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The Dreamcast Junkyard's choicest cuts and hottest takes of 2020

OK so I basically nicked this idea from Eurogamer, but I thought it would be good to do a sort of festive wrap up (geddit?) of our most interesting posts, podcast episodes and YouTube videos from the past 12 months. 2020 has been a disgusting year for reasons you really don't need me to spell out here, and for me personally one of great loss, but having this place to spew my creativity out onto has been a huge help when things haven't been so positive.

I'm sure I'm not alone in that sentiment either, as everyone here at the Junkyard has experienced ups and downs throughout 2020, as I'm sure you have dear reader. At this point I must admit to having forgotten about all the minor hits we scored here at the Junkyard throughout the year, and just how much cool stuff happened within the wider Dreamcast community. From new game releases, to unreleased games being discovered, and all the stuff that went in between. Anyway, cast your eyes below to find links and summaries to some of our choicest cuts from the last 12 months...


Articles

  • The Dreamcast games of 2020 - we kicked things off with a look at the plentiful bounty of new titles heading to Sega's final console during 2020. Some of them materialised, some of them have slipped to 2021...but that just means we can rehash this in a few weeks time!
  • Fun with Dreamcast Flags - Mike goes all Sheldon Cooper, and takes a look at the ways real world flags are treated when transplanted into Dreamcast games. It's an excellently researched article written with real humour and is actually quite educational.
  • Using Google Translate to play NTSC-J games - this was more of an exercise in trying to find something to entertain myself with during a period of intense boredom. Using the Google Translate phone app to play Japanese Dreamcast games. Yep, hard hitting stuff!
  • The Mystery of Real Racer IX - Lewis went on a fascinating deep dive trying to uncover the origins of the mysterious Real Racer IX, a game that was shown in a solitary photograph taken at the Tokyo Game Show in 2001. Never heard of Real Racer IX? I suggest you read this excellent article.
  • Dreamcast: Year One - we finally took delivery of Andrew Dickinson's Dreamcast: Year One, a book successfully funded on Kickstarter. Featuring retrospective reviews, a breakdown of the Dreamcast's history and interviews with such industry titans as Bernie Stolar, it was worth the wait.
  • Dreamcast racers that didn't make the podium - the Dreamcast plays host to some stellar racers, but what about the also-rans? James took a look at some of the Dreamcast's best 'tier 2' racing games in this superb article.
  • Heroes of Might & Magic III - earlier in 2020 a playable build of Heroes of Might & Magic III for Dreamcast was finally released from it's prison in the hands of a private collector, thanks to a community fundraiser. Follow up article here
  • This is a Dreamcast Disc - Tom embarked on another wild goose chase trying to discover the identity of the actor who utters the immortal words you hear when you place a PAL game disc into a stereo. This is part one, with part two to (hopefully) come in 2021.
  • All the times a Toyota Celica appeared in a Dreamcast game - believe it or not, the Toyota Celica appears in quite a few Dreamcast games. Tom only realised this after getting one in real life. Here is the fruit of his utterly pointless labour.
  • Dreamcast Printer discovered - yes, you realised this was an April Fools...but for a brief period, James' prank bamboozled at least a few of you. Here we look at the 'lost' printer prototype that would have theoretically allowed you to print off your Dreamarena emails and documents stored on a Zip disc.
  • Dreamcast Collectors Unite! - a multi-post endeavour from Mike looking at the wondrous and magical Dreamcast items held in the collections of community members. There's some really cool stuff here, be sure to check out part 2, part 3 and part 4 too!
  • Punk albums featuring Dreamcast music - Another banger from Mike, during which he takes us on a magical mystery tour of his favourite punk albums which also feature music or samples used in various Dreamcast games. 
  • 10 times rappers have referenced the Dreamcast - Lewis dons his massive collection of gold chains and goes for a trip to the shops in his low rider, while simultaneously demonstrating 10 times rappers have referenced Sega's little white box in their slapping tunes.
  • EMAP's lost Official Dreamcast Magazine - Andrew delves between the hypothetical pages of the pitched but never produced Official Dreamcast Magazine that was shown to Sega by EMAP. Dennis Publishing famously won the battle to provide the UK's Official Dreamcast Magazine, but this interview with Dave Kelsall of the production team is a fascinating look at what could have been.
  • A Dreamcast launch retrospectacle - Brian took a look at all of the Dreamcast's US launch titles in this superb listicle, eventually distilling the list down to reveal his favourite of the bunch.
  • The musical excellence of Rez - Martin looks into the audio splendour of Rez, one of the Dreamcast's most iconic yet unusual titles. The music and the visuals combine to create a truly out of this world experience, and this article explores this relationship.
  • Atomiswave games come to Dreamcast - anyone who spends enough time wrapped up in the online Dreamcast community will have heard that recent developments have allowed the Dreamcast to run Atomiswave arcade games. Here Tom takes a look at the story, with a follow up article on the games themselves here.
  • Simpson's Bug Squad discovered - you already know what this is. A lost Simpson's tech demo was discovered on an old Red Lemon Studios dev kit. We take no credit - that all goes to the lovely folks at Dreamcast Talk. It was nice of Eurogamer, VG247, Engadget, Kotaku et al to give us a mention and a link though!
  • After the Fall review - a Quake total conversion that had been in development for an inordinate amount of time, After the Fall was finally delivered by Pip Nayler in 2020. Tom grabbed his super shotgun and went in search of alien scum in this review.
  • Xenocider preview - originally slated to release in 2020, Retro Sumus' debut Dreamcast title now looks set to release early in 2021. It looks set to become the first heavy hitter of the year, and our review will be coming soon. For now, check out our preview.
  • Xeno Crisis review - Bitmap Bureau's excellent top down indie shooter finally hit the Dreamcast in 2020 and Mike was wowed by the quality of the experience, proclaiming it to be one of the best indie games to grace the platform. Read his comprehensive review here!
  • Arcade Racing Legends review - Another comprehensive review from Mike, this time looking at the lastest offering from JoshProd - Arcade Racing Legends. Did it live up to the hype or roll into the pits with a flat tire? Check out the review to find out.
  • Flea! a new Dreamcast game appears - a bit of a stealth release for the Dreamcast, this. 2020 saw Flea!, a retro-themed platformer come to the Dreamcast. Mike took a look at this charming game.
  • An interview with Tom Charnock - yes, an interview with me, about this blog. We're 15 years old this year, so James thought it would be a good idea to ask me about how it all began. Give it a read if you want.


