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Next-gen Dreamcast VMU 'VM2' coming soon from DreamMods

We've seen various mods for the humble Dreamcast VMU over the years, with modders the world over going to great lengths to add extra functionality, or repurpose the thing altogether. From the implementation of illuminated screens, to full-on Raspberry Pi-powered gaming systems crammed inside the unit's diminutive shell; it seems people from across the Dreamcast community have found myriad inventive ways to milk even more out of the little memory card that could. 

It looks like the VMU is about to embark on its greatest transformative journey yet though, as the VM2 nears completion. Coming from Chris Diaoglou, the same genius who brought us the DreamConn Bluetooth controller back in 2016 (and, incidentally the rechargeable backlit VMU linked above), VM2 is a complete technological overhaul for the VMU, and adds such awesome new features as:

  • New monochrome LCD with backlight: Which can also be turned off to save battery
  • Higher screen resolution: Switchable between original (48x32), or scaled (96x64)
  • MicroSD slot: Gives the VM2 almost unlimited capacity
  • 4x VMU memory capacity: If a microSD is not present, a combination of the Sega 4x Memory and a standard VMU will be accessible. The user will be able to cycle through 4 128Kb pages, while keeping the LCD functionality that the official 4x Memory lacked
  • Embedded high-capacity LiPo battery: This will replace the batteries and provide longer operation time (sadly this will eliminate the beeeeeeep 🙃)
  • External charging: VM2 will charge either from its micro-USB connector, or from the controller while playing
  • PC connectivity: VM2 will be able to connect to a PC via micro-USB
  • Memory management: Connecting to a PC and using a custom GUI, the user will be able to backup/restore/manage both the main (4x) and the additional (mini-game) storage

VM2 will benefit from a new injection molded shell

We reached out to Chris for comment on this highly intriguing project and asked just what the hell was going on in his Dreamcast-powered laboratory:

"The VM2 aims at being a total reproduction of the original - the connector, outer shell, electronics, everything will be manufactured from scratch. For this reason, and depending on the community interest, I plan to start a campaign so I can raise the funds to put it into production.

"This means no cheap 3D printing or anything - everything will be made with quality injection molds, etc. and this is the main reason that a campaign is needed.

"Also, instead of the initial plan of 4x VMUs (main) plus 50+ minigame (additional) memory, I implemented the integration of a microSD card slot. This will allow for literally infinite space and virtual VMUs / minigames.

"The user will be able to create/copy/restore VMU files, either at the root of the SD, or organized in folders (i.e. per game). In addition, in case that a user doesn't want to use a microSD card, the VM2 will also support a default 1x(or 3x)VMU internal memory; and the selection of the current VMU file/memory to use, will be selected from the VM2 user menu."

- Chris Diaoglou, DreamMods

The VM2 has been in development for some time now, and you can find details on the various stages of its creation over at the DreamMods website (where you can also register your interest). 

There's no concrete information on when the VM2 will be available for purchase as yet, but as Chris says, a crowdfunding campaign may well be on the horizon in the near future. The projected price will be around the $100 mark - which may sound steep - but when adjusted for inflation the original VMU would have cost you $75 in 2022 money. Do the math. On that note an Atari Jaguar would have cost you less than £40 in 1999. Swings and roundabouts, innit.

Protoype showing the new hi-res, backlit screen

Judging from the exceptional quality of Chris's previous Dreamcast-related creations in the DreamConn and the DreamPort PSU (which adds full Bluetooth support to the Dreamcast without the need for an adapter), the the VM2 is a very exciting prospect indeed. That, and the small matter that VM2 looks set to offer a riposte to many of the main gripes aimed at the original VMU - namely the piss-poor battery life and the limited space on the card. The added bonus of a backlit, higher resolution screen make the VM2 an even more enticing project and one we'll be keeping a very close eye on.

Watch this space...and while you're doing that go to DreamMods and register your interest!

Oh, and thanks to Derek Pascarella for alerting my colleague Lewis to this. Who then alerted me and made me get my arse in gear and reach out to Chris.

Dreamcast Magazines: Appreciation and Preservation

In his recent DCJY interview the former President of Sega of America, Peter Moore, put forward a passionate and convincing case as to why the Dreamcast was ahead of its time. One of the primary reasons for this characterisation of the Dreamcast by Moore was its out-of-the-box internet functionality; a pioneering feature intended to “take gamers where gaming was going.” From a technical standpoint this was executed well by Sega, but being ahead of the curve doesn't necessarily always pay dividends, and cruelly “Sega flung themselves onto the barricades…and was trod on by subsequent consoles.” 

At the turn of the millennium the capabilities of (and consumer familiarity with) the internet were still relatively limited, and the average gamer was perhaps not as enthused about online play as they would become a decade on, by which point other consoles were ready to build on the foundations laid by Sega. Indeed, one of the indicators of how premature internet functionality was in 1998-2002 is that the primary source of gaming information, even for owners of Dreamcasts with built-in modems, was still the printed word. Even many of those who may reasonably have been expected to be further advanced on this front, such as gaming industry heads and retailers, were often still getting their news fix via specialist print periodicals like MCV or GameWeek.

