Showing posts with label Xenocider. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Xenocider. 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 commercial indie scene enters a 'Golden Age'

When Sega pulled the plug on the Dreamcast in 2001, few would have predicted that our beloved little white box would still be pushing out new titles 20 years later. Flicking through the pages of the multitude of gaming magazines that were vying for market share at the time, readers were presented with a journalistic consensus that the Dreamcast was well and truly dead (note: for younger members of the audience, magazines were bounded sheets of paper with writing and artwork printed on them).

Of course, by industry standards, this assessment was bang on the money. The gaming reporters may well have known that a trickle of official releases would continue to see the light of day for a few more years, or had an inkling that a sizeable portion of the Dreamcast’s enthusiastic fanbase would continue to support homebrew projects, some of which could conceivably be released in physical form on a small scale. In the terms of reference that mattered to the industry and the wider public though (revenue, profit, audience size), the writing had already been on the wall for some time.

Where it all began...

Although by these standards the Dreamcast's new releases are still undoubtedly small fry, the commercial Dreamcast indie scene has been through an astounding boom in recent years; one which is becoming hard to ignore. The tongue-in-cheek opinion shared amongst Dreamcast fanatics for many years that "the Dreamcast is a current gen console" is getting less and less absurd by the day. What began with the release of Cryptic Allusion’s Feet of Fury in 2003 (more info here) has snowballed to a point where 14 indie games were released in 2021. Furthermore, there are as many as 30 Dreamcast games forecast for release on a commercial basis in 2022 and beyond - a figure that is edging close to the 50 or so officially licenced releases seen in Europe in 2001, and which far outstrips the 9 released in 2002.

Of course, the rocketing quantity of releases doesn’t single-handedly uphold the claim that we’re in a “golden age” for the Dreamcast indie scene, but there are many other signs that accompany this trend. For one, the variety of games available is wider than ever, putting to rest the persistent trope that all the Dreamcast indie scene has to offer is shooters (which to be fair, had some validity in the mid to late noughties). Everything from platformers, fighters, puzzlers, RPGs, racers, and visual novels are finding a home on a professionally printed Dreamcast-compatible MIL-CD these days. Furthermore, there has been a diversification of contributors who are throwing their hats into the ring. Longstanding Dreamcast developers with a mountain of credibility stored up, such as Senile Team, are thankfully still here, but they have also been joined by a new wave of developers and publishers that are rapidly earning their stripes, including the likes of PixelHeart/JoshProd, LowTek Games, RetroSumus, The Bit Station, and WAVE Game Studios to name but a few.

What really adds weight to the hypothesis that the Dreamcast indie scene is entering a golden age though is the quality of many of the games - something which is undeniably more subjective and harder to pin down, but which will be recognised by many. Throughout the lifespan of the commercial Dreamcast indie scene there have always been standout titles, such as Wind & Water Puzzle Battles (2008) or Sturmwind (2013), which drew worthy praise at the time. Dreamcast enthusiasts would often wait in anticipation for years at a time for these gems; games that had clearly benefitted from the great care and attention to detail of their developers. Yet in 2020 and 2021 we were spoiled rotten with the release of three extraordinarily good titles in Intrepid Izzy, Xenocider and Xeno Crisis. These have all been extensively reviewed elsewhere too, so I won’t pour out my adoration here. Suffice it to say that they each set a high standard which others should be aiming for.

Three of the recent 'big' indie releases on Dreamcast

So, what exactly is driving this boom? Through the highly scientific method of poking around the internet, chatting with fellow devout Dreamcast fans, and mulling it over whilst munching on Hula Hoops, here's "what I reckon."

First and foremost, there is a longstanding healthy demand for commercial indie releases. Folks are willing to part with their cold hard cash for these games, and fundamentally that is what makes it viable for them to be released, especially in a physical format. Many indie games that see the light of day in a commercial form on the DC are undoubtedly labours of love and have had countless hours of voluntary or underpaid labour poured into them. Yet, however much these development costs can be kept in check, and no matter how much cheaper printing a CD is compared to producing another medium (such as a cartridge), it still requires funding, and so a reasonable level of demand is essential. 

