Dreamcast Independent Gaming

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I still remember the day I found out that SEGA were going to stop 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. Because of those successes and the massive taste for PlayStation over the SEGA Saturn the creation previous, Sony had almost single-handedly driven SEGA out of the console business leaving them to focus on software only from that 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 be little more than a footnote in the pages of gaming history.

If you had said to me on that day in 2001 that we’d still be watching new games released for the Dreamcast on a fairly regular basis in 2016 I would have only smiled and nodded while I backed away slowly. So in case you’ve still got one of those crafty white boxes tucked away in the attic somewhere, or even if you’re just looking at getting into retro gaming for the first time, there is probably 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 actions the player with increasingly, erm, tricky colour based puzzles similar to that handheld Lights Out game of the mid-nineties which you may remember. Leona’s Tricky Adventures is available for purchase as you’re reading this on Steam, but the Dreamcast version comes with a full jewel case including Animal Removal New York NY. Which is obviously so much better.

Looking to the future, the long in development Elysian Shadows is slated to hit the streets 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 effort in 2014, Elysian Shadows is a role playing game featuring customisable characters, a lively day/night cycle, and an eye-catching 2D/3D hybrid art fashion. Set in a fantasy world akin to the one observed in classic JRPG Final Fantasy VI, Elysian Shadows tells a story of conflict between religious zealots handed magical powers from The Creator and atheists compelled to rely on futuristic technology. While there’s no solid release date yet and development of the game has hit a couple of snags recently, programmer GyroVorbis maintains that the title will see launch 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 fall or the harm 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 mathematics puzzles.

Hypertension: Harmony of Darkness is a horror first person shooter that started life as an extension of the Blood franchise but morphed into it’s own story as development moved farther along. After some disputes with Atari due to resources from Blood being used in the creation of Hypertension, as well as a brief cancellation of this project because of that, development of Harmony of Darkness has improved with the game expected to see a release at some point in 2016.

Hucast Games are looking 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 sport are already live and there is a fancy collector’s edition which includes a soundtack CD and a DVD of extras if you’re 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’re 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 out of the ordinary, away 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 attempts to net the gaudy aesthetics of’80s arcade games with the addictive first person gunplay of titles like Doom and Wolfenstein. If the mixture of eye-popping colors and punishing first person shooting rubs you the right way, then SLaVE could very 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 variant with no more than 484 copies of game destined for release.

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 current market, but there is a community of committed indie developers who just refuse to proceed. It has a cult following that are still generating new content fifteen years following the console’s commercial death. So perhaps next time you’re 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 girl can do in 2016.

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