Wednesday, May 31, 2006
A while back, the rather fanboyish but bloody funny IGN-Dreamcast2 blog started a countdown. What was it for? Now the countdown has ended this is it.
No, Sega haven't announced a Dreamcast 2 console. The news is that IGN has re-launched the Dreamcast section of their website thanks to a collection of fans doing it for free. Why? Because for starters they want to re-review every single game (because to be honest some of the original reviews were a little OOT. A 9.9 score for Tony Hawks 2? What were they thinking?) and because there is just so much love for the console still out there. Their first new review, complete with new screenshots and videos (that when seen next to the one's posted way back in 2000 is quite a bizarre sight), is of San Francisco 2049. The new rating system used just for the Dreamcast section even includes how rare said game is now and how much they paid for it. They even have an article about the best video game uses of Monkeys. Here's the blog blurb:
"You love this blog? Well you're going to be in heaven over the new IGN Dreamcast. No rules. No bosses. Just a bunch of Sega fans run amok, reminding people that while games coverage is serious business, this shit is supposed to be fun.
We're counting down every single U.S. Dreamcast game for the next year or so. That's right, we're playing every single game again, taking new screens and videos and giving out impressions on the value of these games in 2006. We'll also have retrospective interviews with former IGN Dreamcast editors plus the latest new on Sega's plans for a Dreamcast 2."
Brilliant! This was followed wth quite possibly the most simple yet perfect tribrute to the console ever put to youtube..
Monday, May 29, 2006
When you take into consideration that most of old Nostro's 'predictions' have been fabricated by people who want to sell books about impending apocalypse, you may be forgiven for thinking this uprising will never come. But have faith, dear reader - and sign up with DC Forums here!
Speaking of uprisings, saw X-Men 3: The Last Stand yesterday. It was passable and features some great effects, but the whole story is just a bit pointless when it comes down to it. Oh, and it's got Vinnie Jones in it which usually spells disaster but he's actually not as embarrasing as I thought he'd be.
And if you do go to see it, wait in your (spine-threateningly uncomfortable) seat until the final credits have ended for an extra scene that screams 'X-Men 4' louder than the final scene before the credits roll. You may look like a sad tosser watching the credits while the cinema staff clean up around you, but at least you'll get your money's worth. Cough.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Obviously, being the complete Dreamcast freak that I am, I knew that as soon as my pupils took in it's majesty, fate had decided that I would inevitably own it. Alas, not wanting to incur the unspeakable wrath of the work-based Internet Monitoring Agency (IMA - similar to the CIA, only much more brutal), I refrained from 'buying it now,' just incase said shaved monkeys were able to ID me from the transaction and then approach my cubicle.
Anyways - to turn an incredibly dull story into an incredibly brief one: got home, item sold yadda yadda yadda. Unpeturbed, I Googled (how pretentious) for another one and like a fat, bespectacled 36 year old virgin who still lives at home with his parents might, say, drop a malteser under his bed, get down on his hands and knees, squeeze underneath and retrieve the choclatey treat from it's new home among the mass of dog eared copies of Readers' Wives and crispy balls of tissue paper - only to discover a half eaten peparami (Oh joy of joys!); I discovered THIS! The Dreamcast Gallery!!!
But before I continue, let me assure you - valued reader - that I am neither fat, bespectacled, 36, or a virgin...although the rest of that analogy is eerily close to the truth. Except that it was a half eaten pot noodle under my bed. Poetic license.
"Get on with it, cocksucker!" I hear you cry, so without further ado:
Yes, The Dreamcast Gallery is (as the name suggests) a pictoral journey through Dreamcast Land and features several sections including:
- Consoles (prototypes and various cool special editions that we in the United Kingdom NEVER GOT!)
- Contollers (see above - mainly ones WE NEVER GOT!)
- VMUs (yep...more cool VMUs - mainly ones...you get the idea)
- Merchandise (Cool DC related paraphenalia)
- Development Kit (boring gits only, I'm afraid)
It's an inflatable cushion! Now you too can fart and slide about on the Dreamcast logo!
Look like a total ponce AND a geek in the gym? I have the very thing, Sir: A Dreamcast bottle holder! Of course, you could fill it with Cider and be the envy of all of the other tramps down at the bus station...
