Dreamcast On The Go With PlayStation Vita

The PlayStation Vita is quite easily one of my favourite handheld systems. I've owned plenty of other portable gaming devices - and still do - but for me the PS Vita blends console-quality gaming with the types of games you'd expect on a handheld. Currently in my collection I have an Atari Lynx, Neo Geo Pocket, Nintendo DS, Game Gear, PSP Go, Gameboy Micro and Gameboy Pocket. I appreciate them all, but not as much as the Vita. I wouldn't go as far as saying it is my all time favourite pocket-sized gaming device, for that title would undoubtedly go the the Gameboy Advance SP AGS 101 (the one with the sexy backlit screen), but it is definitely up there at the top of the pile.
Regardless of the way Sony has handled the business side of things when it comes to the PS Vita, the fact remains that it is a great bit of gaming tech and a worthy successor to the PSP in terms of features and technology. Much like the Dreamcast with Sega, the PS Vita does represent something of a missed opportunity for Sony as there are so many things that could have been done with the hardware; but ultimatley the system is now being kept alive by third parties and indie devs. Now, you'd be forgiven for asking yourself why the hell I'm praising the Vita on a Dreamcast site? This is The Dreamcast Junkyard, not The Vita Lounge dammit!

Calm down, dear - I'll tell you for why. But before I do, let me just say that after having more than a passing interest in the Dreamcast for the best part of 20 years, I'm well aware of actual portable Dreamcasts. Oh, and Treamcasts. Now that's out of the way, on with the show...!

Unsung Dreamcast Heroes: Captain Onishima

In the first of a new series here at The Dreamcast Junkyard, we thought it was about time we took a deeper, more humanistic look at some of the unsung and lesser celebrated players in the great library of Dreamcast-related characters and creations. The personas we all know, but who we don't necessarily love. The title 'Unsung Dreamcast Heroes' is a bit of a misnomer because it won't exclusively feature protagonists - indeed, this inaugural instalment actually profiles an antagonist of sorts - but hopefully we'll do it justice by bringing some of the lesser-known but equally important supporting cast into the spotlight. Right then - on with the show!
Jet Set Radio is easily one of the Dreamcast's most iconic titles. The premise is a relatively simple one, involving gangs of youths on motorised roller blades tagging turf and trying to evade the cops in the process. However, the cel-shaded visuals mask a fairly deep and involving yarn in which some pretty sobering themes are covered. These include the corporate censorship of freedom of expression; and an almost Orwellian vision of a near-future dystopia where everything seems fine on the surface, but once the scab of uniformity is lifted a whole underclass of festering all-out gangland warfare is revealed. Maybe I'm reading way, way too far between the lines when it comes to Smilebit's seminal skate and graffiti 'em up, but the fact remains that the city of Milwaukee tried to get the game banned back in 2000 due to the negative connotations of spray painting gang tags on urban street furniture. This is all academic in the grand scheme of this article though. The reason I'm writing all of this is because we need to examine one central character in particular...

Dreamcast Shmup Ghost Blade Heading To Steam, PS4, Xbox One & Wii U

Hucast's Ghost Blade hit the Dreamcast in 2015 and was met with some fairly mixed reviews. Personally, I quite enjoyed the simplistic shooting action; while others derided the lack of options and fairly easy difficulty level. Until now, the only way to play Ghost Blade has been on Sega's final system but now the game is heading to current gen consoles with a new lick of HD paint. Here's the teaser trailer:

Slated for digital release on February 28th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam and Wii U, Ghost Blade HD promises new visuals, online leader boards and two player modes. Apart from the new visuals and artwork though, the only other new feature I can see is the addition of trophies and achievements. That said, if you never played the original Dreamcast version the $9.99 price tag might be enough to convince you to give Ghost Blade a whirl.
Did you play the original Ghost Blade? Does a new version with HD graphics and new features interest you? Let us know in the comments!

Be sure to keep an eye on Hucast's dedicated Ghost Blade website for updates.

