Showing posts with label hidden gems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hidden gems. Show all posts

The Lost Golem is a Lost Gem

Now here's a game you most likely won't have heard of. I was going to include this as part of 'Japanese Import Oddness Part Two' (read the first one here) which i will be writing in the near future, but this game really deserves an article of it's own. I have actually owned this game since November, but have only really got around to playing it recently.

I first heard of this game while browsing through Segagaga Domain's Dreamcast write ups. Always a great place to get info on Japanese Sega releases, that. Described as a simple but clever puzzle game, I was intrigued as I do love me a good puzzle game.

So I tried to serach for more info, and came back with nothing. That was until I tried seraching for it by it's Japanese title Golem No Maigo, which gave me two excellent articles about the game by a Jeff M at his blog gogamego. The first claimed it to be "The Dreamcast's Best and Rarest Puzzler" with only around 500 copies sold, that gave a good description of the game play and features.

This was later followed by an interview with the games' developer who revealed that he was a student while producing the game, did a large lump of the work himself, and that the studio who put this out CaramelPot (who's logo looks like the Dreamcast logo stretched out) only ever made this one game before closing.

Now I just had to see this for myself. I was expecting when a copy did eventually show up it would cost a bomb like other rare games like Lack of Love, but it popped up on an Ebay shop for no more than £10, so I bought it.

Graphics wise the characters are very blocky crude models, much like those seen in Sengoku Turb, only in this case we're talking about a small team of student programmers and not the company that produced the Dreamcast's graphics chip. It makes up for the lack of any technical prowess with a very charming art style, including a beautiful colour scheme and characters you will find yourself warming up to, despite how simplistic they are. Even the instruction manual is full of cute child-like drawings of the characters. This charm comes across in the story as well, which I found a translation of at Gamefaqs...

"A Golem got his existence from sorcery conjuring the rocks and soil. The
masters of magic has come to an agreement that there would be only one of
them, nothing more. There were two peaceful countries, Pipiria and Mabel.
The kingdom of Pipiria was composed almost entirely by plains, with some
forests at the northern tip of the land. The magic sorcerers lived in that
forest during the peace time. Mabel, south of Pipiria, had an enormous lake.
On the lake, there was a wizard composing wizardry for Mabel, up on a tall
tower. One day, Pipiria was attacked by goblins and the people of Pipiria
lived in uncertainty and fear every day ever since."

The game manual also suggests that if you are the emotional type, you should get a handkerchief while playing the game. I haven't played enough of the game to see why this is yet and such emotional scenes might end up being lost to those who can't read Japanese, but with the exception of the text in the cut scenes this game can be easily played without any knowledge once you know what menu is what.

So what do you do in this game then? Well, you play as the rock golem with it's big square body and beedy little eyes, who has to guide a king who seems to be lost and has no sense of direction. In each stage you have to guide him from one door to another using walls you can push around to change his direction. You see, much like the Lemmings series of games, every time the king comes across a wall he will turn in the next possible direction, either left or right, and he will do this no matter what. Even if he is about to walk straight towards a hole.

But getting the king into the exit is not all. You also have to make sure all the walls on the stage are linked to the red wall when the level is over, so the Golem can knock them all over in one push. This is where things can get complicated as you need to adjust the walls to move the king towards the goal and link them all together once he is heading in the right path.

There are many stage elements that will complicate matters more such as pole that will make walla rotate 90 degrees, and various types of enemies that will break down walls, get in the kings way or even attempt to kill him. half of the fun comes from seeing just how many ways the king can be bumped off. If a level is driving you mad you can push a wall into him, knocking him off the stage and landing on his fat arse.

There are about 100 or so levels in total with cut scenes inbetween every 10 or so of them. Once you have conqured all of those however the game is not over. Considering what a low budget, small staffed game this was, Caramelpot sure did utilize a lot of the Dreamcast's features. There's also a two player battle mode (which I have yet to try out) but the real life expansion for this game is the stage creator, which gives you free realm to produce a level using any of the games elements and save it to your VMU, as many as you like as far as I can tell. What's more, there is a link to caramelpot's website on the disc where you could download new stages and upload your own for others to play. It's a shame the website has long since vanished as i would have loved to try out some of the user created stages.

A note must also be made for their use of the VMU screen while playing. While it has no real purpose in-game, the animations displayed throughout the game are a nice touch, with a close up of the king's face in which ever direction he is facing, as well as death and victory animations amongst other things.

So if you ever manage to come across this rare but cheap game and like a good puzzle game that will get your brain going, I would defiantly recommended this, so long as you can get over the basic visuals.

The Magic of Seaman, captured on film.

One of the true gems in the Dreamcast's library and possibly the oddest virtual pet sim you'll ever play, Seaman is not so much a game you play as it is an experience you er...experience. Because the game involves talking through a little green microphone to your mutated fish, ripping footage of the game simply isn't enough to capture what makes this game so special, and it's also difficult to predict just when the game will surprise you with something new.

While I would just recommended buying the game and playing it for yourself, if you're not afraid of being spoiled on some of the events along the way, or have already played the game, there is a great series of videos on Youtube by New Gen Gamers, where you will see the game from when the babies have hatched, up until the point that the fish start to talk well and ask you questions. Have a lookie below for the dull tank dull of miserable crabby fish that will make your life complete.

