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   PlanetDreamcast | Community | Mailbag | 4/21/00
    Community - Mailbag

4/21/00 - DC's Potential, First Person Shooters, and Miscellanea
- by BenT

Hello. On looking over last week's Mailbag, I noticed that I had neglected to answer a question from the oddly-named D-T-Ki Dood:

3) do you know/remember Marshmellow Duel?

The short answer is: before your letter, no.

The long answer is: I did a websearch and came up with a page for it, the game caused my computer to crash, my browser lost its history, and now I can't find for that page for the life of me. Long story short, the game sucks. :)

I know you were dying to know that. Anyway, we have somewhat of a mixed bag this week. Let's dive in.

From: I.P. Freely
Subject: Dreamcast's Power

When I first bought my Dreamcast, I HAD to buy the excellent Soul Calibur, it would have been foolish not to. The seamless gameplay, outstanding graphics, marvelous sound, complete freedom of movement, complex combo system, steep learning curve and characters with um...character! got me to think the Dreamcast's core had been tapped in a first-gen title.

However, looking at pics and reading previews of upcoming games, it looks as if i'm wrong. My question is, in terms of power, how much of the system's capabilities have really been exploited? Is Soul Calibur the NiGHTS or Sonic 3D Blast to Dreamcast? By the way, in the response to one of my letters last week, you mentioned Sega's plans for higher speed Dreamcast modems, will this come along in time for Quake III and Half-Life?

Since I haven't developed anything on the Dreamcast hardware, and am not even a programmer, it's hard to make an informed judgement. I've always had the impression that since it's so easy to develop on the Dreamcast, it won't take long for programmers to max the machine's potential. As you might recall, the opposite was true for the Saturn. The thing was a technical nightmare (PS2 anyone?), and it was a long time before it saw 3D games that looked as good as first generation PSX titles. (Of course, the machine's 2D ability was totally awesome, but that's neither here nor there...) I would think that my assessment is overly simplistic, but generally true. We'll find out as the next generation of Dreamcast titles appear. Jet Grind Radio, Tony Hawk 2, Eternal Arcadia, Illbleed, Metropolis Street Racer and Phantasy Star Online are just a few of the upcoming games that should push the Dreamcast's technical envelope. I don't think we've seen all that the little white box can offer just yet.

From: Joshua Shagam
Subject: In-van Dreamcast

In response to the person who was asking for information on bypassing the Dreamcast's builtin AC->DC convertor (it's not really an inverter, since usually the conversion is done through a bridge rectifier, which converts an AC signal to DC using four diodes - an inverter is needed for the other way, to get an AC signal out of a DC line by doing lots of scary stuff with so-called "electron pumps" and other specialized ICs), my only advice is: don't. The dreamcast just takes the 120VAC signal from your wall and converts it internally. To bypass this would require that you open it up, hack your console up a bunch, add a bunch of voltage regulators and so forth. What I recommend you do is just go to CompUSA and buy one of those $50 inverter boxes for plugging your laptop in inside a car. 120 Watts *should* be enough for the Dreamcast. This way you can still use your Dreamcast in a normal environment. :)

Now, the more difficult issue with a Dreamcast in a van is the fact that Dreamcasts, being based on optical media, probably aren't the most bump-resistant consoles around, since if the head is knocked off alignment, the wrong data can be read, causing from (at the least) a skip in the music to game crashes to corruption of game data, depending on what exact probabilities and circumstances involved. As long as you put the Dreamcast on one of those old-fashioned car CD player trays (the ones for portable CD players before they had ESP), it SHOULD be fine, though finding one of those trays won't be very easy. However, if you rest the Dreamcast on something soft, such as a folded sweatshirt, it'll be fine, except that you might end up blocking off the ventilation ports on the bottom, which would be Bad.

