We Take A Look At Armed Seven DX (Video)

You may have seen us writing about the slew of new games coming to the Dreamcast this year, mostly thanks to JoshProd, there’s plenty to be getting on with and little time to be doing it – so, what we’ve done here is taken Armed Seven DX, which we’ve done some QA testing on and made an episode of our gaming show, Retro Gamers : Half Time based around what we have played so far, keeping in mind this is still technically a beta build of the game, we think you’re going to be mighty impressed when the game launches within the next 6-8 weeks.

Armed Seven DX is a mech shoot-em-up, you’re tasked with shooting anything that moves, fighting mid-level bosses and eventual end of level foes through seven levels where a final end of game boss awaits. Plenty of weaponry is at your disposal across three separate classes, should you feel the need for more challenge, there are 4 difficulty levels ranging from easy to insane, on any of these chosen settings, the bullets come thick and fast so you’ll need you wits about you and your reflexes on point. As you can see in the video, we really quite like it!

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Dreamcast : Year One – Two Thirds Funded, Final Interviewee Revealed.

We are routing for Andrew Dickinson’s Kickstarter that currently has 2 weeks left of the campaign, it’s already had pledges totalling over £4k of the 6K target, with many backers snagging the book at £8, which is an absolute bargain, 7 flush backers have even pledged £99 to feature in the book’s retrospective section, but this isn’t just for die-hard gamers who want their memories shared, oh no – in actual fact, as shared via a few project updates, some famous guys from the Dreamcast’s prime feature in the book!

Bernie Stolar, the former president of Sega of America around the time of the Dreamcast’s availability features as one of the interviewed cool dudes, Caspar Field who was the editor of the cool-as-ice DC-UK magazine over here in the United Kingdom gets a section too which is awesome as DC-UK was a bloody awesome stylistic magazine which almost read like the gadget magazines around at the time, very ‘early 21st century’ excitement.

Perhaps the most exciting is Ed Lomas, the reviews and deputy editor of none other than the Official Dreamcast Magazine (UK), this publication ran from launch until around June 2001, so we are really hoping that Ed may have some insider info on the games they received to review and perhaps an insight into how those demo discs were decided by Sega with the communication of the publication, maybe we might get an insight into games that never released.

All in all, some real great picks for the interview section. Remember that the book still requires some funding, so head on over and drop a pledge since it’s so low risk, and share it about Dreamcast fans!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dreamcastyearone/dreamcast-year-one-unofficial-book/description

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/

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Happy (Belated) Birthday, USA Dreamcast!

We’ve all seen around the Internet over the last few days that the Dreamcast has hit it’s 19th birthday, that’s right – let that sink in; 19 years ago on 09/09/1999 (October 1999 for us Euros) the first 128 bit system to hit the market would appear and of course with Sega’s dwindling finances, consumer support and lack of faith and communication internally we saw the tragic end of the machine in 2001 with the year coming and going and the console not missed by those moving on to the other choices at the time, it’s in the death of the console that a real fanatical movement happened, much in the way an artist is at their most popular post-death, the Dreamcast’s fire burns stronger today than anytime before.

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Recent years have been especially kind to the console, support is at an all-time high, perhaps based on the foundations of lofty Kickstarter campaigns in previous years, the promised software count is perhaps at it’s highest since say, 2002. We’ve certainly had more ups rather than downs, the console has seen the once pioneering online aspect resurrected via Dreamcast Now!, the console’s alternative and updated idea based around the foundations of DreamArena many years before.

Game releases have become more and more high profile, who could have predicted that your almost 20-year-old hardware would be playing host to a port of Fade To Black? What about a port from the PSP in the shape of 4×4 Jam? Perhaps a selection of Neo Geo games thrown into the mix… Maybe even it would be a seeing is believing scenario to expect a licenced title based on Saber Riders? It’s all here thanks to dedication from publishers like JoshProd, with a continual stream of diverse software filling the console library (and our gaming shelves) long after Sega decided to leave the Dreamcast in the hands of the gamers. In previous years, RedSpotGames, NGDev.Team and Hucast have picked up the support for the console where times have been quiet but these teams have all but faded away, leaving JoshProd and to a lesser extent, GOAT Publishing to pick up the reigns with the former actually crafting some of the best boxed product we’ve seen since the demise of the machine.

So ultimately, rather than looking back, let’s look forward – where do we stand in 2018? Well, we’ve been lucky enough in recent memory to finally resurrect machines with tired and burnt out GD drives with the GDEmu SD solution, and although these have proven hard to obtain, this year has seen the biggest breakthrough with reverse engineering this sort of product to allow a more mainstream penetration, keeping consoles out there on the market. Also we have seen Sega team up with RetroBit to release a range of retro-inspired controllers based around Sega’s legendary pads.