Sales vary heavily from game to game, but it isn’t unusual to hear of indie Dreamcast releases selling over a thousand units, while those that sell well have the capability of reaching far beyond this over the course of their shelf life. For example, we know that Intrepid Izzy rapidly sold out its initial 700 copy print run within weeks of its release date, while the numbers shown on the PixelHeart website imply that a game such as Arcade Racing Legends has sold 2,500 copies of its PAL variation alone to-date. To put this into perspective, Radilgy, one of few final officially licensed Dreamcast games, was purported to have a print run of just 4,000 copies. When you add highly priced collectors’ editions into the mix - something that a section of the Dreamcast scene’s sizeable ‘adult-with-disposable-income’ demographic keenly buy into - then breaking even is a realistic, though not guaranteed, goal.

Arcade Racing Legends

On the other side of the coin, there are many factors that help facilitate the supply of games. Front and centre is the fact that Sega have thus far been very liberal (touch wood!) in their stance on the Dreamcast indie scene. Perhaps there is just no valid business rationale for them to dedicate resources to making things difficult (as opposed to genuine goodwill), but a laissez-faire attitude from multinational corporations under circumstances such as these is not always a given. Pair this with the Dreamcast’s capability to play games pressed to regular CDs without modification, and the relative ease of developing games for the console when compared to other platforms (often cited by developers in their DCJY interviews), and we have the foundations of the whole commercial indie scene.


Xenocider 'next-gen' demo now available

Remember Xenocider? We do - Retro Sumus' excellent Dreamcast shooter burst onto the scene in early 2021 and wowed us with its lovely graphics, challenging gameplay and incredible amount of unlockable content. Check out our review here

The good news is that Retro Sumus are bringing Xara's adventure to modern gaming platforms in 2022, with PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One / Series gamers all being given the opportunity to engage in a friendly bit of interstellar planetary genocide. Of course, alongside the consoles, there's also a PC version planned and you can try a demo of Xenocider's non-Dreamcast remaster on Steam right now.

Xenocider was - and still is - a great looking Dreamcast game, and is probably the best looking 3D indie title we've yet seen on Sega's console. Naturally though, the modern remaster takes advantage of the more powerful hardware offered by contemporary consoles and gaming rigs, meaning everything has a rather nice visual upgrade. No floating Dreamcast power-ups though, which will no doubt mark it down in our view.

The updated version of Xenocider is being published by Eastasiasoft and no doubt once the game is released in 2022 we'll cast an eye over it and see how it compares to the Dreamcast original. Grab the Steam demo here, follow Retro Sumus here and buy a digital copy of the original Dreamcast version of Xenocider here.

Xenocider digital editions now available

Retro Sumus' superb sci-fi shooter Xenocrisis is now availible - indeed you probably saw our glowing review recenetly posted here at the Junkyard. In case you didn't, here's a link, and a succinct summary would proabably go a bit like this: it's one of the most technically impressive and highly polished indie games we've yet seen on the Dreamcast, and you owe it to yourself to get hold of a copy.

There's even more reason to get involved with Xenocider now though, as two digital only versions have recently been released via the Retro Sumus website. Priced at €15 for the standard digital edition and €20 for the deluxe digital edition (which also includes the fantastic OST and a digital game booklet), Dreamcast owners who prefer to play their games using a MODE, GDEMU or other such device can now grab either of these flavours and enjoy Xenocider totally disc free while still supporting the developers.

The whole topic of downloading roms onto SD cards and whatnot is a bit of a grey area when it comes to classic consoles, but it seems Retro Sumus have fully embraced the concept by offering their first Dreamcast release as a download, and this is commendable. It could also pave the way for other indie releases to be offered in a similar fashion in the future - selling a game digitally with zero shipping costs and at a reduced price point is always a positive in our book; and that you can now achieve this legally and still support the folks creating new games is a no brainer. 

