Showing posts with label sonic adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sonic adventure. Show all posts

A Dreamcast Christmas Tree Ornament from Hallmark has been Revealed!

The Hallmark Dreamcast ornament hanging from a Christmas tree

They say that Christmas comes earlier each year. Well, Hallmark (America) seem to be determined to move it to as early as April, because they just announced their upcoming 2023 Keepsake tree ornaments range today, and... what’s that?! A Dreamcast ornament?!

Previously, Hallmark have released high-quality ornaments of the Sega Genesis (model 1) and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, both with cool sound functions that play the theme songs of Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World respectively. You can see the Genesis one demonstrated by our pal Derek Pascarella below: 

We never thought we’d see it, but the next Sega console to receive the Hallmark treatment is the Dreamcast! I guess they believe the nostalgia market is there for Sega's ill-fated swan song. I can't help but notice that they skipped right past the Saturn, though, but maybe we’ll get one next year. Your day will come, comrades.

Hallmark Dreamcast ornament with a measurement of 4.71" in height

Keeping in with the same high-level of quality Hallmark demonstrated with their previous game console ornaments, this Dreamcast version is looking fantastic. Measuring 4.71" in height, it certainly looks the part. Pressing the power button not only lights up the power light, but the VMU screen too, revealing a sprite of Sonic previously seen in the VMU game Chao Adventure. The music that plays is none other than the theme from Sonic Adventure's iconic Emerald Coast level. You can see this demonstrated in the video below.

There's one problem, though, and perhaps we should have sensed it the moment we saw that orange swirl. Hallmark America doesn't ship outside of the States, and this ornament isn't available to purchase from Hallmark's UK equivalent store. So non-American folk may have a considerable amount of trouble getting hold of one outside of the UK... I guess we'll have to see when October 14th rolls around and the ornament finally goes on sale. User perkin_warbeck in our Discord community did point out that the Sega Genesis ornament was previously sold on Amazon US, who allow overseas shipping, so we’ll have to see if the Dreamcast ornament gets sold on there too. In the meantime, you can go to its store page on Hallmark's website and stare at it longingly.

Would you hang this ornament on your Christmas tree? Maybe hang it up in your game room somewhere? Are you going to try and get hold of one? Let us know in the comments below, or on one of our many social media channels!

A Farewell to Hidekazu Yukawa (plus a round-up of all the Dreamcast games he starred in)

Yesterday, Yahoo News Japan reported that Hidekazu Yukawa, the senior managing director of Sega Japan during the early part of the Dreamcast's life, passed away from pneumonia in June of last year at the age of 78. His family had kept this sad news private until now, but it is reported that Yukawa had been sick for the past 5 years (source). Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Yukawa is nothing short of Dreamcast royalty, so this sad news has understandably led to many words of tribute from fans (and even former colleagues, such as Yuji Naka) across social media. 

Yukawa became an overnight success in Japan after starring in a series of very amusing and surprisingly honest commercials (watch them here) where he rises up from the depths of self-doubt (and being bullied by PlayStation-loving children) to spread the good word of the Dreamcast and lead the fight as the senior managing director of Sega Japan. This bout of fame resulted in Yukawa's image being used on Dreamcast console boxes (pictured below), merchandise (such as the Yukawa keyring also pictured below) and print adverts.
Photo kindly taken for us by KingMonkey
We too wanted to pay tribute to Mr. Yukawa, and thought we’d do it in the best way the Junkyard knows how - by geeking out about Dreamcast games! After all, what's a better way to pay tribute to Yukawa than to boot up the console that he championed so mightily, and play one of the multiple games he starred in? Here they are:

Former Managing Director Yukawa's Treasure Hunt
Let's kick things off with Yukawa's very own Dreamcast game. This simple game was released exclusively in Japan near the Dreamcast's launch and was tied into a short-running competition. The game has you play as Yukawa himself, with the aim being to dig up various tiles to complete puzzles that make up images of Dreamcast-related memorabilia. During March 20th 1999 and April 11th 1999, players could submit their victories online to be entered into a raffle to win real-life Dreamcast goodies, or even ¥10,000. 

The servers for the game have since been shut down, so there's sadly no longer any prizes to be won, but the game is still playable. In fact, it's also now playable in English thanks to a team consisting of SnowyAria, EsperKnight and Mr. Nobody, who released a translation patch for it back in April. Go here to get that patch, and for a more in-depth breakdown about the game, check out Tom's article on it here.