Rolex? Schmolex! Tag Hauer? Slag Heurgh! The real Gentleman's timepiece comes with a sweaty resin strap and an orange swirl.
I have to be honest - I have no friggin idea what this thing is meant to be. It's called a 'Swatch,' apparently.
Ah - it's a motion sensor wanking aid. Shoulda guessed, really. Maybe for use with Phantasy Star Onyourown. Yak.
The Dreamcast Gallery - go there now, and bask in it's overall warm fuzzy glow. And for anyone who cares - I didn't manage to get the keyring. I got something even better instead...more to follow...
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Anyhow, this got me thinking. 'Terror,' apart from being Mr Bush's favourite catchphrase at the moment, is quite ubiquitous. People, we live in an age of fear: but fear not! There are several Dreamcast based organisations at hand to save us from our News of the World created oppressors!
Lets have a look at them and their capability to keep us and our 'democracy' safe...
OK, not a solely Dreamcast related organisation, but Rainbow appeared in no less than two titles for our favourite great white hope. Taking control of a team of crack counter terrorist agents, it was up to you to infiltrate various real world locales such as museums, schools and office buildings in total silence and take out any 'tangoes' who happened to be stupid enough to wander into your line of fire. The two DC versions are very much a mixed bag in terms of graphics, sound and pretty much everything really. The first game, Rainbow Six, featured pretty basic graphics and some shockingly bad texture mapping but overall was quite playable. The second Dreamcast outing for Rainbow was in the follow-up, Rogue Spear and that added keyboard and mouse compatibility and slightly better visuals but also threw in a wierd 'flickery' screen. Hard to explain, but when you play 'em both you'll see what I mean.
More of a privatley funded venture than the NATO controlled Rainbow, Interforce is still primarily an anti-terrorist outfit. If you're still not completely sure who Interforce are - one word: Outtrigger. Or is that two words? Whatever. Outtrigger is a top little arcade game with all the usual bells and whistles attached to the genre: gameplay about as deep as a muller fruit corner, garishly vibrant graphics and arenas the size of a postage stamp. But that's not to detract from Outtrigger - indeed, it's a really good game and deathmatch fans would be encouraged to seek it out.
Not really an organisation in the traditional sense, John Mullins is the real life one man army featured in Soldier of Fortune. Regular visitors to the 'Yard will already know my opinions on SoF (not favourable), but Mr Mullins is still fighting the good fight against a seemingly infinate number of balaclava clad hoodlums intent on world domination. The fact that Mullins looks like an outcast from the Village People fades into insignificance when he's got an arsenal of weapons as impressive as displayed here. Shotguns, Desert Eagles and M16s are all perfectly acceptable methods of diverting moustache jokes too.
Hmmm, not much can be said about the CMF. Or Confidential Mission Force, for those of you not on the 'need to know' list. They're out to stop an evil scientist (replete with evil eye-patch (it must be a nightmare looking through a microscope)) taking over the world which is very commendable and all, and also feature in the other PAL lightgun game - Confidential Mission...but that's about it. Oh and one of them is called Howard. But sadly, it's not the girl.
I'm thinking of going to watch The Da Vinci Code this week because I thought the book was a great read. Airport fiction it may well be, but a good read nonetheless. An observation I have made though, is that many people are saying the film is a pile of shite. When asked if they have read the book, the answer is invariably "no." FUCKING CRETINS. If I hear one more pompous twat on the bus going on about how it's all made up and totally inaccurate, I swear I'll punch the fucker in the eye. Then jump on his throat. Then drag his asphyxiated corpse to WH Smith and point out that the Da Vinci Code is, has and always will be sold in the FICTION department...BECAUSE IT'S FICTION and has never been marketed otherwise!!!
Just had to get that off my chest. Next Week - how to dodge taxes and get away with it! The Dreamcast Junkyard: better than Capone. Ahem.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
First off, action figures! Everyone loves those right? Well, you'll be pleased to now that there's actually quite a few out there based on Dreamcast games. First off, the most obvious, Sonic Adventure. While there's truckloads of Sonic consumables out there (Trust me, I own quite a collection myself), these following were actually made to promote Sonic Adventure back in 1999. After flickering through the Argos catalogue you may actually recognise these three talking figures here...