Japanese Import Oddness

Sometimes I take a gamble and throw money at a game that has next to no information out there about it other than, well...that's the said game is a bit odd, quirky, bizarre, unexpected, bonkers, and quite unlike anything else out there in a world full of games that want to be part of the "in" by coping each other to death. While you are very unlikely to see any risk taking oddness over here, Japan has, like many they do with many other things, has a habit of putting that exactly the kind of games I'm talking about. The obvious problem with this is the language barrier, which is made even more difficult when some of these games have no info on them online whatsoever, unless you get lucky with a translated guide.

Of course, 'odd' doesn't exactly mean good or bad, so the gamble comes in wherever or not said daft idea actually works, or in this case, can work when you can't read a word of Japanese. Luckily, Dreamcast import games can be picked up pretty cheap, especially compared to Japanese Saturn games which are often far above my budget. The following games will be rated for how playable they are, how much you can manage playing it without any knowledge of the lingo, and of course how bloody weird they are.


Blew about £6 on this one. First time I had seen it on Ebay and still sealed up so I took the plunge, convinced it'd be one of those "so bad it's good" experiences judging from this video below. What I got was a action RPG that appears to be animated using a bunch of Playmobil toys and Lego blocks, and voice acting from strangled robotic mutant cats with rabies. But hey, at least most of the menu's are in English!

The game starts with the heroine, and anorexic playmobil girl a some floating cat things running away from a bunch of explosions. Your character is sent off to some planet populated by cats that are currently at war with erm...fairies, and you end up becoming a leader of a group of cat troops who are all useless and die within minutes of a battle. This is about all I could make out from the lengthly cut scenes full of text and ear destroying voices.

The actual battle is real time like Phantasy Star Online, only crap. You run about at the start with a dingy little sword and swing clumsily at fairies as all your cat troops mass suicide. Every time you kill one of the darn things it releases the most horrific scream you have ever heard. Somehow I beat the first level and now I have two new areas I can go to, both of which I die at within seconds, and this is as far as I have bothered to go so far. There is probably something I have to upgrade or something, but the most unlike the menus, all the items are in Japanese. In between the level I beat and the level I'm stuck at there was this odd scene where some Cat characters catch a small fairy and you have to decide wherever or not to let it free or it. Hmm.

RANDOM FACT: The game is developed by NEC, who actually produced the graphics processor for the Dreamcast. You would think they would know how to use their hardware well if they developed it, but judging by this game they must of accidentally ported a poor N64 engine over.

So was it worth it? No, not really. The music is darn catchy though, even if everything else goes out of it's way to hurt your ears and eyes. Despite this, Segagaga Domain's description of the mini-game filled sequel is tricking me into thinking that will be worth buying cheap, if just for it's title alone which is the longest and most ridiculous title I have ever seen.

Sengoku Turb - Fanfan I Love me Dunce doublentendre.



I had read the odd review of this one, which was also ported and given a sequel on the PS2, apparently it was pretty popular, and there is also some very helpful guides for this game floating around on the Internet, so I gave it a shot. Imagine an interactive version of Big Brother only without the annoying freaks desperate for fame and you're half way there with what this is like. You play as, wait for it...GOD, or at least a deity sent down by god to watch over a lazy waste of space Japanese guy who slumps about in his flat doing nothing with his life, and you have to make his life more interesting by acting as his Jiminy Cricket and leading him into situations he would never get into on his own.

You have multiple camera angles of his apartment in which he'll mostly be sitting in, watching TV (which will sometimes show footage from Crazy Taxi, of all things!) and smoking. To motivate him into looking at something, you have to throw little ping balls at objects in timed succession to slowly ween him over to it. Throw them too fast, and he will do anything but what you want, too slow and he'll not notice you. It takes quite a while to nail the timing.

The real fun comes about from when he leaves the apartment for work. Now you are able to travel all over the apartment and really mess about with his stuff. For example, you can take away objects like his alarm clock, turn the TV on, moves things like his table about, or even lock the front door. Then in the afternoon when he returns from work, you can watch as he freaks out. There's nothing quite like seeing him walk in on a trashed table and panicking that someone may of broke in, or having to climb through the window when you lock his door. fart arsing around with his stuff and seeing his reaction is the highlight of the game.

You have missions set to you, which you are given so many game days to beat, which are given to you with nothing but a visual clue. If you fail most of these missions the guy will lose his job and get kicked out of the apartment, succeed in them and all sorts of truly bizarre events will happen to him, which I'd rather not spoil. Simply put, this is a amazingly unique game easily up there with Seaman that you'll most defiantly need a guide for if you have no Japanese knowledge, but is well worth a try. It;s also full of the kind of stuff that would be impossible to get any kind of intelligible translation from because it's just so Japanese (much like a lot of Segagaga), including this odd puppet show the guy watches. Ii will baffle and confuse you to no end, but you'll still find yourself somehow wrapped up into it.


What sold me on this one was the fact that it uses the Microphone, which you apparently use to shout at monsters. Other than that I had no idea what to expect. When you first start up the game I presume it asks you you to shout into the microphone, to which based on your voice will pick a little monster for you to play as (I got that little green samurai type thing in the left center of the box art). From there you walk around what appears to be a Japanese house (You're tiny, by the way, so everything is massive) and bumping into things seems to randomly set of battles with other monsters thingys.

This is where some knowledge of the lingo would come in handy. You have a little stage each and you have to shout at each other, producing huge stone words that will smack into your opponent. Obviously though, most of the time I shout gibberish at the mic, I'll just produce a question mark that doesn't do anything, and then I get my arse kicked as huge Japanese words pummel my poor little Samurai. Shouting the same words the opponents say seems to sometimes work, but I think you have a certain saying for your own monster you must use, and of course I don't know what that is. Oddly enough i have lost a lot of battles but never seem to get a game over screen, it just seems to go on forever. I really need a guide for this if I expect to get anywhere at all, me thinks.