Shenmue and What's Shenmue
What's a better game to contain a cameo of the man that sought to spread optimism about the Dreamcast than the game that was touted to save the console: Shenmue? Well, Yukawa makes multiple secret appearances in Shenmue, and a much more prominent one in the promotional demo What's Shenmue: Search for Yukawa (former) Senior Managing Director.
Image credit: Phantom River Stone
I always thought that Yukawa's inclusion in the regular version of Shenmue was limited to him appearing on a point of sale display for batteries in the Tomato Convenience Store. But thanks to a great article on Phantom River Stone, I learnt that Ryo can actually meet Yukawa twice, although certain conditions must be fulfilled first... 

Sonic Adventureland: A Roller Coaster of Love

If you’ve visited a Disney theme park in the last half century, you may be familiar with Space Mountain (or “Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain” per its Disneyland Paris branding). Originally conceived as Walt Disney’s roller coaster homage to the boundlessness of human ambition, today the attraction wallows in retro-futuristic parody. Steeped in the influences of iconic ‘60s and ‘70s sci-fi films – however superficially – Space Mountain evokes the unsettling, sinister tone of a future we'd never want but may only be marginally worse than the one we got. As we wait in the queue, its dim spaceport catwalks usher us through a thematic mess of obtuse angles and space-age mainframe panels. We lift off in garish pod cars and uneasy anticipation mounts as we ascend its pulsing blue tunnel. And then, the pitch-black void of space.
Image credit: TheCoasterViews

Over the next couple minutes, Disney’s spacefaring voyage pulls us up to 3.7Gs through a flurry of drops, twists, and jolts. The darkness deprives us of just enough senses for a more potent and unpredictable thrill; one we feel more than see. In the void, we’re blind to its gaudiness. It becomes clear Space Mountain was born out of the calculated ingenuity of chain-smoking Imagineers at the peak of their craft. It's almost viscerally Kubrickian, however lacking in allegory or irony. Primitive and unpolished in its interstellar kitsch, Space Mountain’s artistry endures in another sense: it’s just a darn fun ride.

And so it goes for Sonic Adventure.
If you’ve played a Dreamcast in the last quarter century, you may be familiar with Sonic Team’s ambitious 3D platformer (also the console’s best-selling game). You’re also likely to have an opinion of it. I can relate, I’ve had many. My volatile views on Sonic Adventure have practically been a roller coaster of their own. It was the reason I bought a Dreamcast and I loved playing it back when it was the first and only game I owned at launch. I soured on it in the decades since, often echoing the criticisms people spout whenever the internet convenes to complain about the game. More recently, I replayed all its characters' campaigns and it is safe to say I’ve opened my heart to Sonic Adventure once again. These days, I revisit it more often than just about any video game, period.

I’m still recovering from the whiplash.
Sonic Adventureland: A theme park where the only lines are the load times!

For me, Sonic Adventure is best enjoyed as an amusement park, and it is in that spirit that I am always eager to jump back into its queue.

A Dreamcast Launch Retrospectacle: Celebrating/Ranking the Games of 9.9.99


Note: This post was originally published on September 9th, 2020 but most of it should still be relevant, even if some of my maths and Fall Guys references are not. I also enjoy the original Sonic Adventure way more now than I did back when I wrote this, and I was admittedly a bit harsh on the Midway games. Anyway, thanks for reading!

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Well, shit. It’s been 21 years since the Dreamcast’s North American launch. That makes it old enough to drink here.

Legally.

Of course, that’s hardly news for all you folks outside of the States. In Japan, the Dreamcast has been of legal libation consumption age for nearly two years, both because it came out almost a year earlier and because the nation’s legal drinking age is 20. Doubly so for most European countries. In Germany, kids as young as 14 can drink wine and beer with their parents’ consent, which means the Dreamcast has been allowed to partake in the devil’s sauce for over seven years (with permission from the Saturn and Mega Drive, of course). And apparently you Brits have been legally allowed to drink at home since you were five (?!) years old. If true, the Dreamcast has been pounding pints in the UK since the Nintendo DS was in nappies.

Anyway, I write all of this because I find it both a convenient and unnecessarily convoluted excuse to crack open some brewskies and reminisce about the Dreamcast’s iconic launch library all those years ago. In the spirit of the occasion, I’d like to think of this feature as a Dreamcast 21 run of sorts.

I’ve always been fascinated with video game console launches and the “next gen” titles that usher us into each new era of gaming. I believe these launches provide unique insights into how platform holders aspire to position their consoles and contribute to the broader evolution of the medium. Console launches give us a glimpse into the creative mindsets of developers seeking to innovate with the new technological possibilities afforded to them. Then there’s the sheer spectacle of it all, which can also be fun in itself.

When it comes to the all-time great console launches, I can’t think of a better time than the sixth generation. Leading the way, of course, was the Sega Dreamcast. You probably don’t need me to sell you on the brilliance of its launch collection. At least in North America and PAL territories (sorry, Japan), there was almost a magic surrounding it. From day one, the Dreamcast hosted a legendary library of excellent games, many of which remain widely revered by the Junkyard community. I’ve recently replayed all 19 of the North American launch titles and I’m surprised which ones have held up at least as well as, if not better than I expected. Others, less so. More than anything, revisiting the Dreamcast’s launch library has helped strengthen my appreciation for the creative risks Sega took with its final console debut, as well as the more enduring impacts its games ultimately had on the medium.