Basically, forget about putting a Dreamcast in your van, and try for something more oriented towards portability, like a Neo Geo Pocket or something. (I don't know if those have a video out and external controller input, though, and just having a single-player system kinda defeats the purpose anyway.) However, there are still many very good games for the SNES and N64 which might suit your needs, and since both of those are cartridge-based and ruggedly-constructed (since Nintendo machines are expected to be treated as a toy), you'll probably have a lot more fun with an SNES or N64 in the van. Also, as an added bonus, since those have external AC->DC convertors, you can bypass the need for a DC->AC inverter entirely, at least on the SNES, and just need a voltage regulator. The N64 might have some negative voltage inputs on its 6-pin power input, though, in which case you'll still need a DC->DC invertor or three. Of course, the simplicity of just using a DC->AC inverter box and plugging in the system as though it were at home still applies. Neither system should have a need for more than 120 watts of power. (I keep quoting that number since that's what the $50 CompUSA inverters usually get you.)

Joshua Shagam

Thanks Josh.

There's one answer. I'm still waiting for a reply from my technically inclined acquaintance...

From: John Yoon
Subject: EA Sux

why doesn't ea support dreamcast? didn't sega practically make ea what it is today with madden on genesis? on second thought, forget you ea, we don't need you! Sega Sports is da BOMB! 2 words: nfl2k and nba2k. 'nuff said. let's see ea do better than that! ea will be hard pressed to better these two truly resplendent sports titles, each the best ever in their respective categories. seriously though, i don't know what's up with all this sega hating... all you sega haters out there, ea included, better recognize, DC is for REAL!!! DC gamers do not know the meaning of "jaggies," unlike certain other people which i will not mention... *cough* ps2 *cough* gamers *cough* DC goes for the very reasonable price of $199, which is possible b/c it does not play dvds which in no way enhances gameplay and would surely drive the price to an obscenely high level were it included - say, around $299. hey, don't get me wrong, i'm not a ps2 basher, but i get sick of hearing about how much more powerful and better ps2 is than DC (you heard me IGNps2!). if ps2 is SOOOO great, why is the DC version of doa2 better on DC than on ps2!?! (that's right, IGNps2, the DC version is actually BETTER than the ps2 version, not worse - those jaggy edges on the graphics, they're not a graphical enhancement, they're actually NOT supposed to be there ;) )

you guys need to put up a doa2 strategy/combo guide. jaggy-free doa2, nfl2k, nba2k, mdk2, Vince Carter and KG rule, jaggy doa2, crazy-stupid taxi (the game just isn't fun - i lost interest after i dropped off my first passenger), any bass-fishing related game, and writers who write obviously biased articles suck (tell the truth, not what you want the truth to be). i'm out like da bulls!

john yoon
a.k.a. jjybruin

Yep, EA did indeed grow fat from its success on the Genesis. Corporations don't always play nice, though, and the bottom line is what's most important. If neglecting the Dreamcast seems like it could be more profitable in the long run, that's exactly what they're gonna do. They don't really care about what would be more pleasant for us, the gamers...

From: Jim
Subject: Sega has a "proven" plan!!!

Sega's ISP plan to give away the Dreamcast for people signing a two year contract with SegaNet is a tried and proven plan!!! What's my proof? Look at the cellphone industry...when they began giving cellphones away for FREE* (in exchange for people signing multi-year contracts) the amount of cellphones used in this country soared!!! Sega is now trying a similar approach...maybe it will work...maybe not...but the plan has had success in the past!!!


Yep, it is a very intriguing proposition made all the more so by the fact that it has a proven track record behind it. I really, really hope this is a smashing success for Sega. They need a big win right about now, don't you think?

From: Erik E. Wahlstrom

Hey now now,

I was wondering what you guys think of Sega abondoning its Japanese operations and switching the focus to the US/Canada/Europe market. After all, the folks over in Japan don't seem to care that Sony's new system is vastly inferior (sorry couldn't help it.) How much sense would a move like that make? And by the way, how do you spell moron? (A: Wrestlers22)


Not gonna happen, since Sega is a Japanese company. That would be unheard of, afaik.