As we mentioned earlier in this post, the highlight has to be the support which has been building steam since 2017, in the old days, we’ve have to put up with lengthy crowd-funding campaigns with sometimes no sign of any actual product at the end of it or information being dangerously sparse perhaps due to real life getting in the way and high ambitions, one would question when games like Elysian Shadows will become a tangible product, although lengthy blog posts show plenty of progress, whether the product can match the tech-packed development remains still a mystery, the same could be thrown in the direction of SlaVe, having almost forgotten about this one, it is still a hangover from the days of massively unfinished projects being prematurely announced with nothing but a lengthy to show for this to date, Hypertension and Scourge sit comfortably in this area too.

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This is perhaps what makes JoshProd with their partnership with Rushongame and Play-Asia a unique approach for Dreamcast gamers, taking games that have already been on the market or ports of existing software with a maximum of 6 months waiting time between announcement and product really restores the confidence that was in danger of being lost by even the most die-hard Dreamcast consumer in recent years whilst not drowning the market in re-releases, we’d love to see Piko Interactive follow in these footsteps since they have dipped their toes into Dreamcast interest recently.

So there we have it, the Dreamcast is still very alive today, the games are there, the repair parts are coming along leaps and bounds, online support is there again and respect for what this machine achieved both yesterday and today is discussed in greatly fond detail in today’s market. Happy birthday Dreamcast – we’ve all still got your back.

More Dreamcast games coming!

Hot on the heels of Battle Crust being shown off in a JoshProd Youtube video this week, it turns out that more games are heading to the system this year, as is the nature of JoshProd’s releases, there is usually a batch of games released around the same time and offered in a bundle.

The news first broke via Dreamcast News and then later The Dreamcast Junkyard lifted the lid further with a detailed rundown of each of the games. What we have this time around is an eclectic mix of old and newish starting with Steam’s Battle Crust which we talked about recently the next on the list is Escapee which as described by the above DC sites, plays like Flashback which was already released on the Dreamcast in the last batch of JoshProd games, a trailer for this can be found below :

The Escapee is by Invictus Games and was originally released on Amiga with ports to Apple TV, Android and iOS later.

Next up we have Okinawa Rush, this fun looking scrolling brawler boasts a ton of cool moves with a levelling system for the player’s character in addition to this, a deep parry mechanic allows the player, with the right timing to parry most oncoming attacks, this game looks right at home on the console. Okinawa Rush was a Kickstarter in 2017 for PC, Xbox One and PS4 where it met it’s target, we can’t wait to play it on the Dreamcast.

Next up is Fade to Black, does this game sound familiar to you? It should do! This was the follow up to Flashback and was released in 1995 on PC and 1996 on PS-one, ironically the game was published by Electronic Arts so would never have made the Dreamcast even in it’s ‘day’. The game is Gauraud shaded on PC and texture 3D on PS-one so it’ll be interesting which version the Dreamcast gets, it’s certainly an odd choice to release it all these years later with 3D ageing far more drastically than two-dimensional games but a welcome addition since with have Flashback already on the system now.

Of course we also have Battle Crust as well which no doubt will find a natural home on the 128 bit Sega console, we have a feeling that JoshProd may very well have other games yet to be revealed too, history has told us so far that there is usually 5 games to each batch and Saber Riders is most likely the 4th game here, we’d predict that perhaps there is a racing game  yet to be shown fully aside from a few teases here and there.

Make sure you head over to the mentioned Dreamcast sites as well as JoshProd’s Facebook page to keep updated and spreading the word, let’s keep these releases coming!

Battle Crust is your next Dreamcast purchase.

JoshProd, the published behind last years slew of PAL designed Dreamcast games is continuing into 2018 with another publicly announced shoot em up for the system, Battle Crust, upon some quick research of the title, we found it to have been released in 2016 on Steam originally, it’s a 90’s inspired shooter featuring 6 levels in which you’re able to pick up assist items on the way to help your mission such as the charge shot.

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From what we can see of the game in the trailer, the game looks to be fun and features a vertical playing field unlike Sturmwind and Dux which scroll horizontally, the original developer of the game is Picorinne Soft whose other work is Infinos Gaiden – a horizontal shooter released this year .

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By catching the teaser on JoshProd’s Facebook page, you can catch a glimpse of the game on the DC as well as the cover art too which is looking fantastic as usual.

Battle Crust will be released this summer which we’d assume will be via RushOnGame.