A Closer Look At The Dreamcast Internet Starter Kit

In this day and age we kind of take it for granted that the internet is a thing we have at our disposal with almost effortless availability. It truly is a ubiquitous resource of entertainment, learning, communication and screaming at each other on forums. The internet is, I'm pretty confident in stating, one of the most important inventions the human race has ever come up with. I'd even put it up there with the wheel, the microchip, the instant noodle and the screw-top beer bottle. Yes, old Tim Berners-Lee really hit on something back in the early 1990s when he and his motley crew of super nerds at CERN gave birth to what we now more commonly refer to as the t'interwebs. It goes without saying that anybody reading this right now is doing so using the power of said network, be it on a mobile phone, a tablet, their watch, games console or even - heaven forfend - an actual desktop PC or Mac.

Now, the Dreamcast was - as most of you will be aware - the first console to come as standard with a modem and the ability to browse the internet and access multiplayer games right out of the box. Well, unless you lived in Europe for the first few months...but that's a moot point. The fact of the matter is that the Dreamcast was marketed first and foremost as a games machine, but also as a cost-effective way for people to get a taste of the internet without having to buy a computer; and in those heady days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when flannel shirts, Backstreet Boys and Eiffel 65 were still en vogue, that wasn't something to be sniffed at.
For my sins, I did go through a short-lived spell of buying a UK-based magazine called .net after getting my Dreamcast, just so I could sit on the bus reading it looking like I was 'jacked in' to the power of the 'information superhighway.' In reality I still looked like a scruffy, fat nerd. But this is the point I'm trying to make - back in 1999, the internet wasn't as ubiquitous as it is now and people didn't have 3G and 4G enabled smart phones bouncing around in their pockets, getting scratched up by a bunch of keys. The internet for many - me included - was a vast and wondrous new frontier and by God I was ready to ride the wave on my digital surfboard, tits akimbo.
But herein lies the conundrum. Sega probably knew that the pseudo tech-savvy among its target demographic for the Dreamcast would be onboard with this idea of web surfing and online gaming. How then, would the Japanese firm entice the average person? The outliers in this new digital wonderland? The ones who didn't know a byte from a flimflam, or a googolplex from a Yahoo!? Here's how: by devising a 'starter kit' for the unlearned, one that was created with basic and easy to understand instructions and a guide to what this whole 'internet' thingy was all about. And to top it all off, by including an internet guide...for housewives.

Review: 4x4 Jam

There are adults out there, probably people reading these very words, who didn't exist when the Dreamcast was a newly released gaming platform and Sega's great hope of winning back the home console war. That's an astonishing thought to a grizzled old gamer like me; that people who I can have serious, grown up discussions with did not exist when I walked out of the shop with my new Dreamcast console under my arm. The at the time revolutionary ideas Sega were talking about; the 6 billion players online, the portable game playing memory card, the PC quality graphical power - things that I sometimes still find remarkable when looking back at the little 14 inch portable CRT TV and a wobbly spectrum keyboard that were my introduction to gaming, these things defined my gaming, set me on a course to being a self confessed Dreamcast addict. But they mean nothing, had no impact, on the gaming lives of a vast number of current gamers.

