I thought I’d start doing a series of articles looking back at various issues of retro magazines that came out in the U.K. during the 1980s, 90s and 2000s. I will be using the amazing website Out of Print where you can view and download the various magazines I’ll be looking through and commenting it on.
For the first magazine, I am looking at the first issue of DC UK: Dreamcast Magazine. This is not an official Dreamcast Magazine which is bizarre because it’s published by Future Plc who were often the ones that held the rights to do official magazines. Perhaps they didn’t think the console would be a success? Who knows.
Issue 1 is for September 1999 and page one is an advert for three, count them, THREE games coming soon from Ubisoft. That’s right, there was a time Ubisoft tried to be creative. However, you can’t fault them for actually staying true to their word of supporting all consoles even if they are bound to fail. Wii U is a fine example of that support. So I’ll tip my peaky blinders hat to them. The three games on show in this advert are Speed Devils, Racing Simulator: Monaco Grand Prix and Suzuki Alstare Extreme Racing. The tag line for the advert is Burning Rubber.
This is followed by the welcome to DC:UK which is apparently “The ultimate source for everything you’ll ever need to know about the above”. Is that a shot at the Official Dreamcast Magazine?
The magazine proper begins now with a contents on everything that’ll be shown in the magazine. Look at all them games. So many, and I wonder how many will eventually be released for the console?
And now another advert. This time a double page spread, this time from Rage Software and Infogrames and it’s called Millennium Soldier. It really doesn’t show much about the game considering they’re wanting to sell this thing to you. It’s really a black and white picture of a soldier’s face and upper half of the body with two small screenshots. And they are shit screenshots. Don’t show you anything. Also of note is the PS1 logo. You’d think they would have removed the logo for this advert because it wouldn’t have been difficult. It’s a simple click, delete. And the tagline is “A thousand years in the making”? What kind of crap tagline is that?
Onto page 8 now and a welcome message from Casper Field, the editor of the magazine. It’s really just him trying to be funny about how this is the start of a long journey for the magazine and throwing all kinds of facts about the power of the Dreamcast at the reader as if that’s something your average person would have understood back then. But it sounds cool and powerful. And still tries to do so in a funny way. Ohh yeah, he’s trying to knock Sony’s dominance in the marketplace by calling the one hundred million selling system PS1 “soulless”. Buttering up Sega because the Saturn was so bad in sales, they need to make the company and console sound like the second coming. How did that all play out? Oh yeah…
One more thing, what the hell is that picture!? Why is he screaming at a giant billboard of a man sleeping? And why is he happy about it? The man in the billboard looks like he’s crapping himself!
Okay before we go further, just a quick mention that there’s an advert for a Sonic the Hedgehog movie on VHS that’s on the following page. Gee that’s some foresight because that film didn’t release for another twenty years. So what are they selling? A blank VHS cassette?
Now it’s the reviews. The first is a game called Trick Style, a futuristic snowboarding game only you’re on hover boards. Because…? Yeah I don’t see the point. But it’s got some series Wipeout and F-Zero vibes which I’m guessing the primary inspiration. Apparently this game “uses highly sophisticated physics to replicate human movement on the hoverboards”. Huh. How do they know what realistic physical movements on a fictional mode of transport is? And again, what’s the difference between a hoverboard and a snowboard other than it hovers!? Try and be a bit far out if you wanna go for a fictional future! Bloody amateurs! Who made this crap anyway?… oh. It’s Criterion Studios. The people who would go on to create the Burnout series. But it’s published by Acclaim, so that explains everything. Utter shit publisher. No wonder they went bankrupt.
And the pictures have numbers which are all given incredibly pathetically shit jokes for each one. Eastenders set jokes? Really!?
Well, after all that, DC:UK gave Trick Style a 9. I’m guessing it’s out of 10. I will need to try this game out and say whether it’s actually good. I bet it’s not.
Next up is Sonic Adventure. Now this game is how you make a 3D Sonic game. It was actually really good to see Sega come out the gate swinging after stumbling so much with development hell during the Saturn years for a Sonic title. Today, it’s not aged well but it was certainly a big deal at the time. So I’ll go easy on this one. It’s just a shame Sega screwed up so badly after the Dreamcast era. Surprised it didn’t get a 10 for review though. Just a 9. I say just, but it’s Sega. It’s Sonic. It’s the first 3D game and it’s your big launch game for Sega’s saving grace console.
Virtua Fighter 3tb is up next. What is the tb about? Stupid name. Just call it “3”. Oh wait. It says in the review it stands for “team battle”. What a load of crap. Well, it’s Virtua Fighter. Sega’s answer to all the other big fighting games out there at the time, though considering when the first game came to arcades, one assumes Street Fighter 2 was the inspiration. Only Sega took to the next level. They took it all the way to the 3D realms!
