A good old-fashioned website! It’s hope to information on the construction of a wide variety of console platforms! Docs on the NES, the Sega Master System, the PC Engine (a.k.a. Turbografx 16), the Mega Drive (a.k.a. Genesis), Gameboy, SNES, Saturn, Playstation, Virtual Boy (yes), Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, Playstation 2, GBA, Gamecube, Xbox, DS, PSP, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii and Wii U.
Have you ever heard of Cosmic Smash? I’d be shocked if you had. It’s the kind of thing that even I only know about from obsessive reading of obscure game blogs and Youtube videos. It was a Sega arcade game that got a release for the Dreamcast right at the moment the company was getting out of the console business. It had laughably bad timing, and it never made it out of Japan.
Yet, the game has gotten a cult following. You could deride it as merely a futuristic, three-dimensional take on racquetball and Breakout, but it’s one of those games where the style makes all the difference. Here’s some footage of the Dreamcast version:
Time Extension, one of those blogs that makes good posts so often that I’m tempted to tell you to read it instead, did an article talking with the creator of a spiritual remake called C-Smash VR, released for Playstation VR2 with a license from Sega and the blessing of the game’s original creators. It’s such an obscure game that I’d be surprised if it could be profitable, but we love rooting for underdogs here, even if I have a general antipathy for VR.
Cosmic Smash And C-Smash VRS – Reviving Sega’s Cult Classic (Time Extension)
Some exciting news for people who have set up their Dreamcasts for online play. While official servers for Dreamcast games have all been taken down long ago, fans have worked towards making their own fan-run versions, and word from Dreamcast Junkyard is that they’re close to getting one working for Daytona USA 2001! While the game was released with online play, the servers for that game went down very quickly, staying up for just 18 months. Dreamcast Junkyard has an interview with ioncannon, the person responsible for this wondrous event.
If you have a Dreamcast and the game, you won’t have to edit anything to get it working, but the Dreamcast Broadband Adapter does not work with it. You’ll have to use the built-in Dreamcast Modem in conjunction with DreamPi, a method for using a Raspberry Pi to connect a Dreamcast to the internet.
All the details are in the interview, so if you’re interested in trying this or just want to learn more, there the info be.
“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter
From Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai at The Verge. More news on Billy Mitchell, retro game record holder and villain of King of Kong. Now, in addition to having his Donkey Kong record stripped from him then reinstated, he has been accused by forensics experts of having used MAME to achieve two of his Donkey Kong scores that were represented as coming from arcade hardware. It has to do with differences between how MAME and the arcade machine build their game playfields for display when a level begins. It’s interesting reading! Mitchell has sued Twin Galaxies over defamation over how he achieved his records, which this evidence could play a role in.
At NicheGamer, Fingal Belmont presents a list of 24 3DS games to get before its eShop closes. There are ways to get new software on a 3DS after the store closes, but they aren’t legal means, and won’t get any income to the games’ creators, and we all want that!
Ryan Gilliam writing for Polygon tells us that Velma in the WB Smashlike Multiversus no longer “calls the cops” on opponents, instead bringing in her friends’ van the Mystery Machine to carry them off. To explain: Velma has a special game mechanism where her opponents sometimes drop clues when they perform attacks. If Velma can collect enough of them, it summons a vehicle (formerly the police, now the van) to cart that opponent away.
It’s at Kotaku that Ashley Bardham reports that Twitch is ending their “Host Mode” feature. Through this feature, a channel that isn’t stream itself can choose to host another stream, a loved feature that enables one channel to “raid” another, granting them all its viewers. Twitch says the feature is going away on October 3.
Blogfriend Benj Edwards writing at Ars Technica informs us of a new coding font by Idrees Hassan based off of the typeface used in Minecraft. It’s an OpenType font called Monocraft, so it should work in Windows, macOS and Linux, and it’s available here.
Andy Chalk writing through PC Gamer explains that Crystal Dynamics has managed to reclaim ownership of the Tomb Raider and Legacy of Kain franchises after Square Enix let them go, and Eidos Montreal owns the Deus Ex and Thief series.
