Showing posts with label Senile Team. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Senile Team. Show all posts

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. 

Indie Dreamcast platformer Intrepid Izzy is up for pre-order!

Dreamcast indie darlings Senile Team, creators of the excellent Rush Rush Rally Racing, have just put up pre-orders for their upcoming Dreamcast release, Intrepid Izzy, a charming platformer complete with its own beat-em-up twist on the genre. Intrepid Izzy hit Kickstarter back in 2017 with a campaign that covered PC, Dreamcast and PS4 releases. The game released on Steam in July of last year, and now the Dreamcast version that we've all been eagerly awaiting for is imminent too! Senile Team are trying to aim for a release sometime in August, but it all depends on manufacturers and deliveries. Be sure to follow them on Twitter and watch out for a more concrete release date.

For those who didn't back the Kickstarter, but are looking to pick this game up, pre-orders are now live on two websites: UK-based WAVE game studios and Germany-based DragonBox for PAL and Japanese style box arts respectively. If you are living in the UK like myself, I'd recommend purchasing from WAVE, as DragonBox currently has a minimum purchase of €157 required to checkout for those living in the UK. Maybe something to do with the VAT stuff that came into effect in January? No idea. Obviously not throwing any shade at DragonBox, I've purchased some excellent stuff from there before, just want to make people aware before they get confused as to why they can't check out! WAVE also ships to the USA. (Update: WAVE are now offering a Japanese-style copy)
Senile Team provided us with some information on where the release is up to which is relevant to Kickstarter backers and fresh pre-orders alike:

Release-wise, we are very close indeed. The game and soundtrack CDs are now being manufactured, and are expected to reach us in July. But we still need a few other items to be manufactured before we can release the game, most notably the extras that make the [Kickstarter] Collector's Edition so ultra fancy.


So yeah, what are you waiting for? Go hit that pre-order button. Links below:


Disclaimer: we aren't sponsored by the developers in any way, we just want to support high-quality indie releases for Dreamcast!

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...

Intrepid Izzy Reaches Kickstarter Funding Goal

It looks like there'll be at least one new game coming to the Dreamcast in 2018, as Senile Team's Intrepid Izzy hit its €35,000 Kickstarter funding goal with mere hours to go. The impressive 2D platformer is also due to come to both PS4 and PC, and will feature Metroid style gameplay and a central character who can acquire different abilities depending on the costume being worn.
Senile Team recently released a playable demo of Intrepid Izzy for Dreamcast, and you can grab the burnable file here. You can also check out our preview article here. I spoke to lead designer Roel van Mastbergen about the project and how running a Kickstarter project affected his nerves:

"It wasn't easy, that's for sure! Managing the Intrepid Izzy campaign was the first thing I did in the morning and the last thing before I went to sleep, with few breaks in between. And with the funding advancing only very slowly most of the time, staying motivated was a real challenge as well. But we made it in the end, so we are all feeling very thankful, excited to complete the game and hopeful to make it exceed everyone's expectations."
- Roel van Mastbergen, Senile Team

Having played the demo, and looking at Senile Team's previous output on the Dreamcast (Rush Rush Rally Racing and Beats of Rage) we're pretty confident that Intrepid Izzy will be yet another highly polished indie title for the system.
I was also lucky enough to take part in episode 115 of the SEGA Nerds podcast, the SEGA Nerdcast in which Roel was also a guest, and he spoke openly about the Kickstarter and the influences other games have had on the development of Intrepid Izzy. Check it out here.

Did you back Intrepid Izzy? Are you excited for the future of the Dreamcast? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter or in our Facebook group.

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Preview: Intrepid Izzy

Recently we reported on the new Kickstarter campaign from Senile Team, the same studio behind one of the Dreamcast's greatest indie titles - Rush Rush Rally Racing. The new project, Intrepid Izzy is a side scrolling platformer featuring the eponymous heroine Izzy, and tasks the player with battling through a number of worlds, destroying enemies and collecting power ups. Pretty standard fayre for a side-scrolling platformer, I'm sure you'll agree.
Where Intrepid Izzy differs though, is that as well as being a platformer, the game introduces mechanics more commonly found in fighting games, and as such Izzy has a decent array of offensive moves at her disposal, as well as various specials that are activated using combinations of the D-pad and attack buttons. On top of this, different costumes available to Izzy grant her a range of abilities and moves with which to hand out ass whuppings on a case by case basis.