The least 'odd' game of the bunch but odd enough as these kind of cartoon baseball games have been all the rage in Japan for yonks while we're stuck with the boring realism of World Series Baseball and the like. This particular series by Sega started on the Saturn, and is not quite as popular as Konami's similar series which is still going with it's latest edition on the Wii and PS2, whereas this Sega series stopped a after one or two PS2 installments.

In other words, this game is wonderful, if only for the HomeRun mode for me, as I haven't really figured out the controls or all the rules of the main game, but once you know what you're doing you've got yourself a fun and additive game with some of the bounciest most fun cartoon graphics I have seen on the Dreamcast, up there with the visuals in Florigan Bros. The muppet like characters with their daft high pitched voices are a right laugh, too. "PLAYBUUUU!"

There's about 4 or 5 versions of this game which are mostly the same, and from I've seen the one with the box above is your best bet as some of the others are management sims with a feck load of Japanese text. Dreamcast Doctor, a Youtuber who shows of quite a few unusual Japanese Dreamcast games at his account (he's pretty hardcore, he even has the big Segagaga box set which he shows off in one video), has a video of one of these games which may or may not sell you on it.

There are many other strange games out there that I will, one day, find cheap enough to risk buying for a few hours of confusion and bafflement, and if my attempts so far are anything to go by, at the most half of these will actually be good games. We shall see..

Another Game using the Fishing Controller!

Despite not being able to read most of it, Sega Support Site is a very handy resource site with a lot of screen shots of unusual Japanese Dreamcast games (including the dodgy hentai games, so this site isn't completely work safe) and all sorts of other bits and bobs. On my weekly trek of anything with the keyword "Dreamcast" on Youtube I discovered this video that links back to the website, a video of yet another game being played with the fishing controller! Can you guess what other game could possibly use the motion sensing of the Fishing controller? How about the little known Japanese fighter Psychic Force 2012? Yeah, bet you didn't see that coming! To be honest, neither did I, so as soon as I saw the video I went to give it a shot for myself.

Going straight into the game won't give you any results though; you have to tinker a bit with the control settings first. All you have to do is Set the L Trigger to "Light Attack" and the R Trigger to "Strong Attack" and you're all set! Seeing as the motion sensors in the fisher replace those buttons, it makes perfect sense really.

So how does it work? Well, it's not in par with Soul Calibur and Virtua Tennis, that's for sure. In fact, where those games almost felt like proper Wii games (though not quite), this feels more like one of those lazy PS2 ports with rubbish "waggle" controls slapped on. Nothing that you do really translates into the game properly, and it doesn't seem to make a difference which direction you shake the thing, they'll always do the same attacks (of which they're not many in this game anyway). Just about the most satisfaction you'll get from this is swinging to throw projectiles. So I wouldn't exactly go out of my way to buy this game just for the motion controls if I were you, but it's interesting to see another game working none the less.

(Oh yeah, and on the front page of Sega Support Site at the moment is a hell nice Chu Chu Rocket port for the...Mega Drive! Yeah, I'm not kidding! Download the demo ROM and stick it through Gens. Also, here's a link to the website for the new follow up to Dynamite Cop that has just been released in Japanese arcades. Just because.)

New DCJ Video: VMU Wonders

There really hasn't been too many interesting videos of note popping up on Youtube recently, so I skipped Fideo Friday again this week. To make up for it, I've put together a new video of my own for the Dreamcast Junkyard Youtube. Remember that VMU Wonders article I wrote a while back? This is very much a compliment to that, featuring clips of dozens of VMU games, including instructions on how to get your hands on them all.


No Fideo Friday this week, after that onslaught of Youtube videos this week I feel we could do with a break! Instead, here's a new article!

VGA is the tecchy name for that big blue cable you plug into your computer monitor, because everything electric needs an annoying three letter
. Remember when I told you guys about the VGA converter box I bought and tried out on my PC monitor, while also trying the Dreamcast out online for the first time in years? Well, now TV's are starting to put VGA ports in the back of them too, which means you can plug your PC up to it, but also...with the help of the converter box, your Dreamcast. Oh, and I've just so happened to blow a lump of money on a new shiny LCD TV to replace my bulky old telly, going from a 21 inch screen to a whopping 32! In case your wondering, I've paid for half of it and will be paying the rest off eventually! It swamps my desk!

Just a word of warning: not all VGA ports in telly's are the same, and I learned this the hard way when I bought one, and the Dreamcast VGA box would not work through it, so I had to take that telly back and get another one, which was a whole lot of hassle and cost me another £50. ADVICE! Don't buy a telly from a electronics specialist like Euronics, because you'll have trouble taking it back, buy it somewhere like Argos instead, because they're easy to exchange with and give you no hassle. Also, if you can, find someone who owns the telly you're considering buying to test your VGA box on before buying! One thing I discovered is Hitachi TV's are good to go, and Samsung ones are not.

The best way I could think of comparing the picture quality would be with photos. Note: colours will look a little off because they're photos, not direct feed shots. First off, here's how it look though the standard aerial port that comes provided with the console:

The quality can all depend on how well your TV receives the aerial, but this is about a good as I can get it.

This is the same shot via an RGB, using the VGA box. This is the same as what you get with a Scart cable, which you can buy separately. It's a lot nicer, with brighter colours and more detail, and looks perfectly fine..

