Showing posts with label Sega Dreamcast Indie Dev. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sega Dreamcast Indie Dev. Show all posts

Fragmented Almanac: Unique Dreamcast Puzzle Collection goes up for Pre-order!

One of my favourite memories from when I first got involved with The Dreamcast Junkyard happened towards the end of February 2020, when I played the demo for "Reaperi Cycle" in preparation for an episode of our podcast, the DreamPod. Interesting extra tidbit: I'd got engaged to my now-wife just the day before! 

Upon booting up the Reaperi Cycle demo, I was met with a point-and-click game in an isometric style, with really compelling pre-rendered graphics indicative of 90s PC titles, such as Sanitarium. This was not a style of game I ever expected to hit the Dreamcast, but something that I'm so glad I played. The mission of the demo was to solve puzzles in an alchemist's study to try and unlock a strange floating cube in the middle of the room. Not being that smart a puzzle game aficionado, I found some of the puzzles quite tricky to solve, which had me turning to fellow Junkyarders Tom, Mike and James for help, as they were also playing the game in prep for the podcast. 

Reaperi Cycle

In this age of instant information, even if we'd tried to look for a walkthrough to this demo, we would've come back empty handed, so what followed was something I'd not experienced in a long time: we started exchanging hints and tips with one another about what we'd each managed to figure out. With everybody's help (particularly Mike's, if I recall correctly), I eventually managed to get that cube open and complete the demo, and it felt awesome. It took me back to my playground days of yore, when my friend who was a year older than me would effectively function as a walking walkthrough guide, helping me out with advice whenever I got stuck on Pokémon Red. Reaperi Cycle reminded me of that, and it was amazing to feel that same buzz once again of utilising the advice of friends to finally beat a game. 

So then... why did I share this sentimental little tale? Because developer of Reaperi Cycle, ANTIRUINS, is finally releasing definitive versions of not only Reaperi Cycle (now known as The Hideout), but also Summoning Signals, another excellent demo that they also showcased back in 2020. And what's more, they're both combined into one release, called the Fragmented Almanac, with enhanced visuals and audio. That's two really unique games for the price of one, and you can pre-order them today, for an expected release date of March 2024.

Fragmented Almanac will be available digitally for $14.99 (for play on emulator, ODE, etc), with disc copies costing $29.99. The physical game comes in two editions with different cover art, and they both look absolutely sick. You'd be forgiven for mistaking them for some underground band's short-run release on some boutique indie label's Bandcamp. "Dude, I really hope they release Fragmented Almanac on vinyl next!"

On ANTIRUINS' store page for this release, the collection is described as follows:

"The Fragmented Almanac is a strange document, an oddity even amongst Dreamcast games.  At the junction of video games, art and alchemy, this project is the culmination of 7 years of Dreamcast development, spread over 5 different games. The Fragmented Almanac re-unites two of these experimentations under a multifaceted and complex timeline."

And the games contained within:

"THE HIDEOUT : This place is filled with alchemical knowledge, old tales and mystical symbols. It's the hidden path in the forest, seen by very few. Can you unlock its secret?

"SUMMONING SIGNALS : Sprinter-2 crashed on an Unknown Planet. Help the Pilot and figure out a way to leave the labyrinth. Discover this strange world where new technology and old ruins coexist."

The games also boasts such features as a "new Almanac system [which] guides you through the complex world", an "eerie soundtrack composed by Gabriel Ledoux" and the useful extra of "hints [being] displayed on the VMU". Nice.
The developers of Fragmented Alamanac are Canada-based, but did confirm in our Discord that they are currently working to try and get a distributor arranged for Europe, although $11 to get one of these sent to the UK (where I'm based) isn't too bad a delivery cost. Once again, you can pre-order the game here.

Are you going to check out The Hideout and Summoning Signals as part of the Fragmented Almanac? Let us know in the comments below, or on our socials.

The Top 25 Dreamcast Indie Games 2024 - Voting Now Closed

It's been eight years since we last went to readers, viewers, listeners and followers of The Dreamcast Junkyard to ask YOU what the best indie games for the Dreamcast are... and what an eight years it's been! Incredibly, no less than 43 new indie games have seen release for the console in that time - and that is just those that received actual physical versions.

As we're officially in the Dreamcast's 25th year of celebrations (I am now dubbing the time between the Japanese launch in 1998 and the PAL release in 1999 "the Dreamcast anniversary year"), it seems only fitting to bring this vote back and see what the current fan favourite indie games are, especially considering the increased number of releases since we last did the vote. Pier Solar topped the charts last time, just beating out Sturmwind, but a lot has happened since then!


How to vote:

Simply click on the form at the bottom of the page (or here, if its easier!) and name your selection of a minimum of three indie releases, with a maximum of 10. There's no need to order them, however you will be asked to select one of your choices as your absolute favourite on the second page of the form. I will then have the Junkyard gremlins work their magic, run the spreadsheets, click the dials and receive brown paper envelopes in dark parking lots so that we end up with the definitive Top 25 list of indie games.

That's not all though. As well as using this chance to work out the Top 25 indie games, we've also got a few additional votes that you can take part in, namely Best Indie Developer, Best Indie Publisher and Most Anticipated Future Indie Release.


Criteria:

I suppose we better clarify what an "indie release" is. Any commercially released or free game that runs on the Dreamcast that was not officially licensed by Sega but was sanctioned for release by its developers or rights holders, qualifies. This includes all the games listed in my Complete Guide to Commercially Released Dreamcast Indie Games article, along with any other game that can be downloaded digitally for play on the Dreamcast for either a price or free, as long as it was allowed by its developer or rights holders.

The only titles that don't qualify for this voting would be unofficial ports of games, such as the Atomiswave ports, or unofficial mods or hacks of existing games (including any Beats of Rage mods, although Beats of Rage itself does qualify). Basically, if the developers or rights holders didn’t authorise it for play on the Dreamcast, it doesn’t qualify. Also, any unreleased games from the Dreamcast's official lifespan (such as Millennium Racer or Propeller Arena, for instance) don’t qualify either.

You have until the 31st of January 2024 to vote, and once we have closed the polls and had the time to write up the results we'll be announcing the final list on the blog and across social media.

Voting has now closed.

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.