By the way, even as DC supporters, we should be ready to admit that from a hardware standpoint the PS2 is *not* "vastly inferior" to the DC. It just isn't. It's a fine machine that's simply lacking quality software. Claiming otherwise in a system debate would only ruin your credibility, which would not help your cause any.

From: Night Stalker
Subject: PS2

I would appear that the casual gamers are disregarding the ultimate system, but why? Because the Playstation was good so the Playstation 2 *has* to be good?

I attempted to tell my friends about what was good and what was right about the PS2, I mean they didn't know shit they didn't know what games were coming out for it they even asked me if I'd seen it.. fuckwits!

When I told them that there were no good games out on the PS2 friend A said.. hmm.... maybe I should get a DC and friend B said.. DON'T LET HIM CONVINCE YOU!

Geez... it's like I was trying to get them to join another religion or something, I may get a PS2 when it gets some good games (Fifa, Getaway and GT 2000 come to mind). But until that happens I'm sticking with my 128-bit wonder machine.

BTW - I'd just like to say that if this doesn't get put in the mailbag I'll kill the lot of ya :-)

Well, I wasn't going to print this until I got to the mass death threat. Common sense dictates that it's just not a good idea to mess with people named Night Stalker. Anyway, last week's Mailbag had a letter from a fellow in the exact same situation as you. It's not like I could give him any meaningful advice, but it might be good to know that there are like-minded people out there trying to fight the good fight.

Like this next fellow, for example.

From: Ryan Casey
Subject: Console media coverage and The Register

I just sent the following letter to The Register, and I wanted to know what you think about the situation with media coverage on this "next generation console war". I sorta got bitchy by the end of the letter. Oh well.

To: [email protected]

I am a regular reader of your columns and I like most of what The Register posts. However, in the article "Sony to add hard drive, modem to US PlayStation 2", I believe that your site (and many others on the web) are discounting Sega's role in Sony's decision to add the modem (and hard drive) to their system.

It has long been believed that Sega would not be able to sell their systems and get software developers on board for the Dreamcast system living in the shadow of the Playstation2. If you have been reading up on recent events, such as the TGS and Sega's announcement of SegaNet and, you should have noticed that Sega has quietly started shifting momentum towards online gaming for the end of this year. With a solid online title like Q3A in the works, along with several online RPG's like Phantasy Star Online, and with software developers like Ripcord jumping on board with the promise of several online titles for this holiday season, I think people are counting out Sega far too soon. Sega will also have an ethernet card (for cable and DSL users), a MP3 playing VMU, mouse (to go along with their keyboard), and a videoconferencing camera out by this holiday season.

Have you heard about Sega's postcard campain to the press regarding "Help the Playstation2 find its modem"? I really don't think Sony is in a position to ignore Dreamcast. Sony has always tried to one-up the Dreamcast at every turn, and they have done very well so far at helping the media to (totally) ignore the Dreamcast on the promise of something better. Have you seen the reviews comparing Dead or Alive 2 on both systems? While the PS2 version may have hidden costumes and 3 extra levels, the aliased graphics are hideous. A stairwell has fewer jagged lines. I actually want the PS2 to blow away the Dreamcast's graphics so I can justify to my wife to buy yet another console, but their release titles aren't showing anything promising yet.

I myself don't go along with the "fanboy" methodology that people should say "my system rules, your system sucks". I do believe that there is enough room for several next-gen systems to co-exist, both in Japan and in the US, and I look forward to enjoying the best that each console will bring to us consumers. I just don't like it when popular media sites talk about how Dreamcast is already dead because Sony and Microsoft will be releasing consoles in the future. Instead of only pushing things that may happen down the road, you should try looking at what is currently available as well. While it may not be popular to (favorably) mention Sega in the company of Sony and Microsoft, it is the responsible thing to do, as the journalists you are, to follow the console gaming scene actively if you are going to report on it.

