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5 Dreamcast Racers Which Didn't Quite Make the Podium

There is no shortage of 'best racing games' lists for the Dreamcast - a system which had some of the most critically acclaimed racing games of the early 00’s. Everyone knows just how good Dreamcast classics like Metropolis Street Racer, Daytona USA, Sega Rally and Ferrari F355 Challenge were. Absolutely fantastic driving games that really did move the genre forward in their own way, and games that as a Dreamcast fan reading this article, you’ve probably spent many hours playing.

As you should know by now, here at the Junkyard we like to think outside of the box a little. So here we go, then. In no particular order, I present to you my alternative top five Dreamcast racers that you might not have played yet:

Tokyo Highway Challenge / Tokyo Extreme Racer
Released for the PAL launch (and confusingly called something different in every territory - Tokyo Extreme Racer and Shutokou Battle in the US and Japan respectively), Tokyo Highway Challenge is a game that I rented plenty of times when I was younger and have since put many hours into. I think it’s one of the most underrated racing games on the system and thanks to its evening setting, it still looks fantastic when played today in a smooth 60fps.
Tokyo Highway Challenge sees us buying cars, tuning them up and taking to the Japanese highways to challenge other hoons in a race for cash. Each other driver belongs to a gang, and when you’ve beaten all drivers in a particular gang, you get to face off against their leader.
It’s all a bit like a 'racing fighting game' where all races are 1v1 and you have an energy bar at the top of the screen. Whoever is behind on the road starts to see their energy bar deplete, ticking down faster as the gap between first and second increases. A simple concept but a refreshing one for those who don’t want to race lap after lap.
The biggest criticism of the game is a well noted one - just one 'track,' which itself isn’t particularly big, even though you do get the option of racing in either direction around the highway loop. Nevertheless, the tuning and upgrade system is fantastic and an essential part of the game. As you get further in, your tuning skills will make the difference between winning battles or not, regardless of how well you can drive!

TR Fight Stick Opens 'Dreamcase' Metal Shell Pre-Orders

Cast your mind back to November 2018 and you may recall an article here at the Junkyard about a custom Dreamcast shell being designed by TR Fight Stick. Fast forward to February 2020 and you can now pre-order said custom shell. Named Dreamcase, the case allows you to take the innards from your favourite console and plonk them inside a metal prison that claims to keep the contents at a perfect operating temperature courtesy of a silent fan.
It's worth bearing in mind that your Dreamcast needs to have been modded with a GDEMU or similar device before stuffing it inside the Dreamcase, as there's no way to play GDs once the shell replacement has been completed. Well, without taking the lid off again...which defeats the object somewhat.
The design will probably divide opinion as it makes the Dreamcast look more like a small form PC than an actual Dreamcast, but for those who want to give their console the ultimate visual makeover, this could be just what you are looking for. Some of the info listed on the TR Fight Stick website includes:

  • Blue Backlight (Homogeneous)
  • Compatible with GDEMU and DCHDMI
  • New Technology DC 12V Mini Power Supply
  • Extender PCB for SD-Card 
  • Game Swap Button for GDEMU
  • Compatible with 56K Modem and DreamPÄ°
  • 40MM Silent Fan ( Noctua Supported ) 
  • Not Supporting original GD-ROM nor USB-GDROM 
  • Metal Sticker with Serial Number for Each Case
It looks as though TR Fight Stick will need pre-order numbers to reach 100 units before they can go ahead with mass production (each unit costs $149.99 plus shipping and comes without a power supply), so time will tell if there is enough demand for the Dreamcase to become a reality. Check out the Dreamcase at the TR Fight Stick website.
Credit for this news snippet goes to my DCJY colleague Martin, who discovered this while Googling for Fight Stick parts. So what do you think? Will you be taking the plunge and splashing out 150 big ones? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Book Review: Dreamcast: Year One

Full disclosure before I begin this review: I - and other members of the Junkyard team - backed this book on Kickstarter. I was interviewed in the book and also did some fact checking. That said, I wasn't paid and stand to gain no financial reward for any of this. Now thats sorted, on with the review.
Dreamcast: Year One backers also get a cool little sticker to go with the book
The popularity of books exploring every corner of the gaming landscape shows no sign of being on the wane, and the latest crowdfunded offering is now plopping through letterboxes around the globe. Dreamcast: Year One is the third book in the 2 Old 4 Gaming template after the superb Sony PlayStation Vita: Year One and Years Two & Three, written by Sandeep Rai. This latest Dreamcast-flavoured tome was written by long-time Dreamcast fan Andrew Dickinson (founder of the Dreamcast Years podcast and website) and successfully Kickstarted back in April 2019.


