A Q&A With Andrew Dickinson

Sometimes here a Dreamcast Today, we like to pester folk in the scene with random questions and form it up as some sort of interview. To tie in with the upcoming Kickstarter of Dreamcast : Year One, Forbes has caught up with the man behind the book – Andrew Dickinson, take a look at the somewhat random (but relevant ) questions we throw his way.

DCT : Hi Andrew, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today and answer some questions, first of all, can you introduce yourself to our readers and what it is you’re working on briefly ?

Andrew  – My Twitter bio sums me up pretty well I think! I’m a cat-loving, vegetarian games enthusiast who lives in Brighton, UK. I’m also a slight Kickstarter addict, having backed and been a part of various campaigns over the years! I finally decided to take the plunge and put something out there of my own, which is ‘Dreamcast: Year One’, a book about the conception, launch and first year on the market of this classic console.

DCT- What sort of background have you got in creating this sort of product? We think we spotted that you’ve already working on other books like this? 

Andrew – In terms of writing background, I don’t have any formal qualifications or a career in writing, but as a teenager I wrote for a Dreamcast fan site (dreamcastsource.co.uk) and have written other articles and such throughout the years. This particular opportunity came up when I backed a Kickstarter project last year, ‘PlayStation Vita: Year One’ by Sandeep Rai. The Vita is another underrated console in my eyes, and reading its story brought back so many memories of my time with the Dreamcast while it was still on the market. I realised this format that Sandeep had created would be a perfect way to tell the story of the DC as well. I’m now working with Sandeep as my editor, and I’m even writing a retrospective for his follow-up book, ‘PlayStation Vita: Years Two & Three’, about Power Stone Collection.

DCT- What’s your history with the Dreamcast? Have you had one since launch or did you discover it late on, were first hand experiences the fuel to create the book?

Andrew – I’ve had a Dreamcast since I was 16 – it was my birthday present from my mum that year. I’d been a gamer since the NES, but seriously started to get into it with the dawn of the PlayStation. That’s when I discovered the Resident Evil franchise, and I fell in love instantly. So when we started to hear that the next chapter in the franchise was going to be exclusive to the newly released Dreamcast, I started to pay attention! So I got my Dreamcast in August 2000 with a copy of RECV, as well as  Crazy Taxi and Power Stone. From that moment on I basically just fell in love with the system, to the extent that I found like-minded teens on chat rooms so I could gush about how great the Dreamcast was. That’s where I met Faz Asif, who set up Dreamcast Source, and I was a part of that site from when it launched until things wound down in 2002. So in terms of the period of time Year One covers, my first hand experience is fairly limited as I got involved after launch, however my experience with the games of that time will come out in the retrospectives I’ll be writing, and I also have interviews with people who were there for the launch, including Caspar Field who is the former editor of British Dreamcast magazine DC-UK.

DCT- Would you have rather had Sega continue making the Dreamcast and it came to it’s natural end, much like the GameCube and Xbox etc, or would you keep things the same, where support continues freely without risk of repercussions?

Andrew – That’s a hard question! At the time I would have wanted the Dreamcast to continue because it was my dream console (pun very much intended). It was so far ahead of the curve with online gaming and innovations like the VMU, and Sega were still churning out amazing first party titles. In my eyes, the Dreamcast could have gone on for years longer. However, looking back now with hindsight, it was obviously the right decision for Sega to take. Had they continued to soldier on with the Dreamcast we may not have Sega at all today, and that would be a very sad thing for the gaming landscape. More importantly though, the Dreamcast itself may have become forgotten and not revered as it is right now.

DCT – A difficult one for you here but, what has been your favourite Dreamcast game and why? 

Andrew – I’m sat doing this interview in my office next to my stack of Dreamcast games. I look over and just reading the titles of some of them bring back amazing memories for me, so trying to find just one is difficult, not least because my favourite can change depending on what mood I’m in! The answer that I think most Dreamcast fans will give is Shenmue, and for me it’d be both 1 and 2 together, as I had never experienced a story told in that way before. It was truly a magical journey (through mundanity at times, sure) that I will never forget. However, to single out the Shenmue games is to drown out a whole cacophony of amazing games that were just as awe-inspiring in their own way. To list just a few, some of my other favourites would be Skies Of Arcadia, Rez, Power Stone, Jet Set Radio and Space Channel 5.