Really, I know nothing about fighting games and couldn’t care less about this review. But it got a 9 in the score, so… that’s something. I guess.
The House of the Dead 2 is the next to be reviewed and is another Sega arcade title to be ported to a home console. This game did also come to the Sega Saturn but it struggles on the crap hardware. Basically it’s a light gun game where you get to murder as many people to your hearts content. Only these aren’t technically people as they’re dead. But they’re sort of alive. I think there’s a term for these kinds of people.
The positive note they gave to justify that score of 8 is “how much does a House of the Dead 2 arcade machine cost?” That doesn’t make it a great game because you can play it at home! I mean yeah there’s other reasons this scored well, but when part of the problem Sega had it attracting people to their console was that they were still focusing on arcade ports at a time when arcades were dying in the West and people were playing bigger, more in depth games on the PS1… you can see where I’m going with this.
Now time for an advert. This time it’s advertising the Dreamcast by showing you the world. I’m not sure what they’re trying to say with an image of Earth where the land appears to be red hot. Are they saying Dreamcast is the cause of global warming? Are they saying that due to global warming we will all be stuck inside playing the Dreamcast!? Is that why they gave the web address for Dreamcast Europe!? Was there facts connecting global warming and Dreamcast!!? What do you know Sega!!!?
Another review. Another Sega arcade port. This time it’s Sega Rally 2. Apparently there’s 40 stages in this game, from a glance at the review. That’s ten sessions with four stages each. Something doesn’t sound quite right. I think it’s the fact there’s ten seasons. Maybe it’s due to the global warming Sega warned us about? But looking at those screenshots, and I know it’s a scam of a magazine where software wasn’t quite there yet for great images, but it looks… well, it looks crap. Compare to the bright colourful arcade games of the Saturn era, this isn’t doing the game any justice. Oh. DC:UK gave it a 7. That’s perhaps more acceptable.
Next we have a review for Expendable, no not The Expendables. That’s a movie and wasn’t even an idea in Stallone’s head yet. This is a shoot ‘em up game by Rage and published by… Oh. It’s Infogrames. Skip to the score and let’s get this over with. Yeah, a 6 is about right.
Time for another advert. “To feel the power is to play the game” is the tagline they’re using to promote Power Stone. I question the drugs this game must come with. Look at that bloke. He’s clearly injected himself with a needle of something. Shocking behaviour to give kids drugs with the games.
And another review and again it’s by Rage and published by Infogrames. So I’m expecting a crap score for Incoming. The name alone is so unoriginal, it screams tossed out the door for quick cash. DC:UK didn’t even bother with a big review for this game, just a couple of pages with mainly screenshots showing… I dunno. It seems to be a real basic game of flying and shooting the enemy. Again, it’s a quick throw it out the door and hope idiots buy it kinda game. I mean, both Infogrames and Rage were suffering from huge debts with the latter going under during the early 2000s and the former buying Atari, rebranding themselves then going under a few years later. So yeah, not surprising this got a 5 review score.
That’s the reviews finished. Now it’s time for the charts. Wait, when did CEX sell new games? And when did they deal with import games? And why is it only CEX being used for the charts? Is it paid marketing? It’s not exactly an exciting chart lineup but somewhat surprising is Sonic Adventure being only number 5. It’s Sega’s mascot and it’s first 3D outing. Sonic was always huge so being so low, especially under Sega Rally 2, is bizarre. Morons. No wonder Dreamcast failed.
Okay, what the hell is this section about? Dreamcasters? What the fuck is that? And who are these people!? Why do they all look like they’re posing? What’s going on!? Did they just randomly ask people on the street but saw they’re all ugly so stole pictures from elsewhere? I’m deeply suspicious. Moving on!
Oh. He’s killed himself trying to be funny for the camera. That’s what you get for doing a picture for a game called Trick Style. Apparently he was someone called Flynn Trotman. Never heard of him. But he’s apparently a skateboarder. If that’s his best, then Tony Hawks got nothing to worry about. Moving on!
It’s a double paged advert for some magazine called Mountain Biking UK. Exactly what audience were they expecting to read a gaming magazine? Middle aged men!? Bloody imbeciles. Moving on?
Time for the first round of DC-Mail. I see what they did there. Trying to make it sound like e-Mail but somehow ended up with a name more similar to a right wing newspaper. I don’t think that should be your inspiration. But let’s see what twerps have sent letters in this month. Well, actually Lynn Dawn Manning nailed the problem for Sega on the head out the gate. She saw where things were heading. PlayStation was a household name and took Sega’s spot as Europe’s biggest console. We were the easy region for Sega but they lost us. But yes, she’s right that the Dreamcast was amazing. Everyone looking at it in the flesh and it’s games would agree. Marketing it should have been something Sega did a better job of because Lynn points out that failing to do a decent job would allow Sony to come out on top again. And you know what’s more impressive? It’s a female gamer as the first letter and the only female gamer in this magazine. All the others are male.