Podcast episodes & YouTube highlights

Did you know we have a podcast? Well, we do! It's called DreamPod and you can find it on all the major podcatchers. Each episode we shoot the breeze on all things Dreamcast related, and quite often veer way off track, and there's always some lighthearted ribbing involved. Unless your name is James Harvey, where the insults are genuine. We've released quite a few episodes in 2020, no doubt thanks to the enthusiasm to the show exhibited by Andrew, coupled with Lewis's undying devotion to editing. Check them out below!
We also have a YouTube Channel, which was set up in the mists of time by Aaron 'the Gagaman' Foster, but is now curated by James Jarvis. We've posted quite a few videos up there this year, with some selected highlights listed below for your enjoyment!

So there we have it. It's not an exhaustive list of content we've put out this year, and if you search the archives you'll find even more content created simply for the love of the game. It's surprising how much we've actually put out in all honesty, and I'd like to thank all of the team here at The Dreamcast Junkyard for their efforts - Mike Phelan, Lewis Cox, Martin Irwin, James Harvey, Andrew Dickinson, Kev Mason, Mark Williams, James Jarvis, Brian Vines; and of course Jon and the rest of the the long-suffering moderation team over in our Facebook group.
Also a huge thanks to all of you who continue to read, listen to and watch what we create here on our little corner of the internet, and engage with us on Twitter. There's more to come in 2021, including some changes to the way we do certain things, so keep an eye out for those. For now though (sorry DreamcastGuy), keep dreaming!

Blowup! - Another unknown Dreamcast game has been found!


Not content with giving us just one new Dreamcast present for Christmas this year, the elves over on the Dreamcast-Talk forum have evidently been working tirelessly on the most recently dumped contents of a broken Dreamcast dev kit in an attempt to bring more festive joy to Dreamcast lovers all over the world.

The most recent discovery appears to be yet another previously unseen Dreamcast title from Red Lemon studios again: Blowup!. Another Dreamcast-Talk user, Ian Micheal, was able to get this game to boot in the early hours of this morning. 

What's particularly fascinating about this demo is that as you can see from the title screen above, it was ultimately intended for display at the E3 expo in the year 2000. This leads me to the assumption that, unlike The Simpsons: Bug Squad!, which was clearly just a developer pitching to a studio, Blowup! was a real game that that was actually in development heading for an actual release at some point.


The only part of this demo which actually runs at the moment is the title screen, which then loops to a promo screen highlighting all of the exciting features that Blowup! will offer, promising compelling gameplay and a rich, detailed story amongst other things. This would have been very common for game demos at the time, especially those playable at E3 so that the gaming press had an idea of what the full game would be like.

Blowup! never did see the light of day; potentially another victim of the Dreamcast's demise and the publisher just not seeing the return on investment on a game that would've likely not have seen shop shelves until 2001.

Unfortunately the demo will not load at the moment beyond the boot screen due to some missing texture files. But I have little doubt that if there is a way to get beyond these screens, the boffins working on it over on Dreamcast-Talk will find out soon enough. We will of course keep you updated here on the Junkyard!

In the meantime, it's fun to speculate on what this mouse wearing a Fez hat would get up to in Blowup!. He looks like a mischievous little blighter, don't you think? Maybe, judging by the second screen, he just fancies a game of pool? Muse away below or on Twitter.

