Official Dreamcast Magazine (UK) - Issue #1 (November 1999)

The second magazine to be released from Dennis Publishing in the UK, the Official Dreamcast Magazine issue 1 actually skipped a month and was released in October to coincide with the delayed launch of the console in Europe


Issue #1 (November 1999)

Cover:
This month's cover features some witch-looking woman from Shenmue that I don’t think ever made it into the full game, and also Butcher Brown from Ready to Rumble  the surprise launch hit for the Dreamcast in Europe. Design wise it maintains that clean white look similar to the first mag and I like the orange font in a nod to the Japanese colours, but overall this month's cover is a bit of a CGI mess. Still, loving the continued focus on buuubes and babes, so can't complain too much.


Freebie:
This month ditched the VHS for an exclusive GD-rom disc with the following titles (as long as some kid hadn't pinched it!).

Sonic Adventure (Playable)
Millennium Solider: Expendable (Playable)
And the following movie demos,
Toy Commander
Suzuki Alstare Extreme Racing
Speed Devils
Buggy Heat
Hydro Thunder

With it being the launch window, you’d imagine more companies would have wanted to get their properties out there in the form of playable demos, but then again, this launch window must have been quite frantic for Sega, and they probably didn’t have much time to faff around with a demo disc.

Special Features:
This month we get an editorial from Mark Hingam proudly boasting of Sega’s launch success in America, with the Dreamcast breaking all sorts of records and shipping over 500,000 units in under two weeks, heady times indeed.

This month also included a report that had a huge impact on me personally – a 12-page feature on Japan and the Dreamcast experience there. Reporters from the magazine, visited various cultural locations in Japan, raging from the temples of Kyoto to the party town of Shibuya, asking the locals what they thought of the Dreamcast, and seemingly have a good old jolly up on company time.


Bearing in mind the console had been out for close to a year the response from the locals was surprisingly tepid, apart from one game which caused quite the reaction – Seaman. Seemingly, every other person they interviewed seemed to be five sheets to the wind, enjoying life, but having very little knowledge about the Dreamcast.

Yet, to a young impressionable me this article somehow resonated with me. I spent countless hours scouring these pages looking at the huge skyscrapers of Tokyo, the cultural temples of Tokyo, and the dressed-up Shibuya girls, and decided it was time to save-up for what would become a life changing holiday at 18, and from which I would never return!

News:
The main news this month is that the Dreamcast finally received a launch date of October 14 in Europe (it was originally due for release in September but delayed due to network issues), and that Blockbuster (remember them?) were offering a special “Dreamcast rental scheme” in which you can borrow a console for £10 for two nights, and rent additional games from  just £3.



In other news, we are given news that the Dreamcast it is going to receive a flurry of soccer games on the system, and that Valve’s Half-life is definitely coming to Sega's white box of tricks, oh dear!

Previews:
It appears that most of the Dreamcast Magazine crew made the most of their Japan trip attending the Tokyo Game Show, and partying in Tokyo, but there was some serious journalism carried out with Ed Lomas (of CVG and Games Master fame)sitting down with Yu Suzuki to discuss his upcoming game, you may have heard of it – Shenmue? Yu Suzuki predicts quite confidently of the series spanning multiple incarnations and possible consoles!


D2 is given an extensive preview despite never getting an official release in the UK, as is another game which would never see the light of day, Dee Dee Planet. The game was supposedly going to be a Death Tank clone, a hidden bonus game in Duke Nukem, but ended up getting cancelled due to network-related issues. Other previews this month include Resident Evil Code: Veronica, Street Fighter 3:W Impact, Virtua Striker 2, The Typing of the Dead and Chu Chu Rocket amongst others.

Gadgets:
This month’s cutting-edge gadgetry includes the “I-Glasses” which supposedly feel like “watching an 80-inch screen”, a JAZ Piper Mp3 player with a massive 64mb of storage, and a very cool JVC RD-MD5 boombox not unlike the one Cool Z carries about with him in Shenmue II. Apparently, having a built-in Mini Disk deck will enable to “create your own bangin’ collections”, indeed. 



The best gadget this month, has to be the Tanita Fresh Kiss which is a kind of pocket breathalyser that rates your breath to help you decide whether you have kebab breath, or should give that lucky princess a snog at the end of the night.

Reviews:
With it being the launch period there are a ton of games up for review this month and the surprise hits being Ready 2 Rumble and Sega’s arcade conversion of HOTD 2 which grabbed top scores. The releases this month included a good mix of Japanese and Western titles, and even a few PAL exclusives for good-measure.

HOTD 2 9/10
Ready 2 Rumble 9/10
Power Stone 8/10
Toy Commander 8/10
Uefa Striker 8/10
Jim White’s Cueball 7/10
NFL Blitz 2000 7/10
Sega Bass Fishing 7/10
Speed Devils 7/10
Trickystlye 7/10
Virtua Fighter 3TB 7/10
Aero Wings 6/10
Hydro Thunder 6/10
Monaco Gran Prix 6/10
Mortal Kombat Gold 5/10
Tokyo Highway Challenge 5/10

I felt the team were a bit harsh on Tokyo Highway Challenge which was probably the best-looking title on the system at the time. They cite the lack of track variation being an issue which I felt missed the point of a Tokyo motorway racing game but still. 



The review for Virtua Fighter 3TB was spot on, with complaints of the game being unfinished, “no ‘quit option…no 60hz option” and it lacking “the same chunky, instant fun factor of the first two games”. In hindsight, Sega really could have done a lot more with this port, especially when comparing it to the abundance of features which Namco went to pack into Soul Calibur.

Back cover advertising:
This month Special Reserve, offer seven free games for joining their “club”, Actua Soccer, ReLoaded and Zool 2 being some of the better titles. It's a bit sneaky mind when you consider there is no mention of what the console these games can be played on though. Still "free" I guess.


The Dreamcast console itself is still retailing at the RRP of £199, but it does come with a “BT approved modem” which is something I guess. Most of the software is retailing for £33.99 which is a £6 saving on the retail price, but for unknown reasons it suggests to PLEASE CALL for Hydro Thunder.

Conclusion:
A very Japan focused issue this month, and jam-packed with content. With 16 reviews, this would be the most that the magazine would cover in a single issue during its entire print-run, and shows the optimism that was present at the release of the Dreamcast.

Comments

  1. Fantastic! To this day, far & away the best 'Official' games console magazine I've read. Great review!

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