..because Sega recently re-released these to promote the anime series Sonic X. They didn't even bother to change the voices to the Sonic X ones, and for some reason they made the Sonic one look rather odd...
...his gonna get a neck cramp like that. Anyway, the next one is a whole lot nicer. This limited edition is quite big, and comes with a big Sonic emblem thingy that talks, and it came in a splendid box. There was also a series of smaller figures of this style, but I've never been able to get my mitts on them. They even did Big and Gamma! I want them so much.
Next up: House of the Dead 2. This rather lovely set of four came my way rather recently at boot sales brand new for £3 a piece. They even have the Dreamcast swirly on the back of the boxes, which is nice. One of them is out of his box because it was all beaten up (I bought that one else where, before the whole set popped up by the tub load.) I kept them in their boxes because I simpliy have no where to put them. The back of the boxes also show off that there was a series of Space Channel 5 figures. I need those.
Crazy Taxi! This toy was actually released rather the Dreamcast's commercial "death" and was actually promoting the PS2 port (sic.). There was also another one from Crazy taxi 3 on the Xbox, but I haven't come across that yet. This was from a whole series of Sega toys that also includes the Monkeyball characters, some Virtua Fighter 4 blokes, and Sonic 'n' Shadow. This one is the cutest, however, because it comes with little plug-in passengers, including that fat guy who always wants to go to the baseball arena to eat hotdogs.
Now this one is vaguely Dreamcast related, as Tron Bonnie and her little robot helpers are my favourite picks in Marvel Vs Capcom 2, only in that she is stomping around in a huge green robot. Whatever the case, think this is hella cute.
Speaking of 2D fighters, here's my Street Fighter collection. This photo is old so it's missing the two Capcom Vs SNK 2 figures I got last xmas, and the lighting does them no justice, but I've had these since 2001, and there's a ew 3rd Strike characters in there, which is nice.
Shifting away from action figures, here's something you won't see everyday: a book about going online with the Dreamcast published back in '99. because I didn't own a PC back then, the Dreamcast was my main source of the interwebs, so this boo went everywhere with me, hence why it's now so battered up. It even helped me out with setting up my first website "SegaGaga" (which later became the web comic MangaGaga). I signed up to Angelfire, and disconnected every time I went into the HTML editor to save money, then I would go onto the Chu Chu Rocket chat and plug the site with a shortcut key. Ahh, memories.
Finally, here's an interesting piece that you can pretty easily find on Ebay pretty cheap. Released for just two days online when you ordered Sonic Adventure 2, this is the 10th anniversary box set, complete with a music CD, gold coin and a little history book. They were only selling it on Dream Arena in very limited numbers back in 2001, and you had to go on there and order it from midnight before it was gone. I tried to get through, but when hundreds of people hit a website at the same time and you're using a 33kb modem...things are a little slow, and I didn't get through. People soon slapped these onto Ebay for around £50, but after a few weeks it was apparent that there was loads of these things, so it's values shot down and I nabbed myself one a few months later (by then I had a PC) for around £15. It even had a Japanese import Sonic Adventure 2 included!
One last thing: I took some more photos of my collection of DC stuff today out of sheer boredom, and I didn't want to make a whole new topic just to show off with, so here's the photos. I'm such a show off it's not even healthy. The 2nd image is made up of 3 photos joined together, which is way it looks funny in places, but with it you can see he covers of every game I own. Full view is a must.
I might make a 2nd topic like this one day, so watch out! Also, I think we can all agree that Sega Freaks seems to be a dead blog now, can't we? For those who wonder how I keep churning out these long posts, it's because I've been doing naff all else. Samba De Amigo, Seaman, Sega marine Fishing and MAME4ALL have taken over my life as of recently.
The DC shot (left) shows a sign on the door to the left; while in the Xbox version (right), the sign is absent...
There are loads of others, and some are slightly more nonsensical than others (bottles in shop fridges have moved etc) - but it's still a really intriguing study of the little things Sega thought necessary to change...
...and remember to view us with Firefox - Internet Explorer fucks the 'Yard's sidebar up for some reason.
Monday, May 22, 2006
The Gagaman has provided such amazing posts over the last week that I believe it would be extremely ignorant and totally in character for me not to comment, but in recognition of the obvious effort exerted - here goes: Gagaman, "nicely done, Sir."
