<-- -!>

Featured Article

Showing posts with label Saturn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saturn. Show all posts

For Whom The Bell Tolls...

Question: What is the greatest piece of video game music ever written?

Answer: The Justice Ray, by Hyakutaro Tsukumo
This is the face of unparalleled musical genius. Truly.
What do you mean you've never heard of it? It's Tsukomo-san's magnum opus, and its legacy is entwined with Sega's own destiny. Before we skip ahead though, lets start at the beginning - the very beginning.

A Quick Look At Sega Smash Pack

The Sega Dreamcast is a pretty versatile piece of hardware. Not only is it capable of running operating systems like Linux and Dreamshell et al, it is pretty adept at mimicking other console formats too. Since the early days of the Dreamcast, talented coders have been tricking the system into convincing itself it was a Nintendo Entertainment System, a Neo-Geo or even a Sony PlayStation. The latter example of console emulation on Dreamcast is well documented and eventually resulted in Bleem! being shut down by Sony's legal department, but let us also remember that Sega itself utilised the hardware of the Dreamcast to bring emulation to the masses.
While the inclusion of PC Engine and Megadrive emulators on certain Dream Passport internet browser discs is well known in the wider Dreamcast community, Sega opted to bring Genesis titles to the general populace in the United States via the Sega Smash Pack collection - an official release containing 12 retro titles from various eras in the company's illustrious history spanning both the 16 and 32-bit generations. I have it on pretty good authority that a PAL version of Smash Pack was in the works at Sega Europe (having both played a variant and by way of the article below as proof), but only the NTSC-U version ever saw the light of day.

The Blueprint

The Dreamcast Junkyard is, as the name suggests, primarily a place where the love is targeted squarely at Sega's fantastic 128-bit swansong. However, being part of the Sega Network and all, there is a fair bit of affection around these parts for the rest of the Sega hardware stable. I personally own a Master System, a Megadrive 2, Mega CD 2 and a Sega Saturn as well as a Dreamcast, so I occasionally find myself purchasing bits and bobs for those systems too. This past weekend, I managed to get hold of a  Saturn 3D pad - you know, the one that you're meant to play NiGHTS Into Dreams with. I also got a copy of that very game (it was actually very kindly donated by Cauterize from Retro Collect - big thanks!), as well as a copy of Christmas NiGHTS too.

The reason for me going on about all this is that I never really appreciated just how similar the 3D pad is to the standard Dreamcast controller. Putting them side by side, you can really see just how alike they are, and you can see how Sega took the 3D pad and developed it into the Dreamcast controller we all know and love today. Random thought: is it mere coincidence that the 3D pad was bundled with a game with the word 'Dreams' in the title...but then went on to become the blueprint for the controller for a console with the word 'Dream' in it's name? Conspiracy theories abound.

A picture speaks a thousand words, but a video speaks twenty billion...so I did a little comparison and uploaded it to Youtube. Yes, I sound like a complete arse and say "erm" every 2.8 seconds...but hey - I never claimed to be a professional. I'll leave that to the...erm...professionals. Eh? Enjoy:

The Gaming Historian takes a look at the Dreamcast - part 1

I think we have all heard this before, but still, it's always fun to watch a new Dreamcast themed video. He does a decent job editing his videos which is more than most can say.

Plus it's always fun to point out all the stuff people get wrong!

For example the graphic he sets up says that the Dreamcast only had 56k modem and did not have broadband capability. Wrong. You could buy a broadband adaptor for the Dreamcast just like you could buy a broadband adaptor for the PS2.

See if you can spot any other errors.



Oh and the other thing that bothered me is that he mentioned Bernie Stolar but didn't mention any of the horrible mistakes he made, including needlessly cutting the initial Dreamcast price in the US by $50. People would have paid the extra $50 and Sega could have got a ton of extra profit. I dunno. Why drop Stolars's hated name if you are not going to discuss any of that stuff?

(Not to mention all the mistakes Stolar made with the Sega Saturn)

Dreamcast Love On The Eve Of The Wii...