A Quick Look At The Dreamcast Twin Stick Controller

The Dreamcast's peripheral lineup offers plenty of oddities for the discerning collector to pore over. From the karaoke unit and maracas, to the fishing rod and the Dreameye there's something for everyone. One peripheral we've never really looked at in any real depth here at the Junkyard is the Dreamcast Twin Stick, an odd looking beast of a controller that always peaks the curiosity of the public whenever we wheel it out at live events and expos. The Twin Stick was never released outside of its native Japan, although that doesn't stop it being compatible with both NTSC-U and PAL Dreamcast systems, but the incredibly small library of games that officially make use of it renders the Twin Stick something of a luxury.
Twinned with the relative high price these controllers command in the current climate, the Twin Stick is a device that still enjoys something of an enigmatic air. Like the Arcade Stick controller, the Twin Stick is one of those peripherals that greatly enhances the experience of playing games that make use of it, but outside that small selection is pretty redundant simply because of its fairly unorthodox design. Let's take a more detailed look at the hardware itself, and some of the games that make use of the Twin Stick before investigating whether or not this is something you should consider adding to your collection...

DreamPod - Episode 46 Featuring Dreamcast Hub

[iTunes][Stitcher][Buzzsprout][UK Podcast Directory][YouTube]

Music in this episode comes from Wind & Water, MSR, Sturmwind and the live Shenmue orchestra. The interview about Blue Stinger and Illbleed is here at Gamasutra and it's pretty heart-wrenching so be warned if you read the whole thing (I doubt anyone will, but it's worth it). You are the people we do this for, so thanks for listening. If you have any feedback please don't hesitate to leave it in the comments or at the Facebook group - we read them all. You can find our guest host Stephen Robinson at the Facebook group Dreamcast Hub.

Feel free to leave a review on iTunes and if you want to chuck us your change on Patreon we're here.

A Quick Look At Headhunter

You are Jack Wade. You were once the ACN's top Headhunter, rounding up the most fearsome criminals on the mean streets of near-future California and bringing organised crime to its knees. However, something went horribly wrong. Waking up in an operating theatre with no memory of who you are or how you got there, you break out of the restraints and hazily escape from the mysterious facility before collapsing in an alleyway.

Once again being brought around in a hospital, you learn of your past glories as the most feared Headhunter around - a type of government funded bounty hunter - the death of your boss and the rise of crime in your absence. You're an angry man with a beard, you want answers, and you want your memory back...but first you need to re-enrol as a freelance Headhunter, get your license, your gun and your motorbike. Somebody will pay for this, but who and why? That's down to you, Wade.
Headhunter is one of the oddest games on the Dreamcast. I don't mean that in a derogatory way - I mean it from a totally bemused standpoint. That's because it is easily one of the best titles ever released for Sega's machine, but due to the incredibly late launch in November 2001 Headhunter was only given a PAL release. It sits squarely amongst games like Evil Twin and Stunt GP that were fantastic games in their own right, but for mainly financial reasons never made the leap across the pond to the United States or Japan.

Amuze, the Sweden-based developer of Headhunter only ever made two games - Headhunter (and the later PlayStation 2 port) and the PlayStation 2/Xbox sequel Headhunter: Redemption - but it's clear from the quality seeping from every pore of Jack Wade's adventure that the development team had a real grasp of the Dreamcast hardware.

Crafti: A Homebrew Minecraft Clone For Dreamcast

Minecraft. A game which looks so simple on the surface due to its basic geometric visuals and fairly relaxed gameplay, but in reality is actually incredibly complex and even lends itself to being used as an educational tool. Yes, Minecraft is a true cultural phenomenon. It also made its creator disgustingly rich when Microsoft bought the franchise from Markus 'Notch' Persson in 2014 for $2.5 billion, and the game has gone on to become the second best selling game of all time. Not bad, I'm sure you'll agree.
There are ports of Minecraft available for a multitude of different systems and they all offer the similar gameplay and mechanics found in the PC original, and many people have carved out a career simply streaming gameplay online. The power of Minecraft knowns no bounds it seems, and now the game has come to the Dreamcast. Well...sort of. Crafti is a Minecraft clone developed by DCEmulation forum member gameblabla and is now free to download and burn to a CD-R for playing in a Dreamcast. Naturally, that's exactly what I did...

