It’s tough work being a hard-nosed cutting edge emulation correspondent. No sooner does Emu Zone confidently state that emulation is usually two generations behind current hardware, than the emu community thumbs its nose at it by producing a limited but working Gamecube emulator. Then as if that wasn’t enough, all of a sudden and out of nowhere, there’s Chankast.

Chankast is a Sega Dreamcast emulator, something which a lot of emu fans have wanted for a long time, but which until now there wasn’t even a hint or a screenshot of. Chankast, however, has come hurtling off the blocks with high compatibility (via “ripped” ISO files), full sound and extremely playable speed. At the time of writing it’s only two releases old, but already runs dozens of games more or less perfectly, and unlike the Gamecube emulator Dolphin, is equally capable of handling both 2D games and polygon-heavy 3D efforts. 

The Dreamcast was probably the last true, old-school games console, by which Emu Zone means that it didn’t want to be a PC or a “set-top box”, had no interest in streaming broadband movies, or indeed in anything very much except playing games. (This is ironic, because it was made with a lot of off-the-shelf PC parts, ran a version of Windows and came with an internet browser. However, nobody wanted to surf the web on a 640x480 TV screen, and all of the DC’s extra features were more or less ignored from the moment of launch.) What this meant in practice was an unparalleled catalogue of fantastic shallow arcade games of the sort which, alert viewers will have noticed, Emu Zone loves.

Almost every game you’ve seen in an arcade in the last seven years or so had a flawless Dreamcast conversion made (understandably, since a lot of the coin-ops were running on the same “Naomi” hardware anyway), turning the DC into the ultimate home arcade. (A situation which Sega idiotically failed to capitalise on, concentrating instead on the machine’s online capabilities and suggesting that you could enjoy online gaming against “six billion players”, until it was pointed out that (a) a 56K modem really wasn’t up to modern online console gaming, (b) the stupid region coding meant that you could only actually play against people from three streets away, and (c) there weren’t any online-playable games released for the best part of a year after the DC was launched.)

But your hard-working expert reporter’s getting off the point. The point is, you can now enjoy the Dreamcast’s home-arcade experience on your PC, from the real-world racing thrills of Metropolis Street Racer to the incomparable synaesthetic weirdness of the brilliant abstract wire-frame shoot-‘em-up Rez. (Neither of which games appeared in arcades, but shut up.) Enjoy it for the remaining month or so before the emulation community brings out a fully-working Xbox 2 emulator a year-and-a-half before the real machine, purely in order to spite Emu Zone.


Tron-type action in Rez.

MSR gives Emu Zone’s foresight a mark out of 10.

The giant mutant hedgehog was roadkill.




Solar Jetman (Commodore 64, 2004)

Hang on – 2004? Yes indeed, for once again the world of emulation has triumphed where the commercial games industry let its customers down. In the dying days of the 8-bit home computers, former stalwarts Ultimate Play The Game changed their name to Rare and abandoned the home micros in favour of the more lucrative world of the NES. One of the first games they made for the Nintendo machine was a sequel to Spectrum classics Jet-Pac and Lunar Jetman, but rumours persisted for many years that home micro ports for the Speccy, C64, Amiga and Atari ST had been completed, but withheld from release in the light of the decline of the 8-bit markets. (Which always struck Emu Zone as a bizarrely common practice – surely once the game’s made, the costs of releasing it are comparatively trivial. Why not get at least some of your investment back?)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the completed C64 version has finally surfaced and been made publicly available for free with the approval of its author (who’s also given a brief interview about it, revealing that Amiga and ST versions were indeed also completed, and exist somewhere). As a game it’s pretty fine, and as an illustration of how software publishers will screw over their customers by withholding a perfectly good game in order to make it exclusive to another format at four times the price, it’s even better. So thumb your noses at them by playing it, legally, for nothing. Yay!



(Left) Sort of Thrust meets Gravitar meets Oids.


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