Online console gaming isn't a pipe dream, but an expected standard. Graphical capabilities are blurring the lines between reality and digital fiction. And as for portable gaming, none of us could have imagined the rise (and rise) of smart phones and the shift towards that platform as a gaming behemoth when we all got excited by a digital screen on a memory card.
4x4 Jam emerged on this new frontier of gaming late in the last decade, before Hungarian developer Invictus Games took it across to a more familiar platform via the Sony PSP minis selection - you know, those cheap and cheerful independent games that were a welcome addition to an often maligned handheld system. It received a good critical reception on both mobiles and PSP, and has even seen an HD update since, as smartphones continue their relentless technological improvement. And now... it appears on the Dreamcast, published by the newly emerged force in the indie Dreamcast scene JoshProd, in some way completing this possibly clumsy circle that I've been trying to create through these meandering opening paragraphs.
But take a moment just to think about this. A game, released on platforms not even conceived within the lifetime of the Dreamcast, ends up being ported to a console approaching it's 20th birthday. The possibilities this opens up are mouth watering. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. It's all well and good being excited by a well received game on later hardware making its way to our beloved little box of dreams, but the execution of the port, and the quality of the end result, is what really matters. And so this is how I approached 4x4 Jam - excited by the prospect (not to even mention the fact that this is the first proper 3D game to appear in the commercial indie Dreamcast scene, beating the long delayed SLaVE in the process), but with a slight sense of trepidation as to how it would turn out, and what sort of quality I could expect from this unexpected arrival to the Dreamcast party. There was nothing left to do but strap on my imaginary helmet, slip into my virtual driving gloves and take the game for a spin...

A Quick Look At Seventh Cross: Evolution

The Dreamcast library is full of odd games, and really is a testament to how the Sega of yore was quite keen to push boundaries when it came to game design. Stuff like Seaman, Roommania #203, Samba de Amigo etc show how imaginative and downright wacky Sega's in-house development teams could get. But it wasn't just first party developers who took things a little bit left field when it came to the Dreamcast. There are some truly bizarre third party games on the Dreamcast, games that we'll probably never see the likes of again. Titles such as Lack of Love, Bomber hehhe! and Pen Pen Triicelon are all pretty strange by today's standards and for the time they were released offered a glimpse into the imaginations of designers who were doing things in the console sphere that was rarely seen. Another game that should be added to this category is Seventh Cross: Evolution, a game in which you start as an amoeba and literally play the game of life, evolving into new intelligent life forms and eventually shamble out of the primordial ocean and conquer the ancient landmasses of a prehistoric world.
When the Dreamcast was first announced and the console was being shown in magazines of the era, Seventh Cross was one game I vividly remember being really intrigued by, simply because it showed a sort of metallic humanoid walking around a barren archipelago. I'm not sure why it stuck in my mind but it just looked so weird and made me want to follow the development of the Dreamcast closely. Sadly, I never got to experience the game back then because it wasn't picked up for a PAL release and getting imported games wasn't something I was especially interested in back in those days. I would just buy what was on the shelves of Gamestation or Electronics Boutique and Seventh Cross: Evolution wasn't a game that ever made the leap across the pond.
A Japanese launch title, Seventh Cross: Evolution did make it to the US (the NTSC-J version is simply titled Seventh Cross, while the NTSC-U game is called Seventh Cross: Evolution) and it's the American version I recently managed to get my hands on and finally satisfy the curiosity that began all those years ago, after seeing that metallic bloke in those low quality screen grabs in magazines. I also have to be honest here - I went into this game totally blind as other than the few scant details I picked up about Seventh Cross: Evolution through magazine previews, it isn't a title I'd ever really investigated in any depth. So, join me as I try to make sense of what is a truly unique and deliciously bizarre little game...

Review: Flashback

Flashback is one of those games that really doesn't need an introduction, but for the benefit of those who have never played 1992's hottest cinematic platform adventure, I'm prepared to ignore that adage and fill you in on the backstory.