Now that the book is finally here, how does it stack up against the competition? Quite well, actually. And the main unique selling point Dreamcast: Year One has over the other recent releases is that it focusses primarily on the UK release of the console. As someone who resides in the UK and saw the release first hand on this fair isle, the perspective is one that struck a chord with me on a personal level and so I was naturally intrigued by the premise.
The artwork is truly sublime throughout
As alluded to earlier, I was interviewed by Andrew for Dreamcast: Year One, and was asked about my history with the Dreamcast and also the story behind the creation of this very blog and the community surrounding it. For that alone I am grateful, as it allowed me to share my own experiences as just a normal random bloke who somehow found a niche with a blog about a failed Sega console. But enough about me.
OK...maybe a little bit more about me
Dreamcast: Year One opens with a fairly intricate deep dive on the history of the Dreamcast, going all the way back to the 16-bit era, the Sega Saturn story and the development of the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation. The introductory chapters are about as comprehensive as you could get if you're a newcomer to the Dreamcast and wanted to educate yourself on the story so far. Particular highlights for me include the section on the Sega New Challenge Conference in 1998 - something which fascinates me still to this day, such is my obsession with the Dreamcast tech demos that were showcased during that event.

Real Racer IX: Cancelled Game or Student Assignment?

I was browsing the hellscape of Reddit the other day, looking for something to frustrate me, when I found a rather interesting photo featuring demo footage of an unreleased Dreamcast game called Real Racer IX. Despite being tangled up in the antics of the Junkyard, I'd never heard of it. Not even a murmur. Real Racer IX never saw any kind of release, whether it be official or unofficial. All we have is the photograph below to serve as evidence of its existence.
This photo was taken during the Spring Tokyo Game Show of 2001, which was held from the 30th of March to the 1st of April. It shows a chap doing his best Wesley Snipes impression in a trendy leather jacket, as he plays the demo of Real Racer IX. Next to him, a much smarter-looking guy is watching him play. Obviously the assumption here is that the guy on the right was probably someone who had some kind of involvement with the development of the game, and was overseeing the demo booth. The game itself, like its name suggests, is a racing game, appearing to be of the long-distance running variety.
The gameplay onscreen shows a female athlete running down what looks like the longest, loneliest highway in existence. Despite the woman being the only runner on screen, the HUD shows a position counter of 6 out of 6, meaning there was bound to be a mob of computer opponents lurking somewhere around the corner ahead. The guy playing was probably just a bit rubbish.
Doing a reverse image search on the photo in question, I was led to one result: this old article on a Japanese gaming website called "Game Watch", detailing the Tokyo Game Show of Spring 2001. Browsing through, there's some bits about presentations from Nintendo (showing off the upcoming Game Boy Advance!), as well as Capcom and Konami, and it appears that Microsoft were gearing up to unleash their first ever game console into the Japanese video game market, with what looked like a pretty heavy advertising campaign, featuring Bill Gates holding a Burger in one hand and an Xbox controller in the other. This can be seen in the photo below, trapped under the most unphotogenic bowl of Ramen I've ever seen.
Relegated to the end of the article, is the only bit of Dreamcast-related information, and that is where we find the photo that prompted this entire search...