UPDATE: The founder of Red Lemon Studios, Andy Campbell, has added some additional insight: "Blowup! was a puzzle platformer game where you controlled a character who would blow or suck a ball or balls over a level".

So there you have it, looks like it wasn't heading for a release after all!

Previously unknown Dreamcast game discovered - The Simpsons: Bug Squad!

Just when we thought that 2020's surprises were all but over, another gem is uncovered by the Dreamcast community!

Dreamcast-Talk user 'sreak' revealed in a recent forum post over at Dreamcast-Talk that they had a Dreamcast development kit that they were going to export the files from. The initial list of contents seemed to be fairly uninteresting, but things  - as they are known to do - developed quickly.

After dumping the contents, it became apparent that there was a very early playable version of a game that nobody knew existed. Behold: The Simpsons: Bug Squad!


There appears to be zero information about this game available anywhere, indicating that nobody even knew it was in development at the time. This isn't the first time hitherto unknown Dreamcast games have come to the fore - things like Millennium Racer and Deer Avenger 3 were complete unknowns when they leaked onto the internet.

The game certainly doesn't look like any other Simpsons themed games we've played and is a fairly bizarre use of the license - almost like a sort of Toy Commander or Roommania style thing but set inside 742 Evergreen Terrace. Perhaps this is why it didn't get any further in development? We can see from the title screen that the development team behind The Simpsons: Bug Squad! was Red Lemon Studios, who were also working on another Dreamcast game that never saw the light of day, Take the Bullet, which Tom expertly covered in his article on that game back in 2015. Update: it appears the same dev kit also contains a beta version of Take the Bullet - more on this soon!


Fascinating stuff, we're sure you'll agree! Hopefully at some point in the near future somebody with the know-how will export what remains of this mysterious title and create a playable version that can be burnt to a disc and finally experienced on the Dreamcast hardware it never managed to officially grace.

We've said it before and we'll say it again, it is absolutely amazing that even now, almost two full decades after the system's natural life was brought to an abrupt end, that we're still discovering things Dreamcast-related that have never been seen before. Thanks also go to Dreamcast-Talk moderator and all-round Dreamcast knowledge miner pcwzrd13 for bringing this to our attention

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.

Update: Here is some footage of the tech demo, captured by pcwzrd13 from his DreamcasticChannel on YouTube - be sure to go over and subscribe!



Treamcast DreamPhoto DC Photo Hunter is now playable with a standard Dreamcast controller

I know you clicked on this article because you're dying to know what the hell that title means. But first, a confession. This is not a 'new' news story. It's fairly old news - especially for those who spend their time poking around the more obscure corners of the Dreamcast online community. But it's something I saw several months ago while absent-mindedly wandering the lesser-travelled backroads of the information super-highway, and subsequently forgot to write a post about. So now, months later, I'm making amends for that criminal oversight.

What am I blathering about? It's convoluted, but bear with me and we'll get there. Back in 2015 I happened across a rather odd peripheral on eBay and so - naturally - I bought it. Said peripheral was the Treamcast DreamPhoto mouse (pictured above). Treamcast in itself is quite an obscure little device, and for those not in the know, it's basically a semi-portable clone Dreamcast that comes with a 5" TFT screen attached and its own carry case (the image below shows two units loaned to us by Quang of Asobitech at Play Expo Blackpool 2018). They are very cool little units and quite rare these days, and will set you back a healthy chunk of change if you want to own one in present year. Still with me?

The two colour variants of the Treamcast

Relatively little is really known about the Treamcast, other than it originates from China, but what we do know is that the outfit which manufactured the system also released - in very limited quantities - bespoke peripherals and even software designed specifically for the Treamcast. One such peripheral was the aforementioned DreamPhoto mouse, which we investigated here at the Junkyard back when I originally bought one in 2015. The thing is, even though it could operate as a standard Dreamcast mouse and was compatible with official (or rather, genuine) Dreamcast consoles and software, the 'game' that the DreamPhoto mouse was intended to be used with was something of an enduring mystery.

"Dring you play the DC Photo Hunter..."

As detailed in our original DreamPhoto mouse article, the broken English on the sides of the box made reference to something called DC Photo Hunter, but searching online back then turned up practically nothing. Since 2015, more information has surfaced online as to what DC Photo Hunter actually is, and earlier in 2020 the software also miraculously turned up. But not just as the original DC Photo Hunter. No, that would be too simple for this tale. What actually turned up was DC Photo Hunter as a downloadable .CDI, but with the added bonus that it had been reverse engineered and compatibility with standard Dreamcast controllers added.

So in summary, a super obscure piece of unofficial software, designed for use with an unofficial, bootleg mouse designed for use with an unofficial bootleg system, has been released...but with a hack added to allow you to play it with an official Dreamcast controller...which is - as far as I can tell - not a feature that the original, unhacked version of DC Photo Hunter shipped with. Got it?