DCT – Some solid answers there! Rez is up there for us too, what about this – you are on a secluded in a bunker, by yourself for a year – what games machine would you take with you, and why? 

Andrew – These questions! Jeez! My brain is in overdrive trying to make that decision. I would certainly not get bored playing Dreamcast games for a whole year, because there are so many gems! Being realistic though, I’d probably take something modern. I bought a Switch recently and love it (I was one of the few people who bought and loved the Wii U, so I held off a while for the Switch), however I have a feeling I might run out of games I’d want to play in a year on that. The PlayStation 4 has some of my favourite contemporary game experiences in titles like ‘The Last Of Us’ and ‘Uncharted 4’, however to me it would make sense to take an Xbox One X. Not the most popular console of today, but the only one that allows you to play games from previous generations without having to buy them all over again! The Xbox 360 had some good Dreamcast ports that are playable on Xbox One too, so I’d have a year with a wide range of games spanning decades, plus a 4K blu ray player! What could be better than that?

DCT -Good call, Xbox does seem to have the all-in-one media approach done well, it’s such a tough call, can we expect to see more work from you in the future? A Dreamcast sequel book, maybe a Saturn one? 

Andrew – If ‘Dreamcast: Year One’ goes well, then I do have plans for more books to complete the story of the little white box! I end Year One on the 31st March 2000, a year before the Dreamcast is officially discontinued, so Year Two would look at the highs and crushing lows that occurred during that year. Year Three would therefore look at those last titles being officially released as things came to a close, but I’d then ideally like to write a final fourth book detailing everything that happened after that. The home brew scene, the resurgence in popularity, the cult status… There is a lot to say about all of that!

In terms of other projects, I’d certainly love to read a book about the Saturn, but I don’t think I have enough experience with that console to do it any justice. Personally I’d be more interested in looking into the Wii U, why it failed to set the world on fire while simultaneously generating some phenomenal games!

DCT – Ah the Wii U! Now that was a shame, but thankfully it led to Nintendo heading to the top again with the Switch, we would love to see a follow on book covering the later part of the consoles life too, so fingers crossed all goes well. How did you go about creating your product? Is it a hard process? 

Andrew – Luckily for me, I had a template to follow in ‘PlayStation Vita: Year One’! I love the format of that book, so the general layout will remain the same – story, interviews and retrospectives. However, I wanted to bring a little something extra to really make the book pop, and so I have commissioned a bunch of illustrations from artist Eric Pavik to fill the book. The designer of my book, Steve Novaković-Thone, had found an illustration that Eric had done of the Dreamcast and used it as a placeholder for the cover while he was going through the design process. I took one look at it and realised he’d hit on something great, and that it had to be our actual cover! So I got in touch with Eric, and we started putting together images for the book. He amended his original console image to show the blue swirl used in PAL territories (I’ll be taking a very British slant with the book), and created artwork for key retrospectives and our interviews. They feel like the missing piece that truly ties together the writing and the design to form a cohesive whole.

DCT – Where does your information come from? Extensive research? Personal knowledge? 

Andrew – For Year One it was a lot of research, backed up by what I already knew. As I say, I didn’t actually get a Dreamcast until August 2000, nearly a year after it had launched in the UK, so my own knowledge of that time was fairly limited. Being a lover of the console though, I have done a lot of reading over the years, so I supplemented that with further research, and I also got a lot of great information from people like Caspar. I can’t wait for people to read his interview in full, because there are some fantastic insights in there!

DCT – Some would say that you got the console bang at the right time, we got ours in June 2001! Lastly, how long did it take to compile all the information together, did you look back and think ‘I forgot I need to add….’ 

Andrew – The book is actually still a work in progress. I’ve been working on it for about 6 months now, and I have a lot planned out already (and 20% is completed writing wise), however I also work and study alongside this which means it takes a little longer to get everything done, as you can imagine!