On top of the digital editions now being available, the remaining stock of physical copies of Xenocider are now available with free shipping worldwide. There's not really any excuse not to give Xenocider a whirl now.

Check out the digital editions of Xenocider at the Retro Sumus website here.

Review: Xenocider

Full disclosure: The Dreamcast Junkyard has been reporting on the development of Xenocider pretty much since we learned of its existence, and prior to that we reported on Retro Sumus' previous foray into indie dev, Ameba. Over the years we have built up something of a friendship with Carlos Oliveros and the development team working on Xenocider. However, in the interests of transparency and 'ethics in games journalism,' we will not be giving Xenocider a free pass. This review will be conducted with the same unbiased cantankerousness as you've come to expect here at the Junkyard. With that out of the way, on with the review!

Retro Sumus first appeared on our collective radar way back in November 2014, when the Spain-based indie developer announced a visual novel starring a down at heel detective trying to solve a mysterious, supernatural murder. That game was Ameba, and since it was first introduced to the community it has been put on the back burner. Not because of any kind of internal turmoil, development hell or the game quietly becoming vapourware; but because Retro Sumus turned their attention to another project that was initially going to play second fiddle to Ameba. That side project appeared to hold more appeal to the development team and as they pivoted away from Ameba, the projects switched places with the former going into hibernation and Xenocider - the other game - stepping into the limelight.

Now, almost 7 years later, and after a number of huge revisions and an entire lore being created, Xenocider has finally landed on the Dreamcast. A bespoke, independently developed title, created and sculpted for the best part of a decade to run exclusively on Dreamcast hardware and utilising a game engine built from the ground up. You really couldn't make this up. And now, at long last - and much to the relief of the long-suffering dev team, no doubt - Xenocider is finished. It's real, it exists, it is playable on an actual Dreamcast...and by jove it's glorious.

As my learned colleague Mike Phelan alluded to in his comprehensive Arcade Racing Legends review, it would be quite easy for us Dreamcast fanatics to frothingly praise any and every new game to hit the console as a marvel, a wondrous and near perfect experience, simply by virtue of it being a game released for the Dreamcast. To proclaim everything as amazing, awesome, fantastic (or to use any number of other equally meaningless superlative descriptions) is far too easy these days; to turn a blind eye to a game's shortcoming and to give it a free pass simply 'because it's on Dreamcast.' I am all too aware of this trap, and I refuse to fall down into it. I am a hard man to please and I don't believe in sycophantically announcing every new Dreamcast game as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

With this in mind however, I'm quite confident in saying that Xenocider, for all its faults - which we'll cover later - still manages to elevate itself to the upper echelons of the Dreamcast indie library and sit proudly up there alongside stuff like Xeno Crisis, Alice Dreams Tournament, Leona's Tricky Adventures, Wind & Water Puzzle Battles and Sturmwind. That's because this is a game crafted with obvious love and devotion not only to the Dreamcast, but also with a devilish wink and a nod to other games it clearly takes inspiration from; simultaneously offering a refreshingly original take on the sci-fi shooter genre while presenting the discerning Dreamcast gamer with a hoard of gameplay modes, and as many extra bells and whistles as you'd normally expect to find in a current gen title.

Before we get to the game itself, it's worth mentioning the love and care that has clearly gone into creating the whole Xenocider package. From the excellent bespoke cover art drawn by DC Comics' Agustin Padilla, to the quality of the printed booklet and covers, to the artwork on the game disc itself (and on the bonus music CD if you have the two-disc special edition), everything about Xenocider's physical appearance exudes an air of professional attention to detail that is fantastic to see in an independently developed Dreamcast game; and like the JoshProd, Bitmap Bureau, Yuan Works and Duranik titles which came before it, the faux NTSC or PAL styling of the boxes means Xenocider will slot nicely in alongside its contemporaries on any discerning Dreamcast owner's shelf of indies.

