I still remember the day I discovered that SEGA were going to discontinue the Dreamcast. It was early 2001 and the PlayStation magazine I was reading (we used to read magazines back then) covered the demise of the Dreamcast before swiftly moving on to the successes of the PS2. Thanks to those successes and the massive taste for PlayStation over the SEGA Saturn the creation past, Sony had almost single-handedly driven SEGA out of the games business leaving them to concentrate on software just from that day forth.
If you’d said to me on that day in 2001 that we’d still be seeing new games released for the Dreamcast on a fairly regular basis in 2016 I would have simply smiled and nodded while I backed away slowly. And yet here we are fifteen years later and the SEGA Dreamcast has a surprisingly vibrant community of indie developers still releasing games despite the fact that SEGA has had little to do with the console (other than repairs) since the early’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 probably something on the horizon that’s worth taking a look at.
Although we’re just a month into 2016, the Dreamcast has already seen one console exclusive game release in Leona’s Tricky Adventures. Inspired by the Amiga puzzle game Gem X, Leona’s actions the player with progressively, erm, tricky colour based puzzles like that handheld Lights Out game of this mid-nineties that you might remember. Leona’s Tricky Adventures is available for purchase as you are reading this on Steam, but the Dreamcast version comes with a full jewel case including art.
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 via a series of YouTube development videos in 2007, and then a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, Elysian Shadows is a role playing game featuring customisable characters, a dynamic day/night cycle, and an eye-catching 2D/3D hybrid art fashion. Set in a fantasy universe 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 futuristic technology. While there is no solid release date yet and evolution of the game has hit a couple of snags recently, developer GyroVorbis maintains that the title will see launch in 2016, and who are we to argue?
Players must traverse the 2D mazes using their bombs to clear paths and destroy the other players at the stage, while also looking for power ups to increase the number of bombs they can drop or the damage their bombs do upon detonation. The game comes with a robust multiplayer mode including seven different game types which range from the standard death matches into more elaborate modes involving math puzzles.
New York Wildlife Removal: Harmony of Darkness is a horror first person shooter that began life as an extension of the Blood franchise but morphed into it’s own story as development moved further along. After some disputes with Atari due to resources from Blood used in the production of Hypertension, in addition to a brief cancellation of the project because of that, development of Harmony of Darkness has progressed with the game expected to see a release at some point in 2016.
Hucast Games are searching to launch Redux 2, the sequel to their remake of the scrolling shoot-em-up DUX at some point in 2016. Pre-orders for the game are already live and there is a fancy collector’s edition which includes a soundtack CD and a DVD of extras if you are inclined to pay up for that sort of thing. The vanilla game features seven brand new stages and a two player co-operative mode for the gamers that like to perform their arcade shooting with a friend in tow. If you are a lover of R-Type or other boat shooters of the ilk then Redux 2 might 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 cater to your needs with a name like SLaVE from Isotope and Jay Townsend. SLaVE tries to net the gaudy aesthetics of’80s arcade games with the addictive first person gunplay of names 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 game for you. If you’re interested in it you may want to move quickly though; the game is planned to be ultra-limited edition with no more than 484 copies of game destined for release.
SEGA gave up on the Dreamcast at the face of ultra-stiff competition from the Sony PlayStation 2 after a mere two years on the market, but there’s a community of committed indie developers who just refuse to move on. It has a cult following that are still generating new content fifteen years following the console’s commercial death. So perhaps the next time you are in the loft and you spot your older Dreamcast tucked between a Furby and a Spirograph, consider digging it out, dusting it off, and seeing what the old woman can do in 2016.