Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sega Saturn's Pandemonium! Hits the iPhone

While not an in-house Sega title, the Crystal Dynamics developed Pandemonium! was one of the few must have Sega Saturn platformers. Playing like a cross between Klonoa and NiGHTS, you control a jester named Fargus or a sorceress named Nikki who must stop a beast that they themselves had unleashed on their kingdom. The game plays on a 2.5D plane (like Klonoa) and, as mentioned, features a jester (like NiGHTS).

While Pandemonium! has gone mobile on the N-Gage back in 2003, the iPhone release differs in that many people actually own an iPhone or iPod Touch. There are two reasons to be excited for the release of Pandemonium! to the iPhone; we have a Saturn classic to play on the go, and if the game is successful we can be assured that more Saturn games will hit the platform. If the iPhone can handle Pandemonium!, then why not other Crystal Dynamics games like Gex or even Sega developed Saturn games like NiGHTS into Dreams, Burning Rangers or Panzer Dragoon?

sells for $4.99 at the Apple App Store [buy now]
Wile your at the app store I also recommend checking out Glyder, a free flight game in which you glide about and collect gems. The graphics have a very Sega Saturn vibe and the gameplay is akin to a real chilled out NiGHTS on a 3D plane and minus enemies.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Brief Reminder: is not dead!

For those trying to access only to reach an advert for their web host, you can find a way around this by going to

As Panta mentions, everything is up and running except for the direct link to the site. He also mentions that info on the tangible CD will be up by the weekend. If you haven't downloaded the free EP of Dreamcast influenced tunes, do so NOW by clicking here! The digital album art was designed by yours truly and is included in the download. My choice track would have to be Curious Console.

Super Magnetic Neo Update:
I've finally captured my white whale! As mentioned in this post, I made my third purchase of Super Magnetic Neo for the Dreamcast and thankfully the third time was the charm. The disc plays with no hiccups. Now the only problem I have to deal with is mastering this insanely difficult platformer. Damn bottomless pits.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Turning Japanese Part 3 - Box shots! Plus Dreamcast Travel Cases

In continuation of The Nomad Junkyard's Dreamcast celebration I bring the 3 part "Turning Japanese" article to a close. We've compared a US console to a Japanese console and have had an in depth look at all of the paper inserts found in a Japanese Dreamcast launch box. Now, lets have a look at the lovely box.

The front of the box is emblazoned with images of Sega's then senior managing director Yukawa Hidekazu. At the time of the Dreamcast's launch in Japan, a series of television ads ran featuring Yukawa. The complete campaign can be seen in this video:

The commercials follow Yukawa as his life goes into a downward spiral when he wrestles with the fact that kids don't care about Sega anymore, they just want to play the Playstation 2. Just as things are at their worse, Yukawa overhears two schoolchildren talking of how excited they are for the upcoming Dreamcast console. This glimmer of hope causes Yukawa to let out a little victory "Yosh!", which can be seen below the Dreamcast logo on the box. As the campaign was such a hit, Yukawa appeared on the launch box itself and became the Segata Sanshiro of the Dreamcast era. He even had his own game, Yukawa Moto Senmu no Okatara Ikushi, and appeared as himself in the Shenmue preview disc What's shenmue?.

For any readers who have an understanding of Japanese, or know what the penciled in numbers are referring to in the above photo, let me know in the comments section.

Now we're going to bring in the portable aspect of this blog by presenting the Dreamcast travel case and CD wallet. The Travel case seen below has served me well over the past 9 years. The case had allowed me to comfortably take my Dreamcast to my family cabin where I played Power Stone for hours with my cousins. The travel case had also served me in a total of nine moves, including moving me through three states. It is possibly the most compact and durable console travel case I've ever owned. The CD wallet is much newer, I purchased it last month from for the low price of $7.99! It came to me within 3 days of ordering (at a low shipping fee) and was still in its original cardboard sleeve. I highly recommend any US readers to pick one up for themselves, as its not every day that you find new Dreamcast accessories at such low prices. There is even a classy raised foam SEGA logo on the back. Enjoy the photos below!