So what of the actual game then? Well Xenocider is essentially an 'into the screen' run and gun shooter much in the style of retro favourites such as Space Harrier and Sin & Punishment. I'm not remiss to use those two titles as comparisons as Retro Sumus themselves have often cited those games as inspirations for Xenocider. Here though, you take on the role of Xara, a cybernetic Oppenheimer - quite literally a destroyer of worlds - who must planet hop through the star system, wiping out all lifeforms in her wake before eliminating an end of level boss...and ultimately the very planet itself. Pretty hairy stuff, we're sure you'll agree, and it's upon learning the main objective of the game that the title starts to make more sense. Furthermore, to reveal quite why all this death-bringing is going on would be to reveal spoilers...so we'll say no more.

Preview: Xenocider

It was in June 2015 that we first learned of Retro Sumus' ambitious Dreamcast exclusive shooter Xenocider. Back then, we didn't really know much about what was to become something of a labour of love for lead programmer Chui and his team based over in Spain, but now, almost five years later were are very close to having the final product in our hands, and - most importantly - in our Dreamcast consoles. Xenocider has undergone several revisions over the years, but here we are privileged to share with you details of the latest beta build, and our overall impressions of what we have played so far.
What was initially pitched as a sort of homage to 'into the screen' shooters of yesteryear such as Space Harrier, Planet Harriers and Sin & Punishment, Xenocider places the player in control of Xara, a cybernetic heroine tasked with travelling from planet to planet, basically wiping out all life and ultimately causing said planet to self destruct. As you do.


If you'll allow me to be a bit wanky for a moment, this does actually bring up some questions of ethics for me. Why is Xara so hellbent on destroying these alien creatures and the very worlds they reside on? If she didn't come blazing through the atmosphere in her ship and then start marauding around the landscapes shooting everything and setting off nukes, surely these innocent lifeforms could just continue going about their daily routine of floating around and minding their own business? I'm sure the answers will be revealed in the final game's story mode, so we'll leave this aspect of Xenocider alone for now. Wanky mode: off.
The similarities with the aforementioned properties from Sega and Nintendo/Treasure are quite clear to see from a visual and gameplay standpoint, but Xenocider does have its own identity too. The aesthetic is very much one of a sort of corrupt artificial life form being directed by a mysterious commander via a communications codec. You travel to various worlds killing stuff, you collect upgrade points that can be spent on your health, armour, weapon strength etc. This is done via a rather excellent between-level hub section aboard Xara's ship - a ship you also get to control in one of the mid-stage bonus areas that reminded me a little of something like Soul Star on the Sega Mega CD, but is actually based on Galaxy Force.

New Dreamcast Games Coming In 2020

It's 2020 - hurrah! We made it all the way to another decade as a fully functioning species on this so very fragile planet we call home. But enough about that communist nonsense. You came here to read about the greatest home console released in 1998 and then again in 1999, and more specifically new vidya gaemz set to be released on said ageing hardware at the dawn of this new decade. I realise that last sentence is really quite cumbersome and uncomfortable to read, and if I were a proper 'games journo' I'd probably restructure it and make it a bit easier to mentally digest. But I'm not a proper games journo, and besides, if I were I wouldn't be writing about something as idiotic as games; I'd be on social media posting the hottest of takes and having arguments with random people about Star Wars and politics. But I digress.
So here we are then. The Dreamcast has celebrated its twentieth year as a thing (or twenty first, if you happen to live in Japan), and yet we are still looking at even more brand new software releases over the next 12 months. Granted, the steady stream of releases is slowing somewhat, but that the Dreamcast community still has new titles to look forward to is nothing short of amazing. And we aren't talking about homebrew releases either (not that there's anything wrong with homebrew, of course). We're talking proper, boxed retail releases with manuals and cases and discs and everything. Will the Dreamcast enjoy more physical releases than the Nintendo Switch this year? Only time will tell, but here's a hint: it won't. But again, I digress.

Enough of this pointless preamble. Here's a brief run down of all the games we know of (so far) that are heading to a Dreamcast GD-ROM drive near you in 2020...