How do I know all this? Well, because I've been lucky enough to have played a demo version supplied by Senile Team. The screens dotted around this post - and the video below - are from an early demo and go to show just how good the game looks and plays, even at this early stage. Running on an actual Dreamcast (no emulators were used in the production of this article!), it's fair to say that Intrepid Izzy looks and sounds pretty damn incredible.


The animation of the main Izzy sprite alone puts many indie games developed for current gen systems to shame, while the general bright and well-drawn backgrounds, enemy sprites and incidental environmental details are simply gorgeous. But the beauty isn't just skin deep with Intrepid Izzy. The various NPCs you encounter have some pretty funny things to say, the levels have branching paths, the music is delightfully hummable and the controls are totally on point and perfectly responsive - something that is imperative for a game of this style.
The game, as stated, is still in the very early stages of development and the Kickstarter campaign is still ongoing (full disclosure - I've already backed it and so have several other members of the DCJY team), but even at this early stage it looks like Senile Team have another winner on their hands.

Hopefully, the Kickstarter will reach its modest €35,000 target and the game will get a full physical release, and judging from what I've played so far it would be criminal if Intrepid Izzy didn't get the backing it so clearly deserves.
Check out the Intrepid Izzy official website here, Pcwzrd's longer playthrough of the demo version here, and find the Intrepid Izzy Kickstarter page here.

Senile Team Launches Intrepid Izzy Kickstarter Campaign

Intrepid Izzy is the latest title from Senile Team, creators of the excellent Rush Rush Rally Racing franchise and Beats of Rage engine. We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Roel van Mastbergen from Senile Team, and now his latest creation has hit Kickstarter.
Intrepid Izzy is a Metroid style platformer featuring some pretty awesome 2D sprite work and animation, and is destined to come to Steam, PlayStation 4 and Dreamcast. The funding goal is set at a fairly modest €35,000 and the different versions do sport some platform-specific features. Obviously, the version most people reading this will be interested in will be the Dreamcast version, and here's a run down of what you can expect:
  • 640x480 screen resolution
  • 60 frames per second
  • Standard controller and Arcade Stick support
  • PAL, NTSC and VGA support
  • Physical release
  • Region free
Naturally, the PS4 and PC releases will be full HD and 60fps and also feature fully customisable controls, but the Dreamcast version is the only one that will be given a physical release as standard. The screens above are from the Dreamcast version, and you can see a video of it running here.

Intrepid Izzy promises to "combine platforming, beat 'em up and adventure elements to create a unique experience with depth, character and above all, fun!" and other promised features include a branching dialogue system and the ability to change the eponymous heroine's abilities with different themed costumes.
Find out more by visiting the Intrepid Izzy website here. The Kickstarter is now live and can be accessed here.

Related articles:

Dreamcast Riding High At Gamescom 2017

The annual Gamescom trade fair in Cologne, Germany is always a hit with developers and publishers of the latest and greatest new games and hardware. All the big guns have been in attendance at the 2017 show, with major players like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft showing their wares, and the public have been lapping it up. But what's all this got to do with the humble Dreamcast? Well, believe it or not, the Dreamcast has been exceptionally well represented at Gamescom this year, with a glut of upcoming games on display for Sega's old warhorse.
Intrepid Izzy from Senile Team, Retroguru's Hermes, Xenocider from Retro Sumus, the recent releases from JoshProd, Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, and Alice Dreams Tournament have all been on display and fully playable. This is due in part to the sizeable displays laid on by Retro Spiel and German retro gaming magazine RETURN. It's pretty awesome to see the Dreamcast represented at such a prestigious event, even more so with all these new titles on display. Below you'll find an assortment of photos from Gamescom 2017 showing that the Dreamcast is far from dead - it's very much alive and kicking!

Developer Interview: Senile Team

Senile Team is one of the premier independent studios currently developing games for the Dreamcast. With an impressive portfolio comprising such well-known and critically acclaimed titles as Rush Rush Rally Racing and the ever-popular Beats of Rage, Senile Team has already claimed its seat at the top table. With this in mind, we though it was about time that we got together with one of Senile Team's main men Roel van Mastbergen to find out a little bit more about the history of the outfit, their influences and get some details on the brand new platform adventure heading to PC and Dreamcast very soon - Intrepid Izzy.
DCJY: Hello Roel, thanks very much for agreeing to talk to The Dreamcast Junkyard! We’re big fans of your output on the Dreamcast. Could you tell all those people who may not be familiar a little bit about yourself and the history of Senile Team?