This context probably goes some way to explaining why, despite being a short-lived commercial flop, the Dreamcast had a surprisingly large number of print magazines dedicated to it. 36 to be exact(ish), in seven different languages, spanning a whopping 576 issues crammed with at least 50,000 pages of professionally produced content (good maths, eh?). Of course, most of the Dreamcast's key markets had their very own officially sanctioned magazine that nominally had the advantage of a close connection to Sega, and were usually paired with a GD-ROM demo disc series that undoubtedly increased their appeal.

But in many territories these faced stiff competition from not just one but several unofficial variants, vying to win the attention of readers with their independent editorial lines and offering a panoply of ‘free’ tat (VHS tapes, cheat books, posters, postcards, water pistols) in a bid for market share. The gaming and publishing industries have changed to such an extent in the intervening 20 years that even the most successful current generation consoles are extremely lucky if they have a single (print) magazine dedicated to them in operation.

Dreamcast magazines from three different continents

To be sure, there were quite a few failed starts. Dreamcast Magazine of Italy published just one single issue, thereby having no opportunity to atone for their front cover error of illustrating their Virtua Fighter 3tb coverage with a Street Fighter character. Total Dreamcast was mysteriously canned right before release, presumably much to the ire of those who had sweated over its 100+ pages of copy and layout. DCM, the only unofficial magazine in the States - which is bizarre given the sheer magnitude of the US market - bailed out after a paltry four issues. 

Even many of those publications that made it past their formative stages abruptly called it quits soon after Sega's official announcement of the Dreamcast's demise in early 2001, without as much as a sentimental goodbye to readers in their last issues, suggesting that the editorial teams probably had little notice of the cessation themselves.

The covers of the final issues of the three Dreamcast magazines that were last to cease publication. From left to right: Dreamcast Magazine (Paragon, UK) April 2002; Dreamcast Le Magazine Officiel (Mon Journal Adomedias, France) March/April 2002; Dreamzone (FJM, France) December 2001/January 2002

Yet, plenty of the pack valorously struggled on against the onslaught of PS2 hype, doing a commendable job of filling their pages with news of the dwindling trickle of officially-licensed releases, hopeful glances at arcade games that could be ported (those DC releases of Beach Strikers and Virtua Fighter 4 are still coming, right?), or even shamelessly re-running old reviews. Here in ol' blighty Paragon Publishing’s Dreamcast Magazine is remembered fondly for unflinchingly maintaining its publication schedule until April 2002 when they gracefully bowed out with a tear jerking final issue packed with retrospectives on what had been.

Demo Discs, Indie Releases, Translations, Bed Covers and Mega Ducks? - Dreamcast news round-up April 2022

A lot has happened recently. Twitter is considering adding an edit button, NFTs seem to have retreated back into obscurity (phew), Will Smith slapped Chris Rock, and of course, the Dreamcast scene continues to keep our beloved (supposedly dead) console relevant. As the team are busy counting the votes for the The Dreamcast Junkyard Top 200 Dreamcast Games 2022, I thought I'd give y'all a Dreamcast news round up. Hold on to your VMUs, because I'm rounding up a lot of things today.

A tidal WAVE of Dreamcast indie activity

You should all know WAVE Game Studios by now, but if you don't, check out our interview with them to get the scoop on why they're the one to watch in the Dreamcast indie release scene! Then, if reading all about all their previous endeavours wasn't evidence enough, here's all the stuff they've just done recently:

- The first Dreamcast demo disc in 21 Years!

This one's really damn cool. If you're not in the know, SEGA Powered is a cracking Sega-focused magazine that launched earlier this year off the back of a successful Kickstarter campaign. Helmed by Sega gaming mag veterans, every issue that has been released so far have been widely praised by Sega fans everywhere. We had a look at the first issue on the blog a while back, so check that out if you want to learn more.

So we've got a cool new Sega magazine to sink our teeth into, but you know something about the old gaming magazines that we really wish would come back? Cover discs filled to the brim with exciting demos! Well, seeing as the Dreamcast is getting so many new games released for it these days (making it a modern gen console - will box anyone who disagrees), it's only right that an issue of this modern Sega mag would eventually come bundled with some kind of free demo disc featuring tasters of the latest and greatest Dreamcast indie games! The disc will exclusively feature demos of WAVE titles, and will be released with issue 5 of SEGA Powered, due June 2022. It will be be the first Dreamcast demo disc to be released in 21 years! We recommend following the magazine's Twitter account to learn more details as the release gets closer.

- Shadow Gangs is getting a WAVE release!

After a somewhat rocky Kickstarter campaign (that involved the original campaign being cancelled to make way for another with a more reasonable goal), JKM Corp's Shadow Gangs was eventually fully funded. As the game was known to be pretty much near completion, many scratched their heads and asked why Shadow Gangs couldn't just work out a deal with a distributor like WAVE or JoshProd, and skip the Kickstarter all together, but the developers stuck by their campaign.

Well, looks like WAVE are now going to be distributing the game anyway, as announced in a Twitter post posted by WAVE on the 4th of April. This means WAVE will be manufacturing the Kickstarter copies and any future copies that will be sold through WAVE's web store. They've also confirmed that backers will be getting some "super cool extras" with their games, so that's something to look forward to!

- Postal will have local co-op!

WAVE are still on track to release the officially-sanctioned Dreamcast port of Postal on the 2nd of June, and you can still pre-order a copy on their web store. Dan Redfield, the gent responsible for porting the game, revealed at the end of March that he's successfully implemented a 4-player co-op mode into the game's campaign. It's only right that a port of Postal to a console known for its excellent party games would have such a mode!

