SEGA Tunes: Space Channel 5’s Spaceport: Introducing Ulala and Mexican Flyer

It’s only fitting that the final Tuesday Tunes for Dreamcast month be about one of the Dreamcast’s legendary rhythm titles. Tonight’s track? A bombastic, jazzy little tune from Space Channel 5,You got to love when that awesome saxophone solo at the 2:55 mark, too. This is a real swinging, sexy piece of jazz that’d be absolutely great to dance to even outside of the game. Spaceport: Introducing Ulala. You got to love when that saxophone solo starts playing at the minute mark, too. This is a real swinging, sexy piece of jazz that’d be absolutely great to dance to even outside of the game. Definitely a great song to introduce one of the coolest rhythm game characters out there.

What many of you might not know is that one of Space Channel 5’s most iconic tunes wasn’t even made for the game! It’s actually a remix of an awesome song from the 1966 spy thriller movie “The Thriller Memorandum” called Mexican Flyer. The song itself is performed by Ken Woodman & His Piccadilly Brass, and the version Space Channel 5 uses seem to be ripped straight from the movie.

I don’t know what possessed Tetsuya Mizuguchi and the good people from United Game Artists to go with this as one of their game’s headline songs, but I’m glad they did. We can always use more jazz in gaming soundtracks, especially these days! Check out the original Mexican Flyer, which was also in Space Channel 5, below the fold.

Swingin’ Report Show #71: Phantasy Star Online with Susan Arendt & James Mielke

Dreamcast Month comes to an end at SEGAbits with a special episode of the Swingin’ Report Show podcast in which we celebrate one of the most memorable Dreamcast games – Phantasy Star Online.

Joining Barry and George on this episode are two gaming industry greats! Taking a telepipe to the Pioneer 2 is Susan Arendt – Managing Editor of Joystiq.com, former Editor-In-Chief at The Escapist, and former contributor to GameShark, Shojo Beat Magazine, and Wired. And back from busting a blue rappy it’s James Mielke – Founder of BitSummit, former Editor-In-Chief of Electronic Gaming Monthly and 1UP.com, and former producer at Q Entertainment and Q-Games.

Join us for a special round table looking back on PSO, from pre-release hype, to launch, and memories of the many versions and episodic sequels. As a bonus, James reveals that he has an army of super soldiers and he shares some inside info on where Phantasy Star Online 2 is at in English translation and what may be holding up a Western release.

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Classic SEGA Ads: Shenmue! It’s so good, you’ll dream about it during sex!

As the Dreamcast entered its second (and final) year on the US market, SEGA moved away from their awesome “inside the Dreamcast” ads and went back to a style somewhat more conventional. These later Dreamcast ads are reminiscent of some of the better Genesis era stuff, albeit they are typically cleverer and better written.

Here, we’ve got a man who’s clearly been playing too much Shenmue. I’ll admit this is a funny ad that conveys the immersion factor of the game pretty effectively, but at the same time I can’t help but think that this would have been a game better advertised as a dramatic, epic masterpiece than as a game you’ll be thinking about in bed.

There was an ad made in this vein…though I’m unsure if it ever aired on television. It’s a direct translation of the Japanese ad and a pretty epic piece of advertisement. It features a great vocal track called “Song of the Bay”, which was only ever featured on the Shenmue orchestral soundtrack. Check out this ad below the fold!

Retro Review: Shenmue (SEGA Dreamcast)

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Even with the ridiculous and almost unprecedented hype that surrounded the release of SEGA’s mega-budget Dreamcast title Shenmue, it’s tough to imagine that gamers first diving into the series back then would have any idea how legendary (or infamous) Ryo’s adventure would become. Who could have guessed that even nearly 15 years later, fans would be still be begging for more?

Love it or hate it, the still-unfinished saga that is Shenmue has become a legend in its own right: a mystery etched into the fabric of gaming that may never be solved. But it’s a game very much worthy of that legendary status. It may not have been for everyone, but for those who “got” Shenmue, there was simply nothing else like it.