..but this is how it looks with the VGA PC Input. The sharpness ramps up big time and you can see every pixel.
Another advantage of VGA input is that it resizes everything for you, so you don't need to keep switching between 4:3 and 16:9 when a game looks too stretched or squashed. Games feel fresh and new, like you're playing them for the first time again. Even the sound is better! As Racketboy well said on his site many times "once you go VGA, you'll never go back"!

There's only one disadvantage of this device, and that is that not all games will run using it. On the back of most Dreamcast games you'll find a "VGA Compatible" symbol, and if that is not there, than popping in the disc will bring up a message telling you you can't run it through that cable. This isn't always the case, though, sometimes the publishers just forget to place the symbol on the box. Judging from my collection, roughly one in ten games will not use it. The following didn't work for me:

Bust a Move 4 *
Capcom Vs SNK
DDR 2nd Mix/ Club Edition
Gunbird 2 *
King of Fighters Dream Match 99
Last Blade 2
Pen Pen
Plasma Sword
Psychic Force 2019
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Marvel Vs Capcom *
Spawn in the Demon's Hand *

(EDIT: The games that have * next to them do in fact work, if you use a boot disc! Thanks for the tip

It seems to depend on th the region of the game as well. According to the folks at DCforums, The American version of Skies of Arcadia works, but the British one doesn't. This is why the VGA box also has a RGB port on the side, and a switch that will let you switch between PC input and second best possible picture quality that will be compatible with any game.

On the plus side, though, you can also use emulators and homebrew games through this thing, so Mega Drive and Playstation games are going to look better than they ever did on the original consoles. For example, here's a shot of the classic Aladdin game in glorious PC quality:
And even closer, so you can see the lovely pixels! The only other way you could get this game to look this good would be through an emulator on your PC. In summary: this is the closest you're gonna get to playing Dreamcast games in HD, and really brings out the best of the system's graphics. It's beautiful, I tells ya.

Seven Years Too Late.

I reported a while back that, after trying out dozens of games with it, I've discovered another game that uses the motion sensors in the Fishing controller, and while Soul Calibur's fishing compatibility had been known by a select few since it's release (see the review of the game in Official Dreamcast magazine #2), as far as I know no one has never uncovered this one, and you smack yourself other the head like I did when you see what it is, especially as we could have known about this SEVEN years ago...

Yes, Virtua sodding tennis. With motion controls. In the year 2000. I kid you not.

"So what you're saying", I bet you're asking, "is that we could of been playing Wii tennis seven years ago?". In a sense, YES. Now, I was testing my way through though as many games as I could one night for a laugh to see what would maybe work, and while most didn't work at all, and others didn't work very well (most racing games will, using the reel, only let you move at 2 MPH) but then it hit me, what about Virtua Tennis? Like Soul Calibur, it's a game where all the buttons more or less do the same thing in different ways.

Lo and behold, it works like a charm. Swinging the rod in certain directions will do exactly that, and the speed of which you swing effects how hard you hit the ball. UNLIKE Wii Tennis, in which you could simply be lazy and shake the remote to hit the ball, giving the fishing rod a small shake will lob th ball (which is the B button normally). Also, UNLIKE Wii tennis you have control of your character and can move him around with the analogue stick on it. The best way to do this is to hold the rod in one hand, and keep your thumb on the stick. After a while it becomes second nature.

A disadvantage other Wii tennis however is comfort. While the Wii remote is a tiny, light, comfortable little thing with no wire, the Fishing controller is bigger, about twice as heavy, and not very compatible to grip (of course, I'm just going by the unofficial "fisson" controller I own so I'm not sure if the official Sega model is any better), so if you thought Wii tennis wore you out, this will bring some REAL PAIN to your wrist, especially as the game is less forgiving than Nintendo's counterpart. The thing also has a wire, so you wanna make sure that thing doesn't fly up and smack you in the face while playing.

So here's a quick summary:

Wii Tennis: Forgiving sensitivity, so can be played without to much welly.
Virtua Tennis: Unforgiving sensitivity,makes you really swing that rod hard.

Wii Tennis: Character movement? We do that shit for you!
Virtua Tennis: You have a thumb stick don't you? Get to work!

Wii Tennis: Create custom character in the Mii Channel to play in-game, or play a generic Mii made by the CPU.
Virtua Tennis: Create custom character in the World Circuit mode to play in-game, or play as real-life pros (and Tim Henman).

Wii Tennis: Train your custom character up in mini games.
Virtua Tennis: Train your custom character up in mini games, championship tournaments, and buy new gear for him/her.

Wii Tennis: Deliberately simple graphics that do their job..
Virtua Tennis: Realistic characters and beautiful backdrops that still hold up well today.

It's pretty amazing just how much in common with the Wii Tennis game this has considering it was sitting there as a un-noticed feature since 2000. I sometimes wonder if Sega put in features like this and the Dance mat compatibility in Space Channel 5 on purpose, but kept these secrets to themselves for some twisted reason, and that they are probably burying their heads in shame for not taking these motion controls further after seeing the success Nintendo have had so far with them. Nintendo have, in a sense, taken the best elements of some of our favorite novel controllers: the gyro sensing of the fishing controller, the pointing features of a light gun (sort of), and the 3D-space recognition of those maracas. There are so many "what ifs" about the Dreamcast it keeps me awake at night sometimes (well, not really).

