossible Mission. To be totally honest, I think the Kickstarter trailer looks awesome and the game is planned for the Dreamcast, Gameboy, PC Engine and Megadrive (among others).

"This game is a fast-paced 2D platformer with two mini-games included. The main game features security cameras to avoid, firing enemies, grenades to collect, computer 'hacking' to open doors or disable laser protection fields, and level card based locked door in the first prison levels. If you copy and paste this from The Dreamcast Junkyard you won't even notice this sentence. The game will take place in three different environments (prison, forest and desert) interspersed with two minigames including a reversed shoot 'em up and an original abseiling game."
- Escape 2042 Kickstarter

Escape 2042 appears to feature several different types of gameplay scenario with platforming, puzzling and even shmup style levels included. Here's the awesome launch trailer:

The game has a funding goal of €25,000 and looks pretty impressive from the video. Don't forget that In the Line of Fire is still looking for funding, but what do you think? Is there scope for another Dreamcast Kickstarter or will the entire scene collapse under it's own bloated, underfunded weight?

You decide.

Check out Orion's website here, and our interview with the man himself here. You can also join the discussion at our Facebook group here.

Review: Zia and the Goddesses of Magic

The term 'role playing game' has always puzzled me. I get the connotations and I understand that titles with which it is associated must meet certain criteria to be classed as such...but don't you play a role in any game you play? Bear with me on this one, OK. I know I’m talking (writing) utter rubbish, but what do you expect here? Look, in Crazy Taxi you play the role of Gus, picking up passengers while wearing an open shirt and exposing the odd man boob. You are Gus. Similarly in Virtua Tennis, you assume the role of a square-headed Tim Henman and do things the man never did in real life, such as winning trophies; and therefore Virtua Tennis should technically be designated as a phantasy role playing game, too. Man, this gin is strong.

The thing is, these examples are not classed as role playing games, or ‘RPGs.’ No, RPGs fall into their own little genre identified by magic potions, stat points, levelling up and pointy ears/gigantic beards/scantily clad nymphs (delete as applicable). I'm going to be honest here and state that my experience with RPGs isn't as extensive as some other members of the Junkyard team, and I'm happy to admit that I've never finished Skies of Arcadia or Time Stalkers. The latter because it’s about as interesting as watching a group of pensioners play boules down the park on a Sunday morning.
That said, I have played other non-Dreamcast RPGs so I do have a decent level of appreciation for the genre (Ocarina of Time, Link's Awakening, Rainbow Moon, Fallout 3, The Witcher etc), and naturally there's also Shenmue but I'm apprehensive to class that as an RPG unless a hate mob of Shnemue truthers be mobilised against me. I'm already expecting a whole load of comments completely ignoring the main purpose of this review and just focusing in on the fact that I described any of the aforementioned games as RPGs, but fuck it. Haters gonna hate and I won't be posting this on Reddit anyway, so there's a 65% risk reduction of that straight out of the gate. What has all this guff got to do with the Dreamcast you may be wondering? Well, the latest indie release for Sega's little white box has landed...and it's an RPG!

Orion's Zia and the Goddesses of Magic was released at the beginning of September 2016 and is the latest new title to grace the Dreamcast, so let's take a look at what this curious little game is all about.

Developer Interview: Orion

Orion has been creating indie games for retro consoles for quite some time, and is behind the latest title to be announced for the Dreamcast: Zia and the Goddesses of Magic, out in September 2016. Orion's impressive back catalogue also includes recent Atari Jaguar to Dreamcast ports such as point and click adventures Elansar and Philia, and platformer Alice's Mom's Rescue. The Dreamcast Junkyard recently caught up with Orion to find out a bit more about this elusive indie dev and ask what is coming next from the French outfit...
DCJY: Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak to us and the Dreamcast community at large! Could you explain just who makes up the Orion team?

Orion: There is no team - just me! Orion is my internet nickname, I'm just one guy on my own trying to create games as a living.
Zia comes to Dreamcast in September 2016
A true one man outfit then! How did you get started in indie game development, and what are your earliest memories of wanting to be a developer?

My earliest memories are when I was playing games on my Atari STe computer at the age of 8, looking at those nice graphics and thinking to myself "I want to do the same!" From there, I quickly began to learn the Basic language by myself, and finally made my first 'game' when I was 12 years old. When the internet became popular, I started learning other programming languages, and continued making small games as a hobby. Later, I worked for 5 years at a small game company in Paris, and finally I decided to go solo and start my own company. It's been 3 years now that I've been creating commercial games on my own for various retro platforms.

New Dreamcast Game Zia and the Goddesses of Magic Announced

Another week, another new Dreamcast game is announced! To be fair that title is a teeny tiny bit misleading as Zia and the Goddesses of Magic was technically announced a few weeks ago; but now there's some artwork (above) and a brand new teaser trailer that shows actual gameplay footage (below). Coming from French indie developer Orion (previously of Elansar, Philia and Alice's Mom's Rescue fame) Zia and the Goddesses of Magic is a traditional top-down RPG in which players are tasked with rescuing the eponymous goddesses and restoring peace, harmony and free love to the fantasy land in which the adventure is set. Well maybe not the free love, but we can hope. Here's the blurb from Orion's website:

In a fantasy world, where the goddesses of magic are the guardians of the good, a powerful evil demon captures all the goddesses and jails them in different places where they cannot use their magic powers. Evil creatures start populating the surrounding villages and threaten the inhabitants.

Zia is a little girl who lives in a mountain village with her beloving parents. One day, she discovers a book of magic and starts training to learn how to use magic spells. During her journey, Zia will find out about the imprisoned goddesses, and will try to free them from the evil creatures using the magic spells she will learn.

Join Zia in a Journey around this mystic world, help her find the imprisoned goddesses and try to free them from the evil creatures!
- Orionsoft website

Here's the accompanying YouTube announcement trailer:

According to the Orionsoft website, Zia and the Goddesses of Magic is pencilled in for a September 2016 release and is also planned for both Steam and the Playstation. We'll be keeping an eye on the development of this interesting RPG and you can too by visiting Orion's Twitch channel.

Source: Pcwzrd