It boggles my mind to consider the rare confluence of factors that could've enabled the Dreamcast to spoil early adopters with such a wealth of launch day riches. Back then, and for a variety of reasons, console launch lineups seemed more crucial for setting the tone and tenor of the experiences we might associate with those platforms. Perhaps the relative technical strides between generations underscored the need to show off a diverse stable of games that could never have existed previously. And before development costs skyrocketed in the HD era, maybe it was easier for more devs to begin and finish their projects in the time between receiving dev kits and preparing for launch. At the very least, developers might've been freer to work in peace without us asshat fans yammering at them on social media all the time.

So now, after 21 years, I figured I’d share my thoughts on all 19 North American Dreamcast launch titles through a not-completely-sober, retrospective lens. Here are my totally biased and nostalgia-be-damned takes on the Dreamcast’s original launch lineup. And in no particular ord—actually, screw it. I’m not usually a fan of ranked game lists but I’m a couple of beers in at this point and I’m fine with being a hypocrite.

OK. Worst to first. Let’s go...

How Sonic Adventure Blue My Mind: Reliving the Hype

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast’s North American launch – 9.9.99 – I’ve been thinking a lot about my earliest impressions of Sega's final console and the reasons why I saved up my meager allowance to bring one home that day.

Sonic Adventure was undeniably the catalyst.

It was the game that jumpstarted my interest in Sega’s swansong console and in video gaming as a serious hobby. Over the subsequent decades, my sharp criticisms of the game have grown starkly at odds with my enduring fondness for it; yet neither sentiment has undermined, nor ceded ground to the other. 20 years onward, I continue to appreciate Sonic Adventure for a multitude of reasons but more for how it sparked my passion for the medium – and all the incredible experiences that would follow – than for the game it ultimately was. I’ve come to terms with the idea that, in a weird way, perhaps I'm nostalgic for a game that never truly existed.

Spoilers ahead for Sonic Adventure and Sonic 3 & Knuckles...and my childhood, for that matter.
Thanks to this magazine, I've been living the dream(cast) for the last 20 years. – EGM, Issue 112
In the beginning, 13-year old me was casually perusing the Electronics Boutique video game shop at a local mall. My mom was off shopping for shoes, or books, or circular saws, or whatever it is moms buy and I just wanted to kill some time. I wasn’t at all serious about video games; I still went outside back then. The nine-year-old Sega Genesis was the newest console I owned, and I had fallen completely out of the loop on what was happening around the then-modern gaming scene. Gazing at the rows of unfamiliar game boxes and jewel cases lining the store walls, I was bewildered. It’s like I had suddenly warped into gaming’s cynical, dreary future:
  • Tenchu: Stealth Assassins? Turok 2? Apocalypse starring Bruce Willis? Looks like all the games are trying to out-badass each other these days. How edgy.
  • Spyro the Dragon? Guess anthropomorphic dudes with ‘tude games will never die, huh? Oh, but this one breathes fire? Radical.
  • Glover? Jeez, brand tie-ins must really be out of control if the Hamburger Helper mascot has his own game now.
I was largely detached from the newfangled games of that era and honestly, it didn’t seem like I was missing out on much. But then I finally noticed something a bit more…let's say, familiar?

It was the November 1998 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. As I peered closer, I noticed the cover image looked vaguely like Sonic the Hedgehog. Hold on, it was Sonic the Hedgehog…except...was it? I recognized the blue spines and iconic red shoes – check and check – but this Sonic was staring at me with creepy green eyes and pointed coolly with his massive cartoon hands, inviting me to open this magazine to find out just what he’d been up to in the years since we last destroyed the Death Egg and returned the Master Emerald to Angel Island.

And so I did...
Beautiful. Glorious. Bullshots. – Also EGM, Issue 112
Turning right to the cover story, I was bombarded with a spread of gorgeous screenshots. Yep, it was Sonic the friggin’ Hedgehog alright, along with his furry pals Tails, Knuckles, and...other critters. The gang was all here and apparently they were poised for a triumphant return. And boy did their new game look amazing. To my untrained eye, these screens looked like some high-grade, expert Pixar-level stuff. I was already sold. I knew then and there I’d be buying this Sonic Adventures game and whatever platform it would…wait, Dream…Cast? Uh, Dreamcast? That sounds like some Engrish shit. Is Sega serious? 
The Sega None of the Above seems like an odd choice for a console name – but then again – so did the Dreamcast back then. – EGM, Issue 112, once again
But then the hype got real.

