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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.

Retro Fighters 'Next Gen Dreamcast Controller' Kickstarter Update

Image from the Retro Fighters Kickstarter update
Retro Fighters have just posted an update on their progress on the Next Gen Dreamcast Controller they are working on (via Kickstarter). While brief, the post does state the analogue stick 'feels great' and that there is a video of it in action is on the way, (we'll link to it once it's up).

In the questions section of the update, they confirm the pad will work with the microphone attachment, which added with the rumble and VMU support, makes the pad as fully featured as possible.

We are always fans of new work Dreamcast related, so I reached out to the Retro Fighters crew and they agreed to answer a few additional questions for us folk here at The Dreamcast Junkyard.

DCJY - Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, having previously worked on different systems, what made you choose the Dreamcast this time for your project?

Retro Fighters - We chose the Dreamcast because it holds a special place in our retro gaming collection. We at Retro Fighters are avid retro gamers and the Dreamcast has many gems in its library of games. Secondly, we saw that there wasn’t many companies making products for Dreamcast (especially controllers), we felt that there was a need for a new controller for the Dreamcast gaming community.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

The biggest challenge with the Dreamcast controllers has been engineering the ergonomics while maintaining functionality. Everything from the controller shape and analog stick size was put into consideration to make sure we deliver nothing but the best playing experience for the Dreamcast. We started the initial ideas & designs for the Dreamcast controller about 2 years ago, so you can see that we are taking our time on getting everything right for you guys!

How have you found working with the Dreamcast community compared to the fan bases of the other products you have done so far?

Honestly we really haven’t noticed much of a difference between the two different communities. They both have a loyal following, we have gotten a lot of positive feedback, support and comments. We feel that the N64 community has been great with their response on the Brawler64. Both N64 and Dreamcast gamers have been very positive about what we are trying to do for the gaming community, we are trying to make fun and innovative products (that we also want to use) for all gamers.

What are the teams personal experiences with the Dreamcast?

One of the owners personal experience: “The very first game I played on Dreamcast was Sonic Adventure back in 99, the graphics and gameplay were impressive and fun, even the VMUs were innovative, being able to be used for other things besides saving files. Some favorite titles: Sonic Adventure, Power Stone, RE: Code Veronica, Shenmue, Soul Calibur, to name a few!” Another team member expresses her love for the Hello Kitty Edition and hopes that we might consider a future transparent pink color.
The Retro Fighters Brawler64 for Nintendo 64
A big thanks to the team at Retro Fighters for taking the time to answer these questions for us. If you are interested in checking out their previous work for the N64 and the PC and NES, then head over to their site here. Find the Kickstarter here.

If you own any of their products then let us know what you think in the comments, and also let us know your thoughts on their upcoming Dreamcast pad.

Rare Dreamcast-powered SEGA Fish Life preserved and released by Musée Bolo

SEGA Fish Life is a bonafide oddity of the early 2000s SEGA pantheon, and one that we've covered a couple of times in the past here at the Junkyard. It's also one of the rarest, most expensive, and most bizarre variations of the Dreamcast hardware. And by 'variations,' I mean: it's a virtual aquarium which runs on Dreamcast hardware that was intended to be placed in hotel lobbies, restaurants etc.; but which was only sold in small quantities and is barely known about outside of its native Japan.
How the SEGA Fish Life was marketed to businesses (Source)
The whole unit consists of a base (which contains the derivative Dreamcast hardware), along with a touch screen and a microphone. When used in conjunction, those with a passing interest in the serene aquatic panorama playing out on the screen could interact with the various fish by either tapping on them to reveal an info panel, or by speaking into a microphone embedded in the screen.
The unit in its final form with the screen (Source)
Both the software and the hardware that run SEGA Fish Life are amongst the rarest in the whole of the Dreamcast story. But now, thanks to the hard work and dedication of volunteers at the Swiss computer and games museum Musée Bolo, you can experience it yourself for (possibly) the first time.
Tranquility is the name of the game
Before we get the to the meat and potatoes (or should that be cod and chips?) of the SEGA Fish Life unit itself, it's probably worth me reiterating just how big of a deal this whole story is for both the Dreamcast and wider games preservation communities. The various SEGA Fish Life software iterations have never been dumped online, and are considered something of a Holy Grail for fans of esoteric, Japanese oddities - me included. The Dreamcast-derived hardware on which the software runs is even harder to come by, which makes the following story even more incredible...

The Dreamcast sealed games niche






The story of the Dreamcast’s demise has been told countless times, and countless times have fansites and journalists alike, explored the many great and innovate features that have seen the Sega Dreamcast ascension to the cult status that it now holds. However something that I know myself, and others, are fascinated by is the sealed games market that the DC scene seems to support.

Among the many great things about the Dreamcast, the cases, or more specifically the PAL cases, are quite frankly an abhorrent crime against design and manufacturing standards.