The second letter is an interesting one. At first it sounds like the writer is angry at Sega because of the Mega Drive’s add ons and how the Saturn panned out. But then it goes 180 and he’s suddenly going after Sony and Nintendo who, let’s remember, both destroyed Sega. Yes, the N64 didn’t sell great but it still way outperformed the Saturn. And yes the SNES did end up outselling the Mega Drive by the end of the generation, in part thanks to the Donkey Kong Country. But then the letter ends with a “meh” stance. So I have no idea where Michael is coming from. I don’t think he knew. But the response from the magazine is… something. Basically saying that Sega only took a few knocks? Those weren’t knocks. Sega were bleeding money. But apparently Sega were going to make a Muhammad Ali comeback. Oh and they spelled his name wrong. So nice one. Way to prove a point.
Ah yes, here’s a Sega fanboy going full on stupid. The third letter starts by saying the writer’s friends who all love the PS1 will “eat their own words”. How wrong can one person be?
Well, hold that thought because a letter from someone called Macky says that he believes the Dreamcast will redeem Sega after the disaster that was the Saturn. They compared the graphics of the Dreamcast to that of a P200 PC with a 3dFX Voodoo Rush. The irony that Sega of America signed a contract with that very company to produce their planned Dreamcast only to have Sega of Japan chose their own version instead. And of course 3dFX sued and received a huge multimillion payout. Yeah, remember when I said Sega was bleeding money? It never stopped for them. But they kept screwing up. Anyway, the response from DC:UK was that the Dreamcast was more of a P500 with a Voodoo 3000. Yeah, I don’t think so.
That’s enough of that section, let’s see what is next in this magazine.
Onto page 47 to see all the games that are apparently coming to the Dreamcast before the Christmas. So it’s a very short period of time which should mean a great time for all new buyers and those getting the console for Christmas.
First, the launch games. Oh… that’s not good. The only two real big games that actually are standout in that lineup are Sonic Adventure and Power Stone. The rest are just filler. That’s not an impressive lineup. Sorry, but that’s where I stand.
So hopefully the games coming before 23rd October are better… wait, what is that? The hype for Jimmy White’s 2: Cue Ball is apparently bigger than Dynamite Cop 2? Okay, that’s it. There’s some seriously misguided individuals. Though apparently a fishing game has all the hype. Who the heck is buying this console at launch?
Okay so what’s coming up before Christmas? Now these are better, for the most part. You got GTA 2, Resident Evil: Code Veronica, both Soul Calibur and Street Fighter Alpha 3 as well as Hidden & Dangerous. Yeah that should have been what excites everyone more than pretty much anything else coming to the Dreamcast during the launch period.
Next in the magazine is the rumours section. Page 48 isn’t anything interesting until you look at the bottom rumour about Sega potentially planning a DVD add on for the Dreamcast. Like, why would you think Sega would do that? If Sega was going to have a DVD add on then they’d not have done research & development on a proprietary disc and disc drive for the console. Sega would have just licensed the rights to have a DVD drive in the system from day one. It would have been expensive, would have drastically increased the price at retailers but they’d have beaten Sony to the punch. Could have done great things for the Dreamcast.
On page 49 we see a rare glimpse at mankind long since thought extinct. HMV with a very old school logo but look at that… Electronics Boutique. That takes me back. Future Zone with that 3D head logo was the best, then when EB took over, it was still great but once it all became Game, well it just went to utter crap. And now it’s all gone along with most of retail. Children one day will be confused by such a notion of physical retail stores.
Okay well let’s turn the page and… what the hell is that!? What are those three men doing!? Why does the middle one look so smug? What does any of this have to do with either Sega or the Dreamcast?
And now it’s time to talk about a massive game, Quake III. So according to this article, id Software nearly had a deal with Sega already in place to bring the game to the Dreamcast. However, true to Sega being Sega, it all broke down and the deal was never signed. Well, the rumour about the deal being back on as mentioned in the article, was true. Quake III was published by Sega for the Dreamcast towards the end of 2000. Too late for the console because by this point, it was right before Sega announced the end of support for the console.
I have no idea what the heck a Dreamcast weather map is supposed to represent? Is it representing the hype because I’m pretty sure Japan has never been hyped for any console released from Sega. And by this point in the decade, Europe had almost fully shifted over to the PlayStation brand in part thanks to how Sega fucked up the Saturn. So I don’t know, other than a bizarre attempt at getting people to want the Dreamcast. But, if that’s the plan then a magazine aimed at those already buying a Dreamcast is not the greatest spot to do such a marketing move.