Another reason I haven’t yet completed the book is because I wanted to know that there was the support out there for a book like this to be released. I didn’t want to write a whole book, pay for all the design work, illustrations and printing only to find that no-one was really that interested, you know? As I mentioned right at the start, I’m a big user of Kickstarter, and while it certainly has its flaws in some regards, when it comes to things like board games and the video game community, it has allowed some amazing creators to get their vision out there.

It helps people who have these great ideas to connect with their audience and produce things that ordinarily just wouldn’t get made. So I figured what better way to find out if there is enough interest than to use Kickstarter. I’m really looking forward to connecting more with other Dreamcast fans through my project, getting feedback and suggestions, having conversations. The simple fact is that without Kickstarter this book won’t exist. ’Dreamcast: Year One’ is meant to provide a written, unofficial history of a true cult classic aimed at old and new fans alike, so having the Dreamcast community come on this journey with me is something I’m really excited about!

 

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Many thanks to Andrew for taking the time out to chat to us, make sure you keep an eye out on Kickstarter for Dreamcast : Year One and give the Facebook page a like here :

 

https://www.facebook.com/dreamcastyearone/

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Has The Dreamcast Version of Saber Rider Been Cancelled?

Bad news hit our inbox this morning regarding the Dreamcast Saber Riders & The Star Sheriffs from Rush On Game, turns out that Pixel Heart / JoshProd will no longer be publishing the game and Rush On Game are distancing themselves from the project entirely. Pre-orders started around May 2018 with an August 2018 release window, this soon shifted to around Christmas and after that, all went rather quiet, we began suspecting something was adrift with the Dreamcast version when it began missing projected dates and updates were becoming somewhat sparse, keeping in mind that the game was crowdfunded through Kickstarter, many backers stand to be out of pocket should the game end up ‘doing a Paprium’. We backed the game and I’m sure many of you have too, Rush On Game are offering refunds or an exchange towards the recently announced games, however, trying to get a refund from Kickstarter is going to be tough and sadly the PayPal claim back assist has gone past the time frame to claim – sadly this is proving more and more why crowd funding up front is a bad idea when it comes to small developed projects, I’m sure none of these developers aim to steal the cash and run, but life gets in the way and circumstances change, our advice would be vigilant, if there isn’t a demo up front and a clear product release line, don’t back it.

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Tweets about the game haven’t been updated since October 2018, we are currently trying to chase down more details and will let you know as we know more, in the meantime, feel free to make your voices heard on the Twitter page for the game :

Captain Tomaday Also Making It’s Way To DC.

Following on from Armed Seven being announced today, it turns out that another game is rounding off the latest selection from JoshProd; Captain Tomaday is a conversion of the Neo Geo game from 1999, released on the CD system by Visco, the game has been given a second chance of life 20 years later for the Dreamcast system.

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Playing like a shoot-em-up, you control a mutated Tomato who uses his fists(!) to irradiate enemies in a very non-violent sort of way. This game seems very different from anything that has launched of the Dreamcast previously and hopefully it’ll find a whole new audience, although worth noting, like Finding Teddy, FX Unit Yuki and Armed Seven, only 2000 copies (of the PAL version we presume) will be available via Pixelheart.eu with a certificate of authenticity with each.

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We are really feeling this batch of releases, what do you think? Pre-orders are available now on Pixelheart.eu and we’ll wager through Rushongame in the near future too.

Armed Seven Has Just Been Revealed For Dreamcast.

As you well know, JoshProd have been working hard to bring loads of new games to the Dreamcast, we already know that a new beat-em-up is coming (also to Saturn) and Guns of Mercy will be making an appearance, however, as per usual, there’s a shoot-em-up that’s often offered in the mix.

Armed Seven seems to be the identified title of such genre filler this time around. Armed Seven was released on Steam in 2015 and is developed by Astro Port with publishing duties handled by Nyu Media. The description of the game taken from Steam is below :

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It’s already been confirmed that the game will feature a high score save – always highly important with this genre. Visually the game looks pretty good with some impressive GFX, hopefully the Dreamcast will continue the legacy often handed to the Saturn for high quality Shoot-em-up games.

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What’s your thoughts? Will you be pre-ordering this one along with FX Unit, Finding Teddy and Magic Pockets?
Armed Seven launches on 30th April 2019 and is available to pre-order right now on Pixel Heart :

Retro Fighters Dreamcast Controller Takes To Kickstarter.