And at VG247, Alex Donaldson tells us of an Indiegogo project to make an updated version of the Dreamcast’s iconic VMU memory cards. The updated devices will be compatible with the Dreamcast and the original cards, which had an LCD screen that could run simple games, and could even be connected to each other to trade information, but will have more powerful hardware and better screen resolution. The project is here.
You may believe this or not as you please, but I actually don’t have much use for nostalgia. Some reminiscing about what once was is okay, but it’s very easy to take it too far, and verge off into ridiculous things like, say, claiming that casting a woman as the lead in a movie in a freakishly popular sci-fi film franchise is somehow retroactively ruining your childhood. We have no truck with that.
But we do try to recognize when things really were better. Not to devolve into the kinds of rhetoric our cave-dwelling co-blogger uses, the internet is easily seen to be in a less useful, less interesting state these days. Where it was once easy to Google up a plethora of simple freeware tools for most purposes, now rampant SEO and adverse purposes has made finding even simple tutorials for most computing tasks a maze of scams, farmed content, and even bots. When you do find something, more than likely it’s in the form of a YouTube video. A world of bloggers has largely been superseded, or at least made difficult to find by Google’s accursed algorithms and by social media and Stack Overflow, and a universe of fansites is being pushed into obscurity by Wikipedia’s sleezy cousin Fandom.com. And whatever you thought about the AIM/Yahoo/MSN instant messaging triumvirate, at least they didn’t lock off substantial content from the wider internet within a constellation of Discord servers.
I won’t claim that the older internet was better in every way (anyone remember ubiquitous pop-up ads?) but the lost hopefulness of it is tragic. Set Side B, in its way, hopes to rekindle some of that.
A contributing factor to the decay of the web is the cost in maintaining server space and connectivity. If you want to keep something up, someone has to pay money to run the internet connection, to store the site, and to pay your service provider for an IP address and the registrar for a domain name. Even fairly big sites like our dear departed ancestor GameSetWatch have vanished from the living web, now findable only by wandering the dim shadowlands of the Wayback Machine, and it’s foolish to think that even that will be around forever.
GameSetWatch was backed by UBM Media, now owned by an entity with the perfectly dystopian name Informa. You’d think they would have the pockets to preserve such a fondly remembered part of their legacy, but no.
This is what makes me so pleased that GameSurge survives. I found it, like I did the subject of Monday’s post on the Interton VC 4000, by perusing the results of alternative search engine Wiby, which prioritizes sites with simple designs, on the grounds that they’re more likely to have interesting content. I’m not sure such an approach will scale with popularity, as it seems just as vulnerable to SEO optimizing as Google’s current mobile-friendly regime, but for now at least I’m finding it useful.
GameSurge is not an up-to-the-moment gaming news site. In fact, GameSurge currently hosts an article enthusing about the upcoming Dreamcast game Eternal Arcadia. As near as I can tell, not a byte has changed on the site since around 2005, and that’s just a late updating column. They don’t even acknowledge the existence of the Playstation 2.
And yet, it survives. Someone is still paying the bills. Someone still cares enough to keep the domain name up. It remains, frozen in amber, as it was back in pre-Gamecube days. The site doesn’t even have a favicon. It’s beautiful.
And like all beautiful things, it’s doomed. No one is going to resurrect this site and inhabit it again with new content. If they did, they’d have to change its design to convince Google to give it rank, which would ruin the charm. Whoever keeps it going, they will eventually give up pretending it’s a living thing and turn off the life support. When the lights go out it’ll be a sad day, but not an unexpected one.
So please, enjoy its old-school design sensibilities while you still can. Read their PC gaming strategy guides from the year 2000, and their arcade guides too. Take about two minutes to read their crappy review of Sonic Adventure. Check out their interviews with old PC industry figures, which may actually be a useful resource. There’s also the “Game Guy” column by Mike Walker, which seems to have survived for a while after the demise of the main site; its last article went up in 2005. And peruse its reviews of PC titles like Baldur’s Gate and Black & White.
And when you’re done, why not load up on much more recent gaming news from 1up.com and Joystiq? Geez, with such terrific site names I’m amazed no one’s bought them up and fleshed them out anew. Wait. I’m someone! I could do it! Let me make a call…. Hello? Engadget? I hear you have this domain name you might want to unload. I’ve got… um, 36 cents. Hello? Hello?