Just a quick bit of news though before I plough ahead with much Dreamcast related verbal diahorrea - yesterday I was roped into being an audience member for a TV gameshow called 'The Price is Right.' It's target audience is obviously grannies, dolers and students as it's aired at about 4.30 in the afternoon and as such I won't get to see myself looking like a cross between our old friend Pete Doherty and the Cheshire Cat. Why so? Because I only got about an hour's sleep the night before and been drinking heavily throughout. TV debuts: always a laugh.
But onwards and upwards. It's been a while, but today saw my first Dreamcast purchases for nearly three weeks. Here for your viewing pleasure is what I managed to get in return for a wet, screwed up fiver at my local Gamestation...
Sega Extreme Sports
Bit of a curious one this. I first played it aeons ago on a demo disc that came with the extortionatly priced Official Dreamcast Magazine (although saying that, £5 for a mag is considered reasonable these days - damn thieving media swines); and remember being slightly impressed by the sumptuous visuals. Basically, Sega Extreme Sports is like playing a triathlon but instead of running, swimming, chopping onions and grouting the bathroom (or whatever they do in a triathlon); you have to guide your remarkably stereotypical character through a series of non liner 'stages' via various modes of transport. So, you start off at the top of an obscenely steep mountain with a snowboard strapped to your feet, bomb it down the hillside and go through a checkpoint at the bottom. Then, your character will hop off the 'board and run to a quad bike (or ATV, depending on how anal you are) and scramble over the hills to the next checkpoint...and so on and so forth until you get to the finish.
It's actually rather good fun, but some sections/modes of transport are better than others e.g. the hang-gliding sections in particular are the gaming equivalent of a peaceful political protest - you never really know what's going on, where you're going or what you're meant to be doing. The aforementioned snowboarding bits are pretty enjoyable and probably could have been used to make up a full game - they're easily as good as 1080 on the N64; and the music is quite similar to that heard in Jet Set Radio (relaxed beats, man), so it's all good. The graphics possibly aren’t as good as they once seemed, and the scenery has the habit of 'morphing' into view in a slightly disturbing manner, but overall (with the exception of the hang-gliding), Extreme Sports is a pleasant little game.
6.8/10 in an EGM stylee.
You've had the Good...now prepare for the Bad and The Ugly rolled into a single ball of sheer hatred and then flattened to the size of...well, a Dreamcast GD-Rom, as luck would have it. Gentlemen, lock up your daughters - it's:
90 Minutes: Sega Championship Football
Erm. What happened here then? I've mentioned 90 Minutes in the past, but I’d only managed to play it briefly. Now I actually own it, I can confirm my earlier fears that it is one of the most broken video representations of footy I've ever seen. Pele on the Megadrive played a more convincing game than 90 Minutes, and if I remember rightly, Mean Machines Sega said that it was one of the worst games...ever. But I've jumped the gun a bit. There are loads of things wrong with 90 Minutes:
- Playstation quality visuals (that's PSX, friends - not PS2)
- Commentary that's so bad it's actually just plain bad (example: "The clock, 5 minutes, indicates that there are 5 minutes remaining in this, the first half..." - no, REALLY)
- A 'dash' button that doesn't make your player run any faster (?)
- More slowdon than a particularly busy day down at the Harbour in Shenmue (oops...!)
- It's impossible to tackle
- Players run through the ball
This list is exhaustive, but I'm sure you get the message.
However, the single aspect of the 90 Minutes 'experience' (an experience similar to 'The Death of A Thousand Screams') that makes me want to rip out and then devour my own small intestine, is that it was developed by Smilebit. Or at least it has their logo festooned all over the box and manual. Who?
Er...Jet Set Radio? Jet Set Radio Future? Gun Valkyrie? Panzer Dragoon Orta? Hmmm...when you consider the rest of the Smilebit family, 90 Minutes suddenly looks more like the retarded brother who is chained up in the attic.
Turd out of 5, in a CVG (Golden Years of '96-'99) stylee.