Roel van Mastbergen: Hi Tom, thanks for inviting me to this interview. I’m Roel van Mastbergen, designer, artist and programmer for Senile Team. Senile Team is a small indie developer (currently made up of four people) originally founded in 2003, when we created Beats of Rage. This beat ‘em up based on Streets of Rage proved very popular, and we decided to keep making games, especially for the Dreamcast. Our next release was the Micro Machines-inspired Rush Rush Rally Racing, of which we recently did an updated re-release - Rush Rush Rally Reloaded which we also brought to the Nintendo Wii a few years ago.
It’s very interesting that you mention Beats of Rage - I’m pretty sure that most Dreamcast owners are familiar with it, but possibly don’t know that Senile Team is responsible for the original engine. Before we get to Beats of Rage though, one thing I have to ask - where does the studio's name ‘Senile Team’ actually come from? You don't strike me as being particularly old or decrepit. Much.

Well, back in the day we used to communicate via a mailing list. When creating the mailing list, I found that most names that actually made sense were already taken, so I sort of randomly picked the name 'Senile.' When we completed Beats of Rage, we decided to stick to it. We felt it made sense in a way, because we'd just made an old school game. 'Old' and 'senile' go hand in hand, after all!

Senile Team Reveals Intrepid Izzy For Dreamcast & PC

Senile Team recently teased us with news of a brand new Dreamcast game in development...and now they've unveiled full details! Intrepid Izzy is a 2D side-scrolling platformer in the style of Nintendo classic Metroid. Details are a little thin on the ground at present, but Senile Team promises that Intrepid Izzy will mix role playing, platforming and beat 'em up elements.
"Intrepid Izzy is a 2D action adventure platformer or "metroidvania", currently in development by Senile Team. Mixing platforming with beat-'em-up and RPG elements, the titular character must jump, fight and puzzle her way through various imaginative, colourful worlds.

A lot of time and attention was spent on developing the visual style of the game. The crisp and cartoony HD graphics come to life thanks to bright, warm colours and smooth animations. The game is being developed on PC (Windows), and a Dreamcast version is also in the works (though obviously not in HD). Additional platforms are also being looked into."
- Roel van Mastbergen, Senile Team

Senile Team Teases New Dreamcast Game

I can't keep up with all these new Dreamcast releases. First we had the announcement about Rush Rush Rally Reloaded and Breakers et al; and then there's the imminent release of Alice Dreams Tournament and the impending Xenocider from our good friends at Retro Sumus...and now we have news of yet another brand new Dreamcast game. Do you ever wake up from a strange dream thinking that you might still be asleep because you feel weird? No, me neither...but I thought I should add some kind of cliché because that's what the mainstream cool kids do.
Anyway, the as-yet-unnamed title again comes courtesy of Senile Team, but it categorically isn't the mythical Age of the Beast. As Senile Team head honcho Roel van Mastbergen explains in his recent post over at the developer's website:

"First I have to get one thing out of the way: it's not Age of the Beast. In case you didn't know, Age of the Beast was a project we started soon after the release of our firstborn, the moddable beat 'em up engine called Beats of Rage. But we stepped into the same traps as so many other indie developers - we announced it prematurely and watched it grow over our heads. I suppose this is a natural part of growing up for a game dev. It has certainly taught us a lot."
- Roel van Mastbergen, Senile Team

Age of the Beast never came to fruition but that's not to say work didn't forge ahead, and Roel goes as far as sharing some previously unseen sprite work with us. That first image below is just something I created myself from individual frames from the animated GIF on the Senile Team site because (full disclosure) the archaic technology keeping this site together can't cope with animated GIFs:
I'm sure you'll agree it's quite impressive and looks like it could give Guardian Heroes a run for its money. However, that's all water under the bridge. A new title is coming to the Dreamcast and so far Senile Team are being very coy with details. Indeed, Roel has only released a single image:
What could this new game be? A shadow puppet simulator? Personally, I think shadow puppetry is underrepresented on the Dreamcast...but I'm pretty sure it won't be a shadow puppetry simulator. Damn you Senile Team, damn you. Anyway, we'll be sure to keep you updated on this new game and hopefully we'll be able to shed more light on future releases in a developer interview very soon!