Translations

Other than the bustling indie scene, another reason for the second wind the Dreamcast is experiencing (at least for us English speakers) are the many translations of Japanese games that have previously been inaccessible to us due to the language barrier. Here's some more! 

- Former Managing Director Yukawa's Treasure Hunt has been translated into English!

The Dreamcast game we never knew needed an English translation has finally been translated, thanks to the talents of SnowyAria (who previously translated Seven Mansions: Ghastly Smile). This simple promotional game has you play as former Sega of Japan head Yukawa Hidekazu as he digs up various pieces of Dreamcast-related memorabilia, with the idea being that for a month in 1999, you could submit your victory online to be entered into a raffle to win said memorabilia in real life. Obviously, you can no longer win any prizes, but you can at least experience this odd morsel of Dreamcast history in English now. Go here to get the translation patch, and for some further reading, check out Tom's article on the game here.

Me after playing Spirit of Speed 1937 for five minutes 

- New gameplay footage of the Nakoruru translation!

Derek Pascarella's project to translate the visual novel Nakoruru: The Gift She Gave Me into English started in August of last year. I am working as an editor on the project and all I'll say is that it has been a blast to work on so far! Anyway, Derek has put together a great preview video showcasing a test-build of the translation, which you can find here. You can find out more about everything Derek does by visiting DreamcastForever.com. Watch this space!

The odd stuff!

This is the part of our news round-up where we take a look at some things that verge on the side of kooky or obscure. These are the Dreamcast equivalent of those lighthearted cutaway reports on the real news that show you a Pug that can do a pop shove-it on a skateboard or something. Anyhow...

- The Mega Duck is now playable on the Dreamcast..?

Mega Duck... that's like Rubberduckzilla from that old Oasis advert, right? Nope. It was actually a Game Boy rip off from Hong Kong. It was also released in South America with the equally ludicrous name "Cougar Boy"... You can't make this shit up.

Anyway, the Mega Duck had a not-so-mega library of games (quantity-wise) and the majority of them were developed by Taiwanese company Sachen. When the Mega Duck could no longer be kept afloat (geddit?), Sachen ported a load of its Mega Duck games onto the Game Boy in the form of unlicensed multicarts, presumably to recoup some of their losses. Well, veteran Dreamcast homebrew coder Ian Michael has stripped each individual game from their respective multicarts and packed them all together as a bootable ISO (you need to use DreamShell to boot it) that uses a Game Boy emulator Gnuboy to emulate them. The package contains a total of 21 playable titles. Sadly, Snake Roy is not one of them... Maybe one day.

That is game art only a Mother could love...

Go to this Dreamcast-Talk forum thread for more information and a link to download the Mega Duck ISO. Edit: since I published this article, Derek Pascarella has converted the ISO into a .cdi image, meaning it can now be booted up on ODEs like GDEMU and MODE. The link for this is also in the Dreamcast-Talk forum thread. Thanks Derek! Now, go fourth and play some Mega Duck on your Dreamcast! Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd say...

- You can now cast dreams from the comfort of your very own Dreamcast bed...

Yeah, some company called "MoonLambo" is selling Dreamcast-themed bedding. The company predominately sells clothing featuring a lot of cyberpunk and vaporwave designs, but it looks like they've also branched out into selling home goods. Their trademark infringement-avoiding "Dreams Last" range includes a console duvet cover, VMU pillow cases, and a controller cushion. It's all a bit pricey, with the duvet cover ranging from £73 all the way up to £113 depending on the size you want. I also have no idea if it would even be good quality, as the site looks worryingly similar to one of those dropshipping clothing stores you'd get advertised to you through Instagram-ads, who steal people's designs and print them on crap shirts that shrink after one wash. But if you're a bachelor with a lot of disposable income who thinks a Dreamcast bed would look cool in your pad, then purchase at your own risk.

That's all for now, folks! Which of these news items excites you the most? It's the Mega Duck on Dreamcast, isn't it? Fair enough. Anyway, let us know your second favourite in the comments below!this Dreamcast-Talk forum thread

DCJY welcomes Jörg Tittel

In the latest episode of our podcast DreamPod, Andrew, Brian and Mike chat with writer, producer and director Jörg Tittel, who previously wrote for the US Official Dreamcast Magazine. We discuss Jörg's time at the magazine, his love for the Dreamcast, and his experience working on his own game (The Last Worker). He also shares some fascinating stories, detailing his friendships with Dreamcast developer royalty, including Frédérick Raynal (Toy Commander, Toy Racer) and probably most notably, the late Shinya Nishigaki (Blue Stinger, Illbleed) - which led to Jörg being included as a character in Illbleed!
Jörg S. Baker in Illbleed, based on Jörg Tittel!
Use the embedded player below to listen here on the main Dreamcast Junkyard blog, or alternatively you can grab the episode on your podcatcher of choice.


Thanks once again to Jörg for coming on the podcast. You can follow him on Twitter, @newjorg. Also check out his upcoming game, The Last Worker at thelastworker.com, which looks excellent, and (as revealed on the episode) will contain an Illbleed easter egg!