The Sega Dreamcast was ahead of its time in many ways. It was possible to load web pages on a Sega Saturn Net Link, but the Dreamcast had a built-in dial-up modem and came with a web browser included in the box. In the US it was created by PlanetWeb; Japanese users got DreamPassport, . Further, several games had built-in web browsers to connect with websites online that offered hints, forums, DLC and special functionality. Sonic Adventure allowed you to upload the Chao from your Chao Garden to a day care service. All of those services broke when a game’s servers were taken down, although in the case of Sonic Adventure, a fan bought the domain when it expired and put up the original content so that Dreamcast consoles can find it.
While several versions of the PlanetWeb browser were released during the system’s short life, they all have some pretty significant limitations. The Dreamcast itself only has 26 MB of RAM, of which only 16 MB is of general use. Plus many sites rely on scripting, which the Dreamcast wasn’t equipped to handle even at the time. On top of it all few people use dial-up internet any more, so that modem isn’t too useful. The Dreamcast Broadband Adapter is an effective workaround, but is hard to find. The Dreamcast also had keyboard and mouse peripherals release for it to aid in internet use.
Dan Wood on YouTube recently plugged a Broadband Adapter, keyboard, and mouse into his Dreamcast and took it online with a 2008 browser release, and the video above shows the results. If you’re curious to see how much the web has changed since then it’s worth the 22 minutes out of your day it takes to watch it. (Less time, if you speed the video up! Another minute less if you skip past the ad!)
How many people used the Dreamcast for serious browsing? It was a fairly clunky experience even back then, when most web pages were fairly lightweight and most didn’t rely on scripting. I had it back then and I only put it in a few times. The PC experience was much better even then. Internet Explorer launched in 1995, and of course Netscape Navigator and Mosaic came before. Compare that to the Dreamcast’s 1999 release date for some hint that, even though it was the first console that was internet capable out of the box, it was already a little late to the party.
That’s okay though. We’re publishing a gaming blog in 2022. Old things are okay with us.
A few more links if you want to find out more: Sega Retro’s page on the Dreamcast Web Browser, here’s a Wayback Machine link to how the browser’s default landing page would have looked at the time, and here’s an archive of how the page looked in 2010, near the end of its life, after a fan had taken it over.
Browsing the Web on the Sega Dreamcast in 2022 — Is It Possible? (YouTube video, 22 minutes, contains Squarespace ad)
“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter
K. Holt at Engadget says Valve has doubled production of Steam Decks, meaning those on the waiting list will have less waiting to do.
At VentureBeat’s subsite GamesBeat, Dean Takahashi sadly reports that Bernie Stolar, former President at Sega of America, has passed away at the age of 75. Alana Hauges of NintendoLife notes that his early career was in co-op, before joining Atari and working on their Lynx portable system. Later at Sony, Stolar helped shepherd the Playstation and franchises such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, before leaving to help Sega launch the Dreamcast.
After going free-to-play, the player base of popular battle royale hit Fall Guys‘ has ballooned to 20 million! But Eric Van Allen at Destructoid tells us that there is some tension among long-time players over changes to its currency model. At GameRant, Rory Young has more, including an observation made by one of the players: under the new system, a player who loses five matches in the first round ends up making more than a player who wins a match after five rounds!
Graham Smith at Rock Paper Shotgun tells tales of the 2018 indie game Space Bob vs The Replicons (Steam), described as like a 2D No Man’s Sky, but didn’t do well on its initial release. Its creator had a heart attack a week after it hit Steam, then left the games industry. But he’s back, and has announced a big update. Its developer is Intravenous Software, and they’re on Twitter!
Sharang Biswas at Eurogamer posts an essay for Pride month about fanfiction and mods made by the gay community. (Note: slightly NSFW image)
Jeremy Winslow at Kotaku tells us that Blizzard has announced that, when Overwatch 2 releases, it will replace the original game, making it unavailable to play! Progress will carry over, but 6V6 matches will be sunset in favor of the new version’s 5V5 teams.
Finally, we have received word that venerable roguelike NetHack has been inducted into the Museum of Modern Art, as part of its Never Alone exhibit! We’ve seen it mentioned on PC Gamer, Reddit, and Slashdot — remember them? DevTeam member Jean-Christophe Collet muses on the distinction on LinkedIn.