Using Google's Translate App To Play Japanese Dreamcast Games

A few years ago, our man in Japan Ross O'Reilly went to the trouble of researching which Dreamcast games might best be utilised when trying to learn how to speak/read Japanese. And a thoroughly entertaining and educational article it is too. However, being a typical lazy English lout, I have no desire to bother learning how to speak another language. I just shout very loudly in English whenever I go on holiday. Usually while not wearing a shirt, and having previously drunk at least 7 pints of suspiciously cheap lager. But I digress.
Harnessing the sheer power of technology and questionable privacy controls, I recently discovered that the Google Translate app on my phone has the ability to 'live translate' any text the camera may be pointed at. Slowly putting two and two together, I deduced that by pointing my phone at any Japanese text displayed on my TV screen, I might well be able to finally play through some of the impenetrable Japanese Dreamcast titles I have in my possession.
Naturally, this would work for games in any supported language, and on any platform, but for the purposes of making this nonsense vaguely Dreamcast related I'm using Dreamcast games. How did I get on? Let's find out...

Retro Fighters StrikerDC Controller Pre-Orders Open

The best Dreamcast controller the world has ever seen. That's the bold claim made by Retro Fighters of its upcoming StrikerDC controller. Will this hubris come back to bite Retro Fighters on the arse? Yes. That's because everyone knows the best Dreamcast controllers were made by Mad Catz, were the size of a dinner plate and had triggers that rattled and/or cut your fingers. That's academic though, because Mad Catz is dead; and Retro Fighters are the new kids on the block. Oh, and the StrikerDC is available to pre-order now.
We've followed the StrikerDC's journey from Kickstarter to reality here at the Junkyard, and this latest offering looks set to follow in the footsteps of the previous hardware releases from the company that claims to 'fight for retro.' Personally, I've never held a pad from Retro Fighters, but all signs point to previous peripherals released for the Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn and NES being pretty sturdy, well built bits of kit.

It's a bone of contention when it comes to the Dreamcast, but I didn't find the original HKT-7700 controller to be anything other than perfectly functional (and still don't), but for those who demand a modern take on the Dreamcast's primary peripheral, the StrikerDC promises a new ergonomic design, full compatibility with VMUs, rumble packs and microphones; along with new a analogue stick, d-pad, familiar analogue triggers and additional digital shoulder buttons.


The StrikerDC comes pre-packaged with a 12 month warranty, and is now available for the general public to pre-order at the not insignificant price point of $49.99 from the Retro Fighters website. Shipping is expected to commence in April 2020. Several members of the Junkyard team did actually back the StrikerDC on Kickstarter so you can expect a review as soon as they receive the final product in their gnarled, tobacco-stained claws.

Have you pre-ordered one? Did you back the StrikerDC? Do you own one of the other controllers from Retro Fighters? What do you think of the price? Am I asking too many questions in this last bit? Let us know down below in the comments.

New Dreamcast Games Coming In 2020

It's 2020 - hurrah! We made it all the way to another decade as a fully functioning species on this so very fragile planet we call home. But enough about that communist nonsense. You came here to read about the greatest home console released in 1998 and then again in 1999, and more specifically new vidya gaemz set to be released on said ageing hardware at the dawn of this new decade. I realise that last sentence is really quite cumbersome and uncomfortable to read, and if I were a proper 'games journo' I'd probably restructure it and make it a bit easier to mentally digest. But I'm not a proper games journo, and besides, if I were I wouldn't be writing about something as idiotic as games; I'd be on social media posting the hottest of takes and having arguments with random people about Star Wars and politics. But I digress.
So here we are then. The Dreamcast has celebrated its twentieth year as a thing (or twenty first, if you happen to live in Japan), and yet we are still looking at even more brand new software releases over the next 12 months. Granted, the steady stream of releases is slowing somewhat, but that the Dreamcast community still has new titles to look forward to is nothing short of amazing. And we aren't talking about homebrew releases either (not that there's anything wrong with homebrew, of course). We're talking proper, boxed retail releases with manuals and cases and discs and everything. Will the Dreamcast enjoy more physical releases than the Nintendo Switch this year? Only time will tell, but here's a hint: it won't. But again, I digress.

Enough of this pointless preamble. Here's a brief run down of all the games we know of (so far) that are heading to a Dreamcast GD-ROM drive near you in 2020...