HDTV Compatible Wireless Dreamcast Gun Enters Production

You may remember the LightConn wireless gun we revealed recently. It comes from hardware modder Chris Diaoglou (the man behind the other wireless peripherals currently available for the Dreamcast), and since the last update the device has undergone a rather impressive overhaul. The LightConn uses the same Bluetooth technology as the DreamConn wireless controller and the KeybConn wireless keyboard, and incorporates a pair of virtual VMUs.
Not only this, it works with modern flatscreen TVs through a reverse-engineered Wii controller which has been incorporated into the chassis of the gun, along with a Wii sensor bar which has been adapted to work with the Dreamcast. The best bit is, the new LightConn does away with the visible portion of the Nintendo hardware seen in the prototype and also adds new functionality, such as PC connectivity for save file transfer. New LightConn specs:

  • Two internal virtual VMUs
  • Support for VMU in-game screen indications
  • Support for Rumble Pak
  • PC connectivity
  • Region-Free : Can be used with any game including NTSC "locked" games
  • Support for any TV (including HDTVs)
  • Embedded VMU menu for calibration
  • Auto-reload feature

In the Line of Fire Kickstarter Cancelled

In the Line of Fire was possibly the most ambitious Kickstarter we've yet seen for the Dreamcast, with a bespoke 3D engine designed from the ground up for Sega's hardware. Not only this, it wasn't a stretch goal for an existing project. A full-on 3D shooter with tactical gameplay elements and multiplayer options specifically created for the Dreamcast. We covered it several times here at the Junkyard, from the first teaser shots to the Kickstarter launch, and we got to preview an early build, and it looked like such a promising game. Sadly, the project didn't get the backing it deserved on Kickstarter and the team appear to have cancelled the game. An update from Wilson Guerrero of Militia Studios was posted on the project page which reads:

"Hello everyone, first I want to thank you all, you are one amazing and generous group of people. 
Sadly I'm quitting the team right now and the sound designer is gone too so basically there is no team now. Best regards."
- Wilson Guerrero, Militia Studios

It's a real shame because In the Line of Fire represented - to me at least - a move away from the myriad 2D shooters and platformers that have come to the Dreamcast. It represented something of a turning point for crowd-funded games and maybe a glimmer that there was a bright future for Dreamcast indie development - even more so when you consider Militia was looking to release the engine to other developers. The level of detail in the enemy character models, and environment in the stage I got to sample was almost on a par with commercially-related software.
However, the failure of something as impressive as In the Line of Fire to gain backing will no doubt make other potential developers question if the Dreamcast is a financially viable platform to put their games out on. Last year the impressive looking Xenocider from Retro Sumus also failed to hit its target, although that game was was resurrected through pre-orders. There are still plenty of games coming - at least at the time of writing - for the Dreamcast, but that In the Line of Fire was so criminally ignored could potentially have repercussions for future development on the system.

Officially Licensed Dreamcast T-shirts Available to Pre-order at Play-Asia.com

Heads up. Play-Asia.com are taking pre-orders for a range of officially licensed Dreamcast t-shirts now. Expected to ship in February 2017, the t-shirts are manufactured by Japanese clothing and apparel company Cospa so quality is pretty much guaranteed. Made from 100% cotton and coming in either medium, large or extra large (where's the small, guys?!), the t-shirts feature a Dreamcast swirl on the front and a stylised console design on the back. I think you'll agree that they're pretty cool, and for £20 you can't really go wrong. Head to Play-Asia.com for further details.