Well it’s about time I put ‘pen to paper’ (so to speak), and make sure I don’t find myself sacked off from the Dreamcast Junkyard team for lack of effort, in the wake of the Gagaman(n)’s recent Herculean posting odyssey...

Much has happened since my last epistle. Man Utd. saw off Man City in an embarrassing 1-0 Derby defeat at the City Of Manchester Stadium, which I had the misfortune to watch in an Australian Bar in Barcelona. It was full of Reds and there was a bigger cheer when City missed their penalty, than when United scored theirs.


Man Utd of course went on to win the Premiership, whilst City managed to clock up their first record in many years... fewest goals scored at home in one season. DOH!
This has ultimately lead to the sacking of Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce, whilst Fergie and his boys strolled triumphantly around Old Trafford last Sunday. BAH!
I have solved one Man United mystery that had always puzzled me though… Apparently the letters "A.I.G" on the United shirt stand for "Almost In Greece…" :)



But I digress… It’s at dark times like this, that one seeks solace in the little box of wonders that is the Dreamcast. I’ve been feeling super-love for my Dreamcast recently, since I committed to buying a Wii. (I’m getting it tomorrow, May 16th , for my almost top secret 40th birthday….But DOn’t tell anyone, I DOn’t want a fuss.)

It’s as if I need to prove my love for my DC, as if I’ve been caught by my significant other, with a pert young super-model on my arm. I need the Dreamcast to know it’ll always be ‘the one’, even if there’s another in my life…

So here’s a quick round up of some of the games I’ve been playing over the last few months, in a sort of "micro-review medley" type thing…


Last Hope: This fiendishly difficult side scrolling 'Shump' (I’ve become a bit of a shump fan of late…) comes to us courtesy of Germany’s NG:Dev team and is a 2007 release. That fact in itself, is one which fills me with a rosy glow, knowing that there are still brand new Dreamcast releases coming out. Then my rosy glow dissipates into icy water flushing through my bowels, as I remember that the announcement of the cessation of GD Roms, that could put pay to Dreamcast development forever…


Still the game is fantastic. Originally and (very costly) developed for the Neo Geo, the game was ported to the Dreamcast and released this January. The graphics are fabulous and the gameplay somewhat hypnotic. As your ship glides smoothly into the oncoming landscape, you must blast away at alien foes whilst, attempting to fly through power-ups and avoid the oncoming mines and missiles pitted against you. I’ve only managed to get as far as the first boss, but I’ve enjoyed it so far. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is its musical score, (available as a limited edition CD release bundled with a special game pack). The music is like ambient-trancey Kraftwerk and builds as your ship progresses through the game. Quite beautiful really. Oh and its region free. Games TM Magazine reviewed it recently and gave it an 80% score and I’ll agree… 8/10 Why not buy it here?


In total contrast to this frenetic kill-fest is Virtua Athlete 2K. This decathlon based sorts sim is a more serious update of Sega Sport’s ‘Athlete Kings’ which appeared on the Saturn. The gameplay involves a lot of speedy button mashing and split second timing as you power your athlete through a variety of track and field events. This is not a game to be played on your own, but is an ideal party game for up to four players. It must be good, as it has even enticed the two biggest Gingers to pick up and play. The ideal game for non-gamers and a great laugh after a couple of drinks! For the fun factor alone, 9/10. For a more considered review look here…



Moving on to Silent Scope, the best Light Gun game that never was… This arcade port was made for the Light Gun, but due to the legacy of the Columbine shootings, it was only released to be compatible with the standard controller. A shame, because this really is a great shooter! As the name suggests, the scope is the key, allowing you to ‘nail far away targets with pinpoint accuracy’ (according to the back of the box…)