Sonic Adventure's Christmas DLC and How It Broke the Game

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Sonic has landed a movie role in which he plays an eldritch abomination.
Anyway. Let's ignore Sonic's mistreatment in the present and look back to Christmases of old, specifically the Christmas of 1999, when the millennium bug was striking fear into the hearts of common man and the Dreamcast was the coolest console money could buy (don't get it twisted: it still is). 
During the dates of the 17th of December and the 28th of December, Dreamcast gamers had the ability to install one of the first instances of downloadable content (DLC) ever (at least the kind we've all grown accustomed to in the last two generations) to their trusty VMU.
The "Christmas Party" download brings festivity to your game of Sonic by placing Christmas trees outside the station and in the town center. When players make Sonic jump at them, festive messages will come up on screen, wishing them a Merry Christmas. The music will also change to the Acapella version of "Dreams, Dreams" from Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams. Hopefully no one back in '99 thought this was a sign that a NiGHTS sequel might be coming to the Dreamcast.



OST Your Heart

La la laa
Video game music. It's great, right? Very few genres of game feel complete without beeps, bops, or full-on symphonic orchestra behind them. In some instances, musical cues aid the player in being better at the game in general. It can emphasize moods, tell stories, etc...

But you're not here to hear all that.
Thanks to the wonders of disc audio, Sonic's music sounded the best it ever had. Especially thanks in large part to the involvement of Jun Senoue and Crush 40. Senoue had worked on Sonic games going back as far as Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on the Genesis. Crush 40, for whom he wrote music, would provide tracks for several Sonic games, including the Adventure series and later games in the franchise.

Did You Know Gaming? Tackles Sonic Adventure

YouTube channel Did You Know Gaming? offers a wealth of information on topics from across the gaming board, and I for one regularly check their uploads for interesting and often little-known facts about various software and hardware releases. We recently shared the Dreamcast video they published, but Did You Know Gaming? have since delved back into the world of Sega's magic white box by investigating one of the system's most infamous titles - Sonic Adventure.


Many of you reading this will no doubt be all too familiar with Sonic Adventure (it was one of the first games many early adopters experienced - including me), but as this video shows there are still things to learn. Prior to watching it, I had never heard of the Sonic Adventure AutoDemo mentioned in reference to the Casino 'cow girl' billboard, and a quick Google search later opened up a whole new world of wonder to me.
The AutoDemo was an early rolling demo of Sonic Adventure (dating from October 1998) that was used to show off the game's engine - it basically shows a load of cut scenes using in-game assets. Turns out a group of Sonic Retro forum members (headed by a user named 'Orengefox') managed to hack the game though, and released a whole load of previously unseen development assets and pre-alpha levels. It's a fascinating story and you can read all about it here and here. While I was aware of the recent Windy Valley discovery, I was previously ignorant to how deep this particular rabbit (echidna?) hole went...

Sonic Adventure: A Personal Retrospective

The year is ... somewhere between 1998 and 2001. The place is a tiny apartment building. My family had recently acquired a new video game system, (one of the rare times we've gotten a system during its actual run) the Sega Dreamcast.

So naturally, I play the heck out of the demo disc that came with it. Rayman 2 demo? Yes. Tomb Raider? Definitely. Fur Fighters? (If it's the one I remember with the random object throwing and what not) Yes, please! However, one demo stood out in particular for me. That of Sonic Adventure. That demo received many, many playthroughs.

Fortunately, we purchased several Dreamcast games a bit later, and Sonic Adventure was one of them. I couldn't get enough of it. I played it over and over again. Well, not technically... (See, we hadn't gotten memory cards yet, for whatever reason. So I had to restart every time. Naturally, I didn't make much progress, notwithstanding the unskippable cut-scene). Even when I had a memory card, my journey with the game wouldn't end until several years later.

So what is the appeal? Well, I can't speak for the majority of Sonic fans, but I know about me. On a side note, I initially had no idea that there were other Sonic games before this one. I just knew Adventure. (And later Sonic Shuffle, but that nightmare game is neither here nor there.) So I guess this is a disclaimer that all/most of my Sonic experience is interpreted through that game, even if subconsciously.

To the game itself, then! It is a 3D platformer, the first true 3D game that Sega had produced up to that point. The attempt at 3D was a risk, I suppose: however, the bigger risk seems to be the varied styles of play that the characters have. In previous games, play-style was more unified, as the number of playable characters tended to be low. That's not the case in Sonic Adventure. Every one of the six characters accomplishes their goals in different ways. To review the game, I believe each should be discussed in turn:

Sonic
Description: Titular character, and main protagonist. I believe his play-style exemplifies the game as a whole. The basic goal of his levels is to travel from point A to point B (often with a few major changes of scenery and music in-between). Simple, but fun. Being the main character, his story is much longer than the rest of the characters' stories, totaling in at 10 action stages, 2 mini-games and several boss fights. Additionally, the final "character" unlocked after completing the other characters is another outing for Sonic, featuring the final boss fight of the game.