(Note: I'm guessing Virtua Tennis 2 can use the fishing controller too, but like so many copies of Virtua Striker 2 before it, it has mysteriously stopped working. It's not too scratched up or anything, it's just died. Unlike Virtua Striker though, this game as isn't easy to find cheap ;_;)

So why do you think I held off a few weeks to tell you this? Well, coursework aside, this video below is why. It's the first proper Video Feature for the Dreamcast Junkyard Video site! As Caleb has proved, hiding off screen and not making a peep is a boring way of showing of a game with motion controls, so for he first time, here is your hairy , spotty hunch-backed presenter the Gagaman (optional extra n), showing you how it's done! There's also a bonus piece of game play from another game using the fishing controller at the end. Sorry it's so long!

Speaking of Virtua Tennis with motion controls, take a look at these rather ridiculous optional Sixaxis controls for Virtua Tennis 3 on the Playstation 3. If you thought swinging about like a tennis racket looked daft, I can't even begin to imagine how deranged playing the game like this would be..

Fishy Tails...

So my first post... And which of my manifold DC tales should I regale you with dear reader? Ah yes. How I created life and then quashed it in a cruel act of murder. Murder most foul I tells yer... THREE TIMES! But I'm getting ahead of myself, lets go back to the beginning. As the blessed six week holiday approached (ah Education... doesn't that just suck to all you bank holiday watchers in normal employment?) I found myself at my usual holiday destination, a solitary derelict light house off the coast of Birkenhead, with only my trusty DC collection and sullen, pimply, scowling sons for company. Having been thoroughly thrashed by them at a variety of fighting games (Soul Calibur, Marvel vs. Capcom and Capcom vs. SNK amongst them...) I decided I needed a more solitary gaming experience to engage in. One where I would be master and one where I would have absolute power... "MWUAH HA HA!"
And what better 'game' could the aspiring creationist despot recourse to than... 'CAUTION SEAMAN'?

Having purchased a microphone without knowing its use, I stumbled across an IGN blog featuring a picture of a fish-man creature, like the ones in Monty Python's 'Meaning Of Life'. On further inspection I discovered this to be the US/Japan only 'Caution Seaman' (At one point the most popular and eagerly awaited piece of software in that particulary technologically advanced of nations- Japan that is...)
So with time on my hands and money to burn, I scoured Ebay, got my Utopia disc and ordered 'Seaman' from a US software company. I then whisked it away to my Lighthouse and started to explore... The first delight was that Mr. Spock was included in the box... That's right the wonderful Leonard Nimoy, actor, bon viveur and well frankly...Vulcan, was to be my guide in giving birth to and nurturing my fishy friend.

The next was a delightfully entertaining piece of bullshit in the shape of the mannual, which spun a well thought out yarn about a French Scientist/Archaeologist called Dr. Jean-Paul Gasse having discovered a living Seaman in Alexandria, Egypt at the turn of the century. Although the specimen had died before the good doctor could attain fame or recognition, now, through electrickery, the good folks at Vivarium Software and a bit of DC magic, I too could raise and evolve a living Seaman (in the telly of course, not in real life.)

I eagerly loaded up the game, verily stiffening "downstairs" with anticipation. I was met with a food store, a pleasant aquarium environment (in which I had to maintin, heat, light and oxygen levels.) With a little hand, (much like Jeremy Beadle's), visually floating outside of the Aquarium, I could drop in food, tap the glass and most importantly drop in my Seaman egg. After a bought of pulsating and squirming several little sperm like creatures known as 'Mushroomers' burst forth from the egg. These spermy globules just bobbed about until they were fucking eaten by a previously unnoticed squid like creature laying dormant at the bottom of the tank, hidden in a shell. Bastard! I thought the whole experience was over, until the hapless crustacean started to jerk and convulse and in floods of ink, spat out half a dozen little Seamen (known as Gillmen) and then promptly died! HA! Sqidkind 0- Krishna 6! Take that you murderous Octopede!

Leonard (we were getting pretty tight at this juncture) told me I should converse with the little fishies, which replied in a babylike gurgle, but after what seemed like literally days, (it was literally days...) they began to respond in a child-like American voice (creepy.) The first thing mine said when I was tickling them with my little cyber hand (stay with me..) was " Stop or I'll fart!" and then even more alarmingly "Bad Touch! Bad Touch!" (You're meant to tickle them honest- read the mannual before you call the NSPC/RSPCA... )
Over time my fishy-boy pets evolved into a weighty carp-men with deep and laconic baritone voices. My favourite, Robbie (named after the iconic Robbie Fowler) asked me my age, birthday, occupation and other facts which he remembered and recounted to me. He was rude and obnoxious, sarcastic and cynical. He called me "skinbag" and "fuzzy", told me to "Go away!" said he was mad at me and when I asked him for a kiss ( I was alone on a light house for chrissakes!!!!) He replied "What? Put this tongue in that mouth?!" Fucking charming....

Eventually the 'game' presented me with a Vivarium (insect hatchery) to breed caterpillar things to feed my greedy pike, and I felt that it was getting intense (or as intense as a game played over a month at five minute intervals can get) and then just before it was about to grow legs and evolve into the frog like silhouette seen on the sign on the game box, I murdered it! Killed the fucker stone dead! Well how was I to know that resetting the timer on my DC would cause the games internal memory to think I hadn't fed it or heated up the tank for six years? Jesus! Thanks for the pointer Leonard! I repeated the process another two times utilising my Treamcast when my TV at home wouldn't accept the Utopia disk. But it just wasn't the same... In the end I just let it die for a third time and called it a day. But my memories of spanking my seamen, tickling my trout and letting my spermy shroomers float about on the top of my bath water will live with me forever. Oh well, that's it. I'm off to play something quick, easy and that only lasts a beloved Shenmue 2.