An interview with Tom Charnock: Father of the Junkyard and Dreamcast Royalty

There hasn’t been much to celebrate in 2020 thanks in no small part to a global pandemic that has kept us locked up inside like Claire Redfield at the beginning of Resident Evil – Code: Veronica. So when we had the opportunity to celebrate the Junkyard’s 15th birthday earlier this month, we took it with open arms.

We talk about the Dreamcast a lot here at The Dreamcast Junkyard. Of course we do. It’s the reason we’re here (and the clue is in the name). But what we don’t talk about enough is the man who made all of this possible. A man who has spent countless hours researching the most bizarre Dreamcast trivia and interviewing even the most tenuously linked people to our favourite console. I felt it was about time someone put a microphone in front of his face for a change and got a little insight into the history of the Junkyard from a true member of Dreamcast royalty.

Tom is far too humble to reflect on what he’s achieved so far with the Junkyard, and indeed the immeasurable contribution he’s made to the Dreamcast community as a whole. So, if I may, allow me to do it for him. 15th birthday celebrations wouldn't be complete without talking to the man of the moment, so I caught up with him for good old fashioned chinwag.

“Before the Junkyard, I’d created an all-format gaming website on a defunct service called Treeway, where I basically just copied news from other sources and created my own articles about them. Around that time I was quite obsessed with making fanzines as well, and made ‘Cast-Aw@y’ - a Dreamcast magazine”, Tom remembers, keen to point out that he’s very proud of his improper usage of an @ symbol in the title, for full late 90s edginess.
Humble beginnings with "Cast-Aw@y" fanzine.

“I had my Dreamcast about two weeks after the UK launch, but a friend of mine had an imported Japanese system just after it launched there. We would play games like Tokyo Highway Challenge and be absolutely blown away by the graphics. That was my first real experience of the Dreamcast and once I’d saved enough money from my paper round, and sold my N64, I was able to get a console for myself.”

Tom grew his Dreamcast collection throughout its short life, and then he did the unthinkable…

“In 2001, I made the very foolish decision to part-exchange my Dreamcast and all of my games for a PlayStation 2 and the latest NHL game. It was only when I got home and played it that I realised I’d made a big mistake,” says a teary-eyed Tom. Luckily for us, it was not too long until he was a Dreamcast owner once again.

“When I went to university I managed to buy another Dreamcast bundled with Metropolis Street Racer, Jet Set Radio and Virtua Fighter 3TB which was ultimately replaced when I graduated, with a shiny new Xbox and Gamecube. And then in 2005, I’d been to visit my dad and I was standing at a bus stop which was right next to a GameStation store. I was just looking in the window and there was a Dreamcast there for £40 or something with a load of games, which was too good for me not to buy. I took it home and showed all my housemates and they loved it too. So I started buying up all the games again and one day had an epiphany to document my purchases and experiences in general on a blog, and the Junkyard was born.”

A blog which would ultimately turn into one of, if not the biggest Dreamcast fansite on the web.

“I had an affinity with the Dreamcast because it was the last SEGA console and me and my brother had a SEGA childhood with the Mega Drive, Mega CD, 32X and the Saturn - it was always a SEGA household. My love for the system really grew after I set up the Junkyard because I started to explore the more obscure and import titles rather than the games that everyone knew.”
Tom was quickly acknowledged as a "Dreamcast expert".

Tom’s early vision for the Junkyard was purely a blog set up out of boredom.

“There was no real vision in all honesty. It was a case of being bored and wanting to document what I’d bought. I was accepted into the Navy and was waiting to join - which took months - so I was taking on temporary jobs and spending the money I made on Dreamcast games and accessories. In reality, going on day trips to different towns to visit small independent gaming shops and then blogging about it was just my way of killing time.”

“It was a bit like a diary. I didn't expect anyone to read it. I was doing it purely for my own enjoyment and entertainment, and then slowly but surely a couple of people started commenting on the posts. I was completely oblivious to other online gaming communities at the time and so to me, this was all quite new and exciting - I felt like it was all happening inside a bubble.”

As the community started to grow and more and more people commented on Tom’s hard work, he’s in no doubt that this pushed him to keep updating the Junkyard and find new ways to engage with his newfound audience.

“Yeah, it definitely spurred me on. You'll notice that there is a definite turning point in the very early days where it went from just being a blog with random nonsense about the games I’d bought to doing actually researched features and reviews. I don't think anywhere else was really doing that at the time, not for the Dreamcast anyway as it was becoming something of a forgotten console.”

Review: Arcade Racing Legends

As the third decade of the 21st century dawns, it's becoming quite clear that we're entering a renaissance of sorts for our beloved little box of dreams. While the masses wax lyrical about their shiny new Xbox 5's and PlayStation Series X's (that's right, yeah?), or relentlessly bore on about ray tracing and load times of 3 nanoseconds, we here at the Junkyard are rightfully far more excited about the impending tsunami of new titles about to wash away all our troubles and restore that blue swirl (red, I suppose, if you prefer) to it's rightful place at the pinnacle of gaming excellence.