The travel case has a large number of hidden pockets, so there is no fear of not having room for that extra VMU. In fact, you could easily pack this thing with eight VMUs, if not more.

The case holds (from my memory) 15 GD-Roms and about 5 manuals, or another VMU is you're so inclined!

That wraps up our offensively titled "Turning Japanese" series, but there are more Dreamcast articles to come!

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Sonic the Hedgehog" Makes Its Forty-Second Ported Appearance

Well, maybe not forty-second, but it might be damn near close to it. Sonic the Hedgehog will soon be coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch. Do we need another mobile incarnation? Will Sonic 1 on the iPod Touch have that special... touch?

Sonic the Hedgehog, while an excellent genre-defining classic, has seen more ports than a really old boat (that was an awful pun, I apologize). Some, myself included, would argue that the more you port a classic game to different platforms the more you saturate what made the game so awesome in the first place. A true Sonic 1 experience is the act of popping open that black game case, hearing the "snap" of the cartridge as you remove it and then the subtle "sh-chunk" as you insert it into your Geneses/Mega Drive. Flicking on the power, that tiny red light illuminates, accompanied by the opening chorus. "SEGA!" It's more than the game, it's the process and the system itself. It's a process that I would equate with a movie buff loading a film projector to watch Citizen Kane.

Sonic at Home
All that being said, it's understandable that not everybody would own or would still want to own a twenty year old gaming system in their living room. Citizen Kane is still just as great a movie on DVD, right? And so comes the classic gaming equivalent of the DVD re-release, the port. On home systems, Sonic has had some pretty successful rereleases. 1997 saw two; Sonic Classics 3-in-1 on the Genesis and on the Saturn there was Sonic Jam. Sonic Jam is the undisputed best rerelase of Sonic's Mega Drive days. You not only got the full series, but also a number of bonus videos and artwork in a 3D world setting. 2001 took a step back with the Dreamcast's Sega Smash Pack, which featured twelve poorly emulated Genesis games including Sonic the Hedgehog. Sega redeemed themselves in 2002 with the Sonic Mega Collection for the Gamecube, PS2 and (my preferred version) the Xbox. This collection, while lacking bonuses from Sonic Jam, included fourteen perfectly emulated Genesis games plus six Game Gear games. In 2006 another Sega Smash Pack-like release came to the PS2 titled the Sega Genesis Collection, which included 28 Genesis games including Sonic 1 and Sonic 2. Believe it or not, that wasn't the end! This year saw the release of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection in PAL regions), featuring a whopping 49 games including (once again) all of the Sonic titles seen on the Genesis.

Sonic Handheld
Whew! So we've established that Sonic 1 can be played on virtually every home system, with perfect results for the most part. But what about handheld devices? This is where it gets messy. Outside of playing Sonic 1 on a Sega Nomad, if you wanted a port of the game in the 1990's you were out of luck. Obviously, Sega's only available handhelds to port to were its own. The Game Gear featured a Sonic the Hedgehog game, but this was the 8-bit Master System version. By 1999, both the Nomad and Game Gear were defunct and so Sega found it safe to release Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure for the Neo Geo Color handheld system. Like the Game Gear itieration, Pocket Adventure was influenced by the original game but was in no way a port. A majority of the level design and gameplay was inspired by Sonic 2 with sprinklings of Sonic 1. Upon Sega's pullout from the hardware market *sniff* a series of successful Sonic sidescrollers hit the Game Boy and PSP platforms, but again these were not Sonic 1. In 2006 our prayers were answered and then were quickly thrown into the flames of Hell with the release of Sonic the Hedgehog: GENESIS for the Game Boy Advance. Jerky sidescrolling, a cropped screen and shitty sound effects ruined what could have been a perfect 15th anniversary release. A year later the aforementioned Sega Genesis Collection hit the PSP, featuring what was and still is the best port of Sonic 1 on a handheld gaming device. But is it worth buying a PSP for? Absolutly not.