SEGA Tunes: Shenmue’s Original Soundtrack

When Shenmue was being hyped by SEGA as the next big step in gaming immersion, Yu Suzuki often liked to classify the game in its own genre, “Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment” or FREE. These days we tend to either call it an RPG or an adventure game, but even back then the phrase didn’t really work because it ignored one of Shenmue’s best qualities: its utterly marvelous, epic, emotional, cinematic, beautiful soundtrack. For Shenmue Week Tuesday Tunes will be doing something new: instead of posting one or two tracks, we’re posting the entire soundtrack.

The above video was put together by Shenmue Dojo. Aside from being a marvelous way to listen to the entire Shenmue soundtrack, this video was also the first request Tuesday Tunes ever received. Someone from Shenmue Dojo really wanted us to highlight it, but I knew we couldn’t just do it for any occasion. It may have taken awhile, dude, but you finally got your wish. Now please, join us as we take a musical journey through part one of Yu Suzuki’s magnum opus!

SEGA Retrospective: Let’s get sweaty as we celebrate a SEGA Dreamcast classic, it’s Shenmue Week!

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Welcome to a franchise week that many readers have been requesting ever since we began to dedicate seven days to classic SEGA titles, this is Shenmue Week! Like Jet Set Radio Week, we’re going focus exclusively on the first game of the franchise throughout the week. While Shenmue and its sequel are not incredibly different games from each other like Jet Set Radio and Jet Set Radio Future, we felt that both Shenmue titles are both so epic on their own that to try and cram both into seven days would do a disservice to the series. Not to mention, we love Shenmue so much that the prospect of another Shenmue Week in the future is something we’re looking forward to.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s travel back in time, before Shenmue II and before the original Shenmue. Before the series went by the codename Project Berkley, to a time in the mid 90s when SEGA’s Yu Suzuki was working on a SEGA Saturn prototype known as The Old Man and the Peach Tree.

Classic SEGA Ads: There’s a Party Going on Inside Your Dreamcast

 

If there’s anything SEGA learned from the Saturn, it’s that it was important for their console to have an identity. The system wasn’t just a box that played a selection of games, it was a gateway to hundreds of worlds and thousands of characters, all of whom had the little white box in common. Through these commercials, the Dreamcast was able to establish an identity for itself as a quirky and colorful system that was more focused on fun and good times than anything else. What’s even better is that it wasn’t just SEGA characters who got into the action.

These commercials were fun and hilarious, and I’m surprised we haven’t seen more campaigns like this from the other console makers. The only company since SEGA that has really tried to sell their console in a similar fashion is Sony, with its PS3 and PS4 commercials, which is strange when you consider that Nintendo has the largest selection of recognizable characters and brands of any console maker.

The Dreamcast had numerous ads like this in its first year on the market, and all of them are still great to watch now. These commercials are filled to the brim with Dreamcast characters both notable and obscure, some of whom wouldn’t even get their games until the Dreamcast was on its death bed. How many characters can you spot in this ad? Let us know in the comments. I apologize for the poor quality of the ad, but just do your best, okay?

SEGA by Design: Power Stone 2 and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Cover Art

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Welcome to a new SEGAbits feature: SEGA by Design. Believe it or not, SEGAbits is not my day job. When I’m not working on the site, I’m a full time graphic designer. Before I decided to make graphic design my profession, I grew up wanting to be either an animator or a cartoonist. My childhood influences included 90’s cartoons and video game cover art, and while I loved such works as the covers of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games, I found myself even more attracted to the package designs that encapsulated the artwork. At the time, I had no idea what this sort of thing was called, I just knew that it was slick, uniform, and involved colors, shapes, and fonts. It wasn’t until the Playstation game Wipeout that I learned of what graphic design actually entailed through the work of The Designer’s Republic. From there on out, I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer and four years of college and seven years of professional experience later, here I am about to tear into the cover art of one of my most favorite SEGA Dreamcast games: Capcom’s Power Stone 2.

What today’s Japanese RPGs can learn from SEGA’s Skies of Arcadia

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If there’s one type of game that has struggled to find its footing in the modern era, it’s been the Japanese RPG. Looking at a console generation that has seen a major RPG from the creator of Final Fantasy struggle to achieve a Western release, and one where the once-mighty RPG giant Square-Enix has become more known for Tomb Raider than for their RPG output, it’s without a doubt been an interesting ride for the genre.