Analysis: His mode is appealing because it continues the speed and platforming action of previous entries in the series. After all, the game is called Sonic Adventure, so it's only natural that the best gameplay comes from his levels. Personally speaking, one of my favorite aspects of the game was a certain boss fight of Sonic's: the Egg Viper. Initially, I simply could not figure it out. I kept dying. After figuring out that I should use homing attack on it, it became very easy and my favorite boss fight. The music was also a drawing point for it, too.

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Tails
Description: Sonic's loyal side-kick. His play style is a variant of Sonic's: get from point A to point B before Sonic (or in his last level, Robotnik.) With one exception, all of Tails' levels are shorter versions of ones traveled in with Sonic. Similarly, only Tails' last boss fight is uniquely his own (Egg Walker, parallel to Sonic's Egg Viper.) It seems like Sonic is condescending to let you win, as one time during my latest run-through (in Casinopolis' sewers) I caught Sonic standing around, waiting for me to catch up.

Analysis: After Sonic, Knuckles, and E-102, probably the last play-style that I actively appreciate. The racing character doesn't go too fast, and speed rings are provided to give you an appreciable advantage. Because the stages were previously seen with Sonic, there is little need for more exploration of the level beyond what is necessary to win. Tails' final boss fight has the same music as Egg Viper, is a little tricky, but doesn't give the same satisfaction that Egg Viper does. His story feels short. (And a theme arises: stories that feel short, even for the stories with annoying play-styles.)

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Knuckles
Description: A friend and rival of the spiny blue dude. In Knuckles' stages, one must locate three pieces of the Master Emerald that are scattered about the play-field. He, Sonic and Tails have a number of boss fights and stages in common: their past history in older games draws them together, even in this iteration. For the most part, his stages are easy to complete in a few short minutes.

Analysis: Even though the Sonic games series was founded on the principle of speed and intense platforming action, I find Knuckles' stages pretty fun. The player is allowed to explore a portion of the gestalt stage in Knuckles' version of that stage, much like a player can explore the adventure field as other characters. Knuckles has one unique boss fight: he battles the newly formed Chaos 2 on the hotel's observation room.

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Amy
Description: Star-crossed fan-girl of the spiny blue dude. As with Tails' play style, Amy must reach point B before Zero catches her. However, there is no friendly rivalry: he is out for blood. Well, bird, but he doesn't care for Amy either. Because she doesn't have Sonic's speed or Knuckles' power, she must evade Zero as best she can. Her play style is annoying, as she can't spin-dash and must constantly avoid attacks by Zero. Fortunately, her story is very short, stage-wise, only having three. Only in the very end does she defeat the annoying Zero and reunite her bird with its family.

Analysis: Annoying. It wouldn't be so bad, if not for two things. First, she is slow physically. Second, if you go back to play the other missions for the levels, Zero somehow returns! Even though you may have already killed him in the final boss fight. (I only did Hot Shelter, so maybe he wasn't in the others? Eh.) It is nice to see him explode, especially after he punches the innocent Flicky (the cute birds from Sonic 3D: The family of birds is of this species.) for no reason. Not my favorite story of the game, but not my least favorite either.

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E-102 (Beta)
Description: Robotnik robot turned vigilante. He must reach point B, where the goal varies. In later missions, he is after the other E-100 series robots to free the animals trapped within them. He's not fast like Sonic, but he does have something better: a laser guided blaster! Everyone made a big deal about Shadow having guns in his game, but E-102 beat him to the punch with his five stages. (Albeit, only one gun. Still, it's the principle of the matter!)

Analysis: Roll around and blow stuff up. Super fun! Revenge yourself against the evil Dr. Robotnik. Even better! I'm sure they would have gotten dull after a while, but I would have appreciated one or two more of his levels. Also, he was just cool looking. The E-100 is one of the few instances where Robotnik actually had a good design aesthetic. Too bad they all got destroyed...

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Big
Description: Umm... Big cat who lives in the forest with his frog pal. Like Knuckles, he hunts for something. Unfortunately, his something swims. His levels thus bring the oddest play-style for a Sonic game: fishing. Fortunately, there are only four stages and a weird boss-like thing.

Analysis: Uggh! He is one of the reasons I never completed the game when I originally got it. Only during the later run-through was I able to finally get through his short, but annoying, story. I may have enjoyed a stage once or twice, but otherwise disliked them. The action was much slower than the rest of the game, and too dissimilar in style.