Sort of, anyway. 

It's true though that we are spoiled for new content right now. We've got an upcoming Dreamcast games calendar chock full of titles, the likes of such not seen since the time nu-metal was vaguely popular with teenagers with terrible hairstyles and ludicrous length jeans, we can barely go a week without some new-fangled piece of technology to enhance/cannibalise/set it on the path to sentient life, for our Dreamcast getting announced, and we've even got geniuses coming out with ports of post-DC titles from the arcade that we can play on the console too. It feels less like a rose tinted, nostalgia driven website written by Sega fanboys around here now; and more like we're covering some sort of current-gen machine.

The main menu screen you're first presented with.

But I'm blabbering again. We're not here to moan about being too old to keep up to date with latest news today, we'll save that for the podcast. Instead, we're here to take a slightly belated look at the newest addition to the Dreamcast's now substantial indie library - the much anticipated, made for the Dreamcast latest release from JoshProd - Arcade Racing Legends.

Successfully Kickstarted back in 2019, we've been keeping a watchful eye over the development of the title, and had access to some early builds as well. There's a fair few keen racing fans here at the 'Yard, so the prospect of a new, fully 3D racing title for the console, and one promising to bring back some of the blue sky arcade racing pedigree of Sega games of yore, was one that had us positively salivating with hope. 

Scud life. Cough.

JoshProd have been a relentless supporter of the Dreamcast independent scene in recent years, but have so far focused on bringing us ports from other platforms rather than self-developed titles. Indeed, despite what some have said, this isn't the first 3D indie title on the system - JoshProd's own delivery of the Dreamcast port of 4x4 Jam takes that honour. They've got a very interesting lineup of titles on their way to us, and their past output has had some serious hits - Flashback, Another World, The Escapee - as well as a couple of misfires - the disappointing Ganryu for one. But when any developer has the ambition to bring us something completely new - well, we sit up and take note.

Some of the campaign artwork really whetted our appetite for the game

So just what is this new game all about? Well, Arcade Racing Legends wears its inspiration clear for all to see - not least in its title. An old school homage to the golden age of arcade racing games, it gives you a super fast car, exotic track locations and plenty of wink-wink, nudge-nudge references to past Sega titles. In fact, that's probably not quite true - there's little subtle about the inspiration for some of the vehicles here, and that's no bad thing at all. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

15 Years of The Dreamcast Junkyard

The 7th December 2020 marks 15 years since I penned the first entry here at The Dreamcast Junkyard. Many people wonder where the name of this place comes from. Basically my housemate, back in 2005, had the audacity to brand my room a 'junkyard of Dreamcast stuff,' as I re-bought more and more Dreamcast games and controllers because they were so cheap at the time. Said items piled up like an unholy afterbirth of rejected physical media and peripherals, festering betwixt my soil'd, unmade bed and a pile of broken motherboards. And lo, this blog was born. 

A lot (well, a bit) has changed since that day back in 2005. For a start, the Dreamcast has gone from a bargain basement system nobody wanted or cared about; a failure and an embarrassment...to being remembered as one of the greatest misunderstood systems of all time. There still exists a soil'd bed though. And a pile of broken motherboards, much to the annoyance of my beloved slave significant other. Weird how things change over time isn't it?

Anyway. This is just a short message to thank all of you who have been with us over the years, been with us though the lean periods and have subsequently seen us release a popular podcast, social media groups and profiles, YouTube channels and all the rest of it. The Dreamcast Junkyard has been through quite a bit in my time, from Sega itself sending us a Cease & Desist over a printed list of games; to us interviewing and becoming friends with the very people who created the Dreamcast system and some of it's most amazing games; to being nominated for podcast and blog awards. 

None of this has ever been about earning money or being a 'proper' gaming website, it's all just a labour of love in honesty. That we've managed to forge a reputation for unbiased and trusted opinions on Dreamcast stuff, and also created great links and friendships within the Dreamcast community is an amazing, humbling bonus. So thank you. 

Thank you all who read this blog, have visited our event stands over the years, offered superior technical support via our comments; and follow our socials, watch our videos and listen to our podcast.

We'll still be here in another 15 years, and hopefully so will you. Keep dreaming!

Let's play some Atomiswave games on Dreamcast!

As discussed in a recent article here at The Dreamcast Junkyard, Dreamcast-Talk forum members megavolt85 and yzb have been porting Atomiswave games to the Dreamcast. While many people reading this will no doubt get a lot of joy from playing these esoteric titles on an emulator - as did I initially - we thought we should get these titles running on an actual Dreamcast and see how they play with a standard HKT-7700 gripped in our mitts. So that's what we did!