Staff Picks: Top 21 Dreamcast Games

With our 2022 Top 200 Dreamcast Games poll coming to a close at the end of March, coinciding with the 21st anniversary of our beloved console’s discontinuation (I would say RIP but she is very much still alive and kicking, if you've been paying attention to anything we've been reporting on in the last few years!), I thought it was time for a peek into the minds of the staff here at The Dreamcast Junkyard. What did WE vote as our top ten Dreamcast games, and how does that look when compiled into a list? Well, let's find out shall we?

Along with myself, I asked Tom, Mike, Brian, Lewis, Kev, James H, James J, Mark and Rich to list their ten favourite Dreamcast titles in order. I took these and did what I seemingly love to do now as I approach my forties - I made a spreadsheet! Everyone's top picks received a score of 10, 2nd place got 9, and so on. I then employed some magic formulas to tally up the totals to give us a definitive top 21 games, using the number of times a game was voted for as a tie-breaker where necessary.

The end result is very interesting! We think there's something here for everyone, and if these were the only games in your collection most people would be pretty happy! There are some surprises, and a few things that, if you've ever listened to the DreamPod, you will not at all be surprised about. 

I'll link you to the spreadsheet itself at the end of this article so you can see the full list of games and how everyone voted, for your agreement or ridicule, but first let us count down these games from last to first. Our first entry is the only joint entry, seeing three games share 19th place...

19. Blue Stinger, San Francisco Rush 2049 & Spirit of Speed 1937 (Joint)

A trio of titles start us off, a couple of which often split the opinion of fans. One thing they all have in common? A commitment to a particular time. Blue Stinger takes place in the year 2000, so each represents a very different era, though released within a short space of each other in reality. Let's hear what some of the team had to say about these games.

Upon its release, Blue Stinger was widely misunderstood and critically dismissed under the umbrella of its survival horror contemporaries. In the decades since, it has emerged a cult classic in its own right. Blue Stinger is Shinya Nishigaki and Climax Graphics' endearing homage/parody of Hollywood action and sci-fi cinema, and it plays wonderfully as a B-movie beat-em-up today. - Brian on Blue Stinger

Rush 2049 embodies everything an arcade racer on Dreamcast should be. It looks great, the tracks are full of inventive shortcuts and hidden nooks and crannies, and the actual racing is tight and exciting. A true Midway game that doesn't take itself too seriously, Rush 2049 is easily one of the best racers on the platform. - Tom on Rush 2049

Spirit Of Speed 1937 is the Dark Souls of racing games. The sad truth is that 99% of people won't play it long enough to experience where its strengths really are. It's a true to the era racer which rewards forward thinking and careful driving - something sim racers will appreciate. - James H on Spirit of Speed 1937

18. Rez

Art? Hacking? No this isn't the latest goings-on over at OpenSea, but instead best encapsulates Rez (besides, this is actually nice to look at). Tetsuya Mizuguchi's rail-shooter may have been minimalist on visuals, but it was heavy on trance beats and addictive gameplay. A gem in the Dreamcast's library and its influence is still felt to this day. - Rich

17. Jet Set Radio

Ahead of it's time in so many ways, Jet Set Radio is held up as one of the shining beacons of unfettered creativity that the Dreamcast is so well known for. From its art style to its music, its gameplay to its reverence for hip-hop and Japanese street culture, JSR is a masterclass in what a video game can be. This is Sega at their most zany, but in the best possible way. Strap on your in-line skates and grab that spray paint can, it's time to get funky! - Andrew

Sonic Adventureland: A Roller Coaster of Love

If you’ve visited a Disney theme park in the last half century, you may be familiar with Space Mountain (or “Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain” per its Disneyland Paris branding). Originally conceived as Walt Disney’s roller coaster homage to the boundlessness of human ambition, today the attraction wallows in retro-futuristic parody. Steeped in the influences of iconic ‘60s and ‘70s sci-fi films – however superficially – Space Mountain evokes the unsettling, sinister tone of a future we'd never want but may only be marginally worse than the one we got. As we wait in the queue, its dim spaceport catwalks usher us through a thematic mess of obtuse angles and space-age mainframe panels. We lift off in garish pod cars and uneasy anticipation mounts as we ascend its pulsing blue tunnel. And then, the pitch-black void of space.
Image credit: TheCoasterViews

Over the next couple minutes, Disney’s spacefaring voyage pulls us up to 3.7Gs through a flurry of drops, twists, and jolts. The darkness deprives us of just enough senses for a more potent and unpredictable thrill; one we feel more than see. In the void, we’re blind to its gaudiness. It becomes clear Space Mountain was born out of the calculated ingenuity of chain-smoking Imagineers at the peak of their craft. It's almost viscerally Kubrickian, however lacking in allegory or irony. Primitive and unpolished in its interstellar kitsch, Space Mountain’s artistry endures in another sense: it’s just a darn fun ride.

And so it goes for Sonic Adventure.
If you’ve played a Dreamcast in the last quarter century, you may be familiar with Sonic Team’s ambitious 3D platformer (also the console’s best-selling game). You’re also likely to have an opinion of it. I can relate, I’ve had many. My volatile views on Sonic Adventure have practically been a roller coaster of their own. It was the reason I bought a Dreamcast and I loved playing it back when it was the first and only game I owned at launch. I soured on it in the decades since, often echoing the criticisms people spout whenever the internet convenes to complain about the game. More recently, I replayed all its characters' campaigns and it is safe to say I’ve opened my heart to Sonic Adventure once again. These days, I revisit it more often than just about any video game, period.