Oh, by the way, you forgot to mention that this addition should definitely add more cost to the already pricey ($300+) Playstation2, especially in light of Sega's $200 system which will be given out free if you sign up for their Sega.Net service. In the article "Sega US preps free Dreamcast lure for its ISP" you have no reservations about mentioning Sony and their pending release, as well as downplaying every aspect of Sega's ISP strategy. You forgot to mention that Sega is releasing an ethernet solution for the dreamcast for broadband users, as well as that you can still use almost any other ISP with the Dreamcast. You even missed the entire point of, which is that its users should have better connectivity (ping and lag) than with other (dial up) ISPs for Dreamcast online games. I would be willing to bet that if Sony actually had an online strategy, no matter what it was, you wouldn't call it a "lure". It would be a "strategy", "plan" or a "solution", and you would have actually read something about it before posting an article about it. It is a shame that you won't cover the first realistic, wide-release online strategy for a console just because it is being delivered by Sega. But I cannot wait to hear about the next time Microsoft coughs or Sony sneezes!

Thank you for listening to my rants,
Ryan Casey

The Register is a piece of trash gossip rag. But that's just IMHO. ;) Good letter, though. Smack 'em down!

From: CGMarine
Subject: SoF?

Do you know if there is any chance of Soldier of Fortune coming to Dreamcast? This game is so cool, but my computer sucks and cant run it.

No announcements so far, although it wouldn't be too hard from a technical standpoint.

From: John Kaczmarek
Subject: Half-Life

Do you guys have any information on this upcoming title? If Sega can pull it off just right, this game could be the Goldeneye of the DC. All I know about this title is this so far: it's a complete port of the PC version, with an extra single player level featuring Otis, the waistline challenged security guard from Opposing Force, the Half Life expansion pack. This extra level will be designed by Gearbox, the designers of OpFor. I do own this game for my PC but seeing how I am a complete and total geek, I would like to own the DC version of this game so I can have a nice healthy deathmatch against my friends in my living room. Games like Half Life and Quake III do an excellent job of bringing deathmatch alive, but there is a certain charm in playing against people in the same room that you can talk to without having to stop and type somehting in (and get fragged in the process).

Any info about this title would be appreciated.

You're in luck. Our bitter, hated foes at IGN ran a great preview of Half-Life, just yesterday in fact. Check it out here.

On a similar note, our bitter, hated foes in France like to eat snails. Poor bastards.

From: PantherX20
Subject: Street Fighter Alpha 3

Hello Planetdreamcast,

I have seen on some sites that this title was to be 2- players, and on others to be 3-players, So right now i am really confused whether i should purchase it, when it comes out. So can you Please clear this up for all of us out there. Is this game 2 or 3-players?


Dreamcast SFA3 does indeed have a 3 player mode, where it lets you pit one player vs. two others. It's unknown how the US version's network features will turn out, though. Doesn't look like it'll have online fighting, but you'd hope there's at least *some* network features in there, since the game has been delayed so freakin' long.

From: John
Subject: Tony Hawk

I would like to know wether Tony Hawks Pro Skating will appear for dresamcast or not please mail me back

Yep, and so is Tony Hawk 2, the sequel. Hooray for paper products!

From: Tom Thackeray

please send me recv stuff and mostly the date when its coming out

It's out.

I'll send the recv stuff to your mailing address, which we had our team of scientists extract from your email's headers.

From: Anthony Arnold

                                                         easy                    victory

All you have to is be rock and blast them with his wepon and they get closer to the edge and by by

Thanks, I'd been wondering about that. Nice layout, btw. Want a job?

Game over. Now, where the hell are my pants? Or my cake, for that matter? *sigh* Anyway, while I caper daintily about, take a minute to throw a letter into the Mailbag. After all, it is tax deductible.

Oh, and here's a little something. What do you think of having a set topic in the Mailbag for certain weeks? Then everyone could write in and chime in on the subject. One could be, to make a lame example, PS2 games vs. DC games. Or another might be "what do you think of the plan?". Good idea, or no? Speak your mind!

Alrighty, time to chill out Sega-style, with some Hyper Duel and Maken X. See you next week!

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