I still remember the day I found out that SEGA were going to discontinue the Dreamcast. It was early 2001 and the PlayStation magazine I was reading (we used to actually read magazines back then) covered the death of the Dreamcast before swiftly moving on to the victories of the PS2. Thanks to those successes and the gigantic preference for PlayStation over the SEGA Saturn the generation previous, Sony had almost single-handedly driven SEGA out of the games business leaving them to focus on software just from this day forth. With the Dreamcast topping out at a meagre 9 million and change in earnings and the PS2 hitting the dizzy heights of over 150 million units sold, the Dreamcast was destined to become little more than a footnote in the pages of gambling history.
If you’d said to me that day in 2001 that we’d still be seeing new games released for the Dreamcast on a fairly regular basis in 2016 I’d have only smiled and nodded while I backed away slowly. And yet here we are fifteen decades later and the SEGA Dreamcast has a surprisingly vibrant community of indie developers still releasing games regardless of the fact that SEGA has had little to do with the console (other than repairs) since the ancient’00s. So if you’ve still got one of those crafty white boxes tucked away in the attic somewhere, or even if you’re just considering getting into retro gaming for the first time, there is likely something on the horizon that is well worth taking a look at.
Although we’re just a month into 2016, the Dreamcast has already seen one console exclusive game launch in Leona’s Tricky Adventures. Inspired by the Amiga puzzle game Gem X, Leona’s tasks the player with progressively, erm, catchy colour based puzzles like this handheld Lights Out game of the mid-nineties which you may remember. Leona’s Tricky Adventures is available for purchase as you are reading this on Steam, but the Dreamcast version includes a full jewel case including artwork.
Looking to the future, the long in development Elysian Shadows is slated to hit the roads at some point in 2016. After coming to the public consciousness by means of a series of YouTube development videos in 2007, and then a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, Elysian Shadows is a role playing game featuring customization characters, a lively day/night cycle, and an eye-catching 2D/3D hybrid art fashion. Set in a fantasy world akin to the one seen in classic JRPG Final Fantasy VI, Elysian Shadows tells a story of conflict between religious zealots handed magical powers from The Creator and atheists forced to rely on contemporary technology. While there is no solid release date yet and evolution of the game has hit a couple of snags recently, programmer GyroVorbis maintains that the name will see release in 2016, and who are we to argue?
Scheduled to come in June of this year, Alice Dreams Tournament is a 2D Bomber Man-like from French programmers Alice Team. Players must traverse the 2D mazes with their bombs to clear paths and destroy the other players in the stage, while also looking for power ups to increase the amount of bombs they can drop or the damage their bombs do upon detonation. The game features a strong multiplayer mode including seven different game types ranging from the standard death matches into more elaborate modes involving New York NY Wildlife Removal.
Hypertension: Harmony of Darkness is a horror first person shooter that began life as an extension of the Hybrid franchise but morphed into it’s own narrative as development moved farther along. After some disputes with Atari because of assets from Blood being used in the production of Hypertension, as well as a brief cancellation of the project for this, development of Harmony of Darkness has progressed with the game expected to see a release at some stage in 2016.
Hucast Games are searching to release Redux 2, the sequel to their remake of the scrolling shoot-em-up DUX at some point in 2016. Pre-orders for the sport are already live and there’s a fancy collector’s edition with a soundtack CD and a DVD of extras if you are inclined to cover up for that type of thing. The vanilla game features seven new phases and a two player co-operative mode for those players that like to perform their arcade shooting with a friend in tow. If you’re a fan of R-Type or other boat shooters of that ilk then Redux 2 may be a game worth keeping an eye on.
If you’re looking for something a bit more from the ordinary, from the 2D shooters and puzzle games, then the Dreamcas t indie scene can serve your needs with a name like SLaVE from Isotope and Jay Townsend. SLaVE attempts to mesh the gaudy aesthetics of’80s arcade games with the addictive first person gunplay of titles like Doom and Wolfenstein. If the combination of eye-popping colors and punishing first person shooting rubs you the right way, then SLaVE might well be a match for you. If you are interested in it you may want to move quickly though; the game is intended to be ultra-limited edition with no more than 484 copies of game destined for launch.
SEGA gave up on the Dreamcast in the face of ultra-stiff competition from the Sony PlayStation 2 after a mere couple of years on the market, but there is a community of dedicated indie developers who just refuse to move on. It has a cult following that are still producing new content fifteen years after the console’s commercial demise. So perhaps next time you’re in the loft and you spot your older Dreamcast tucked between a Furby and a Spirograph, think about digging it out, dusting it off, and seeing what the old woman can do in 2016.