Xeno Crisis (Bitmap Bureau)
Xeno Crisis wowed gamers on both the Mega Drive and modern platforms when it released in late 2019. Bitmap Bureau's successful Kickstarter campaign resulted in this rather brilliant homage to retro shooters like Smash TV bringing some proper old-skool top-down arcade action back to TV (and Switch) screens, and the Dreamcast version was added as a stretch goal. Luckily, enough people wanted a version for Sega's old warhorse that this became a reality and Xeno Crisis is set to hit the Dreamcast some time in early 2020.
There's no definite release date as yet, but Bitmap Bureau assures us that it is coming along nicely and everything is up and running on actual Dreamcast hardware, and there's even going to be support for the Dreamcast Twin Stick. Which is good news for all nine people who own one. I have played the Switch version of the game and I must say that it is a really enjoyable and polished homage to the shooters of yesteryear, with some great humour and nods to the sci-fi movies it clearly takes inspiration from.

Visit the Bitmap Bureau website for more information.

Arcade Racing Legends (PixelHeart)
The second fully 3D indie racing game to hit the Dreamcast after 2017's rather impressive 4x4 Jam, Arcade Racing Legends looks to pay respects to some of the most iconic vehicles from Sega's arcade heritage and bring them all together in one place. It's a nice idea, and one I'm surprised Sega hasn't capitalised on itself. What this means is that you can pit the iconic vehicles from Daytona (Hornet), Sega Rally (Lancia Delta and Toyota Celica), Scud Race (Porsche), Crazy Taxi (Axel's Cadillac) and other well known franchises against each other across a range of original tracks.
Like most of the other titles listed here, Arcade Racing Legends is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign (my colleague Mike Phelan wrote an impressively detailed article about this here), and while the campaign page states that the game would ship in December 2019, this doesn't appear to have happened just yet. As a big fan of racing games, I'm hopeful that Arcade Racing Legends will live up to the promise, and add a new dimension to the stable of indie titles coming in 2020.

Visit the Arcade Racing Legends Kickstarter campaign for more information.

Intrepid Izzy (Senile Team)
With such iconic titles as Beats of Rage and Rush Rush Rally Racing already in their portfolio, you'd be daft not to have high hopes for Senile Team's latest Dreamcast offering Intrepid Izzy. The action platformer looks like a playable cartoon, with some very clean character designs and inventive gameplay elements. You play as the titular Izzy, ass-kicking her way through a number of 2D platform stages and engaging in light RPG elements. There's also a pretty cool move list implemented, meaning that traditional commands for executing fireballs and special attacks are seamlessly integrated into proceedings.
I've already had the pleasure of playing a demo version of Intrepid Izzy on the Dreamcast, and I really liked what I saw. Tight controls, great visuals, infectious music...all the right ingredients for another Dreamcast success methinks. Senile Team released an update on Kickstarter in late December 2019, in which it was revealed that the game will be entering testing very soon with a PC release to follow. There's no concrete date for the Dreamcast and PS4 versions, but rest assured they will both launch in 2020 and hopefully continue Senile Team's run of excellence on Sega's platform.

Visit the Intrepid Izzy website for more information.

Book Review: Sega Dreamcast: Collected Works

Full disclosure before I delve betwixt the pages of this Dreamcast-flavoured slab of goodness: I - along with several other members of the Junkyard team - backed Sega Dreamcast: Collected Works on Kickstarter. Now that's out of the way, let's begin.
320 pages of Dreamcast loveliness
Sega Dreamcast: Collected Works is the latest book release from Read-Only Memory, the outfit responsible for such highly regarded tomes as 2014's Sega Megadrive/Genesis: Collected Works and 2016's The Bitmap Brothers: Universe. The Dreamcast-themed wad of paper we have here was originally funded on Kickstarter back in 2017, and was slated to be delivered to backers in November 2018, but for various reasons was delayed for the best part of a year. If you'd rather watch a video and listen to my horrendous voice instead of read my words, you can do so here:


Regardless, Sega Dreamcast: Collected Works has started shipping to backers across the globe (as of December 2019), and we decided it was only right and proper that we cast a critical eye over what those cool dudes Darren Wall and Simon Parkin have delivered for Dreamcast fans who love a good read/like to gawp at pictures.
The cover has a real air of quality
The version being looked at in this article is the standard backer's edition of Sega Dreamcast: Collected Works, but there are some fancier iterations, such as the Jet Set Radio, Phantasy Star Online and Shenmue themed ones; along with copies signed by Sega and Dreamcast visionaries such as Naoto Ohshima (Sonic), Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Rez) and Yu Suzuki (the kitchen sink). These were available at higher tiers than I could realistically afford to spend, but I'm sure whoever got them will be very happy with their purchases. That's not to say that the standard backer's edition is anything other than top drawer in terms of quality and content though - far from it, in fact.
Naturally, Shenmue features heavily
This standard edition comes with a solid, white hardback cover, complete with embossed lettering and a fantastic Dreamcast swirl hidden beneath a rather nice holofoil sleeve (emblazoned with a Dreamcast console, naturally). The book just oozes quality, and from the moment you peel off the shrink wrap you know you're holding a premium product. The book weighs in at 320 pages, and the hard cover and thick, glossy sheets of papyrus contained within are hallmarks of Read-Only Memory's consistently top notch offerings...

A Quick Look At Sturmwind - Dreamcast & Switch Comparison

Zero Gunner 2, Ikaruga, Gunbird 2. All games that first appeared - in the home at least - on the Dreamcast, and which have found a new audience on the Nintendo Switch. The latest game to follow this trend is Duranik's awesome horizontally and vertically scrolling shooter Sturmwind. It's actually called Sturmwind EX and has been released on PC and Xbox One too, but for the sake of consistency we'll be looking exclusively at the Nintendo Switch version here.

Sturmwind was originally released as a totally independent game back in 2013, and at the time it was lauded for its (inter)stellar visuals and thumping soundtrack, as well as adding relatively modern features not usually seen in Dreamcast games, either contemporary or ante-mortem. Things like unlocking achievements and being able to save a replay to an SD Card; or being given a code at the end of every arcade run that could be entered into a bespoke web portal to post scores to an online leaderboard.
Sturmwind...both on and in the Nintendo Switch. See?
Yes, Rush Rush Rally Racing did something similar and online leaderboards were totally a thing back in the heyday of the Dreamcast, but for an indie dev to go to such trouble was just impressive back then. As well as being an absolute tour de force of graphics, sound, inventive gameplay mechanics and boasting a ton of content, Sturmwind felt like a complete package...and it wasn't even an official Sega-sanctioned release. Oh, and and it was released 12 years after Sega effectively killed off the Dreamcast.
Dreamcast
Switch
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. Duranik's finest moment has now found its way to the Nintendo Switch with some lovely updated visuals and all of the features that made the Dreamcast game a treat. So, how does it play and how does it stack up against the original? Buckle up as we prepare to launch the Sturmwind craft and take the battle to the stars...

Dreamcast Shooter Sturmwind Heading To Nintendo Switch

Another day, another Dreamcast-related shooter pops up on the Nintendo Switch eShop. This time, coming absolutely out of nowhere, it's Duranik's much-loved Sturmwind. Sturmwind hit the Dreamcast way back in 2013 after initially starting life as a project for the Atari Jaguar CD titled Native - indeed, there are fleeting references to Atari's maligned system hidden throughout Sturmwind.
Following the likes of Ikaruga, Zero Gunner 2 and Gunbird 2, Sturmwind EX for Nintendo Switch looks to be something of a 'remaster,' with improved screen resolution and totally redrawn graphical assets. The Nintendo Switch version will run at 1080p (docked) and at 60fps, while the upcoming Xbox One version will be full 4K, according to Duranik.

Though Sturmwind was originally released back in 2013, it was given a re-release in 2016 on Dreamcast and time has been kind - it's still as much of a blast to play now in 2019 as it was back when it first came out. This new Switch port has been handled by Duranik and is published by b-alive GmbH - the same outfit which published the recently released Steam version, as well as such gaming behemoths as Equimagic: Gala Show of Horses and Farm World. Hmmm.