Xeno Crisis (Bitmap Bureau)
Xeno Crisis wowed gamers on both the Mega Drive and modern platforms when it released in late 2019. Bitmap Bureau's successful Kickstarter campaign resulted in this rather brilliant homage to retro shooters like Smash TV bringing some proper old-skool top-down arcade action back to TV (and Switch) screens, and the Dreamcast version was added as a stretch goal. Luckily, enough people wanted a version for Sega's old warhorse that this became a reality and Xeno Crisis is set to hit the Dreamcast some time in early 2020.
There's no definite release date as yet, but Bitmap Bureau assures us that it is coming along nicely and everything is up and running on actual Dreamcast hardware, and there's even going to be support for the Dreamcast Twin Stick. Which is good news for all nine people who own one. I have played the Switch version of the game and I must say that it is a really enjoyable and polished homage to the shooters of yesteryear, with some great humour and nods to the sci-fi movies it clearly takes inspiration from.

Visit the Bitmap Bureau website for more information.

Arcade Racing Legends (PixelHeart)
The second fully 3D indie racing game to hit the Dreamcast after 2017's rather impressive 4x4 Jam, Arcade Racing Legends looks to pay respects to some of the most iconic vehicles from Sega's arcade heritage and bring them all together in one place. It's a nice idea, and one I'm surprised Sega hasn't capitalised on itself. What this means is that you can pit the iconic vehicles from Daytona (Hornet), Sega Rally (Lancia Delta and Toyota Celica), Scud Race (Porsche), Crazy Taxi (Axel's Cadillac) and other well known franchises against each other across a range of original tracks.
Like most of the other titles listed here, Arcade Racing Legends is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign (my colleague Mike Phelan wrote an impressively detailed article about this here), and while the campaign page states that the game would ship in December 2019, this doesn't appear to have happened just yet. As a big fan of racing games, I'm hopeful that Arcade Racing Legends will live up to the promise, and add a new dimension to the stable of indie titles coming in 2020.

Visit the Arcade Racing Legends Kickstarter campaign for more information.

Intrepid Izzy (Senile Team)
With such iconic titles as Beats of Rage and Rush Rush Rally Racing already in their portfolio, you'd be daft not to have high hopes for Senile Team's latest Dreamcast offering Intrepid Izzy. The action platformer looks like a playable cartoon, with some very clean character designs and inventive gameplay elements. You play as the titular Izzy, ass-kicking her way through a number of 2D platform stages and engaging in light RPG elements. There's also a pretty cool move list implemented, meaning that traditional commands for executing fireballs and special attacks are seamlessly integrated into proceedings.
I've already had the pleasure of playing a demo version of Intrepid Izzy on the Dreamcast, and I really liked what I saw. Tight controls, great visuals, infectious music...all the right ingredients for another Dreamcast success methinks. Senile Team released an update on Kickstarter in late December 2019, in which it was revealed that the game will be entering testing very soon with a PC release to follow. There's no concrete date for the Dreamcast and PS4 versions, but rest assured they will both launch in 2020 and hopefully continue Senile Team's run of excellence on Sega's platform.

Visit the Intrepid Izzy website for more information.

Check Out This New Xenocider Bonus Stage

Work continues apace on Retro Sumus' upcoming shooter Xenocider, and the latest development diary entry goes into finer details about some key features of the game. The Retro Sumus team recently met in sunny Madrid, Spain for an extended working weekend in which new gameplay features (including an upgrade store and difficulty level balancing) were discussed; along with confirmation of the final box art designs. But perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of this get together is the reveal of a brand new 'Shinobi' inspired first person shooter bonus stage:


The most impressive thing about the whole Xenocider project for me, is that all of the guys working on this fine-looking 3D shooter are doing all of the development in their spare time. They have careers in other fields and are working on producing one of the first fully 3D indie games for the Dreamcast once they knock off from their day jobs: now that's dedication for you. Once again, you can read the entry in full by heading over to the Retro Sumus website here.

With Xenocider, SLaVE and several other as-yet-unannounced titles due to hit the Dreamcast in the coming months, 2017 is shaping up to be one hell of a year for Sega's 'dead' console.