Senile Team now have a Facebook page too - go give them a like!

Rush Rush Rally Reloaded Heads Up List Of Dreamcast Re-Releases

Heads up folks. There's a new Dreamcast release coming very soon. Rush Rush Rally Reloaded is heading our way and it features a whole host of improvements and fixes. Rush Rush Rally Racing was released on the Dreamcast a few years ago and it was then re-released on the Nintendo Wii.
This re-re-release on the Dreamcast (still with me?) is based on the Wii version, but includes a ton of further updates. We spoke to Roel van Mastbergen from Senile Team to get the full lowdown on this latest addition to the Dreamcast's library. Here's a full list, courtesy of Roel himself:

Hi Dreamcast Junkyard! It's true - Rush Rush Rally Reloaded is coming to the Sega Dreamcast and it will come in both PAL and DVD-style long box packaging! Both will be available in limited quantities but will feature the following improvements to the game:

  • Two new single player modes: Time Attack and Challenge, which is  like "Get Ahead" from the original game, but against CPU players.
  • Totally redesigned menus
  • Changed camera distance so you can see more of the road ahead
  • Some improved graphics, including: light beams are larger and rotated more smoothly, more colourful billboards, additional illustrations
  • Faster loading times
  • Stable 60fps in both single and multiplayer modes
  • Removed video mode switches between 640x480 and 320x240 resolutions, so low-resolution parts are now upscaled to 640x480
  • A mode for detecting when people copy and paste lists
  • Support for more character sets in name entry
  • Usability improvements, such as last entered name is remembered for name entry so you don't have to re-enter your name every time you play
  • Improved legibility of internet score codes
  • Improved control configuration options
  • Added engine sound options
  • 6 languages: English, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian
  • DVD case version will feature an 8 page colour manual
As stated by Roel, the game will be available in a DVD style case, but also in PAL flavour too. Even more interesting is that the PAL print run will be handled by JoshProd, a small company based in France specialised in re-releasing old games. Josh Prod have been involved in several re-release projects, the most notable of which was a re-issue of Neo Geo AES cartridge Neo Drift Out (in collaboration with Visco) in 2016. 
Along with Rush Rush Rally Reloaded, JoshProd will also be offering re-prints of certain previously released Dreamcast games such as Ghost Blade, Dux, Alice Mom's Rescue and a run of a new-to-Dreamcast 2D SNK fighter called Breakers. All of these come with PAL-styled packaging and redesigned manuals; and in some cases also include new content.

A Quick Look At Rush Rush Rally Racing

Rush Rush Rally Racing. For some reason, every time I think of this game I can't help but say the title in my head to the tune of the Power Rangers theme song. Hopefully, now you'll be the same and my plan for earworm world domination via the medium of indie Dreamcast games will be complete. I'm trying to think of other defunct kids' TV shows that rhyme perfectly with Dreamcast game titles; but I've hit a wall and fear I may have peaked way too soon...but I digress.
Rush Rush Rally Racing is a top down racing game released by Senile Team in 2009, and while I've been aware of the game for ages it's taken me until now to actually acquire a copy and play it. I know, I know...I can only apologise. The fact of the matter is, Rush Rush Rally Racing (henceforth referred to as R4) is one of those indie games that has increased in price/value exponentially since it was released and so I've never really had the funds or inclination to buy a copy for my own collection. That all changed recently when I was perusing a stall of gaming trinkets at Revival Solstice and asked if the seller had any Dreamcast games other than the NTSC-J copies of Blue Stinger and Pen Pen TriIcelon he had adorning the table. He produced R4 and was asking only £20, so I bit his hand off. Not literally you understand, but for that price I couldn't refuse.
That said, I did endure about 20 minutes of buyers remorse as that crisp £20 note was the only cash I had on my person, I desperately needed a drink and the nearest cash point was a good 15 minute walk away from the event. This momentary bout of negative introspection was soon allayed when I slapped my new disc into one of the myriad Dreamcasts I had at the event though, and here's why: Rush Rush Rally Racing is bloody brilliant.