And even though I've already broken my vow not to mention Shenmue, I've got some news that just can't wait...I FINISHED IT!!! Now for part 2... :-)
Sunday, May 21, 2006
This first clip is of Time Crisis, which works almost perfectly. This was always a favourite of mine in the arcades back when I was about 11. The intro is all in real time so this is a great way to show how the emulator works at it's best. The only main thing that sticks out is some of the voices fluffing up, especially near the end. Also, the fact that you can't use the Dreamcast light gun on it takes away some of the fun. Oh well.
Next is Parappa the Rappa. I don't own this game properly (it's a rare one, lke a lot of the good ones are), but have a burnt copy from a torrent site to check this out, as I was told it worked well, and it does. The title screen is a bit messy, the menu's graphics are not quite right, and the cut scenes in-between levels don't play right, but the in-game stuff works perfectly, as seen here. Because all the pixelation is smoothed out, the game looks like a real cartoon almost.
This clip above is of Riddddddge Racerrrrrrrrrr: High Spec. First it plays the original mode, which runs kind of slow but perfectly playable, then the 'Turbo' made which is even slower, but runs pretty well none the less. This is one of those games you don't need a save file for either, as it's just a quick fix arcade title. It seems Namco games are the ones that work the most for Bleemcast, which is good news for me, as there games are pretty much the only ones I like on the Playstation that I can't get anywhere else.
Next up: Ridge Racer Type 4. Dreamcast nuts will remember that this was the first game Bleem showed screenshots of running on Bleemcast, and sure enough it works really well, especially in time attack. The main problem I noticed is in the Grand Prix mode, where the car engine plays up, sometimes going silent then suddenly really loud.
Rollcage also works well enough to play, but it has some problems with loading textures from time to time, and there's no sound effects at all. It also makes me feel like a casual gamer playing it, for some reason.
Finally, Driver 2. If you thought Rollcage had texture problems, check this out. It also slows down from time to time (especially when you first start up the car) and, not shown in the video, the menu's are a bit of a pain of navigate. Meh.
Well there you have it. Conclusion? Unless you already own the games on the Playstation, this is only really a novelty more than anything. What's more, Dreamcast games are far more interesting anyway, as long as you're not counting all those games they ported from the Playstation that weren’t even it’s good ones.
The first disc, 'History/VF4' features all the music and lots of footage from all the previous VF games (1,2,3, and Kids), including some interesting beta footage, as well as all those games music. The second half of the disc is dedicated to VF4, with movie clips, profiles and a whole lotta images. That's about it, really. Also, all the videos are played in a thumbnail rather than full screen, so you're not going to enjoy this if you have a small telly.
The other disc, 'VF4 Passport', is exactly what it sounds like: a disc you take online to view the website. That's it. Surely they could of just fit that on the other disc, rather than make a whole disc for a few web page files that take up about 10MB? Oh well, I didn't even bother burning this one as soon as I browsed through the files.
If your a Virtua Fighter nut, then this disc will probably worth the look for the early test footage (although they forgot to include footage of VF1's axed Arabian characters who was later made playable in Fighters Megamix) but over wise, don't bother.
In other news: I got another light gun and rumble pack the other day chap. Playing house of the Dead 2 with two guns is harder, but certainly just as fun. I have that Bleem topic I promised ages go on it's way.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
First thing you notice is the beautiful artwork on the box itself. Unlike most of the Dreamcast boxes which are a minimalist (but still rather cool) blue with huge white text, this box has the characters plastered all over the front and really looks something up on your shelf. I certainly won't be stuffing this in the loft in a hurry.
Open the box up and all this stuff is found inside. All nicely bubble wrapped it was, and everything is pristine, which is nice.
The bright red maracas are the first thing you see upon opening the box. To my surprise they even have a rattle in them, which you can remove with a screwdriver if you wish, and replace in-game with SFX, of which there are loads to unlock. They both have a yellow button on them for menu hopping, but shaking is what these babies are all about.
Now this is the piece which makes the set cost an arm and a leg. This is the sensor device that sits in front of your feet and registers how high the maracas you are holding are. The maracas plug into the back of this, and the whole device plugs into the controller port.
The sensor has Velcro underneath it so it can attach itself to this rather funky mat. Unlike the DDR mat this isn't used for any of the controls, but as a guide of the standing range. It also makes it feel just that more like owning the arcade cabinet.
And here are all the pieces of the controller linked up. It looks a lot more complex than it is, and the wires don't get in the way like you would think they would.