Sonic on Your Phone
During the 90's the idea of playing a Genesis game on your phone was unheard of. Nowadays not only can you do that, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw Sonic Adventure on our phones in a few years. In 2006 Glu Games, a leading mobile gaming producer, released a two-part Java run Sonic The Hedgehog known as Sonic Mobile. Sonic Mobile demonstrated that even without superior hardware like the Game Boy Advance, an apt port of the classic could occur. Of course, Sonic Mobile had the drawbacks of a tiny screen and less than steller sound (depending on your type of phone) but the gameplay remained true. Glu returned with Sonic Dash, a port of Sonic 2, and as before the port was a success. A year later, in 2007, Sega brought Sonic to the iPod. Sonic the Hedgehog for the iPod was a visual success, beating out Mobile, but stumbled in the controls. Obviously the development team knew that the click wheel would be their greatest obstacle, but for what they were given I'd say that Sonic's iPod was a success. While it may take a level or two to get used to the controls, once you're there you're playing at about 80% accuracy compared to the original.
In March, 2009 Sega announced that Sonic would be coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch. A resounding groan of "Again?!" arose, but this is still something to be excited for. Apple's app store is fast becoming the leading mobile gaming hub, introducing many hot new games from both indie developers and the big hitters like Namco and Sega. Games are relativly easy to bring to the app store, with an Apple approval process the only thing standing in the way. If Sonic for the iPhone is a success, we could very well see the rest of the series as well as other Sega classics. I dream of a world in which Phantasy Star Collection hits the store of $9.99.

What about the controls, or the lack of controls? While many games have failed in touch screen buttons (see Mega Man 2), an equal number of games have succeded in implementing touch screen buttons. One option are ghost buttons overlayed on the game itself, and by moving the senter of the screen towords the top there is less of a chance that your thumb will cover that upcming spike trap. Another option, already successfully done via jailbreaking an iPhone, is to have the game played in a portrait setting with a digital Genesis controller below. Functional, stylish and enough room to still see whats going on.

As evidenced, Sonic the Hedgehog in the portable world has come a long way. What was a perfect release to begin with had to begin as a series of mistakes before that original level of perfection could be reached again. While that perfection will be met with the iPhone release remains to be seen, but don't forget that a perfect mobile version has existed since 1995. ;)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Super Magnetic Neo: My White Whale

You may have noticed in my previous post that I own two copies of Super Magnetic Neo. Well, as of 2 minutes ago I have secured a third copy. No, I'm not a hoarding Neo fan who must own every copy of the game. I'm simply trying to own a working copy! My copies aren't scratched, in fact the second copy I bought was like new. The Gagaman's collection video mentions him having a similar problem with Virtua Striker 2. Why is it that this happens? Is it a production fault? Whatever the reason, I am now Ahab and Super Magnetic Neo is my white whale.

My first Neo purchase got me a mint case and booklet with a used but in pretty good shape disc. Unfortunately, the game wouldn't make it past the Dreamcast intro screen. Luckily, the seller refunded my money and allowed me to keep the game. My second auction brought me a near mint copy of the game (disc only), and while it made it further than the last copy it got hung up on the loading screen after the intro movie. While Neo has been described as a difficult game, I'd say it's more difficult to buy a working copy of it! I'm hoping that this post will bring me good luck in my third attempt. If it works, I'll be a very happy whale hunter.