You are Conrad B. Hart, an academic who creates a device to scan the molecular structure of organisms as part of his thesis. Rather than get his thesis published, a slap on the back and a job offer from his educational institution though, Conrad inadvertently discovers a plot by an alien race of shape-shifters who are planning to conquer the Earth. Cue a kidnapping, a brief escape from captivity and a marooning on an alien planet (with a few other familiar tropes such as lost memories and pre-recorded holocubes thrown in for good measure), and you have one rollicking sci-fi adventure on your hands. I won't go into any more detail than that, lest I spoil it for those who have yet to experience Flashback; and for everyone else I'm sure you've already played it multiple times and know all about the rest of the narrative that plays out across the game's various dystopian theatres.
As mentioned earlier, Flashback was initially released back in 1992 for the Amiga, although as documented in an interview with Retro Gamer, lead developer Paul Cuisset revealed it was initially programmed for the Mega Drive. The pseudo sequel to 1991's Another World, Flashback went one step further than Delphine Software's previous side-on adventure by introducing some pretty spectacular rotoscoped animation and clever puzzles, as well as some really intense gun play and an interesting plot. When all cut together with some amazing-for-the-time cinematic sequences, Flashback presented gamers with something that was a good few leagues ahead of previous games in the genre, such as the aforementioned Another World and Brøderbund's Prince of Persia.
Since those days of the early 1990s, Flashback has appeared on more systems than you can shake a brown, sticky thing at; and I have personally owned it on Mega Drive, SNES, Jaguar and 3DO. There are also versions for Amiga (as mentioned), PC, CD-i, Mega CD, FM Towns and even the Acorn Archimedes amongst others. It's almost the DOOM of platform games, in that if a system has a screen and a microchip; then it can run Flashback. Happily, that list now also includes the good old Dreamcast, thanks to the hard work of publisher JoshProd and seasoned programmer Chui...

7 Year Old Secretly Documents Her Dad Playing Shenmue

Get ready to have your heart of ice melted into a pile of mush, dear reader. While Dreamcast Junkyard Facebook group member Michael Brown was hammering Shenmue recently, little did he know that his 7 year old daughter Aiyla was secretly documenting his progress in her notebook. When he discovered the following tale depicting Ryo's on-screen trials and tribulations, he couldn't help but share it in the group. And we're glad he did - if this doesn't put a smile on your face, we're afraid nothing will!
Click to embiggenize
Naturally, a lot of people were pretty impressed. Simon Early replied: "As both a primary school teacher of 25 years and a Shenmue addict, I can honestly say that it is one of the finest pieces of Year 2/3 writing I've ever seen."

And Dave Moore commented: "It's a lovely piece of independent writing. I always enjoy reading writing which children have put together without help from any professionals! Let children write about what they are interested in and the results are clear!"

While Daniel Vasquez quipped: "That is cute man! Cheers to your girl! That should be seen by Yu Suzuki!" - and we totally agree.

Thanks to Michael for sharing this with us and allowing us to reproduce it here. Judging from the quality of the prose on display, we reckon there could be a role on Shenmue III's scriptwriting team for Aiyla here!

4x4 Jam, Flashback & Ganryu Head Up New Dreamcast Releases

French publisher JoshProd has finally revealed to us the details of the latest batch of titles heading to the Sega Dreamcast, and this time gamers can expect three titles that are totally new to to system. 4x4 Jam is an off-road racer featuring fully 3D visuals and sprawling open stages, while Delphine's classic 2D adventure Flashback: The Quest For Identity has been built from the ground up as a brand new, officially licensed Dreamcast port. The other games in the release line-up include Visco's Neo-Geo scrolling beat 'em up Ganryu, a new PAL-boxed version of Sturmwind, and a re-issue of Orion's retro-styled RPG Zia and the Goddesses of Magic (check out our recent review here).

4x4 Jam is actually a port of a game that has been available on both the Sony PSP and Android/iOS for some time, and is particularly interesting as it potentially opens the door for ports of similar games designed for low-powered mobile devices. The video above was recorded from an actual Dreamcast and shows off some of the sprawling landscapes and Smuggler's Run style gameplay.

Rare Dreamcast-Powered Sega Fish Life Aquarium Appears On Ebay

A few years ago we looked at the Dreamcast SFL-2000P1 Control Unit, and we were pretty stumped as to what it actually was. Looking like a set-top box but with the innards of a Dreamcast, it caused quite a stir when we first investigated the unit. It turns out that it was actually designed to run an interactive aquarium designed for restaurants and hotel lobbies, and a bundled touch screen allowed people to interact with the unit and learn more about the various virtual fish swimming around. These units are clearly extremely rare and now one has popped up on eBay, complete with the Fish Life aquarium GD and the touch screen display:
Before you get too excited, we should probably tell you that the Buy It Now price is set at an eye-watering $25,000, which would probably get you a pretty large fish tank and some actual fish to go in it. That said, seller Juppon Gatana is open to offers and it's a fascinating and lesser seen variant of the traditional Dreamcast hardware that even plays games, as shown in the video below.