Below is the fruit of our labour, which in reality was no more difficult than grabbing the various GDI files for games such as Dolphin Blue, Maximum Speed, King of Fighters XI, Samurai Shodown VI, Faster than Speed and Metal Slug 6, and dropping them onto the Compact Flash card which slots nicely into the side of the Compact Flash modded Dreamcast. Booting through DreamShell allows you to navigate to the files on the storage and simply boot them as you would any other game. I'm pretty sure this would work with any other type of solid state storage device you may have in your Dreamcast too, so let us know in the comments if it works with things like MODE or GDEmu. If you have any specific questions though, be sure to head to the FAQ on Dreamcast-Talk. Enough waffle, enjoy the video below!

Have you tried any of these games? If so, what are you thoughts? And are there any hidden gems on the Atomiswave crying out to be ported to the Dreamcast? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to head to Dreamcast-Talk, join the forum and thank megavolt85 and yzb for their stirling work.

Shenmue World magazine from Shenmue Dojo smashes Kickstarter goal in less than 24 hours!

I initially planned to publish this article a day ago as a way to help spread the news that Shenmue Dojo had launched a Kickstarter for a fan magazine called Shenmue World. Looks like I needn't have bothered though, as the community has come together in less than 24 hours to fund the project! 

Full disclosure here - several members of the Junkyard team have also backed Shenmue World - so allow us the benefit of the doubt when we describe this project as 'thoroughly deserving.'

Let's step back in time first, though. You may be wondering what all this is about. Basically, Shenmue Dojo is one of - if not the - best known Shenmue fan sites / forums when it comes to...well, Shenmue. Obviously. The clue is in the name. How many people come here for PlayStation 2 news? I digress. 

Personally I have been visiting Shenmue Dojo for well over a decade, and the site actually started in 2000 - five whole years before the Junkyard was but a twinkle in my eye. Quite simply, these guys know their Wude from their Master Chen...if you catch my drift.

Anyway, Shenmue World is a new fan magazine created by Shenmue Dojo and headed up by Jim Brown (aka SkillJim), one of the head honchos over at Shenmue Dojo. A year in the making, Shenmue World is a completely independent fan-created ode to all that is good in the world of Shenmue.

According to the video over on the Shenmue Dojo YouTube channel, the magazine has already been finalised in principle, and the Kickstarter was simply put in place to allow Jim and his team to start a mass print run. The magazine (or at least the initial prototype) looks like a Shenmue fan's dream - lots of original content, features and articles focussing on literally every aspect of Shenmue.

The good news - as intimated in the headline of this article - is that Shenmue World has been fully funded to the tune of £6500 in less than 24 hours, and so the magazine will be produced and everyone who has backed it to the correct tier will receive a physical copy at some point in the not-too-distant future.

We here at the Junkyard realise that not everyone uses Twitter, so allow us to use our own platform - this blog - to point you in the direction of the Shenmue World Kickstarter if you wish to get your mitts on a copy of the magazine.

As ever, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments, and please do visit Shenmue Dojo's website and follow them on Twitter.

Atomiswave games are being ported to Dreamcast...which is awesome

The Atomiswave, for those who may not be aware, was an arcade system co-developed by Sammy and Sega and released back in 2003. As explained in Ross's excellent deep dive on the hardware here, the origins of the arcade platform are thought to have been born out of Sega's pivot out of the home console market, leaving the firm with a surplus of hardware it had no use for (namely, bits of Dreamcast tech). 

The Atomiswave was first unveiled at the Japan Amusement Show in 2002, and piqued the interest of some of the biggest names in the arcade scene at the time, with SNK, Dimps, Psyko, Treasure, Compile, IGS, Visco and Tecmo all lending their support to the fledgling platform.

And lo, the Atomiswave became something of a hit among arcade gamers, hosting numerous inventive and colourful titles; and Sammy went on to purchase CSK's shares in Sega before eventually buying out the company in 2004. The intriguing thing about the Atomiswave is that even though its hardware was quite similar to the Dreamcast and NAOMI systems it was based on, Atomiswave games were incompatible with Dreamcast and so considered to be solely the preserve of dedicated arcade collectors. Until now, that is.

That's because developer megavolt85 has begun porting Atomiswave games to the Dreamcast, and if you head over to the Dreamcast-Talk forums you'll be able to see (and download) the fruits of their (very obvious) labour. So far, several Atomiswave titles have been ported to Dreamcast, and the GDI files made available. Of the handful of titles released so far, I have only played Faster than Speed - an arcade racer which plays (and looks) like the bastard lovechild of Need for Speed Underground and Scud Race.





It's actually a pretty fun racer, with lots of tracks and vehicles and some really nice handling. Oh, and it looks gorgeous. I've been playing this on ReDream on a MacBook Pro, and compatibility with some controllers has been a bit iffy, but as far as I can tell from browsing the forums, other emulators on PC work even better so your experiences may be better than mine. I did try to also play the game using an actual Dreamcast by loading the GDI file onto the Compact Flash modded Dreamcast, and while it would display the Faster than Speed custom artwork in Dreamshell, the game would not boot. So close...yet so far!