Coming next: The third and final part to the "Turning Japanese" article including a special extra on Dreamcast portable accessories! See, I haven't forgotten the "portable" aspect of this blog.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Nomad Junkyard's Mission and 2009 Goals

As The Nomad Junkyard nears its sixth month in operation, I feel that it's time to reestablish the mission of this blog. The past posts have given me a much clearer idea of what this place is all about, and so I thought I'd lay it out for you the reader.
  • The Nomad Junkyard's foremost goal is to provide news and stories concerning Sega's portable Genesis the Nomad.
  • When Nomad news cannot be found, stories will focus on portable Genesis/Mega Drive news including third party hardware, hacks, mods and ports (such as the upcoming iPhone "Sonic the Hedgehog" port).
  • The Nomad Junkyard will also dip into other systems and their portable offerings, as seen in the article below, and will occasionally bring portable hardware and portable game reviews.
  • As 9-9-09 is approaching, I will be posting a good deal of personal Dreamcast articles in anticipation of the console's 10th anniversary. These could include ebay scores, past memories or my own fan art (I have an awesome collection of Jet Set Radio drawings from high school). I'll make up a cute little logo to help distinguish these articles from the typical Nomad and Portable news.
  • October 2009 brings us the Nomad's 14th anniversary! Stay tuned for special plans to commemorate this month. Even BIGGER plans are in store for October 2010!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"No Nomad? No Problem!" Sega Systems on the GO!

So you want to take your Sega Genesis/Mega Drive on the go? Easy, buy a Nomad! Can't afford the $75 ebay asking price for a Nomad? Again, easy: pick up the pre-loaded Tectoy or Blaze portables ($40-$60). Another alternative is to pick up any one of Radica's PlayTV systems and you can enjoy a limited number of Sega classics within the size of one controller, though you need to supply your own screen.

But what of the other Sega systems? One portable system is not enough! Let's move through Sega's console timeline to find the best ways to play portable.

Master System
The earliest Sega console is the easiest to take on the go. Development of a portable Master System began in 1989 under the codename "Project Mercury" (Sega loves planet names, don't they?). Mercury came to be known as the Sega Game Gear, launching in 1990, and has since been Sega's ONLY portable to have its own library of games. Many popular Master System games made their way to the Game Gear, offering a larger color palate though running at a lower resolution. Though the Game Gear met its end in 1997, independent game publisher Majesco picked up production of the system and select rereleased games in 2000. Bought online, a Game Gear can run anywhere from $20-$40 and often includes games and a carrying case. Like the Genesis, smaller pre-loaded Game Gear-like handhelds have been made by independent manufacturers including PlayPal and Coleco.

CDX/Mega CD and 32X
From here on out we're moving into hacker and modding territory. In terms of legitimate first or third parties, there is no way to play a Sega CD or 32X game on a handheld. While there is the infamous Sega CDX/Multi-Mega, you'll have to supply your own screen. One Sega fan did so, creating a bulky but impressive mod featuring a 5" display, external speakers and an import switch. According to TechEBlog it also play 32X. Note: unless heavily modded, a 32X will not play on a Nomad, though you CAN construct a Game Genie, Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic 3 tower of babel.

I'll have to call "Google incapable" here, as I have not found a portable Saturn mod anywhere online. I did come across a iffy Saturn emulator for the PSP, but beyond that nothing. If any reader has a link, please post it in the comments section. :)

Ahem! Moving on. While I dissapointed in the Saturn area, I will not dissapoint for the Dreamcast. The most popular portable Dreamcast is China's Treamcast. Basically a boxy clone, the Treamcast includes an LCD screen atop the disc lid. From what I've read, it's just what you'd expect and is a recommended purchase for the Dreamcast fan who must have everything. Moving into the mods, there are a wide variety. Below are my favorite handheld and laptop Dreamcasts.

As we've seen, there are many ways to take Sega goodness with you wherever you go. But we're not done yet! I close this article with the "phattist" most "fly" and ultimate portable Sega setup. I present to you: Fat Joe's 2002 Cadillac Escalade


Friday, April 10, 2009

NNN: I Have a Dreamcast Remastered EP

Not Nomad News
Because I both love the album and want to be cool like the other Sega blog's, I thought I'd make a shout out to the I Have a Dreamcast Remastered EP. If you haven't downloaded it by now, DO SO! Learn more of the album at

I've taken it upon myself to create an album cover as I hate looking at that boring default music note image in iTunes.

Download the digital version
Download the print version