Interestingly, the unit being sold has the code HKS-0300 which kinda puts it in the realm of the HKT codes used on Dreamcast hardware proper (Edit: the owner of the SFL-2000P1 has told us that while it is aesthetically similar, it is not an identical unit and it has slightly different inputs). As discussed in our previous article, both the SFL-2000P1 and Sega Fish Life can play standard GDs and have rudimentary controls on the rear that mimic the Dreamcast controller. There's no slot for a VMU though, so you probably wouldn't want to buy this thing to actually play with it. However, if you've got money to burn and want a unique centre-piece for your Dreamcast collection (alongside your Divers 2000), this should fit the bill nicely.
Check out the auction here, or go read up on the Fish Life software at Sega Retro.

New Dreamcast Game Hermes Available For Pre-order

Indie studio Retroguru have produced some interesting games for the Dreamcast, with puzzler Fruit'Y landing on the system a couple of years ago. Now they're back with Hermes - a jump and run style platformer where you control a chef trying to catch a chicken so you can grill it. Beats rescuing princesses from castles, I guess. Like Fruit'Y before it, Hermes will come to Dreamcast in physical form with a modest price tag of €15 and can be pre-ordered at DragonBox now. US Dreamcast owners will be able to grab the game from The Bit Station once it's released in late August. Check out the trailer below, or head to Retroguru for more information on Hermes. Naturally, we'll have a full review as soon as we can get our hands on a copy!

Guest Article: Tales Of A Dreamcast Virgin

In this latest guest article, Leigh Bonser explains how in his native Australia the Dreamcast passed him by completely. However, after recently discovering the console he is now tutoring himself in the delights of the fantastic library. In some ways, I'm quite envious of Leigh as the Dreamcast is a fresh concept and there are so many amazing experiences waiting for him. Anyway, enough from me. Over to Leigh, the self-styled 'Dreamcast virgin'...
Like most readers of the Dreamcast Junkyard, I’ve been a gamer since I was a kid, fascinated by the technology and the escapism that video gaming presents to the open minds of youth. My first real memory of gaming started when a kid on my street got a Commodore 64 and allowed a select few local kids to come over and play. Now I can’t really remember exactly what we played, but I know it was off cassette and that it was dreadfully slow. But back then, who cared? We knew what was coming was exciting and would absolutely be worth the wait.

Skip forward a few years and my Dad, out of nowhere, came home one day with a second hand Apple IIc computer; also a dog. I think the dog was to smooth over my mother due to the expenditure. Such a wise man. This event is what I consider to be the starting point for the path my life has taken so far, as a gamer, computer enthusiast, career in IT and also, how to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission. That’s not to say that I wasn’t already into other forms of video gaming. The NES was certainly around at this time as was the Master System. However, neither were very popular in the town that I grew up in, unless you had a wealthy or American friend, courtesy of the local American installation. Video games just weren’t really accessible amongst the circle of friends and family that I had.

DreamPSU Could Save Your Dreamcast From Imminent And Permanent Destruction

OK, that's quite a melodramatic title, but it's all about the clickbait these days. If I don't use ridiculous titles like that, how else will I convince people to come here and read this tripe? I suppose I could promise to fax nudes to readers in return for likes on social media, but the last time I did that I was threatened with legal action. I learnt the hard way, so you don't have to.