Edit - I got games working on a Dreamcast (thanks to Pcwzrd13 once again!). Check out the results.


One thing is clear though - this game and the work of megavolt85 is a revelation for the Dreamcast library. That Atomiswave games can now be sampled - in my case for the first time ever - is truly amazing; and a massive boon for digital preservationists. And this could be just the start of a whole new side of the Sega arcade library being opened up to Dreamcast owners who never knew such experiences existed. Exciting stuff indeed.




Apart from Faster than Speed, other Atomiswave games to be ported to Dreamcast in 2020 include King of Fighters XI, Metal Slug 6, and Samurai Spirits Tenkaichi Kenkakuden, and we'd be a bit daft to think that even more Atomiswave games are not on the cusp of being ported to our beloved console.

Head over to the Dreamcast-Talk forums to find out more. Thanks also to @pcwzrd13 for alerting those of us (me) who have maybe been a bit lax on keeping up with Dreamcast news this year.

Flea! - Brand new release for the Dreamcast

 2020. It's not been great, has it? But whilst we all seclude ourselves in our homes, proclaiming how bored we are whilst ignoring our game backlogs, something has been stirring in the Dreamcast Indie scene. The year kicked off with the rather glorious Xeno Crisis - perhaps the finest Indie game yet on the DC, and we've got some delights on their way with the high speed thrills of Arcade Racing Legends from JoshProd, the wonderful Xenocider in all it's 3D glory from Retro Sumus, and Indie masters Senile Team back with the fantastic looking Intrepid Izzy. That's not even mentioning the impending release of Summoning Signals, JoshProd's Indie onslaught with 8(8!) more titles, and almost certainly others that we've simply forgotten to mention! It's a never ceasing cause of amazement for all of us here at the Junkyard that we could see more than a dozen titles added to the library in a matter of months.


It seems though, that even more is on the horizon - including a game which has come as somewhat of a surprise - Flea! which is out now and available from the developers own Etsy page here. A successfully funded Kickstarter project this year, the game was designed for the NES, but has jumped it's way onto our chosen platform, caught us all by surprise, and left us itching to tell you more. I promise that's the last awful Flea pun I'll be making...

Playing as your cute little Flea protagonist Henry, your task is to collect blood from the games 80 levels, blood which is being horded by the greedy King, and is desperately needed by the Refu-fleas. To that end, each unit of blood you collect can, at certain points, be converted to extra lives. It means that very quickly you'll rack up substantial numbers of lives - but that's something you'll most certainly need here. The game creator, Alastair Low (featured on the DCJY before, for the very cool Dungeon Ross), clearly has a fondness for tough NES era platformers, as Flea! is designed with plenty of tricky sections and death is frequent. Luckily, such death is not permanent in Flea's world, for a few seconds later you're back on the hunt for blood at the beginning of the level. Just as quickly as you build the life stock up though, you'll see the numbers going down when you get to one of the games tougher stages.

The game's deaths don't come by way of Uzi wielding parasites or anything so extreme though - here, death will come by way of your continually jumping little critter finding his way into a particularly nasty obstacle. These litter the stages, and whilst only a few syringes seem to be your issue early on, you soon come face to face with other creatures and more extravagant obstacles. Not every creature you meet is a bad guy though - there are plenty of colourful and interesting characters throughout the game to interact with as well.

The game is a tough one to master, in the time honoured 8-bit fashion. However, this toughness doesn't come with unfairness - if you die, it's due to a mistake you've made. Control is generally simple - Henry jumps continually, but you can press the A button to keep his jumps lower (a skill you will require early on in the game), and later on you can dash as well (although I've got to be honest, I've not actually got that far yet! I've never said I'm any good at games...). The main challenge here is to maximise your blood collection whilst navigating the obstacles with well timed jumps. The instant restart of the single screen levels makes any frustration minimal, luckily, but the game does induce a feeling of rage when your life supply dwindles as you fail at a decidedly crafty stage for the umpteenth time - but there's a not insignificant amount of satisfaction when you finally make it. It's a classic risk-reward strategy of gaming of yore, tried and tested, and it works well here, a tribute to the games developer once more.

At times the game does mix things up a little, ditching the single screen approach and going for a forced scrolling platforming experience - a sort of endless runner type affair, only, er, it ends. It shows a little bit of versatility off that makes for a nice change of pace, and again technically, it runs smoothly.  

Visually, it's not going to blow anyone away. It's clearly a NES game, with chunky pixels and bright colours, a look evocative of an age before the Dreamcast, but one which is very much back in fashion. Of course, it looks this way through functionality (being an actual NES game) rather than style alone, but it's competent, cute, fun and cheery. In fact, I'm officially starting a campaign to get Flea! to become the official mascot of the DC indie scene, as I look at his cute little face looking at me from my VMU during the game. The stages vary in their colour schemes - different beasts that the fleas infest - but all have that 8-bit colour and brightness to them, which is very visually appealing. 