Let’s skip right on over to page 61 where they try to come up with reasons why everyone is going to buy a Dreamcast in Europe. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t a success in Europe. Well one point they’re trying to put across is that when a shop assistant says to wait for the next generation PlayStation, you should totally ignore them and buy a system from a company that’s on its knees in debts, had a failure in the Saturn that came third place and isn’t even getting EA sports titles. Oh yeah, and Sony has just had a console selling over one hundred million so, you know, there’s no way the follow up won’t be a massive out the gate success. But yes, the Dreamcast is out now. So? Would you trust Sega after 2 failed add ons to the Mega Drive and then that thing called the Saturn? Of course not. That’s just a stupid argument.
Oh now they are trying to make fun of PlayStation owners in the next paragraph. Yes, they do look like normal people, act like normal people and have regular jobs. But they are different in one way. They didn’t back a dead horse! It’s like they aren’t even trying to get you in on board with the Dreamcast. The next thing they say is that if you tell a PS1 owner they have an obsolete console, they’ll stop gaming and go back to watching TV? What absolute crazy rubbish is this?
Okay now it’s just getting desperate by saying the PS1 is getting loads of cheap sequels making the gamers see associate console with “tedium, expense and things they’ve played for umpteen times before”
If you can’t actually come up with real facts about why you should buy a Dreamcast over the rivals or waiting for the next PlayStation, and can only come up with ways to try and pull them down instead… Perhaps the Dreamcast isn’t that good.
Skipping further into the magazine, there’s another photo of a dead person. I don’t understand what’s happening but everyone seems to be dying. And for some reason DC:UK are taking photos of them. Very strange magazine.
Starting page 67 it’s the Joy Machine segment. Wow, what an original name. It’s almost like they couldn’t work out a name that matched PlayStation so just shat out Joy Machine. That’ll show ‘em. Oh. It’s just talking about the reveal presentation of the Dreamcast in Japan. Well, apparently 150,000 units were sold of the Dreamcast in Japan during its launch. Is that impressive? I don’t know, and it’s hard to get an idea for 1998 how that stacks up against other launches. But for Sega, maybe it’s okay? Ah well. No one cares. It’s well over twenty years ago.
Now it goes into the actual system itself. DC:U.K. talk about the controller. I know the N64 only had one analogue stick, but the PS1 had 2 and that controller must have been out by the time Sega were working on the Dreamcast controller. I do admit, the VM is pretty cool for a memory card. So yeah, it’s just talking about the console and the accessories. And for some reason, talking to Argonaut Software about how amazing it is to develop games for the Dreamcast. I think this is great, because we all know how fantastic a developer Argonaut… oh. No, wait they went bankrupt only several years later. Moving on.
Page 76 is all about surfing the internet. Wow. What a horrible 90s expression. And then they show you some horrible 90s websites which probably don’t even exist anymore. To be fair, it’s a pretty cool idea for a console at the time. Remember no one had phones that could do this and PCs were out of most people’s price range. So looking up websites online is a neat idea. There’s even a piece about online multiplayer which is the one thing the Dreamcast got right about the future of gaming. I’m not sure if we should be happy or sad about that, judging by the state of games nowadays.
DC:Next starting page 84 is all about the amazing games coming to the Dreamcast. Games like Soul Calibur, Marvel Vs Capcom, Power Stone and that’s really it… yeah, those are the three real good games. The rest are okay. Maybe one or two are decent. But really, it’s not a great lineup to get excited about. What about GTA2? Or any other game that was supposedly launching before Christmas? They’re supposed to be hyping you up. No wonder it failed. Bloody hell, amateurs.
An advert follows and it says “use your loaf”. Oh that is so damn funny. I am laughing so much. That tagline with the loaf of bread. It’s amazing. I hope whomever came up with that was fired on the spot and made to walk slowly through the offices while everyone pointed and laughed. I’m so mad right now, I don’t even want to know what it was advertising. Moving on!
We are nearly there. DC:World is next. It’s basically it’s about guides, Sega arcade machines, apparently different regional cables. Because us in the United Kingdom didn’t know the difference? I dunno. Seems kinda like an idiot in the office was too stupid to work out what PAL and NTSC was and so they assumed everyone was an idiot and filled up space to write about it. Basically, they’re just crap at their jobs. Probably. I actually don’t know. Or care. There’s some other topics covered like about the internet, toys, and thought you’d want to know how they put together a magazine. They were either really proud or really desperate for outside help. I can’t work out which. I guess there’s something in here worth talking about, but it’s not as interesting to laugh at as compared to earlier segments so I’m not that interested. Unfortunate really.
Finally before the avalanche of crappy adverts covering about fifty pages magazines always ended with, it’s the bit they tell you what’s in the next issue. That’s some optimism the Dreamcast will sell well enough for there to be another issue. It did. And the next issue covers Power Slave. That’s it. That’s all they say. Waste of time reading to be honest.