SEGA may have long abandoned the console hardware business, but the Dreamcast continues to have a presence in the gaming world 15 years after its discontinuation, thanks to the efforts of many indie developers that are passionate about SEGA’s final system. One of these developers is HuCast, a team that has been developing and publishing Dreamcast games since 2008, and in 2015 alone they scheduled three unique releases. Hardcore Gamer had the opportunity to chat with the CEO of HuCast, René Hellwig.
[Hardcore Gamer] First off would you like to introduce yourself to our readers, in terms of your career background and what you have accomplished with HuCast.
I’m HuCast, I’ve been making Dreamcast games since 2008. I started with DUX right after I completed my wok on Last Hope with NG:DEV.TEAM in 2007. Today I’m working on Ghost Blade, the amazing new vertical shooter for Dreamcast.
The Dreamcast homebrew scene is thriving more than ever, with plenty of projects (most of them being from HuCast) confirmed for this year. What has allowed the Dreamcast to stay relevant in the indie homebrew community in your view?
Well (laughs) the Dreamcast always had an amazing community, and although it was more active some years ago, there’s still a great fellowship for SEGA’s last console. I think the quality of the hardware, the games and the fact you can develop games for it quite easily, is what drives developers to make games for the Dreamcast.
The sequel to Redux Dark Matters was just announced, the original game was heavily influenced by R-Type and saw a few major revisions over the years. What can we expect from Redux 2?
Redux was just a remake of DUX, but Redux 2 will be an entirely new game with new weapons, new space ship fighters, a new story and seven new stages with lots of badass boss enemies. As you can see in the screenshots, the graphics come in super smooth high-res with a lot of attention to detail. The gameplay will be more fair and forgiving than the brutal DUX, but naturally for a good SHMUP the gameplay will be challenging in later stages.
Ghost Blade is steadily gearing up for its September release, unlike Dux and Redux this title is a vertical shooter that looks to draw upon the bullet hell style gameplay of CAVE shooters. How challenging was it to develop a manic shooter like Ghost Blade as opposed to a more steadily paced shooter like Redux?
Well, Bullet Hell shooters are quite the opposite of R-Type games. R-Type is slow, deep and heavy while Bullet Hell is fast paced and enemies throw thousand of bullets at you. I wouldn’t say Ghost Blade is Bullet Hell, but the game is quite maniac. Imagine an old school PC-Engine shooter with elements from modern scoring shooters, and you will get an idea how Ghost Blade will play.
Alice’s Mom’s Rescue is a departure in the sense that it wasn’t developed by HuCast, but instead picked up for publishing. Are you planning to scout any promising projects by other developers for publishing?
Yes, I’m already scouting for new games to publish on SEGA Dreamcast, and I’m already working on some contracts for new games, so you can expect more Dreamcast games in the near future.
Your company, and other homebrew developers, have primarily focused on developing SHMUPs. Whats the attraction of the genre that has made it such a hot favorite among developers and Dreamcast collectors?
(Laughs) Well, I heard the complaint very often but I dont think that’s quite true. Alice’s Mom’s Rescue by Orion was a neat platformer released recently, and there was Gunlord (a run and gun), and Wind & Water (puzzler) and soon there will be Pier Solar (RPG) on Dreamcast. So there’s a nice variety of games coming out from indie game devs like me.
Unlike other titles in your catalog, Alice’s Mom’s Rescue is an action platformer. What other genres would you be interested in venturing into?
In terms of publishing: Everything!
I was contacted by a developer to publish his adventure game for the Dreamcast so we will see how it turns out. There’s no limit in genre, I’d love to make a run and gun game for Dreamcast! We will see what future brings!
Have you considered branching out to other legacy platforms? Like say the Genesis.
(Laughs) I loved my Mega Drive back in the ‘90s. Thing is that I’d need to make some sprite art, I don’t know when this will happen since I’m a CGI artist. I was dreaming of making a Ghost Blade port for the Mega Drive with some really cool sprite art.
The Dreamcast homebrew scene has primarily focused on sprite-based 2D titles. How possible is it for HuCast to develop a 3D game for the Dreamcast? Has it been considered?
As far as I know there is no complete 3D indie game on Dreamcast yet, although I heard a 3D RPG was in development. Well, Sturmwind had some amazing 2.5D visuals but I guess you were asking me about a full 3D game with analog controls. My problem with this idea is that it would consume more time to make a 3D game, so this would be expensive for me since HuCast is my main business. I’ve made a living out of it in the last 7 years and I don’t want to bomb my business with a project that won’t be finished on time. The funny thing is that I was dreaming a bit lately of a 3D shooter for the Dreamcast, you remember Geist Force? It would be something in the vain of Star Fox 64.
Your games have been released on more accessible platforms like Steam, is there a possibility for you to develop a title exclusively for current platforms?
Exclusively? Wow, I don’t know. I make Dreamcast games, you know!
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview for us. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
It was a pleasure, thank you for the opportunity.