P.S. This is only a hasty recount of the epic tome that was my original post before I clicked on the wrong option on the Blog and wiped out about an hours worth of typing and uploading pictures forever. Bastard! This posting shit is not as easy as TLC and the Gagaman make it look! Adieu Yardites...until next time...

Soul Calibur + Fishing Controller = Wii!

, hRemember the "wii-style" game play made possibly by combining the Maracas with World Series Baseball that turned out to be a mistake on my hand? Well, this time it's real. The closet thing to game play like what you get on Nintendo's Wii has been available for six years. Good old Dreamcast.

This isn't a new discovery. In fact, being able to play Soul Calibur with the fishing controller was revealed back in issue 2 of Official Dreamcast Magazine UK in their review of the game. They even interviewed a Kendo expert who was impressed with the accuracy possible with the controller. Here's the scoop, click 'em:

Now, I've been meaning to try this out for a long time, but only just got myself a fishing controller (the third-party "Fission" one, from Game Station for £3) recently, and only just this weekend finally got my hands on a working copy of Soul Calibur from a boot sale, as I played my original copy so much that it wouldn't even run anymore. I've missed this game so much, as it's easily the best game on the Dreamcast full stop, but the first thing I did when getting the game home was plug my fishing controller in with it.

The controls work pretty darn well, I must say. Unless you want to block attacks, you don't have to press any buttons in-game, and the analogue to walk about is not a problem to use. It depends on the character, but certain swings of the fisher' do register directly into the game, albeit flashier. Only thing in the controls you will want to change is the R buttons config. You will want the default "free style" setting, but change the R button setting to anything but P+A+K , which makes you charge up a whole lot, which ends up with you getting a pummelling. The most realistic setting is to change it to A+K, as this makes it so most characters will spin their weapon about if you spin the reel.

Certain characters with this setting use the reel for different moves. Taki uses it to somersault over the opponent, where as Yosimitsu uses it to stand on his blade which he jumps on by flicking the Fisher upwards. Pushing the analogue in different directions while swinging will give you even more moves to work with.

To save me describing all the things you can pull off, I've gone to the bother to filming footage showing how moves can be pulled off with some characters. The quality isn't brilliant (I really shouldn't of picked the lighter levels, as this caused those annoying black lines) but it should give you an idea of how it works, and yes, you do look like a prat when playing this, so only my hands are seen =P

So the best characters to play as with it seem to be Yosimitsu, Kilik, Seung Mina, Hwang, Cevanties and Mitsuragi, although it works pretty well enough with all of them. On the subject of Wii style game play on the Dreamcast, check out this early Dreamcast concept controller design found at Kotaku:

Hmm. Now all I need to complete this post is another "old hat!" image.
Eh, I'll just use the same one again.

UPDATE! Found another clip showing the game running with the fishing controller on Youtube. It comes from a DVD given away with the infamous Japanese magazine Famitsu, and shows some guy playing the game in ultra hard mode with it. I'm a bit dubious about this one though, as all he appears to be doing is shaking the controller up and down the whole time. No skill whats so ever, I could wupp him at this. However, it does show a much better demonstration of how it works at the start.

Edit: Forgot the Kotaku image I meant to post. Oops. It's in there now.

Samba De Amigo: Inside Out

After days of bouncing off the walls since I forked out £75 for it, the Samba De Amigo box set arrived this morning, and what a wonderful box set it is. The previous owner of the game had only played it a couple times, so everything was in next to perfect condition. The game itself is, as expected, a real blast and makes the DDR games and it's mat look rather old-hat (although the mat and Space Channel 5 is still a brilliant combination) but rather then just state the obvious with a review and screenshots, I'm going to give you a full run down of what exactly you get in the box.

First thing you notice is the beautiful artwork on the box itself. Unlike most of the Dreamcast boxes which are a minimalist (but still rather cool) blue with huge white text, this box has the characters plastered all over the front and really looks something up on your shelf. I certainly won't be stuffing this in the loft in a hurry.

Open the box up and all this stuff is found inside. All nicely bubble wrapped it was, and everything is pristine, which is nice.

The bright red maracas are the first thing you see upon opening the box. To my surprise they even have a rattle in them, which you can remove with a screwdriver if you wish, and replace in-game with SFX, of which there are loads to unlock. They both have a yellow button on them for menu hopping, but shaking is what these babies are all about.

Now this is the piece which makes the set cost an arm and a leg. This is the sensor device that sits in front of your feet and registers how high the maracas you are holding are. The maracas plug into the back of this, and the whole device plugs into the controller port.

The sensor has Velcro underneath it so it can attach itself to this rather funky mat. Unlike the DDR mat this isn't used for any of the controls, but as a guide of the standing range. It also makes it feel just that more like owning the arcade cabinet.

And here are all the pieces of the controller linked up. It looks a lot more complex than it is, and the wires don't get in the way like you would think they would.

Then of course there's the game itself. The PAL version of the game was, unlike the Japanese and American versions, not released separately from the controller, so you won't find this on it's own. The box art is more minimalist than the NTSC versions too, and for the small case it works better than trying to cram all the characters into such a small space plus, like the PAL Crazy Taxi art, the yellow goes well with the blue case.

Even the controller instruction manual is full of happiness and joy. Just look as this crazy little guy featured in it. His so happy his smile is bigger than his feet.