New Xenocider Gameplay Running On Dreamcast Hardware

Work on Retro Sumus' debut Dreamcast release Xenocider continues apace behind the scenes, and the Spanish developer has given The Dreamcast Junkyard an exclusive first look at a brand new stage...which we're honoured to share with you lucky lot! This new environment is called Sakura's Realm, and as communications lead Carlos Oliveros explains, is heavily influenced by Sega classic Shinobi:

"Colourful, beautiful, and deadly. Sakura's Realm is the next planet in Xara's way and features lots of enemies and lots of transparencies. And we're not even trying to hide what an obvious influence the Shinobi series had on us growing up..."
- Carlos Oliveros

As you can see from the video below, Sakura's Realm - and Xenocider in general - is coming on leaps and bounds and features aesthetics which borrow heavily from Japanese culture. The most notable thing about this news is that the video is recorded directly from actual Dreamcast hardware, not an emulator, and shows some impressive fogging and scrolling effects:


This new glimpse at the progress being made by Retro Sumus comes quick on the heels of a redesigned box art reveal, with illustrations by renowned DC Comics artist Agustín Padilla.
Xenocider is shaping up to be one of the most eagerly awaited indie games for the Dreamcast and we can't wait to give this promising Space Harrier style shooter a damn good play test. Be sure to check out the Retro Sumus website, where Xenocider can be pre-ordered as either a standard, collector's or steel box edition. You can also follow Retro Sumus on both Facebook and Twitter for updates.

New Xenocider Footage Released By Retro Sumus

Xenocider is a game we've been keeping a close eye on here at the Junkyard, ever since it was first announced by Spanish developer Retro Sumus back in 2015. Initially a Kickstarter-funded Dreamcast title, the Space Harrier/Sin & Punishment homage has gone from strength to strength and lead developer Carlos Oliveros and his highly talented team have been hard at work behind the scenes working on new enemies, levels and boss characters.
Xenocider is rapidly becoming one of the most hotly anticipated new IPs for the Dreamcast, and the latest development diary video dropped recently. In it, Retro Sumus give us a glimpse of a new stage (called Transistor Highway); and a new boss, inspired by none other than Dreamcast classic Rez. Here's the video:


You can still pre-order Xenocider here, and the recent announcement that the game will ship with artwork by DC Comics artist Agustín Padilla makes it an even more enticing prospect than ever.

Xenocider Box Art & Pre-order Poster Revealed

Xenocider is coming, and Retro Sumus is determined to make an impression with its impressive 3D shooter. If you grabbed the demo version in 2016 you'll already know that the game is well worth waiting for, but now there's another reason to get excited: the revised artwork has been revealed and it looks positively amazing!
Drawn by none other than DC Comics artist Agustin Padilla (Green Arrow, Transformers, Borderlands, GI Joe), this new artwork really brings Xenocider to life, and gives heroine Xara a whole new look. To be honest, I think it looks absolutley badass (to quote Sgt. Apone) and the best bit is this: if you pre-order Xenocider you will get this artwork as a bonus poster to stick on the wall of your choice. Can't say fairer than that. Here's a video from Retro Sumus:


You can find more words and details about this whole Xenocider shebang by clicking this link here.

Xenocider Pre-Orders Open, New Demo Available

The tale of Retro Sumus' ambitious Sin & Punishment-style shooter Xenocider has been well documented here at the Junkyard, but things are looking up for the Spanish outfit. How so? Well, pre-orders for the game are now open, and it also appears to have become a Dreamcast exclusive! From the Retro Sumus website:

"We like to believe we listen to our audience. After the hangover of our failed Kickstarter campaign, fans of both the Ameba and Xenocider projects suggested good old pre-orders. We weren’t sure if that was a feasible option, as we have never wanted to become just another dev team who make promises they can’t deliver. As we have claimed many times, our goal is total transparency, and the last thing we wish is to lose the little trust we earned from those fans.

So we listened. We considered. We re-considered. We re-evaluated our options, our means, our objectives, our possibilities. We solved our differences via Virtua Fighter matches, because that’s what well educated guys do.