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In the end, 4 (5 maybe) out of 6 of the characters are enjoyable to play as. That's a pretty good ratio, especially considering later Sonic games. However, I see another aspect that I had not noticed before: fun, inconsequential story details. For instance, in the Station Square adventure field, one can follow a story of romance: at the Burger Shop, an NPC female has a major crush on the NPC guy in the burger shop. Over the course of the game, she moves from outside the shop, to inside - too nervous to order - to finally become a co-worker with him, her adoration for him finally known. It has absolutely no effect on any story or gameplay. It's great!

Another one, however, affects the story. The train workers decide that they need to go on strike. This helps point the player to focus on stages and events within whatever adventure field s/he is stuck in at the time. (When I tried to reason out the chronology of events, this is a minor event in most of the characters' stories. Sonic, Tails and Knuckles' stages can be easily reconciled. Others alter the events slightly. Big's involvement with Chaos 6 complicates things a bit.) Anyway. I think there's one or two others (like the explorers in the Mystic Ruins) but these are the ones I noticed the most and really liked.

Still, Sonic Adventure does have its foibles. One are the unskippable cut scenes. During the first play-through, they're OK. But when I'm playing through for the fourth or fifth time, I already know all that stuff. Plus, some of the voice actors (coughamyandbigcough) can get annoying after a while. The camera occasionally misbehaves. However, the controls handle well. It is also cool to learn the story of Knuckles' ancestors and why Chaos is trying to wreck everything. Thus, Sonic Adventure is my favorite Sonic game, and the game to which I return again and again.

Life's A Beach

Erm...I hate to start a post in this fashion, but what the fuck is this:
Right there, under TrickStyle. The audacity...
I've just noticed that out of every single game I have, only one has the name printed right to left instead of left to right. F1 Racing Championship, why must you be different? It's not big, and it's not clever. You'll forever be in the shadow of F1 World Grand Prix 2 and pulling an attention-grabbing stunt like this will never change that. Sigh.

Anyway. The sun's still out and my garden is still dying in the unexpected summer heat. I'm not complaining, but my significant other spent quite a while planting all sorts of green, leafy stuff out in the mud and I'll be damned if I'm going to fill a jug with water and start messing about expending calories by pouring the aforementioned wet stuff onto it. In the immortal words of Ivan Drago, if he (the foliage) dies, he (the foliage) dies. Of course, I'm just joking...I'll go and throw a mug of vodka on them in a bit: there'll be Hell to pay if she gets back from her travels and the yard resembles the surface of Planet Crematoria. Gulp.

And while we're on the subject of arid, sunny locales I thought it might be fun to profile some of the Dreamcast's best beaches!

Some guys scribbled all over my Dreamcast!

Who would do such a thing? Some vandals that go by the names of Yuji Naka, Takashi Iizuka and Jun Senoue.


Whoever they are two of them also scribbled on my copies of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Adventure 2 as well! I was just casually walking around with this stuff in London like I always do and I wasn't the only one they attacked: hundreds of people who also just so happened to have Sonic games, soundtracks and I believe someone else with a Dreamcast.

We were all wandering around this place. Who knows how we all just so happened to be in the same place at the same time like that.

Best bit is one of the men in question, the one with a guitar so probably from a rock band of some sort, rubbed it in by taking a photo with me in a confused and frightened state. I got away from the other two too quick for them to do the same. Let us know if you were also a victim of this bizarre crime.

Sonic Adventure Pose Appears in Sonic Generations


Okay, so this might seem like a stretch for Dreamcast news, but I think Sonic Adventure fans will get a kick out of it.

A recent preview video of Sonic Generations featured the game's new combo system in which you pull off a variety of mid-air tricks by moving about the analog stick. One of those tricks is none other than the Sonic Adventure pose famously seen on the cover of the Dreamcast version of the game. Check out the pose below!



Sonic Generations to Travel Back to the Dreamcast Era!


Every SEGA and Sonic fan should know about Sonic Generations by now, so I'll spare you the description. If you don't know what it is, check out the press release and official trailer. The game is sounding insanely awesome, probably the most exciting 3D Sonic game since Sonic Adventure. While current gameplay videos and screens are all about Green Hill Zone, various preview articles and interviews are popping up that reveal a bit of info that might be of interest to Dreamcast fans. Gamespot's preview reports:

The game will be set across the three defining eras--the 2D Mega Drive/Genesis era, the Dreamcast era, and the modern-day HD graphics era

Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 stages remixed in HD and featuring 2D Sonic sections?! Exciting! I would assume that both games would have one stage each represented in Generations. Personally, I could see Speed Highway and City Escape as the most likely candidates. Emerald Coast, while a defining stage of Sonic Adventure, has too much in common with Green Hill Zone. Meanwhile, Speed Highway was one of the most iconic stages of the game, appearing in countless commercials and ad campaigns. Who can forget this moment:

Yes, I know this is the XBLA version, relax.
As for Sonic Adventure 2, City Escape is very likely. Not only because it was a defining stage of the game, but also earlier this year musician Tony Harnell (vocalist from “We Can” and “It Doesn’t Matter”) let slip on Facebook that he was heading to the studio to record a new version of the Sonic Adventure 2 track “Escape From The City”. Since then, nothing has been seen or heard of this rerecording. It doesn't even look like it would be on the upcoming rerelease of the Sonic Adventure 2 soundtrack. So what does this mean? Either the new recording will be in an upcoming anniversary album OR it was for Sonic Generations. We shall see.