Ok, so the sombrero, modelled here by a Sonic doll isn't included in he package, but I've owned this sombrero for a while now and I got it back out of the loft for such an occasion. I originally purchased it for a few quid out of a party junk shop for an animation I made once, but since then it's become my official party hat. Along with Afros, I have a funnyobsession with Sombrero's. Plus with this I'm just one step closer to being the mirror of the dancing monkey on the screen. All I need now is more body hair and some daft clothes.

Now, there are many reasons why this is quite possibly the happiest video game ever invented, and if it was released on a current-gen console would be a Blue Skies winner, but here's a short list:

* Music that really makes you want to boogie. No dreary trance pap here.
* Downloadable music from Sonic, NiGHTS, Burning Rangers, Outrun, Fantasy Zone and After Burner (nab 'em off VMUTool)
* A dancing freaking monkey, who if you play well goes ape-shit bonkers with glee.
* More colours on the screen at any one time then looking through a rainbow.
* A Leopard duo with the names Chumba and Wumba.
* A Reel Big Fish cover of Take on Me.
* Sega trademark engrish up there with Marine Fishing's. SERECT A MUSIIIKK.
* Did I mention the dancing monkey?
* Unlike DDR, it's actually easy to get into.
* Unlike DDR, it's actually fun even if you can't dance for toffee.
* It's exercise that isn't laborious.

This game is in simple terms everything I love about gaming, and everything I love about Sega. They had better make a sequel for the Nintendo Wii, seeing as all you would need is to of the remotes, although even that wouldn't be quite as fun as shaking two blight red plastic rattles. If you have the money to splash out on this (thanks to some successful boot sales a little while back, I did), make sure you do. Put the purchase of this game on your list of things to do before you die. Unless you're a hermit who is too obese to stand up and doesn‘t have a happy cell in your body, you will enjoy every minute of this game.

One last thing: as I always like to do when I get a new piece of kit to use for my Dreamcast, I tested it out on a few other games it wasn't made for to see if I can find some little jewels of gaming. It's happened before. I found out at DCemu forums that Mr. Driller and REZ were supposed to work well for it (as well as Soul Calibur although I still don't have a new copy of that) so those were the first I tried.

Mr. Driller
This game does in fact pretty well with the Maracas. Shaking in the direction you want makes the little pink bloke on the screen drill in that direction, although you have to pretty much do the exact same thing with both maracas to do so, over wise he gets confused and drills in the wrong direction. Takes some getting used to.
MARACA TEST STATUS: Worth a go, I guess.

I don't own a proper copy of this just yet (you seen how much it goes for on Ebay?), but I used my pirate copy (it's a rare game, so shut it) and unfortunately this game didn't work with it too well at all. For starters you can't navigate through the menu's at all, and in-game even though you can move the cursor about fine, using the maracas to do so is just too slow, plus you can't hold a shake as such to shoot multiple enemies, so it's pretty pointless.
MARACA TEST STATUS: Pedestrian pace, not worth it.

Space Channel 5
Maybe I was expecting too much for this game to work well with the maracas as well, after the grand success of playing the game with a DDR mat, but I had a go anyway. You could shoot fine, but the directions don't work at all.
MARACA TEST STATUS: Ulala had fallen to sleep at the job.

DDR 2nd Mix
Seeing as DDR is just up-down-left-right movement, I had a go at this, seeing as I would have a better chance at the game using my arms then my feet. You can't navigate the menu's with it, and while the down and right can be pulled off perfectly enough, the up and left just don't register at all. Bah, almost had it.
MARACA TEST STATUS: Terrance is missing two legs.

So saly not much success there, although I might try more tomorrow. I'll leave you with this link of a homebrew maraca project I found by accident while searching for Samba De Amigo images the other day: Viva La Samba.

DDR for Dreamcast? Oo-er.

How totally casual-gamer of me to say this, but I bought a Dance mat yesterday. Not just any dance mat, however, but a Dreamcast Dance mat, and things are always better when they are Dreamcast related, right?

Now I know on other consoles (particularly that old grey console that looks like a toilet) these things are about as common as fish and chips drowning in vinegar, the Dreamcast one is actually pretty rare. For starters, it was only released in Japan. Yet there it was, complete with two DDR games in the window of me local Gamestation complete with two DDR games by Konami for 25 squid. I remember them having this in the window a little while back for £40, but they had hid it upstairs for a while and decided to bring it back down for less cash-in-hand. So I popped back home, had a look about Ebay and Google to see how much these things were going for. Funnily enough not many sites even stocked Dreamcast ones, and the games were going for about a tenner each.

I hopped back to the store, which is just 10 minutes from my house, and asked about it. It wasn't in the Bog Off deal, unfortunly, so I couldn't throw MSR into the deal, plus the guy at the till told me that the controller might not work on anything but a Japanese Dreamcast. Rubbish, all the controller ports for Dreamcast preps are the same. Anyway, my curiosity to try out every piece of kit made for the Dreamcast got the best of me and I coughed up the £25, which didn't seem like a bad price for what I was getting. The dance mat worked, as expected, but the one my mind didn't think of at the time was just how crap I would be at it.

You really, really have to now what your doing from the start with these games. Even on the easy stages, the screen vomits arrows all over the place and being able to keep up takes some stamina, something I don't have a lot of. This obversly isn't the kind of game made for a lazy sod with no rhythm like me, but these things are defiantly worth it for the exercise, when you don't keep getting nothing but E grades that is. Now, I have three games that were made for this mat, so I'll review here.

