Wednesday, August 14, 2013
That's right, finally ironed out the last few kinks today.
We're not quite at release 150, though. This is also fine because I'm not sure if irvgotti452 has finished the artwork yet. We can excuse him for that though, because the man works some hellish hours and put a whole lot of time into translating the game in the first place.
He's not the only one to thank though, as we had to call in the heavy artillery to get the game's audio working. Thanks on that one go to YZB. YZB isn't terribly well known among English-speaking Dreamcast fans, but the man is a certifiable beast when it comes to Dreamcast hacking.
I did a little work myself of course, cutting the game's CDDA so it would fit onto an 80 minute disc, troubleshooting some web browser issues, and building the final image. We used a GDI of course, so there won't be any unpack/inject of MP3s, just nice pure CDDA (and a few more minutes of music than Echelon had).
There'll be more details on the process in the NFO when the game is released. In the meantime, leading up to 150, you can look forward to Quake III Arena and Vigilante 8 2nd Offense. Depending on how things go, I'd say that you'll likely see the game released in about 3 weeks.
Japan: June 24, 1999
North America: 9.9.99
VGA Box (480p)
Expendable is a top down, run and gun shoot ‘em up game, (Think Contra: Legacy of War… Now immediately forget the existence of that horrible entry in the Contra series) developed by British studio Rage Software. Originally released for the Playstation platform, it eventually made its way on the Dreamcast as part of the stellar launch line-up for the system here in the states courtesy of Infogrames. Rage Software as a developer was becoming known for their distinct arcade-like style gameplay that their productions would undertake and Expendable sure seems to convey such philosophies… resulting in a friendly learning curve in understanding the game mechanics and control scheme. This bodes well in encouraging others to join in on some Co-Op 2 player action where the games true potential is realized.
Set in a future timeline where the galaxy is conquered by some douchebag of an alien race (seriously now! looks like Probing poor saps was only the beginning of their nefarious plans). Scientists have created the “Millennium Soldier” project, which resulted in the cloning 2 Super-Soldiers as means to combat the alien threat. The game CGI intro explains everything. Well… maybe not everything in such detail, but the cutscene is rather humorous.
I may be mistaken, but I believe Expendable’s visuals are a result of an in-house engine that was utilized on all of Rage’s products at the time. As you would expect, considering the game was originally designed for the PS1, the game does little to make a dent to the Dreamcast hardware. With that said though, the game isn’t anywhere close to being a visually ugly game on the Dreamcast Library (trust me, there are plenty other games on the Dreamcast that deserve that award!). The game is easily one of the darkest looking games on the system, but plenty of the games visual effects and lighting look really good. Another interesting note is even as an early Dreamcast production, the game fully supports the Hi-res VGA mode, and looks damn good through the signal no less.
The Audio to Expendable is surprisingly goodtimes. SFX are crisp and clear. Weaponry effects sound engaging, explosions sound great, and alien casualties sound rich and grotesque as you fill their carcasses with bullet holes until they fall apart to bloody pieces. The games soundtrack is also well crafted, providing a real moody and atmospheric sense to the gritty, dark world of the game. It’s worth noting that this particular RDC release of the game, does as much as possible (at least more than any other offering out there) to preserve the quality of the games audio to properly fit the game in into 80min Compact Disc. Major props go to RDC for keeping such quality in their releases as we’ve come to expect from their work.
It seems it’s pretty easy to overlook this game. There isn’t anything particularly special or innovative to it. It’s all straightforward, standard fare with the games respective genre… and that isn’t such a bad thing considering the slim pickings there are for it on the system (Cannon Spike is the only alternative that pops in to mind at the moment). Expendable may not be prettiest one at the party, but damn, is it fun to play.