In the comments section, let us know what Adventure stages you'd like to see return in Generations.

The Dreamcast Collection VERSUS My Dreamcast Collection


A package from SEGA arrived in the mail today! In it were two copies of the 360's Dreamcast Collection. One for me to review, one for a certain contest I keep hinting at. While a proper review will turn up Monday, I thought I'd have the Dreamcast Collection face off against my Dreamcast collection. Is the compilation disc worth it for a Dreamcast collector? Which version of the games will I come back to when I need my fix? Let's find out!

CONTENT

The Dreamcast Collection contains four games: Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi, SEGA Bass Fishing and Space Channel 5 Part 2. The Dreamcast Collection version of Sonic Adventure is actually a port of the PC version of the game but with the original Dreamcast menus and the Gamecube content stripped away (available via DLC). 360's Sonic Adventure has an aspect ratio of 4:3, just like the original game, so unfortunately no widescreen. However the game runs at a very solid frame rate and loading times are much faster. Despite not being as great as it could have been, you'll never see a smoother or crisper version of Sonic Adventure than here. The 360 version does not feature the Chao Adventure VMU game, however the chao garden has been beefed up as it was in Sonic Adventure DX. That means high polygon counts on the chao, more ways to raise them and a black market where rings can be traded for items.

Crazy Taxi is a mixed bag. While the gameplay is there, as is all the modes from the Dreamcast original, the iconic Bad Religion and Offspring songs were swapped out for different music. It's a drag, but it's understandable that music rights would change over time. Despite this, the game runs in widescreen AND has a very solid frame rate. Plus, if you have the original soundtracks on your 360 hard drive (or stream from your computer) you can play all the original music and more via the 360's custom soundtrack option. Personally, I play the soundtrack from all three Crazy Taxi games while playing this one. It really does make the game feel complete.

SEGA Bass Fishing and Space Channel 5 Part 2 are the winners when it comes to comparing content. Everything from the original games are here, plus the games run in widescreen, have a solid frame rate AND are crisp. The only drag (fishing pun) is that SEGA Bass Fishing isn't as good without the fishing controller. Still fun, but not as fun as it could be.

On the 360, all four games feature their own achievements and avatar awards, providing an incentive to replay the games. I cannot wait to earn my Moralian costume.

CONTENT VERDICT: 360 and Dreamcast Sonic Adventure are a tie, Crazy Taxi Dreamcast is preferred for the original music but widescreen on the 360 is worth it for Crazy Taxi fans, 360 SEGA Bass Fishing wins (unless you own a fishing controller) and 360 Space Channel 5 Part 2 wins.

PRICE

The Dreamcast Collection retails for $29.99. According to videogamepricecharts.com and ebay: Sonic Adventure can currently be found for around $9, Crazy Taxi for around $5, SEGA Bass Fishing for $3 (around $20 with fishing controller) and Space Channel 5 Part 2 for $80 (game only) and $200 (box set). Assuming you have both systems, you can either spend $30 for the 360 compilation or between $97 and $234 for the Dreamcast originals. There is also a version of SC5 Part 2 on the PS2, and that will run much cheaper, for around $15. Replace the Dreamcast version with the PS2 version and we're looking at $32. About even with The Dreamcast Collection.

PRICE VERDICT: In an all Dreamcast vs. 360 battle, 360 wins. In a Dreamcast and PS2 tag team versus 360, it's a tie. Space Channel 5 Part 2 saves the Collection.

CONCLUSION
And the winner is: Everyone's a winner! HA! Didn't see that coming, did you? But seriously, it's great to have these games on next gen consoles. While Sonic Adventure and Crazy Taxi don't beat the originals, the achievements and avatar awards give an added bonus for playing through those games once again. The fact that the two recent releases, Bass Fishing and SC5 Part 2, are far better ports is hopefully a sign that upcoming Dreamcast Collection releases will follow suit in providing widescreen support and minimal cut content. I'd love to see a widescreen version of Jet Set Radio or Sonic Adventure 2. 

Coming this Wednesday, a contest!