DDR 2nd Mix
The first of two Konami DDR titles ported to the Dreamcast, nothing has really been done to make this look any different to the PSone version. The graphics are identical, right down to the low resolution which doesn't look all too nice on a big screen. Another major gripe is the music: It's all shite. Maybe this game would be a bit easier to dance to if any of the music had some sort of beat, but it's all dull and doesn't motivate you at all. There's plenty of game modes, including a Edit mode in which you can change the arrows about (maybe you can just remove half of them and make it more bearable?). I wanted to enjoy this, but there really wasn't much to keep it going. 5/10

DDR Club Version
Now when I started running this, I thought I'd accidentally put in 2nd Mix again, but sure enough it was the other game, but I really couldn't tell the difference. The layout, options, graphics and everything seemed identical. Even the rubbish music sounded the same, even though it probably wasn't. This one actually had one game mode missing, so it's just like a slightly cut down version of the other, even though it's supposed to have more music in it. 5/10

Feet of Fury
I burnt this homebrew Dance Mat game a little while back, and it's easily one of the most professional looking Homebrew titles out there. It's a lot better than the Konami titles, anyway. The music is still nothing special, but a bit more up-beat than the tripe in DDR, and there's a lot more in the game play to this: you fight (or dance, really) against another character bust-a-move style, hitting certain arrows that cause the other players arrows to speed up, spin around, or do other bizarre things that distract. Of course I just couldn't get anywhere again, but at least this one was a tad more fun. Also, there's another mode I haven't tried out yet where you can disc swap to a music CD with feet data, whatever that is, and so have much more music to dance to, maybe even something you know! 7/10

So disappointed with the games made for the mat I was, that I thought to myself...what games only use the d-pad, A and B? The first that sprung to mind was:

Space Channel 5

Not expecting it to work, I stuck the disc in for a laugh to see if the game would be any good playing it on foot. To my amazement, the game works perfectly for it, if not better than the games that were made for it! Having to repeat the directions and "chu’s" on the dance mat is much more fun than trying to keep up with a bunch of ugly arrows flying about the screen. If anything, this game play's five times better this way, it's as though Sega intended the game for the mat, but forgot to tell us so. This is the reason I love Sega and the Dreamcast: it's full of beautiful little gems hidden away like this. If you thought Space Channel 5 wasn't a very exciting game, try playing it with the MUST buy a dance mat to play this game. I' want that rare sequal even more now.
DANCE MAT TEST STATUS: A resounding success.

Hoping I'd find more gems, I tried out every other game in my collection that only used these buttons.

The main problem with playing this game is the fact that you often have to hold a button and hit another one repeatedly at the same time, so on foot this game wasn't very easy. Sitting down in the middle of the mat and bashing the pad buttons like a little kid, however, seems to do the trick pretty well. Just don't get caught playing the game like this, or you may be sent off to a 'special peoples' home.
DANCE MAT TEST STATUS: Alright, if you want to look like a twit.

International Track and Field
I remember seeing a program about gaming on the telly once years ago where someone actually had a go at playing the 100m Dash on the Playstation version of the game with the dance mat, in which he ended up winded on the floor. For some reason I felt like having a heart attack too, so I slipped the game in for a go. Sadly, my hopes of being sent to hospital were put to rest when the game decided to send my character forward too early without me pressing anything. Despite the game being made by the same guys as the dance mat, they didn't consider adding some sort of compatibility here. Shame.

Ready 2 Rumble (demo)
Being just about the most simple fighter ever made (too simple for my taste, as it takes no effort to play at all) this was my next test. Moving the Afro bloke around was easy enough, but the only punches I could pull were rubbish ones that did no harm to the opponent who bashed me senseless.
DANCE MAT TEST STATUS: Fine if you want to get pummelled.

Sega Tetris
Judging from the test on Mr.Driller, this puzzle title is about the same: you can't really play it on foot, but it works fine by hand, right until the game gets so ridiculously hard that even with a regular controller it becomes a case of pausing every half-second to see where to place the next piece.
DANCE MAT TEST STATUS: Not worth the time of energy.

Virtua Tennis
Hitting the ball is the easy part, actually getting the ball past your opponent is the tricky part, as you have to hold left and right while taking shots sometimes. Works ok on foot, although you'll just keep bouncing the ball right back to him until he decides to sling it in a direction other than yours. Works a lot better with your hands, but again, it's a bit pointless really.
DANCE MAT TEST STATUS: You'll be just as knackered as the real players.

Bust-a-Move 4
This should have worked a charm, seeing as all you have to do with push left and right than shoot, but sadly this game cannot recognise the dance mat buttons at all an gets them all mixed up. Pause becomes up, A becomes start and the directions just don't function very well at all. I really wanted this one to work, oh well.
DANCE MAT TEST STATUS: The game told me of naff off.

Final Verdict:
If you have a Playstation1/2, you may as well just get one for that if you want the dance games, especially as on that there's more of them which are easier to find. However, if don't have the option of another console dance mat and like those kind of game it could be worth it for the three dance games made. Also, to get the most out of Space Channel 5 you simply have to play it with the dance mat, as it really pulls you into the game and makes you feel like your really taking the role of Ulala. Without the mini skirt showing off your hairy bits that is.

EDIT: Speaking of dancing games, I only just went and bought Samba De Amigo off Ebay! The most I've ever spent on a single video game (although this does have the full box with maracas etc) at roughly £75, but this is one of the rarest Sega games of the lot! I'll be writing up on this expensive beauty when it arrives.