Then of course there's the game itself. The PAL version of the game was, unlike the Japanese and American versions, not released separately from the controller, so you won't find this on it's own. The box art is more minimalist than the NTSC versions too, and for the small case it works better than trying to cram all the characters into such a small space plus, like the PAL Crazy Taxi art, the yellow goes well with the blue case.
Even the controller instruction manual is full of happiness and joy. Just look as this crazy little guy featured in it. His so happy his smile is bigger than his feet.
Ok, so the sombrero, modelled here by a Sonic doll isn't included in he package, but I've owned this sombrero for a while now and I got it back out of the loft for such an occasion. I originally purchased it for a few quid out of a party junk shop for an animation I made once, but since then it's become my official party hat. Along with Afros, I have a funnyobsession with Sombrero's. Plus with this I'm just one step closer to being the mirror of the dancing monkey on the screen. All I need now is more body hair and some daft clothes.
Now, there are many reasons why this is quite possibly the happiest video game ever invented, and if it was released on a current-gen console would be a Blue Skies winner, but here's a short list:
* Music that really makes you want to boogie. No dreary trance pap here.
* Downloadable music from Sonic, NiGHTS, Burning Rangers, Outrun, Fantasy Zone and After Burner (nab 'em off VMUTool)
* A dancing freaking monkey, who if you play well goes ape-shit bonkers with glee.
* More colours on the screen at any one time then looking through a rainbow.
* A Leopard duo with the names Chumba and Wumba.
* A Reel Big Fish cover of Take on Me.
* Sega trademark engrish up there with Marine Fishing's. SERECT A MUSIIIKK.
* Did I mention the dancing monkey?
* Unlike DDR, it's actually easy to get into.
* Unlike DDR, it's actually fun even if you can't dance for toffee.
* It's exercise that isn't laborious.
* DANCING MONKEY.
This game is in simple terms everything I love about gaming, and everything I love about Sega. They had better make a sequel for the Nintendo Wii, seeing as all you would need is to of the remotes, although even that wouldn't be quite as fun as shaking two blight red plastic rattles. If you have the money to splash out on this (thanks to some successful boot sales a little while back, I did), make sure you do. Put the purchase of this game on your list of things to do before you die. Unless you're a hermit who is too obese to stand up and doesn‘t have a happy cell in your body, you will enjoy every minute of this game.
One last thing: as I always like to do when I get a new piece of kit to use for my Dreamcast, I tested it out on a few other games it wasn't made for to see if I can find some little jewels of gaming. It's happened before. I found out at DCemu forums that Mr. Driller and REZ were supposed to work well for it (as well as Soul Calibur although I still don't have a new copy of that) so those were the first I tried.
This game does in fact pretty well with the Maracas. Shaking in the direction you want makes the little pink bloke on the screen drill in that direction, although you have to pretty much do the exact same thing with both maracas to do so, over wise he gets confused and drills in the wrong direction. Takes some getting used to.
MARACA TEST STATUS: Worth a go, I guess.
I don't own a proper copy of this just yet (you seen how much it goes for on Ebay?), but I used my pirate copy (it's a rare game, so shut it) and unfortunately this game didn't work with it too well at all. For starters you can't navigate through the menu's at all, and in-game even though you can move the cursor about fine, using the maracas to do so is just too slow, plus you can't hold a shake as such to shoot multiple enemies, so it's pretty pointless.
MARACA TEST STATUS: Pedestrian pace, not worth it.
Space Channel 5
Maybe I was expecting too much for this game to work well with the maracas as well, after the grand success of playing the game with a DDR mat, but I had a go anyway. You could shoot fine, but the directions don't work at all.
MARACA TEST STATUS: Ulala had fallen to sleep at the job.
DDR 2nd Mix
Seeing as DDR is just up-down-left-right movement, I had a go at this, seeing as I would have a better chance at the game using my arms then my feet. You can't navigate the menu's with it, and while the down and right can be pulled off perfectly enough, the up and left just don't register at all. Bah, almost had it.
MARACA TEST STATUS: Terrance is missing two legs.
So saly not much success there, although I might try more tomorrow. I'll leave you with this link of a homebrew maraca project I found by accident while searching for Samba De Amigo images the other day: Viva La Samba.