It’s been a while since the Dreamcast featured in some good ol’ fashioned Kickstarter action, truth be told – we thought many creators were shying away from the platform in recent times, we know as potential backers, we have since some projects we’re still waiting on, years after being funded.

However, should you get the urge to splash some cash down, there appears to be a new DC controller doing the rounds. The Retro Fighters controller aims to right (what it sees as..) the wrongs that the original Sega equipment was seen to have. Having already worked their magic with the Nintendo 64’s control pad, Retro Fighters are hoping to bring what they cite as next gen features to the Dreamcast’s method of play, this version has a revised 2 handled grip wi88cf4d5ae680de41e048c0e8ce0ec0c8_originalth larger directional pad along with a turbo button and added shoulder buttons which apparently is handy for the fighting games on the system.

From what we can see, the controller isn’t actually that exciting and echoes the Electronic Boutique days of 3rd party peripherals, one handy feature is the cable being located at the top rather than the bottom, although in reality this is hardly an issue on the official unit. VMU and Rumble packs are supported.

 

What is impressive is how the team spent 18 months developing their own bespoke hardware which obviously includes the connector for the accessories which of course, is unique to the console. Retro Fighters look to have the controller in the hands of players by September 2019 and have a working prototype already which for backers, is actually a relief. How well the controller will fare after it’s successful Kickstarter is completed is anyone’s guess, it’s hit 5 times over the funding goal already but no doubt that some are holding out to see what RetroBit will come up with in the near future.

Here’s the link to the Kickstarter should you fancy giving this funky controller a go :

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1247448559/next-gen-dreamcast-controller?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=Dreamcast

Retro Surge Games appear to have something to tell us.

It would be easy to overlook plenty of going ons in the Dreamcast community currently. There’s so many projects on the way and quite a few that haven’t even got off the ground over the years, with publishers like JoshProd, GOAT Publishing, Watermelon and to a lesser extent, Senile Team all releasing games, when a new publishing team come along, we eventually get around to looking into it.

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Enter Retro Surge Games, these guys have been busy on social media recently, chatting about an upcoming Dreamcast game called Reaperi Cycle, an isometric adventure game which is penciled in for a 2019 release date. What we can imagine is happening is the team at Retro Surge (perhaps better known for their retro indie selling side, The Bit Station)  will be handling the publishing duties of the game and perhaps are ready to show off some details which so far have been hidden away (unless you support the developers Patreon)  ——–>  https://www.patreon.com/reapericycle

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The game looks pretty intriging and we haven’t seen an adventure game released on the DC since Elansar & Philia a few years ago, we’re quite interested to see what Retro Surge have instore for us in the coming months and years with fond hopes that this fresh-faced outfit become the next big Dreamcast powerhouse.

You can follow Retro Surge Games on Facebook by clicking here ——->

https://www.facebook.com/RetroSurgeGames/

Guns of Mercy coming to Dreamcast.

Recently you may have heard about a Nintendo Switch game doing the rounds called Gun of Mercy : Ranger Edition, this game appears to be an enhanced version of the iOS and Android release of the game with a few more bells and whistles, well, it turns out that the Switch isn’t the only console to enjoy a port of the game; the Dreamcast is also confirmed to be in on the action too according to published, JoshProd.

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It’s probably a fair assumption that the DC release will be closer to the mobile versions rather than the Switch version which of course is HD and widescreen displayed. The game is developed by Storybird Studio and is set in an unspecified time in the 21st century with Earth being mostly a wasteland due to a war that has raged on from an alien invasion, with humanity reduced to hiding, this is where you come in – fighting to claim back the lands and see off the enemy once and for all. Your task is to shoot, shoot and shoot some more.

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The game is 4 player on the Switch and it looks to be a vibrant side moving shooter with a power up system present, the game has been reviewed well on the Google Play Store and it’s refreshing to see this sort of port on the Dreamcast.

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Currently no release date has been set for the game but it’s probably reasonable to expect it this year with Play-Asia and Rush On Game no doubt covering the global releases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Teddy shipping soon for Dreamcast.