Dreamcast Collection (360, PC) releases today! Contest to come...


The Dreamcast Collection is now available to purchase in the USA for the 360 and the PC! The collection will be available in Europe on the 25th. Are you planning on picking it up? Did you pick it up? Sound off in the comments section!

Keep visiting the Dreamcast Junkyard in the coming weeks, as there is a contest with Dreamcast Collection prizes (courtesy of SEGA of America) in the works. What is the contest and what are the prizes? Stay tuned.

Personally, I'm very interested in seeing how Space Channel 5 Part 2 plays. If it is a solid port, it could be the selling point of the collection. SEGA Bass Fishing, while lacking the fishing controller, also has the potential to be good as it will be in widescreen and is presumably uncut. Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure have already released on PSN and XBLA.

Dreamcast Collection - Sonic Adventure Trailer


Sonic Adventure is out today for the XBOX Live Arcade, check out the snazzy trailer SEGA put together! Bonus points for including the swirl logo. PlayStation users will have to wait a week for the game to hit PSN. While the delay is a shame for Sony fans, perhaps it was SEGA's choice to make them wait a week as a repercussion for supporting the PS2. I'm joking, I'm joking!


I've downloaded the game and played a good 15 minutes of Sonic's story and I have to say that I'm quite impressed! The game plays just as the Dreamcast version did, so yes there are the occasional glitches. Then again, just as an old car has its problems (you have to jiggle the keys to turn on the ignition!), if you're are accostomed to the flaws as one who played the Dreamcast game for years would be, you'll know how to avoid them. Basically what I'm trying to say is, if you played the game last week on the Dreamcast and enjoyed it, you'll enjoy it here.

There are also a number of cool features such as online leaderboards, a solid 60 fps framerate, achievements and the promise of DLC which is to include missions from the Gamecube's Sonic Adventure: DX as well as 360 avatar awards and items for use in the PS3's Home. Its also possible that the DLC will include the Game Gear games found in DX.

Obviously try it before you buy, but as a fan of the game I say pick it up! It has a helluva lot more content than most XBLA titles.

Dreamcast News Roundup

9/9 is a magnet for Dreamcast news. Within one week there are more stories of interest to Dreamcast fans than there is in a typical month! As such, I've rounded up some stories and news tips rather than stagger them over a series of posts (hence the term "roundup"). Let's get a long lil' doggies!


First up is a ALERT for those who subscribed to GOAT Store Publishings newsletter in an attempt to recieve their super special coupon, which is said to be all five of their indie titles for $50 (that's $36 savings!). Due to a glitch in their system on 9/9, many requests for their newsletter were lost. If you did not receive an email notification after signing up, you are not signed up. If you aren't subscribed, head on over to this link and do so. They've extended the coupon application time to Friday due to the glitch.


Next up is are two cool interviews with indie developers Senile Team and NG:Dev.Team courtesty of SEGAbits and brought to my attention by forum member cube_b3. These are the teams that brought us Rush Rush Rally Racing and the upcoming Fast Striker. Give the Senile Team interview a read here and also check out the NG:Dev.Team interview here!


This third piece of news is all about the rereleases of Dreamcast classics! Tomorrow Sonic Adventure will hit XBLA and PSN for $10, making it the first of the many promised Dreamcast releases from SEGA. The game will feature achievements/tropies and is said to feature DLC, though this feature has only been seen in very early leaks and could be cut for all I know. Check out the video above  and make sure to download the demo tomorrow if you can. Always try before you buy.


Another Dreamcast game being resurrected, this time on the iPod Touch and iPhone, is the awesome Chu Chu Rocket. Impressions of the game have been very positive, such as those found in this preview from Touch Arcade. Highlights from the preview include:

Multiplayer is 1-4 players, and you can either join up in teams of two or play free for all style. The goal here is to get as many mice to your own rocket as possible, while using arrows to direct cats into players rockets in order to prevent them from gaining any mice. This mode can be played over WiFi, 3G, or Bluetooth, and if you can't find any friends to play with you can add bots to the game and play against the AI. There are 25 levels to battle on, and the game will be the first from Sega to utilize Apple's new Game Center social network.

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ChuChu Rocket! was a total blast when I had a chance to play it today, and it makes me sad that I never tried out this title almost a decade ago. It seems like a perfect fit for the iPhone, with all of the original levels reworked to be touch screen friendly. Gamers have been begging Sega to bring ChuChu Rocket! out on a current platform for years, and finally they will get their wish on the iPhone and iPad. Both versions will be exactly the same except for the iPad version which will contain a same-device 4 player multiplayer mode. Expect to see ChuChu Rocket! sometime in late October.

So there you have it for the Dreamcast news roundup! It seems every aspect of the undead console is thriving: the fan community, the developers and the games of old. All hail the undead console!