Some Cool Dreamcast Pin Badges From Dreamcast Collectiv

I recently received a package in the mail. Not an uncommon experience for most of you reading this - getting mail (or 'post' as we call it here in the UK) is an everyday phenomenon. Sometimes our mail is a demand for an unpaid bill, the thinly-veiled threat of bailiffs being sent round to our humble abode to confiscate our collection of 1920s beer bottle caps contained therein. Said hypothetical bottle caps will be sold at an equally hypothetical auction, and the funds 'acquired' subsequently forwarded on the creditor. This scenario is purely hypothetical. It was actually my collection of Ford Mondeo sump plugs that they took...but I digress.

A recent mail drop into my heavily guarded compound contained some rather lovely items: a trio of Dreamcast-related pin badges created by Dreamcast Collectiv to mark the 20th anniversary of our beloved console. Point your eyes at them:
One is a rather lovely smiling VMU, one is an Arcade Stick, and the other a lozenge emblazoned with '20th Anniversary,' which of course, is 2019 if you live anywhere that isn't Japan. Or any country that doesn't follow the Gregorian calendar. They are really rather nice, and are so well produced you'd be forgiven for thinking they were actually made by Sega.

I must thank the gentleman who sent them to me, at no cost and completely out of the blue. A man named Rene whom I salute and thank. Rene, if you're reading this, check your letterbox (erm...mail thing on a stick?) for a reciprocating gesture of goodwill and love of the Dreamcast in due course.
You can check out the Dreamcast Collectiv (and find out when their next awesome live event will be) by following them on Twitter here, or by looking at all their other social links here. Cheers Rene :)

The Dreamcast Cocktail


For a limited time (Oct 15 to Nov 14, 2018), there was a Dreamcast inspired cocktail available from Japanese Karaoke Bar chain JOYSOUND.
Classy
It was only available on the secret "back menu" - items that were unlisted and not advertised in store. You could only order one if you were "in the know" and hence forth impress all your Japanese salarymen and careerwomen buddies. It would set you back a princely 680 Yen.

And just what goes into a Dreamcast cocktail, you might ask? Let me impress you with my elite on screen character recognition software and google translate skills:

(....drum roll....)


Dreamcast: Year One Smashes Kickstarter Target

Hello. It's me, Tom. Been a while hasn't it? Enough about me though (sort of) - there's a new book all about the Dreamcast coming very soon! Full disclosure: I was actually interviewed for this book, so I do have a special interest; however it's still nice to see yet another physical tome dedicated to Sega's final console assume a physical - albeit not yet final - form. Yes, Andrew Dickinson's Dreamcast: Year One recently hit its Kickstarter goal of £6,000 and will now join the recent, similarly Kickstarted PS Vita: Year One as part of 2 Old 4 Gaming's stable of niche publications.

As stated, I was interviewed for Dreamcast: Year One and Andrew sent me a list of probing questions about my affinity with the console, my favourite games, and where I think the future of the system and its faithful community lie. To be honest, most of the stuff I wax lyrical about can probably be found in the archives of this very blog, such has my life been completely ingrained and documented here over the past decade and a half. That said, it was an honour to take part, and due to the success of the Kickstarter, the book looks set to be sent out to backers in October 2019.

Naturally, it's not all about me (weak McFly reference - check), as several other much more important people are also interviewed, with editor of DC-UK magazine Caspar Field,  editor of Official UK Dreamcast Magazine Ed Lomas, and former SEGA America chief Bernie Stolar amongst that number. There are also a bunch of mini reviews and deep dives on certain Dreamcast games. As the name suggests, it will primarily focus on the first year of the Dreamcast's meagre lifespan, and have a very distinct UK flavour which will make this book pretty unique in comparison to the mainly Japan and US focused stuff we're used to. There's a glut of original artwork by artist Erik Pavik that accompanies the words too. Overall it looks to be a very nice addition to the 2 Old 4 Gaming library.

The previous release from 2 Old 4 Gaming was the aforementioned PS Vita: Year One, and again - full disclosure - I was a backer and recipient of that book. As something of a PS Vita fanboy, I was very impressed with the accuracy and quality of the information contained between the covers of that particular text, so I have high hopes for Dreamcast: Year One.
You can find out more about Andrew Dickinson's Dreamcast: Year One by visiting the Kickstarter page here, and the upcoming PS Vita: Year One and PS Vita: Year Two books from 2 Old 4 Gaming here.