You play as a former special operative in the British Anti-Terrorism force (very adept at killing innocent Brazilians no doubt…) currently residing in Chicago. Your foes include the quite wankily titled: Cobra The Iron Man, Hornet The Sniper, Tom & Jerry ( the genetically spliced mutated Killing Machine), Scorpion The Butcher and… Wait for it… Monica The Armoured Secretary… No shit! Un-fucking-believable!
What tosspot came up with these characters? I don’t bloody know… This game is excellent arcade style shooting fun, but I’m only going to give it 7/10 because it screams out to be played with a gun… So there! Wanna know more? Look here…


Head Hunter: The moment I started to play this game I knew it would become a lifelong favourite, up there with the likes of Shenmue 1 & 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica… Graphically lush and with fabulous gameplay, this game is something of a futuristic bounty hunter odyssey, set in a bleak, corporate, fascist America. (A little like today's USA then...)



Spanning two discs and with a brilliant storyline (interspersed with fake video news bulletins and product commercials), this game has been likened to Metal Gear Solid due to it’s stealth missions. However, it’s fusion of motorbike riding and assassination had me thinking of the Vice City franchise and the untapped potential of the Dreamcast…



The character you play is Jack Wade, a cross between Dirty Harry and Snake Plisken. He’s quite literally “cool as fuck”! Having lost his memory it’s your job to train him up again using the L.E.I.L.A virtual training facility, gain experience in riding your bike and regain your bounty hunter license and then go out an kick motherfuckin' ass in the criminal underworld…

It’s an utterly fabulous game, but can be a little frustrating when it comes to bike riding, as the streets are cluttered with other vehicles which you inevitably hit… this then causes your experience points to drop, which is a killer when its taken you so long to build them up… I’m not the first one to notice this, have a look here… Overall Score? It would have got a 10/10 but due to the bike crashy thing, it only gets a 9/10. Still very definitely recommended…


Resident Evil: Code Veronica- This is an excellent game, but one with which I definitely have a love-hate relationship with, that has oft been chronicled on my other blogs. Like Marmite or Shenmue, you’ll either love it or hate it. At times I felt both emotions about the game… I played right through the whole thing and then left it unfinished with about 40 minutes to an hour (if that) of gameplay to go. I ended up watching its conclusion on Youtube, I just couldn’t be arsed any more. ( I also bought RE:CV Survivors Guide and Light Gun for the PS2, enabling me to whizz through the stages of the game AND shoot Zombies in House Of the Dead Style… Which is nice...



You see the problem with this horror survival classic, is that failure to pick up items at the start of the game, can impact on your ability to succeed, way into the second disc (even with a walkthrough). Still fabulously plotted, stunning graphics and some great gameplay make this one of my all time Dreamcast favourites… 8/10! Intrigued? Look here… and here… (and I know the video is from the PS2 port, but it shows the graphic spleandour of the original and goes very nicely with the music!)




As well as these games I’ve also been playing some classic Dreamcast lovelies, oft discussed on this hallowed forum… Soul Calibur, Powerstone, Crazy Taxi, SWWS (Euro Edition) and Jet Set Radio. This is because I’ve sneaked a Dreamcast into the traditionally console free ‘little living room’, where we have a 60HZ TV, and I’m currently enjoying the improved graphics and smoother frame rates (or whatever it is that a 60HZ TV does for your DC). It’s made me think of investing in a new scart lead or even a VGA adaptor…



Finally to offset a disastrously poor purchase of three Japanese games from Play Asia, (I’m no Gagaman(n) when it comes to making wise choices…), I was delighted to receive my own copy of Half Life from the wonderful Gary from Dreamcasting@btinternet.com This legendary piece of un-published vapour ware was first brought to the DCJY’s attention by the great Tomleecee a while back. To own my own copy however is a sublime experience. The quality of the packaging is just amazing, coming in a PAL Dreamcast case, with glossy front and back cover, printed disc and even a glossy covered manual, replete with cheats! I cannot recommend Gary’s work highly enough! Check him out and BUY STUFF… Like a Dr. Feelgood of Dreamcasting, he can get you what you need… Have a look here


Well that’s me for now! I’m off to enjoy my last evening of being 39 and anticipating a new Wii flavoured chapter of my gaming life….

Goodnight dear children… wherever you are…