And here we are. After all that careful consideration, we agreed to focus our efforts on developing Xenocider for Dreamcast exclusively. This may well reduce our potential profit to almost none, but who cares. Xenocider is still alive, with three stages virtually finished, and our plan is to complete development in less than a year from now. And you can pre-order the regular, limited, PAL or steelbook editions of the game from our new shop today!"
- Retro Sumus

Indie Shooter Xenocider Returns!

Rise from your gwave! You'll no doubt remember Xenocider; the impressive Space Harrier/Sin & Punishment homage from Spanish indie dev Retro Sumus hit Kickstarter earlier in 2016 but was cancelled with days to go when it became apparent that the goal would not be reached. Well, we have some good news: Xenocider is not dead! Far from it in fact, and lead developer Carlos Oliveros has spoken exclusively to The Dreamcast Junkyard to reveal that not only is Xenocider alive and kicking, but the team have completed work on a whole new stage and some new enemy types:

"We simply wouldn't allow ourselves to be so discouraged by a failed Kickstarter as to fully abandon our project. We are still exploring other funding options and alternatives which we will announce soon. In the meantime, we have been working hard on new assets for the game - in our spare time that is - and there's a whole new stage pretty much finished as we speak. Xenocider was simply never gone. And neither is AMEBA, for that matter."
- Carlos Oliveros, Retro Sumus

This is fantastic news as Xenocider was shaping up to be one of the Dreamcast's most promising titles and as the demo showed, the bespoke 3D engine looked like it was going to deliver something new to the scene.

Xenocider Kickstarter Cancelled

Well, this sucks monstrous amounts of putrid ass. News has reached us that Retro Sumus' awesome-looking Sin & Punishment/Space Harrier clone has been cancelled with six days to go on the Kickstarter project. Pretty much everyone here at the Junkyard backed the game in some form or another so this is a bitter pill to swallow, but we're sure this isn't the end for Xenocider. A similar fate befell Leona's Tricky Adventures and after a round of alternative crowd funding, and we all know how that story ended (read our massive review of the final game here). Here's the rather somber update from Kickstarter:

"Hey guys. This won't take many of you by surprise, but we think it's safe to assume we won't be reaching the funding goal in the remaining 6 days...

We are cancelling the campaign today. We will keep working on Xenocider, on alternative ways of making it happen, because we love our project and are deeply proud of what we were (and still are) intending to create.

Those of you who were fans or followers of Retro Sumus already know we like keeping you guys informed of what we're up to. We have no plans of changing that. This is only a good bye for now. We will be back, and we will be better.

Above all, thank you. We deeply appreciate every single one of your pledges, comments, messages, tweets and suggestions. The Dreamcast scene is still amazing, and exciting, and we are proud to be a part of it. And we would like to thank every backer, journalist and developer who gave us a hand. You all know who you are :)

Thank you so much for your support."
- Carlos Oliveros, Retro Sumus

On a personal level this really disappoints me because I know first hand how passionate Carlos, Chui and the rest of the Retro Sumus team are having spoken with them many times, and I even agreed to appear in the Kickstarter video such was my faith in the quality of this game. However, all is not lost and we do hope Retro Sumus bounce back with an alternative way of getting Xenocider off the ground (no pun intended) and into Dreamcast consoles around the world. Furthermore, I think the world needs to be able to shoot me in the face for all the bollocks I come out with on this blog!
Don't worry if you donated to make this a nightmarish reality - all donations will be refunded when I can remember my PayPal password!