Right, down to business. You know how you can swap the powerboard out of a Dreamcast from one region with one from another to make it work in your country? No? Well, you can. For example, all of my NTSC Dreamcasts have UK powerboards in them so I don't have to mess about with transformers. The powerboards in Dreamcasts are also one of the reasons a lot of consoles end up on the scrap heap - loose connections can lead to the age old resetting issue, and in some cases they can just die through old age and overuse. Well, a dude called Chris Moon has started an Indiegogo campaign for a little thingy called a DreamPSU, a smaller and more robust alternative to the Dreamcast powerboard.
The device slots into the Dreamcast chassis in much the same way as a standard powerboard, but without that archaic array of valves and cogs; and as an added bonus the DreamPSU generates less heat than the regular powerboard, meaning your Dreamcast can also double up as an air conditioning unit as opposed to the fan heater it is now. The Indiegogo campaign sets out all the details and it looks like a very decent little contraption. Chris is only looking for around $5000 to make the DreamPSU a reality, so why not chuck him a few pennies and help him prolong the life of Dreamcasts worldwide. Find Chris on Twitter here and find the DreamPSU website here.

Source: SEGA Nerds / Indiegogo

Check Out This Awesome Lo-fi Dreamcast Box Art

The title pretty much says it all. These were created by artist Corey Thompson and actually date back to 2015. However, coolness transcends both the constructs we frail humans label 'time' and 'space,' hence my sharing them here in 2017. Anyway, stop reading this literary offal. Instead, point your eyes downwards and gorge them on Corey's sumptuous, moist, and downright delectable doodles.
Some bonafide Dreamcast classics there, right? Well, apart from Blue Stinger. Which is actually the best game on the Dreamcast and therefore has its own class which is above 'classic.' Nice Jet Grind/Set Radio cover there too, which gives me a great way to segue into this other GIF on Corey's site which depicts a stylised Dreamcast connected to a stylised TV...playing Jet Grind/Set Radio:
Check out Corey's website here for more artwork.

Atelier: The Dreamcast Game That Could Destroy Your PC On Christmas Day

The Atelier franchise is one of the longest running PlayStation-centric series of role-playing games and has spawned a number of manga and anime adaptations. If the name doesn't sound overly familiar, it's probably because the vast majority of the games in the series have never been released outside of Japan, or translated into English. Not that this should stop you exploring them, of course - the alchemy themed narrative that runs throughout the series is quite intriguing - but you might want to brush up on your Japanese, especially if you wish to play the two Dreamcast volumes that were released in late 2001. But this post isn't really about the quality or gameplay features of Gust Co. Ltd.'s popular RPG series. It's more about the fact that the Dreamcast version shipped with an incredibly destructive computer virus unwittingly bundled on the disc.
The Atelier title that was released on the Dreamcast is actually a sort of 'remaster' of the first two games in the series, and the full title is Atelier Marie & Elie: The Alchemists of Salburg 1-2. Played from an isometric viewpoint, the game is a fairly traditional J-RPG with a heavy reliance on the player's ability to create and upgrade items using the arcane method of alchemy. When the double disc set was released in mid-November 2001 by Kool Kizz, it was quickly discovered that the discs included some special bonus features that were accessible when placed in a computer CD-Rom drive, one of which is an Atelier-themed screensaver.
Not long after, it was also discovered that this screensaver actually delivered a payload in the form of the Kriz computer virus; a virus that was initially released in 1999 but only found real infamy in 2001. The Kriz virus that was accidentally included on the Atelier discs cannot infect a Dreamcast simply because a Dreamcast doesn't have the hardware or the makeup of a PC; but once executed by a system using the Windows 9x, NT or 2000 operating systems, would silently spread throughout the computer and lie dormant until 25th December. Then, on Christmas Day it would cause havoc by merrily turning your PC into a paperweight, while you were chowing down on far too much chocolate and throwing up the third helping of turkey you knew you shouldn't have eaten.

No, Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap Isn't Coming To Dreamcast

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap wowed pretty much everyone who saw it when it hit the PC and consoles earlier this year. Lizardcube's lovingly crafted homage to retro platformers brought the Wonder Boy series to a new generation and gave it a complete makeover, with sumptuous visuals and animation that wouldn't look out of place in a traditional hand drawn Disney movie.