There's no denying the games NES roots though. The pixels are colourful, the action is smooth, but this isn't the sort of title that's going to push the hardware. That doesn't matter at all, of course, as the core gameplay is fun and challenging enough to justify itself a place in the library, but we know there will be some out there who will baulk at the idea of a Dreamcast game looking this way. To them, we blow a giant raspberry. Personally, it's a style of game we've not had much of on the console, and I welcome it's arrival. 

I also welcome the chiptune music, so insanely catchy that I found myself humming it to myself on the bus this morning. It perfectly captures the fun, nostalgic retro-ness of the game, and deserves special mention just for that. The packaging is also great - a US style look (despite Lowtek Games being a Scottish based developer), it has a great disc image, and full colour manual (although it's only 2 pages), and the cover is great. For a game none of us were expecting, it's level of professionalism in design was surprising but most welcome. 

The game is available for £30 from Lowtek Games Etsy store, limited to just 200 numbered copies,  and you can find the games creator Alastair on Twitter  so go give him a follow!


 

A Quick Look At Summoning Signals (Demo)

Summoning Signals is but one of a handful of new games heading to the Dreamcast in the near future, and it also happens to have a demo version freely available to download, burn to a CD and play on actual Dreamcast hardware.

Naturally, we thought it only proper to grab the demo and give it a whirl, and to give our impressions of this early build here at the Junkyard. Just to clarify, this new demo is not the same as the old demo - the old demo being a sort of mini game that featured a two-headed serpent with a penchant for Soul Calibur quips. No, this new demo is a demo of the actual Summoning Signals game, in all its point and click, photogrammetry-enabled glory.

So what is Summoning Signals then? Well, in time honoured fashion, it appears that indie developer 12db.soft have crafted a slightly esoteric sci-fi point and click adventure game, which relies pretty heavily on the sort of eerie, technology focused strangeness you're likely to find in a Mark Z. Danielewski novel. Lots of abstract music and sound effects, very little hand holding, and a leaning on the player to work it out for themselves...imagine that in this day and age!

The game starts with a fairly bizarre cutscene that depicts you crashing your ship on some alien world. There's lots of arcane symbolism and almost Lynchian aesthetic cues as the ship loses power and descends; and you are left to work out how to use your damaged radio to make contact with a benevolent stranger and follow their instructions to get out of your predicament. That predicament being, y'know, that you're stranded on an alien world.

Due to the nature of Summoning Signals' reliance on the abstract, it's probably an intentional design choice that it's all a bit baffling to begin with. You move a crosshair around the screen and focus on items in the world, selecting them as you go - the VMU will beep and display icons when you happen to hover over a point of interest (which is a nice touch). 

You can also pull up an inventory of sorts and activate a radio through which you communicate with the stranger (who goes by the name Copper) and you can move between screens by hovering over arrows that appear at the screen edge and selecting them. Check out the short video I put together of the first few minutes of the demo below.

Overall, from what I've played of this demo I'm even more intrigued by how weird 12db.soft can make this game. Apart from the unique visual style which mixes interesting photogrammetry with a rudimentary day/night cycle, the oddness of Summoning Signals really appeals to me.

There's no set release date for the final game yet, but you can grab this demo from the Summoning Signals website and play it either on a PC or on Dreamcast hardware. I did have a few instances where the demo froze, but that's forgivable in this early state.

Let us know if you've played the demo in the comments or on Twitter.

Peripheral Review: Brook Wingman SD

Disclosure: The Brook Wingman SD was sent to us for review.


The Brook Wingman SD is an interesting device, coming from the powerhouse that is Brook Accessory. I’ve got one of their PCBs in my SEGA Virtua Stick High Grade, which permits its use on multiple formats with ease… and no lag. Brook have quite a catalogue of products, and I believe are building a decent brand name for themselves with quality useful products. 


What is the Wingman SD? In short, it’s a dongle, that allows the gamer to connect a multitude of modern peripherals to their Dreamcast as well as the Sega Saturn (check out Brian's article on The Saturn Junkyard for a look at the Saturn functionality). You can connect your 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch Pro controllers to the Dreamcast for some high quality gaming fun.

There was something a touch surreal pairing my PS3 controller to the DC… but it was incredibly easy to do, and worked extremely well, without any perceived lag. Same goes for the Xbox One controller. The Xbox controllers are often regarded as some of the most ergonomic (and I agree), and using them to play Sega Rally 2, Rez (OK I have that on 360 and PS4), Shenmue, Headhunter, Re-Volt, was really great. The device comes into its own with FPS, though, bringing the DC into the 21st Century proper. Some prefer keyboard and mouse, which you can do on DC, but I am a fan of controllers. And now, Quake, Unreal Tournament, etc… have proper dual analogue support. And wireless!! What a revelation!