In recent years it’s been the games that have deviated most from the typical format, such as the Persona series and Dark Souls, that have garnered the most mainstream appeal outside of your usual Final Fantasy releases. As the seventh console generation wound to a close, however, we’ve also seen the smallest signs of a shift back. With more traditional Japanese RPGs like the 3DS’ Bravely Default being warmly received worldwide, it’s shown that developers can look to the past to find inspiration for the future.

And if they look back at Skies of Arcadia, there’s plenty they can learn from the Dreamcast’s biggest traditional RPG.

The Weekly Five: Best Unknown SEGA Dreamcast Games (revisited)

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Back in 2011, I wrote a Weekly Five about the five best “unknown” Dreamcast games. The goal was to highlight some of the Dreamcast’s best titles that no one really talks about. Among the handful of comments it received was a complaint that I didn’t go “obscure” enough, even though that wasn’t really the point (though I will admit my topic is and continues to be pretty vague). Since then, I’ve done some real digging into some of the deepest parts of the Dreamcast library and I feel ready to come up with an all new selection of titles.

I hope some of these titles are new to you! There’s no better way to celebrate 15 years of the SEGA Dreamcast than with a new game.

Swingin’ Report Show #70: SEGA Dreamcast 15th Anniversary Special with The Dreamcast Junkyard

This week on the SEGAbits Swingin’ Report Show podcast, Barry and George celebrate 15 years of the SEGA Dreamcast with Tomleecee and Aaron aka The Gagaman of The Dreamcast Junkyard.

Being from the UK, Tom and Aaron bring the unique perspective of what the SEGA Dreamcast launch was like in Europe. Topics include UK marketing, the delayed launch, games exclusive to the region, the official and unofficial magazines, the collecting scene, and Tom and Aaron’s thoughts on the US release. We also have a discussion on SEGA’s decision to change the red swirl to blue, and which region had the best box art.

You can follow Tomleecee and The Gagaman on Twitter, and make sure to visit The Dreamcast Junkyard, RetroCollect, and Lucky Hit!

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Unboxing a Launch Day SEGA Dreamcast

When I originally bought my Dreamcast in December of 2000, it was a refurbished GameStop unit in a bland white box. At the time I was trying to be a good son and save my parents some money, but unfortunately this also means I never had a box to proudly display, but I would never even know what the system’s original packaging was like.

That is, until I plunked down some cash to buy a near mint system on eBay a few days ago! In order to mark the occasion, I decided to record the experience so anyone in my predicament can finally get an idea of what it was like to get a (sort of) new Dreamcast in September of 1999. A few screw-ups aside (calling the controller a Dreamcast, not looking at the manual, not knowing what some of the launch games were) I daresay this might be the best launch edition Dreamcast unboxing video on the internet. At least, I couldn’t find one. I hope you enjoy my belated little birthday gift for the DC!

SEGA Tunes: Sonic Adventure’s “Emerald Coast” and “It Doesn’t Matter”

Today we’re focusing on two songs represent both ends of Adventure’s soundtrack: cheery and Genesis-esque instrumentals of “Emerald Coast” and the corny rock tunes of “It Doesn’t Matter” that would go on to become more prevalent in many later Sonic OSTs.

Emerald Coast will probably always hold a special place in my iPad for one simple reason: it was the first song I ever heard on a Dreamcast. Seeing Emerald Coast on a Target Dreamcast kiosk is what ultimately made me buy the system, and the graphics and sound played a large part in that decision. I imagine many Dreamcast owners will feel nostalgic over this track for this very same reason.

It Doesn’t Matter was my introduction to Crush40 and its brand of cheese rock. I loved this stuff when I was a teen. Even today, this song always give me a warm feeling because it’s so goddamned optimistic! As cheesy as its lyrics may be, I love the sound, and it continues to be one of my favorite Sonic vocal tracks. Back then I would listen to this a lot whenever I was feeling down, and to my surprise it still has the same effect on me today.

For me, this song is in many ways the theme song of the Dreamcast. This was SEGA’s last shot and they put everything into it. The system’s short lifespan had the greatest concentration of legendary titles in the history of gaming, at least since the onset of 3D consoles. SEGA may have given up the fight, but in many ways the Dreamcast never did. It continues to enjoy one of the most prosperous afterlifes of any console on the market.

Check out “It Doesn’t Matter” below the fold.