I’m still recovering from the whiplash.
Sonic Adventureland: A theme park where the only lines are the load times!

For me, Sonic Adventure is best enjoyed as an amusement park, and it is in that spirit that I am always eager to jump back into its queue.

English translation patch for Panzer Front released!


After a year of development, DerPlayer and PhilYeahz have completed an English translation patch for Japanese-exclusive Dreamcast title Panzer Front!

Developed by Shangri-La and released for the Dreamcast (and PlayStation) in 1999, Panzer Front is a World War II tank simulation game that combines strategy and action gameplay. It allows you to take control of many different WWII-era vehicles, with a number of historic missions available to play through. While the PlayStation version received English localisations and went on to garner itself a quiet but passionate fandom, the Dreamcast version remained only accessible to Japanese speakers. That was until now!
Very cool box art, if I do say so myself.
Check out the project's rather nifty retro-looking webpage here. At the site, you'll find more information about the game, cool resources, and most importantly, the translation patch, along with a patching utility (developed by our pal Derek Pascarella) which you need to use to apply the patch to an existing CDI or GDI of the game. Then throw that file onto your ODE of choice or burn it onto a CD-R and you're off and away blasting the crap out of things with historic military vehicles!

Will you be grabbing this latest English translation? Let us know in the comments!

The Dreamcast commercial indie scene enters a 'Golden Age'

We love to feature guest articles here at the Junkyard, and are always keen to hear from readers who would like to submit something for publication. Here, Laurence Goodchild (aka Lozzdude) takes a look at the burgeoning commercial indie scene that has furnished the Sega Dreamcast with some of the finest examples of independently developed games on any system. Lozz, over to you...

When Sega pulled the plug on the Dreamcast in 2001, few would have predicted that our beloved little white box would still be pushing out new titles 20 years later. Flicking through the pages of the multitude of gaming magazines that were vying for market share at the time, readers were presented with a journalistic consensus that the Dreamcast was well and truly dead (note: for younger members of the audience, magazines were bounded sheets of paper with writing and artwork printed on them).

Of course, by industry standards, this assessment was bang on the money. The gaming reporters may well have known that a trickle of official releases would continue to see the light of day for a few more years, or had an inkling that a sizeable portion of the Dreamcast’s enthusiastic fanbase would continue to support homebrew projects, some of which could conceivably be released in physical form on a small scale. In the terms of reference that mattered to the industry and the wider public though (revenue, profit, audience size), the writing had already been on the wall for some time.

Where it all began...

Although by these standards the Dreamcast's new releases are still undoubtedly small fry, the commercial Dreamcast indie scene has been through an astounding boom in recent years; one which is becoming hard to ignore. The tongue-in-cheek opinion shared amongst Dreamcast fanatics for many years that "the Dreamcast is a current gen console" is getting less and less absurd by the day. What began with the release of Cryptic Allusion’s Feet of Fury in 2003 (more info here) has snowballed to a point where 14 indie games were released in 2021. Furthermore, there are as many as 30 Dreamcast games forecast for release on a commercial basis in 2022 and beyond - a figure that is edging close to the 50 or so officially licenced releases seen in Europe in 2001, and which far outstrips the 9 released in 2002.

Of course, the rocketing quantity of releases doesn’t single-handedly uphold the claim that we’re in a “golden age” for the Dreamcast indie scene, but there are many other signs that accompany this trend. For one, the variety of games available is wider than ever, putting to rest the persistent trope that all the Dreamcast indie scene has to offer is shooters (which to be fair, had some validity in the mid to late noughties). Everything from platformers, fighters, puzzlers, RPGs, racers, and visual novels are finding a home on a professionally printed Dreamcast-compatible MIL-CD these days. Furthermore, there has been a diversification of contributors who are throwing their hats into the ring. Longstanding Dreamcast developers with a mountain of credibility stored up, such as Senile Team, are thankfully still here, but they have also been joined by a new wave of developers and publishers that are rapidly earning their stripes, including the likes of PixelHeart/JoshProd, LowTek Games, RetroSumus, The Bit Station, and WAVE Game Studios to name but a few.

What really adds weight to the hypothesis that the Dreamcast indie scene is entering a golden age though is the quality of many of the games - something which is undeniably more subjective and harder to pin down, but which will be recognised by many. Throughout the lifespan of the commercial Dreamcast indie scene there have always been standout titles, such as Wind & Water Puzzle Battles (2008) or Sturmwind (2013), which drew worthy praise at the time. Dreamcast enthusiasts would often wait in anticipation for years at a time for these gems; games that had clearly benefitted from the great care and attention to detail of their developers. Yet in 2020 and 2021 we were spoiled rotten with the release of three extraordinarily good titles in Intrepid Izzy, Xenocider and Xeno Crisis. These have all been extensively reviewed elsewhere too, so I won’t pour out my adoration here. Suffice it to say that they each set a high standard which others should be aiming for.

Three of the recent 'big' indie releases on Dreamcast

So, what exactly is driving this boom? Through the highly scientific method of poking around the internet, chatting with fellow devout Dreamcast fans, and mulling it over whilst munching on Hula Hoops, here's "what I reckon."