Sturmwind EX features ripped directly from the Nintendo website (although I've removed the multiple typos and added some punctuation):

In Sturmwind EX you can play mission mode with all 16 levels, saving your progress with every finished level, or play arcade mode with 6 levels and no continues. Other features include:
  • 2 different game modes: mission mode and arcade mode
  • 16 Levels
  • 3 difficulty levels
  • Different weapons selectable
  • Upgradeable weapons, drones and different weapon-/drone-formations
  • Additional super weapons like super beam and smart bombs
  • More than 20 large boss enemies
  • Hundreds of different enemies
  • Achievements, Highscore and Level statistics
  • Customizable user interface
We've covered Sturmwind here at The Dreamcast Junkyard multiple times, and even interviewed Johannes Graf, the man behind Duranik a few years ago, so it's pretty safe to assume we're pretty big fans of the indie shooter.
Sturmwind EX releases on Nintendo Switch on Friday 8 November 2019 and is priced at £11.69. No word on a physical release yet, but we'll be sure to give it the same Dreamcast/Switch comparison treatment as we did with Ikaruga, Gunbird 2 and Zero Gunner 2.

Related articles:

Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

As the amount of online articles and Tweets around the recent anniversary of the North American 9.9.99 release date illustrates, the Dreamcast is still very fondly remembered. While the scene continues to grow at a steady rate in terms of bootleg and independent game development, there are still a fascinating number of Dreamcast areas that remain either untouched or that haven't had their rich historical veins fully exposed. One of those areas that myself and others in Dreamcast fandom are fascinated by is the story of bleemcast!.
A bit of a throw forward, I have another article in the works about ‘Why I Dreamcast’ even though it’s fast approaching 2020; and a large part of that is a deeply personal and nostalgia-fuelled longing and sense of clinging to a certain place in time. The Dreamcast, as much as I love it, and despite my role here at The Dreamcast Junkyard is a console I am wilfully ignorant on compared to the other staff members. The main reason for this is that I had only owned the console for a mere 8 months when I packed up and left home for the bright lights of university. The console, therefore, existed for me during a stage of enforced self poverty. New (well, pre-owned) games I still managed to justify occasionally, but instant noodles and supermarket value bread were prioritised over games magazines; and the internet was something I went to the library to check for roughly 1 hour a week when hungover and between lectures (and even then was mainly to email friends who had gone to other universities...and nearly almost always simply to tell them how hungover I was). Anyway, what I am trying to paint a picture of is that my finger during the 2000-2004 era was hardly on the pulse of information about anything...let alone Dreamcast.


So for me, I didn’t learn about bleemcast! until way after the events of the Dreamcast had long transpired, and it was years later still that I actually discovered this had been an actual retail product, and wasn’t like my copy of DreamSnes that had been created and uploaded from some shed somewhere. This was instead a full-fledged and commercially available product release promoting legal emulation that allowed you to load PlayStation game discs on the Dreamcast, adding a load of graphical improvements along the way.
What all this leads up to then, is that I tracked down Randy Linden, a member of the original PC bleem! and Dreamcast bleemcast! team. I fired off some questions and Randy was kind enough to answer. Hopefully you will enjoy reading them as much I did, and will give an interesting insight into the development of one of the most notorious releases on the Dreamcast...

Dreamcast classic ChuChu Rocket! is getting a sequel


meow meow meow meow meow meow



Iconic Sega Dreamcast game ChuChu Rocket! (ranked 20th on our 2016 Top 200 games poll) is getting a sequel we learned today, via a stealth announcement from Sega.

We say stealth announcement - there had been murmurings of speculation, however, we will forgive you for missing it, as the new game - which is titled ChuChu Rocket Universe,  is only heading to Apple Arcade. Which I will admit I had never even heard of before this mornings news. So when I say forgive you, I mean forgive me obviously. Anway!

SEGA Talk Podcast: SEGA Dreamcast – 20 Year Anniversary (1999-2019)


In celebration of the SEGA Dreamcast turning 20 years old in America on September 9th, SEGAbits is talking about the console itself on this milestone episode of SEGA Talk! What went on behind the scenes during the development of the hardware? What were the best launch games? How early did SEGA plan to discontinue the Dreamcast? Find out all that and more on this episode!

Support SEGA Talk on Patreon! Get early access, tell us what games to cover, and have your SEGA memories played at the end and more! 

[iTunes – Stitcher – YouTube – Play Music – RSS – Download]

 If you want to give us feedback, suggest a topic for the next podcast or want to ask a question for us to answer on the next episode you can add  them as a comment below or send theme directly to our email. Make sure you use subject line ‘SEGA Talk’ and as always, thanks for listening!