 

It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes ago that we had the last batch of Dreamcast games from stalwarts JoshProd, but in fact this was back in the summer that these games started to ship, so like all hungry gamers, we’re looking at what the next slice of 128-bit gaming entails and when.

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Finding Teddy has long been talked about with it’s inclusion on one of JoshProd’s reveal videos last year, many assumed it would either ship with the last batch of releases or manage to make the last part of 2018, however it looks like the game will now be in this quarter of the year with Play-Asia having a listing with the box art for some time now (which looks absolutely lovely) what it unknown at the moment is when (if at all) a PAL blue case and USA style release will be revealed, we’d assume it’s a given these are happening as this is the business model that JoshProd apply to their publishing method.

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If you haven’t heard of Finding Teddy yet, we’ve linked a trailer, this game was developed by Songbird and is a point-and-click game of sorts, tasking you with taking control of a girl looking for her stolen teddy bear, as well as two other characters, Mister Cat and Mister Fly, plenty of puzzles and side quests with music and riddles being the main cue points being favoured over dialogue – it’s certainly a change of pace from what we’ve had already on the DC and the game reviewed well when it was released for Steam back in 2013. We can’t wait for this one!

RetroBit Sega Hardware Spotted At CES

A little while ago, it was banded around that RetroBit, a company who has a history creating retro gaming peripherals and clone hardware (mostly for Nintendo based formats) would be entering a deal with Sega to release not only USB PC versions of famous Sega controllers, but also releasing versions for the actual hardware too, Dreamcast being included in this as well as Saturn and Megadrive, wired and wireless versions of some of these pads have been shown recently at CES.

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What was rumoured though, was actual consoles being made by RetroBit, much like the NES variants they already produce, speculation went wild with the hopes of a Saturn or Dreamcast release either as an on-chip device, or even better, 1-1 hardware replication.

What we now know is that there is perhaps a console coming, and it is indeed a legacy Sega machine, the Sega Nomad – a handheld released by Sega in 1995 only in North America, this bit of hardware was well before it’s time, featuring an extra controller slot for two player games, the ability to run an RF cable from the top to the TV to allow for big screen gaming and it would play all your existing 16 bit carts, the downside was that it never shipped with a battery pack so this was required for portable use – it’s main selling point. Even when a battery pack was purchased, you’d get less time than even the Game Gear would produce, sad really as we here at Dreamcast Today actually quite like the Nomad, it’s stylish and slicker looking than the Game Gear, below is the concept by RetroBit. Perhaps we can see some 21st improvements like rechargeable battery power that is built in and an improved screen. Although this isn’t the Dreamcast hardware we were hoping for, it does open up an exciting prospect for the future – maybe we will see that re-released DC in the future…. Who knows.

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Dreamcast ‘Pocket Console’ Incoming.

Strange things happen sometimes, we see all sorts of DIY mods from case designs to actual hardware changes, what happens when these two ideas collide? Well, the Dreamcast Pocket Console is what happens, remember the Treamcast from 2001-2002? Well, imagine that sort of idea but instead of fusing a PS-One screen onto a DC for in car usage, the Dreamcast Pocket is designed to run on SD cards which most likely is using the cloned version of the GD-EMU emulation board at the best case scenario, worst case would be DreamShell.

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At the moment the page link which takes you to AliExpress, has no further details and you’ll have to reserve one at £310 if you’re interested, which leads us to think that these are stock consoles that are ripped apart and spliced into the modified casing of headrest in car DVD player equipment. Of course, with the lack of a disc drive from what we can see, this console isn’t exactly good for business on the console, as the only way to play games would be to downloads disc images, so no new software could legally be experienced, which is a shame, of course, that rear panel could be the disc drive but it looks more like a battery unit. The seller has zero feedback so approach with caution here, if you must buy one, wait until there’s at least one out in the wild…. Now, if only someone could work out how to clone the entire system…

 

Check out the sparse placeholder page here :

https://m.aliexpress.com/item/584088954.html?tt=sns_none&aff_platform=default&cpt=1537522045124&sk=bbuYIKd3&aff_trace_key=fe95aef5cd6648e391f9bb1256fffdce-1537522045124-05136-bbuYIKd3&terminal_id=a88157671f344518b0b011591a84529a