Initial source: Sega Nerds

New Xenocider Demo Adds Space Harrier Stage

So the Xenocider Kickstarter campaign is well under way and plenty of us Dreamcast owners have pledged to make this game a reality. If you haven't, I urge you to take a look at our previous posts on Retro Sumus' ambitious Space Harrier clone before heading over to the project page and lending your financial support. As we've already discussed, the Xenocider Kickstarter campaign allows prospective backers the unique opportunity to download a playable demo; but now Retro Sumus has gone one step further by updating the build to include a bonus 'Fantasy Land' stage that accurately mimics the first mission from Sega's famous arcade shooter.
This extra mode differs from the regular demo stage in that you can fly around the screen indefinitely and you don't have the ability to move a targeting reticule - you simply fire forward just as in the original Space Harrier. You can also run along the ground (watch out for trees!) and there are a couple of new enemies, explosions and sound effects that draw inspiration from Yu Suzuki's retro masterpiece. It's a really cool addition to the (already great) demo and hints at some of the bonus stages we can potentially expect in the final game. 

The original Space Harrier did make an appearance on the Dreamcast in various guises, but we missed out on a home port of Planet Harriers even though it was rumoured. Happily though, Xenocider looks like it could be the game to fill that void, and if you actually needed yet another reason to check out this project then surely this is it.

Grab the new Space Harrier demo by heading to the Xenocider Kickstarter update page and clicking on the 'playable demo' download link. You can then select the new stage from the main menu.

Tom is the Enemy

Greetings Junkyard Nation,

As you should all now be well aware, Retro Sumus' Xenocider Kickstarter campaign is well underway, and 3 days in it has so far reached 18% of it's $92,000 funding goal. We hope those pledges continue to roll in and that the community gets behind it, especially when you consider that those stretch goals look particularly tantalising. If you haven't done so yet, you've only got 27 days left to make your pledge and secure your copy of what looks to be one of the most advanced Dreamcast indie games to date. 

In addition, we here at the Junkyard have a proposition for you all. While the $600 pledge tier "YOU ARE THE ENEMY" (which offers the chance for your likeness to be recreated in the game as a secret boss character), is out of the reach of most of us mere mortals, we'd like to take this opportunity to run a mini-donation drive within the broader context of the Kickstarter campaign to get our beloved mascot Tom Charnock into the game as well.
Hurry! There's only 4 spots left!
If everyone reading this donates just 50p to the Dreamcast Junkyard donation box, we'd have more than enough Denaro to get that smug limey face of his on your telly so you can blast it to kingdom come. And as a happy side effect, your donations will go towards helping Retro Sumus reach their Kickstarter funding goal as well...

But, to be honest, it's mainly about shooting Tom in the face.
Artist's impression. Not representative of final version
And when you think about it, that 50p is very good value. It equates to just 0.04p for each article posted in this blog over the last 10 years, or just 0.02p for each minute of scintillating podcast banter we've recorded so far. I'd say that's very good value indeed. Go on, you know you want to. 
And while your at it, leave us an iTunes review as well, it seems to be the only way for us to 
climb higher up the podcast charts where we belong. Cheers.

Xenocider Kickstarter Demo - Thoughts & Impressions

A quick Lets Play style video of the Xenocider demo including my impressions and thoughts. Excuse the random text relating to Rez. It's late here in Japan, gimme a break!


Links to our previous Xenocider articles:

New Dreamcast Game Xenocider Hits Kickstarter With Playable Demo

As if you needed reminding, we've been closely following the development of Space Harrier/Sin & Punishment homage Xenocider for some time now. Coming from Spanish developer Retro Sumus, the game represents something of a leap forward for indie games on the Dreamcast as it features a fully polygonal engine built from the ground up for Sega's hardware. The good news is that the Kickstarter project to fund the final development and physical release of Xenocider has now been approved and gone live so it's up to us - the Dreamcast community - to get behind it and ensure it reaches the funding goal. There are a range of backer tiers, and as is the norm each will yield a different reward depending on the amount of money you pledge.

The goal stands at $92,000 in order to get Xenocider fully funded and the higher backer tiers feature such perks as having your own face transplanted into the game as a stage boss, bespoke models of the main protagonist Xara, and even limited edition customised Dreamcast consoles! Perhaps the most interesting part of this Kickstarter though, is that Retro Sumus isn't happy with simply showing potential backers what the game looks like. No, you can actually download a fully playable demo of Xenocider and play it on either PC, Mac...or Dreamcast.