Before the game was even released though, there were murmurings on social media and some other Dreamcast fansites that The Dragon's Trap may also see a release on the Dreamcast – several members of the development team even worked on commercial releases for Sega's final system (one of which was PAL exclusive rarity Evil Twin: Cyprien's Chronicles). Plus, what a fitting way to honour the Dreamcast, with a port of a game that spiritually started out on even earlier Sega hardware?
It didn't seem like too far-fetched an idea, especially considering the high quality port of Volgarr the Viking that appeared a couple of years back. So, intrigued by the rumours, we reached out to Lizardcube to seek the truth – is there a chance that The Dragon's Trap may be gracing GD-Rom drives in the near future? Well, in a word: no. Dragon's Trap director Omar Cornut told us:

"The Dragon’s Trap isn't coming to Dreamcast. We don't have the bandwidth or interest to pursue, or have a third-party pursue this, however cool it would be. Our plates are way too full.

"We are already not doing a PlayStation Vita port - a system which has an arguably bigger market - for similar reasons, so Dreamcast just isn’t feasible. Plus, the game was designed for high-res and a high amount of VRAM storage, and wouldn't be at its best at resolutions the Dreamcast can output."
- Omar Cornut

So, straight from the dragon's mouth as it were: The Dragon's Trap is not coming to the Dreamcast, regardless of how romantic an idea it sounds. Don't be too disheartened though, there's still plenty to look forward to in the near future; with games like SLaVE, Intrepid Izzy,  Xenocider and some as-yet-unannounced titles all due to land on Dreamcast this year.

Get Your Dreamcast Online With DreamPi - 2017 Edition

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you'll no doubt have heard about DreamPi. For those uninitiated rock dwellers though, I'll explain. DreamPi combines a Raspberry Pi mini computer and software created by a clever dude (and occasional Junkyard guest writer) called Luke Benstead, and enables Dreamcast owners to play online multiplayer games through a cool service called Dreamcast Now. The main source for up to date information and trouble-shooting guides for DreamPi is undoubtedly Dreamcast Live, and custodian of the site Pcwzrd has just released a 2017 edition of his DreamPi video guide:

It's pretty comprehensive and covers all the main steps for getting your Dreamcast online for some hot Chu Chu Rocket! action. Be sure to check out Pcwzrd's YouTube channel, Twitter and of course Dreamcast Live for pretty much everything you could ever want to know about playing online Dreamcast games in 2017.

The Mystery Of The Victor Wondercast

We've looked at - and failed to find any concrete details on - several mysterious and largely undocumented variations of the Dreamcast hardware here at the Junkyard in recent times. There was the F1 World Grand Prix II custom console which we kinda deduced was either a fan-made console or a professionally created competition prize; and then there was the Coca-Cola Dreamcast that even the Coca-Cola archive couldn't give us any solid answers about. But now there's a new mystery to pore over, and it's probably the most tantalising yet. Before I go any further though, props must go to a Dreamcast fan and collector who goes by the online name Sega Emultion Sanshiro (no relation to Segata Sanshiro, I'm sure), who is responsible for bringing this whole topic to my attention. What am I talking about? Why, the Victor Wondercast of course!

Now, it's common knowledge in retro circles that Victor (or JVC in most territories) released a special edition of the Sega Saturn called the V-Saturn. The V-Saturn is essentially the same console as the standard Sega Saturn, but with a few internal differences and a different boot screen and logo (check out the entry at Sega Retro for more information). The firm also released licensed versions of other Sega consoles too. What isn't common knowledge, is that Victor/JVC may very well have been planning to license the Dreamcast hardware and produce their own version of the console, dubbed 'Wondercast.' The only proof we have of this comes in the form of a single image, printed in the August 1998 issue of defunct French games magazine Consoles+:
The image is very small and pixellated, but it clearly shows a purple Dreamcast with the Victor logo and the name Wondercast, along with the code number RG-X0 1. This is interesting because JVC/Victor's previous Sega consoles also had similar RG codes - RG-X1 for the V-Saturn and RG-M2 for the Wondermega. The accompanying article is mainly about the impending launch of the Dreamcast and Sega's plans for the console, but this single image is the only evidence we know of that the Victor Wondercast ever existed or was planned. The original is below, along with an isolated image of the console (click for larger versions):