First and foremost, there is a longstanding healthy demand for commercial indie releases. Folks are willing to part with their cold hard cash for these games, and fundamentally that is what makes it viable for them to be released, especially in a physical format. Many indie games that see the light of day in a commercial form on the DC are undoubtedly labours of love and have had countless hours of voluntary or underpaid labour poured into them. Yet, however much these development costs can be kept in check, and no matter how much cheaper printing a CD is compared to producing another medium (such as a cartridge), it still requires funding, and so a reasonable level of demand is essential. 

Sales vary heavily from game to game, but it isn’t unusual to hear of indie Dreamcast releases selling over a thousand units, while those that sell well have the capability of reaching far beyond this over the course of their shelf life. For example, we know that Intrepid Izzy rapidly sold out its initial 700 copy print run within weeks of its release date, while the numbers shown on the PixelHeart website imply that a game such as Arcade Racing Legends has sold 2,500 copies of its PAL variation alone to-date. To put this into perspective, Radilgy, one of few final officially licensed Dreamcast games, was purported to have a print run of just 4,000 copies. When you add highly priced collectors’ editions into the mix - something that a section of the Dreamcast scene’s sizeable ‘adult-with-disposable-income’ demographic keenly buy into - then breaking even is a realistic, though not guaranteed, goal.

Arcade Racing Legends

On the other side of the coin, there are many factors that help facilitate the supply of games. Front and centre is the fact that Sega have thus far been very liberal (touch wood!) in their stance on the Dreamcast indie scene. Perhaps there is just no valid business rationale for them to dedicate resources to making things difficult (as opposed to genuine goodwill), but a laissez-faire attitude from multinational corporations under circumstances such as these is not always a given. Pair this with the Dreamcast’s capability to play games pressed to regular CDs without modification, and the relative ease of developing games for the console when compared to other platforms (often cited by developers in their DCJY interviews), and we have the foundations of the whole commercial indie scene.


Where Are They Now? Official UK Dreamcast Magazine's '100+ New Games'

Who remembers the July 2000 issue of Official UK Dreamcast Magazine (Issue 09)? The cover was adorned with its usual demo disc, sporting demos for Resident Evil CODE: Veronica, Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding and Silver (plus an interactive tour of the Dreamarena website), but rather than a single game gracing the front as usual, brown paper was torn away to reveal the headline ‘100+ New Games: Exclusive shots and insider information the the games you’ll be playing for the next year… and beyond!’

This was a bold, simple cover, aiming to reassure readers that things were all good in the world of Dreamcast, that many new games were on the horizon. Of course we all know how this story ends, but at the time we were still over 6 months away from the announcement of the DC’s discontinuation and the PlayStation 2 was already out in Japan. With more and more people choosing to wait for the launch of Sony’s sophomore system in Europe, sales were slowing and confidence was starting to wane.

I recall at the time that the issue did its job. I picked it up ostensibly for the CODE: Veronica demo disc, having only just gotten a Dreamcast myself, but the promise of so many new games on the horizon certainly shored up my belief that the Dreamcast was going to be around for some time to come. Hindsight is 20/20 though, right? Sigh...

Looking at the issue while doing my continued research for ‘Dreamcast: Year Two,’ almost 22 years after it was first published, I found the most interesting thing about the ‘100+ New Games’ feature to be the stats. You see, readers, I took it upon myself to start a spreadsheet and list every single game mentioned in the 22 pages of this feature (written by Ed Lomas, Warren Chrismas and Steve Owen - Ed even mentions it in my interview with him for ‘Dreamcast: Year One’). I then worked out which of the mentioned games actually released on Dreamcast, which of them released in PAL territories, if any of them were released elsewhere and whether any that didn’t release on Dreamcast had any sort of playable version in existence today.

I’ll end this piece with a link to the spreadsheet for you, but first those sexy stats. Check out this bullet-pointed list of factoids that stand out all these years later:

  • In actuality the feature mentions 153 games, although only 99 are given their own sections (of various sizes). The other 54 are listed on one page under the title ‘And There’s More...’. These were games known of, but not seen by the ODM team.
  • Of those 153 games, 104 saw a Dreamcast release.
  • 17 of the released games were home platform exclusives, meaning they never saw release on any platform besides Dreamcast or in arcades. These are: NBA 2K1, POD: Speedzone, Illbleed, Sonic Shuffle, Super Runabout, Outtrigger, WWF: Royal Rumble, Alien Front Online, Tokyo Highway Challenge 2, Magic: The Gathering, Cannon Spike, Max Steel: Covert Missions, NFL 2K1, Super Magnetic Neo, D2, Floigan Brothers and Draconus: Cult Of The Wyrm. Who says the Dreamcast has no exclusives?!
  • 17 of the released games never ended up being released in PAL territories. These were: NBA 2K1, Illbleed, Sega Marine Fishing, World Series Baseball 2K1, Prince Of Persia: Arabian Nights, Alien Front Online, Magic: The Gathering, Seaman, Bang! - Gunship Elite, NFL Blitz 2001, Max Steel: Covert Missions, NFL 2K1, D2, Namco Museum, Demolition Racer: No Exit, Frogger 2, and Ms Pac-Man: Maze Madness.
  • Evolution 2 was very nearly a Dreamcast exclusive, apart from a PC port released only in Taiwan.
  • Of the 49 games from the feature that never saw release on the DC, 10 never saw the light of day on a home system at all (though Jambo! Safari and Brave Firefighters were released to arcades).
  • A fair few of those that never saw release were due on both DC and PC, but a heist game titled Picassio started development on Dreamcast before moving to PS2 and finally GameCube before being shelved. The only one we know was only ever destined for Dreamcast in this list was Take The Bullet.
  • The other 39 games originated on other systems or were eventually released on other platforms.
  • Of the unreleased games in the ‘100+ New Games’ feature, 4 have some kind of version playable on Dreamcast today. You can download a fully working version of Half-Life thanks to review copies that were sent out before the completed game was ultimately pulled. Versions of Take The Bullet and Heroes of Might & Magic III have been found over the years, in various guises, though neither game is complete or fully playable. Colin McRae Rally 2.0 is known to have a version that is around 30% complete, though this isn’t available to the public (our own Tom Charnock was able to give it a go though).
  • There are some games with either limited or no information known, such as Legend Of The Blade Masters, M.O.U.T.: Urban Warfare 2025 and Gorkamorka. It’d be great to find out more about titles like these.