It's worth noting that there is also the other Dreamcast Kickstarter book coming in 2019 from Darren Wall (you can read about that one here), but we think there's enough of a difference in approach to both of these projects that they can easily live side by side on anyone's bookshelf, coffee table or stall at an overpriced games convention.
Finally, some more full disclosure. You may have noted a recent drop off in terms of articles from myself here at The Dreamcast Junkyard. That's because I was totally fed up with the internet, gaming, the way everyone screams at each other on social media these days and, well, life in general. So I checked out of the internet and took a well-deserved hiatus.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and continue to do so. To this end, I doubt very much that I'll be back to updating this place as regularly as I used to, but I'll be checking in with the odd update every now and then to help the other writers keep it all ticking over. I won't be going back on social media though. Oh no. That dumpster fire can burn itself to the ground, and through to the very core of the planet.

The uncertain future of Space Channel 5

In the aftermath of the recent Leaving Neverland documentary, every man and his dog has been quick to distance themselves from any association with Michael Jackson. His songs have been removed from radio playlists around the world and even the first episode of season 3 of The Simpsons, which features the pop star, has been stricken from video streaming services. In light of all this however, there is perhaps one casualty that has yet to be covered (or uncovered) by the mainstream media.

BREAKING NEWS: Five new Dreamcast games incoming!

In addition to the announcement that the Kickstarter-funded FX Unit Yuki would be finally making its way to Dreamcast next month, JoshProd and RushOnGame.com have revealed their next batch of Dreamcast indie titles heading our way:
What a lovely mix of titles. Pre-orders opened today and the games are expected to ship between March 15 and April 30. All of the previous JoshProd titles are also up for grabs, so if you missed any, now is your chance. The promotion will be available on RushOnGame.com until midnight, May 15 2019 and the games are also available from the PixelHeart.eu store.

Retro Fighters Kickerstarter controller


Everyone and their dog has an opinion on if the Dreamcast pad is any good or not, however today saw a potential actual contender arrive for the much aged original Sega Dreamcast design. So if you do happen to either not be a fan, or just fancy a change after all these years, then more options are emerging in this field.

Retro Fighters, the LA team that has previously successfully Kickstarted and delivered pad designs for the NES and the N64, today launched and then achieved the £10,000 goal they had set for delivery of the project for a new DC pad, that will fully support VMU and rumble too.

NEWS FLASH! FX Unit Yuki set for March 2019 release

The first new game for Dreamcast in 2019 has been announced. FX Unit Yuki: The Henshin Engine, a love letter to the PC Engine, has been ported to Dreamcast and is set for a March 15th release date. Check out the announcement video below.

The Dreamcast Games of 2018

Welp! It’s February already and we haven’t even done a year in review for 2018 yet. Shame on us.

If you recall, 2017 was an unprecedented bumper year for Dreamcast games. There was a total of 27 physical releases last -  er.. the year before - including nine brand new titles, various re-releases and packaging variations. Along with the physical releases, we also got out hands on the previously unpublished game Millennium Racer: Y2K Fighters during 2017 as well. It was going to be hard for 2018 to top this lot.

Just what did the year that heralds the 20th anniversary of our little white box have in store for us? Let's take a stroll back down memory lane through the Dreamcast releases of 2018.

Every Dreamcast release of 2018

How To : Get online with DreamKey 3.0

The Dreamcast Junkyard's very own, James Jarvis has put together this rather handy video guide, showing step by step how to connect to the Internet using the Dreamkey 3.0 disk. Check it out below!

Dreamcast pad working on Nintendo Switch


We here at the Dreamcast Junkyard love our sometimes unfairly maligned controller, however have you ever wished you could use your beloved VMU housing beaut on your Nintendo Switch? Well, no me neither, but now you can anyway.

Forced to use a screen shot of a YT video? You betcha!

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.



Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei remakes


The internet was recently awash with Sega fans falling over themselves discussing the recent announcement about the return of Panzer Dragoon. Now there are two things you won't find within this article;

A) Any news strictly relevant to the Dreamcast (you can also spare the 'slow news day?' comments. It's a Dreamcast blog in 2018, we have no concept of any other type of news day) 
B) Any sort of explanation about the newly announced game at all. As none really exist. Other than the same statement reported everywhere.


Insert Coin launches new Shenmue range

It may be the 20th year since the Dreamcast launch. However 2018 is proving to be one of the most bountiful years for merchandise and Dreamcast related gear. The launch of the official Sega shop in Europe bought with it a host of DC related goodies, and this has now been complimented with an additional collection from UK designers Insert Coin.

No strangers to either Sega or Shenmue wear itself, having previously released Shenmue branded t-shirts and coats in the past. The new range comprises a Ryo inspired Leather coat, as well as a themed hooded zip up coat, before finally being rounded out by a classic looking white Tee emblazoned with the Shenmue tiger on the back. The coats both look perfect for avenging your fathers murder in, keeping warm in the British drizzle or for just generally showing your nerdy Sega fanboyism as you strut about your retro gaming life, no doubt filming yourself reacting to all and sundry.

Check out the images below and let us know what you think in the comments. And check out the range on Insert Coin here, as well as their other Dreamcast range that Tom previously spotlighted here.