Trickstyle Heads To Apple Devices...In Sticker Form

Hold on to your hats folks! If you thought the Megadrive emulator thing was good...you ain't seen nothin' yet: Trickstyle stickers for iOS messages are an actual thing! I know, right?! Step into my super-exciting life and I'll explain everything. While I was skulking about on iTunes looking for nothing in particular, I decided to check in on the DreamPod to see if our lovely podcast was troubling the charts. Naturally, it wasn't but after searching 'Dreamcast' and checking to see if any of you lovely lot had left any more reviews (again, nope) I noticed at the bottom of the screen some 'suggested apps.' One of them was called Trickstyle and I was drawn to it like a moth to a raging flamethrower setting a nest full of Facehugger eggs alight.
Jokes aside, I don't even know why I'm writing this as I'm quite certain nobody is going to give a toss, but what I found was a little app that adds Trickstyle-themed stickers to iMessage in iOS 10. It's a bit of a weird one I know, and the app appears to be published by Throwback Entertainment - the company that now holds the rights to Acclaim's decent futuristic racer. Does anyone use the stickers in iOS? I didn't even know they were a thing until I saw this app. Still, it's slightly Dreamcast-related and so I am duty-bound to report it.

"Show your love for a Dreamcast classic to your friends and family! Elevate the conversation with this sticker pack featuring awesome tricks and moves from the hit title TrickStyle!"
- Throwback Entertainment

I took the advice above and sent some stickers to my brother, but it seems he wasn't overly impressed with my Trickstyle-themed messages:
The app has been knocking about since October but it seems literally nobody noticed. If you really want more information - and let's be honest, the chances of that are pretty remote - head over to Throwback Software's website here, or point your iPhone at the Apple App Store and grab them for free. I bet you Android users are raging with envy right now, eh?!

Official Mega Drive Emulator For Dreamcast Discovered

Mega Drive/Genesis emulation is nothing new on the Dreamcast, and Sega even went as far as releasing an official emulator (of sorts) with the Sega Smash Pack compilation that was only launched in the US. Since the death of the Dreamcast, various emulators have sprung up, some of which were based on the very code found on the Smash Pack GD. It's a really cool story and well worth checking out if you have the time.

It appears that there was an alternative Mega Drive emulator being worked on as a joint venture between Sega Japan and Sega Europe, and - like most stories about vapourware - this has never been substantiated with hard facts. Mentions of PAL versions of Sega Smash Pack with a better and more varied library, twinned with superior emulation can be found in Dreamcast magazines of the era but nothing concrete has ever been seen. Until now, that is.
This is all thanks to a Dreamcast fan called Comby Laurent, who recently found a mysterious GD-Rom in a bunch of discs he acquired. He posted a short video and a few images on the Dreamcast Junkyard Facebook group and I recognised the Mega Drive emulator as the same one I had played when I visited an ex-Sega employee some time ago to record footage of the unreleased Take the Bullet and Colin McRae Rally 2.0. I did record some video of the emulator back then, but my MacBook went into meltdown about a week later and the footage was lost.

Dreamcast Fishing Games: The Ultimate Guide

According to the old proverb, there are two types of fisherman: those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish. I'd like to add a third type to this list. The third type is the fisherman who stands in front of his (or her) TV, with a Dreamcast fishing rod grasped firmly in hand, waving limbs hither and thither in the hope they'll snare an elusive digital trout or silicon stickleback. If you fall in to the latter category, then welcome my friend. Welcome to the Junkyard's ultimate guide to fishing on the Dreamcast. I say 'ultimate,' but I actually mean 'blagger's,' so take everything else herein with a pinch of salt...and vinegar. Tartar sauce is optional.
The humble Dreamcast fishing rod is a peripheral we've overlooked for far too long here at the universe's number one repository for useless information regarding late 1990s Sega hardware™, and that's going to change over the course of the following article. From the actual hardware itself, to the games you can expect to play with the stunted controller, don your waders, fill your flask with Bovril and prepare to drink in a tidal wave of Dreamcast-related, briny and fishy goodness. Imagine eating a jar of whelks through a Dreamcast shell and you'll be on your way, oh salty and weary ocean/canal-side warrior. Let us begin by banishing the angry face of Poseidon from our collective portholes with nothing but harsh language, and examine our weapons of choice...

Escape 2042: The Truth Defenders Hits Kickstarter

Here we go. Another independent game for the Dreamcast has hit Kickstarter, this time coming from veteran Dreamcast developer Orion. Orion last graced the Dreamcast with Zia and the Goddesses of Magic in 2016 and that game was a highly competent take on the 16-bit RPG genre.
Escape 2042 looks like an interesting mix of platforming, strategy and puzzle gameplay, and takes a lot of inspiration from Amiga puzzlers from the early 1990s as far as I can tell - stuff like Flashback and Impossible Mission. To be totally honest, I think the Kickstarter trailer looks awesome and the game is planned for the Dreamcast, Gameboy, PC Engine and Megadrive (among others).