These are just games listed in one article too. We know there are many more games that were due to arrive on the Dreamcast but never did, however it’s very interesting to take a look back in time and see what might have been had the console's lifespan not come to such an abrupt end.

See the full list of games mentioned in ‘100+ New Games’ via this link, or grab the PDF of the magazine (which we used to recreate some of the feature pages) here, and let us know which of them you would like to have seen come to fruition in the comments. If you have any information about any of these ‘lost’ games too, please hit us up!

Dreamcast officially goes Postal this June!

We looked at the beta version of Dan Redfield's excellent Dreamcast port of Postal in the recent past, and decreed it to be about as faithful a recreation of the 1997 PC shooter as we could have hoped. The work-in-progress version was released in December 2021, and was available to try by downloading the file and putting it on a CD-R or a GDEMU. It was a great example of an indie developer porting open source PC code onto the Dreamcast - not least because it featured full Dreamcast controller support and pretty much every bit of content from the original game.

The story of Postal on the Dreamcast is a fairly interesting one, as the source code was released by original developer Running with Scissors back in 2016, along with an appeal for a willing indie dev to port it to the Dreamcast. Just shows you good things come to those who wait though, as the game is now being given a full official physical release - and you can get your hands on it on 2 June 2022 via WAVE Game Studios, with pre-orders now live on their website. The press release reads: 

Retro gaming fans will be able to experience the rapid-fire action enjoyed by millions of PC gamers later this year when WAVE Game Studios releases this officially licensed port of the classic title on Dreamcast, marking the franchise’s first appearance on the console.

Twenty-five years after the game’s original release, the dream of a professional release on the classic console is finally a reality. POSTAL™ developers Running With Scissors have given their blessing for this brand new no compromises version for Dreamcast, built with love from the original source code.

For more information about POSTAL™ for Dreamcast please visit the WAVE Game Studios website or for more information about the POSTAL™ franchise please visit the Running With Scissors website.

So there we go - yet another new game heading to the Dreamcast in 2022 - and they don't come with much more fame/infamy than Postal. Rather superbly, this release will also come in a choice of PAL, NTSC-U and NTSC-J packaging. Check out some gameplay from the Dreamcast beta version here, and read our interview with WAVE Game Studios here.

Look out for our full review when Postal lands on Dreamcast later this year.

The hunt for Premier Eleven - the lost Atomiswave soccer title

As we've detailed here in the recent past, the Sammy Atomiswave is a gold mine of interesting and lesser known titles that are now playable on the Dreamcast. This is thanks to talented Dreamcast community members such as megavolt85, yzb and others; and is possible in part due to the hardware similarities between the prematurley cancelled arcade system and the Dreamcast on which it is based.

Although the vast majority of the games released on Atomiswave have now been ported to the Dreamcast, there still remain several 'lost' titles that are either in the hands of private collectors; or really are lost to the annals of gaming history. One such game is the now almost legendary Chicago 1929/The Roaring Twenties - a racing game set in prohibition era America. Another of these lost 'holy grail' Atomiswave titles is a football/soccer game developed by Dimps Corporation and titled Premier Eleven.

Source: The Arcade Flyer Archive

As is well documented, the Dreamcast's stable of soccer titles never really hit the heights of titles on contemporary systems, with PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox owners all having superior kick ball experiences at their disposal. But what of Premier Eleven then? Details are relatively scant on just how good this game could have been, but the small amount of video available online shows a Virtua Striker style experience with some outstanding animation and excellent visuals. Regardless, I for one would love to sample Premier Eleven simply out of pure curiosity (and my love of soccer games); and who knows - Premier Eleven could be the top tier football game Dreamcast owners have been waiting for.

Alas, that's unlikely to happen. Not least because Premier Eleven was never relased. Or was it? Here's where things get interesting. Over on Dreamcast Talk, there's a thread all about a Premier Eleven arcade board coming up for sale on eBay. The thread was started back in January 2021 by user Ro Magnus Larsson and the eBay auction is still live, with the seller 'neotropolis' asking for $15,000 in return for a 'fully working, 100% complete' example of Premier Eleven. The listing goes on to claim: "To my knowledge, this game only exists in the form you see here; a true holy-grail centerpiece for any arcade-gaming collector!"