The Dragoncast VS Cable

Like many consoles of the 1990s, the Dreamcast offers the option to connect two systems together via a system link cable to enjoy two-player action. This capacity to connect two Dreamcasts together is quite possibly one of the most under-used abilities of the hardware though, due to the scarcity not only of the link cables themselves; but also the tiny number of games that actually make use of system link play. Officially, there are only a handful of games that allow a pair of Dreamcasts to be tethered together with a physical connection for link play: F355 Challenge, Virtual On, Sega Tetris and Aero Dancing F. There's also the unreleased and unfinished vehicular combat title Hellgate from Jester Interactive too, should you wish to give that a go.
A very early demo of Outtrigger also hints at the functionality, but it was removed from the final game. However, this article isn't really about the software library designed to make use of the Dreamcast link cable. It's actually about the Dragoncast, an unofficial alternative to the ultra-rare Japan-only official Dreamcast VS Cable (code HKT-9500); and also about the outstanding entertainment provided by the dubiously translated English on the packaging.
Image credit: DCJY Facebook group member Arnold Javon Daye II
Coming from manufacturer Dragon 2000, the Dragoncast is just one entry in a fairly sizable catalogue of third party peripherals that also includes arcade sticks, memory cards, VGA boxes and rumble packs. There isn't a lot of information to be found online about this rather enigmatic brand, but the parent company appears to be called Sam-Factory; a marque which again leads to something of a dead end when using Google as a detective tool. There are a couple of articles and forum entries online that look at a Dragoncast fight stick (here and here), but the general consensus is that the controllers from Dragoncast/Dragon 2000/Sam-Factory are a bit on the cheap-nasty side when it comes to quality control.
Happily, I can say with confidence that the Dragoncast VS Cable fares a little better and does actually offer a specimen of more than acceptable quality. That said, even though this cable was most likely intended as a more cost-effective way of enjoying the Dreamcast's link play abilities, the Dragoncast itself is now something of a rarity and can command some pretty high prices when they pop up on eBay. Not as high as the official VS/Taisen/HKT-9500 cable, but still enough to make your eyes water...as mine did when I won this example recently...

Hardware Review: Beharbros Akura HDMI Adapter

Beharbros have a pretty solid track record when it comes to releasing display adapters for the Dreamcast. In the past, the self-styled 'artisnal retromodders' have garnered critical acclaim with a range of hand made devices that continue to keep Dreamcasts turning and burning, regardless of how much display technology accelerates away from the natural abilities of the system. The Toro, Hanzo, Kuro, Kenzei and SLR boxes all have distinct features, and while they come at a premium, they all help Dreamcast gamers achieve optimal image quality, whatever their choice of display.
The Akura is Beharbros' latest release and while it retains the familiar aesthetic of the other boxes in the catalogue, it eschews SCART and VGA connections and instead offers an all in one option for gamers who want to hook their Dreamcast up to a HDMI-equipped display. Weighing in at $85 with free worldwide shipping, the Akura requires no external power supply and connects directly to the console's AV port, delivering a native 480p image via the use of an HDMI cable that goes directly from the box to the television or monitor.
Be aware though - the Akura is not an upscaler, it simply chucks out a 480p picture through a HDMI cable (more on this later), and a series of switches on the side of the device yield a number of interesting extra features. First though, before we delve into the more technical side of the Akura and whether this is the box for your needs, lets take a look at the physical design of Beharbros' latest adapter and just what those little switches on the side are all about...