"This game is a fast-paced 2D platformer with two mini-games included. The main game features security cameras to avoid, firing enemies, grenades to collect, computer 'hacking' to open doors or disable laser protection fields, and level card based locked door in the first prison levels. If you copy and paste this from The Dreamcast Junkyard you won't even notice this sentence. The game will take place in three different environments (prison, forest and desert) interspersed with two minigames including a reversed shoot 'em up and an original abseiling game."
- Escape 2042 Kickstarter

Escape 2042 appears to feature several different types of gameplay scenario with platforming, puzzling and even shmup style levels included. Here's the awesome launch trailer:

The game has a funding goal of €25,000 and looks pretty impressive from the video. Don't forget that In the Line of Fire is still looking for funding, but what do you think? Is there scope for another Dreamcast Kickstarter or will the entire scene collapse under it's own bloated, underfunded weight?

You decide.

Check out Orion's website here, and our interview with the man himself here. You can also join the discussion at our Facebook group here.

DreamPod - Episode 45

[iTunes][Stitcher][Buzzsprout][UK Podcast Directory][YouTube]

Music in this episode is from Gunlord and Wind & Water Puzzle Battles. You can find information about the Akura VGA to HDMI converter here, Matterrun is here, Dreamcastnoid is here. Information about the Postal story can be found here and the Worms World Party story is here. You can find out more on the Sturmwind reprint here. If you like what you hear, please consider leaving a review on iTunes and if you would like to support the DreamPod on Patreon you can find us here.

Please feel free to join our Facebook group, like the Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Lastly, and most importantly - keep dreaming, and be excellent to one another.

New Dreamcast Game Matterrun Available Now!

Another day, another free Dreamcast indie game lands. This time, it's Matterrun from Fuseki Games. Set in deep space, the game tasks players with collecting 'matter cannisters' and disposing of them before the enemy can use the same canisters to build a mothership that will hunt you down and destroy you with extreme prejudice. It sounds a little bit like Sinistar to me...only without the nightmare-inducing immortal face thing that chases you through the cosmos. Fuseki is no stranger to the Dreamcast, having previously released Primitive Nightmare and a bunch of DOS conversions, all of which are available for free from his site.
"Matterrun, the 2017 release by Fuseki, is a battle between the player and enemy Seekers, both of whom are racing to find Matter Canisters. The player must find them and dispose of them by returning them to the Disposal Ship, and the Seekers are collecting them to build their Mothership. 

The player has a few power-ups and the Concussion Wave weapon to help them with this task. The Seekers will attempt to steal any Canisters that the player has picked up. If the Mothership is constructed, it'll hunt the player down ruthlessly and attempt to destroy it. How long can YOU survive?"
- Fuseki Games

Matterrun was made with the BennuGD programming language and is available as a downloadable CDI image here. It can be burnt with Alcohol 120% to play in a Dreamcast console or played via an emulator. Thanks to Alfonso Martinez of SegaSaturno for the heads up.

Worms World Party Online Services Restored

Another online multiplayer game has been restored to full functionality, this time it's Worms World Party. According to Dreamcast Live, which is a site dedicated to the online gaming aspects of the Dreamcast and a trailblazer when it comes to restoring online and multiplayer features to a host of games, Worms World Party players can now duel with other Dreamcast gamers over the internet.

I've got to be honest - I never really got too far into either Worms Armageddon or Worms World Party on the Dreamcast, but Team 17's series has a very long and storied history and is an important franchise in the grand scheme of multiplayer gaming on both console and PC.
If you want to know more, head over to Dreamcast Live right now. You might also want to check out Pcwzrd's guides to getting back online with your Dreamcast as they are numerous and vary in the amount of effort required, but at this rate the entire back catalogue might end up back online by the end of the year. Probably. Well OK that's an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.