What would appear to back this claim up is that the only footage of this game actually running comes from the previous owner of the Premier Eleven board up for auction. Upon learning of the video, several members of the Dreamcast Talk forum commented on the upload pleading for owner 'bowser 123' to dump the rom, but they responded saying that they'd already sold the board to the person who now has it listed on eBay: "I made this video because I sold the game for USA, specifically for an ebay seller called neotropolis, I think he is still selling it for a fortune, even if I wanted to make the dump I couldn't because I don't have it anymore."

So end of story right? There is one known copy of Premier Eleven for the Atomiswave. The person who owned it made a video to show it working, and then sold it. The buyer now has it listed on eBay for $15,000 and it's unlikely that the rom will be dumped unless a super wealthy Dreamcast fan buys it and releases the rom online out of the goodness of their own heart. Well, not quite.

There is some proof that this copy of Premier Eleven is not in fact the only known version out there. First, back in 2017 when we covered the discovery of a dev kit containing previously unseen Chicago 1929 assets, friend of the Junkyard and MSR authority RJAY63 commented: "I actually played Chicago 1929 at Southsea Island Leisure Arcade (Clarence Pier, Southsea, UK) circa 2005. They briefly became a test site for Sega Amusements with an Outrun 2 SP set-up and quite a few Atomiswave titles. Only played it once but I wasn't very impressed so I'm not surprised it got canned."

The key information here is the Southsea Island Leisure Arcade in Hampshire, UK. And furthermore that this location was a test site for Sega Amusements back in the 2000s. This could be written off purely as a baseless rumour, if not for the further evidence backing this up in the form of photos. Photos of a Premier Eleven arcade cabinet running at Southsea Island Leisure Arcade, circa 2004:

Dreamcast Talk forum member Baseley0o frequented the same arcade as RJAY63, and also took photos of the machines at the time, stating: "This game deffo went out into circulation/arcades. I took these snaps at my local arcade Clarence Pier, Southsea (UK) not too long after Atomiswave came out and one of them was Premier Eleven. I'm unsure if the 2004 date my camera shows is accurate. I thought maybe 2003 but it's a while back now! The arcade in question wasn't a test site for anything that I recall, though did have the odd surprise like these."

So what does all this mean? To me, it points to the very real possibility that there is more than one single copy of Premier Eleven in existence. That there is a small chance that somewhere - possibly even in the UK - the Premier Eleven Atomiswave cartridge in final, working form exists. And this is very exciting, for various reasons - not least for video game history preservation.

All of this would not have been possible without the investigation of the Dreamcast Talk forum members and people like RAY63 and Baseley0o; but there's still a lot of work to be done to discover the fate of the Premier Eleven game that was playable in Southsea in the mid 2000s. 

To this end, I have contacted Sega Amusements to ask if they have any records of what happened to Premier Eleven and if they can help to shed any light on this mystery. Likewise, for what it's worth I've emailed Dimps via their corporate website. Furthermore, Southsea Island Leisure Arcade is still in operation to this day, and according to the UK Government's Companies House website, the same directors who ran the location in the mid 2000s are still in charge. It's probably a long shot that they would even remember the Premier Eleven machine being placed in the arcade (or indeed what happened to it), but I've also reached out to them, too. If this article can help to shine even a slither of light into the darkness and assist in the release of this long lost Atomiswave title, then all the better.

For now though, I guess waiting for a reply from Sega Amusements or Southsea Island is our best bet. Unless anyone wants to cough up $15,000 for the copy on eBay...


Update

After I published this article, I took a trip down to Clarence Pier in Southsea and located the very arcade in which the photographs above were taken. Naturally, in the intervening decades since Baseley0o took the photos, the arcade has been completely redecorated and there relatively few recognisable video arcades on offer; much of the floor space now being taken up by gambling machines and toy grabbers. 

I'm not sure what I was expecting really - maybe a faint glimmer of hope that the passage of time had somehow avoided this little corner of Hampshire and that the Premier Eleven Atomiswave machine might still be there in some forgotten corner, covered in dust and be happily chiming away to itself in attract mode. Alas, this wasn't the case - the machine had obviously long since been removed. I asked a member of staff but they had no recollection of it either, again this is not surprising considering how long ago the photos were taken.

In a slightly more bountiful turn of events, I did recieve a response from Sega Amusements, with several members of the team responding to my emails. The most interesting reply came from Martin Riley, the International Sales Manager:


Hello Tom,   

Yes, actually I was the one who placed those games into the Southsea arcade, but it was later than 2000.   

I was the Sales Manager at Sammy Europe based in London at the time that we launched Atomiswave into the UK. In your picture you can see the standard modular version first launched, and then the squarer box cabinet which was the deluxe version for the larger arcade. 

Premier Eleven was indeed a game we looked to launch in UK market and only really tested, but it didn’t go into wide circulation. However, I’m not 100% sure it was the only prototype. This was from either Japan or USA Sammy studios and was supposed to be an on-line version with servers in each country, but was a little before its time and wasn’t popular, or worked as planned, if I remember correctly, and in the end was never continued. So, you are right that there are very few of these cartridges around as it was never on general release in the UK.

I hope this helps.

Martin Riley

International Sales Manager


This update doesn't really add a great deal to the quest to locate other copies of Premier Eleven, although it is cool that we managed to track down the very person who put the Premier Eleven cabinet into that arcade in Southsea.