Japan: September 28, 2000
North America: Feburary 29, 2000
Europe: July 19, 2000
Standard Controller, Arcade Stick
VGA Box (480p)
Dead or Alive 2 is a flagship fighter from publisher Tecmo. The brainchild of Japanese game designer Tomonobu Itagaki and his former development studio, Team Ninja. As the games title suggests, it is the sequel to the original DOA which interestingly enough was also created using SEGA hardware (Sega Model 2 for the arcade and released on the Sega Saturn). DOA 2 is more or less a faster, more edgy alternative to SEGA’s rather traditionally tame Virtua Fighter Series. As a result of its Virtua Fighter(esque) roots, gameplay is heavily centered in the traditional paper/rock/scissor branch fighting system of Attacks/Throws/Holds. The game further carves an identity for itself in the gameplay dept by way of its staple Danger Zone mechanic (given the respective battlegrounds that call for it) its stagger system (also known as Critical Hit), and a varying array of multi level/confined (via by walls or obstacles) battlegrounds that can drastically affect the flow of a match. DOA 2 also trenches new waters by providing an alternative Tag battle format, providing combat that’s heavily reliant on team synergy, tag throws, tag combos, extended juggle combo possibilities and the aforementioned Danger Zone system playing a more pivotal role in this mode. Standard Arcade default controls are elegantly mapped as Guard, Punch and Kick (much like VF series). Moving your character in 3D space requires holding the Guard button and moving the Dpad/Arcade Stick in whatever direction you want your character to traverse. This may seem like a more tedious method than say, Soul Calibur’s innovative and seamless 8-way run system of free movement, but DOA 2’s hand to hand fighting engine and more frontally driven method of attacking doesn’t rely so much on sidestepping and 3D movement the way a weapon based fighter such as Soul Calibur does.
!!!Exciter!!! That’s all you need to know and perhaps all you’ll ever understand. Moving on…
Another masterpiece of state the art visuals thanks no less to SEGA’s wondrous NAOMI hardware and Team Ninja’s ability to put said hardware to good use. DOA 2 was one VERY beautiful game for its time and still holds decently well even today especially on the Dreamcast. Character models rival those (and even in some respects slightly surpass) of the sublime Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast. Where the game truly surpassed all competition during its time are the Battlegrounds which have been meticulously crafted with as much detail as the Fighters themselves. These Backgrounds sport heavy detail and actually play a role in the gameplay thanks to their ambitious scope in size and non linear architecture like sloping foundations and different forms of terrain (Water, Snow, Ice) which effects how characters stagger from Critical State leading to some unpredictable situations. For anyone looking to play this game on their trusty Dreamcast, I HIGHY recommend playing with a VGA accessory for some Hi-res goodness.
Audio is perhaps the only category where the game feels like a letdown. Character dialogue during battles is loud and sometimes even obnoxious. Some of the game’s tunes feel forgettable at best or maybe it’s just me. If only Team Ninja had provided the game with an option to play with the more pleasant arcade NAOMI soundtrack. YO! RDC, make it happen… please?
DOA 2 was a pretty important title for the Dreamcast, almost in the same sense that the Original DOA was for SEGA’s previous system, the Saturn. The original DOA was further solid proof that the Saturn was indeed capable of high quality 3D graphics as well as being able to handle another conversion of a more powerful Model 2 production under the right talent to make it happen. DOA 2 on the Dreamcast further solidified the little white box’s claim as a true powerhouse in respects to Arcade to Home conversions with a very pure translation of the game that not even PS2 was capable of replicating. It was also a pretty significant release within its own series. Many of the innovations introduced in this game continue to linger in just about every sequel in the series. It was the last game in the franchise to be produced for the arcade market which in turn was the last in the series to be built using arcade SEGA hardware. Although in an interesting turn of (current) events, the most current installment of the series (DOA 5 Ultimate) is once again stepping into Arcade scene after a long absence with help from SEGA, their Ring Edge 2 Hardware and ALL Net P-ras MULTI digital platform. Hmm… rather interesting wouldn’t you agree? In any event, DOA 2 has been released on multiple competitive systems of the time and on multiple occasions no less… And yet Dead or Alive 2 feels truly alive and perfect on the system it was originally intended for.
I would last like to take this opportunity to cast my vote for Ayane’s “Tig O Bitties” as the best rack out of the cast in Dead or Alive 2.