It feels like we have waited for an age but the highly anticipated release of Postal on Dreamcast is finally upon us. I’ve been putting it through its paces this week and am excited to share my thoughts. Those that pre-ordered will receive their discs around the 2nd June release date. And those that missed the initial buzz still have time to buy a copy on publisher Wave Game Studios website. The bottom line is developer Chinchilla Retro has captured everything that made the PC original excellent and added a host of new gameplay features.
For this review, I am focusing less on the game itself, after all, it’s 25 years old and well documented, and putting my attention on the additional features, gameplay modes, and performance. But don’t fret if you’ve not played Postal before, I will of course be musing about the actual game here and there. At least enough to help you decide if you’re adding this to your collection – as if you needed any encouragement to buy more Dreamcast games! This review is also available as a YouTube video that can be found below.
For a little more backstory on the how and why Postal came about I suggest reading my news piece that includes some history and a word from the developer. But the short version is Running with Scissors, Postal’s original developer, made the game’s code open source. This means anyone can fiddle about with the game and release new, free versions. However, the Dreamcast port is a commercial release. Running with Scissors has given their blessing in a deal with both Wave Game Studios and Chinchilla Retro.
It is clear from my initial impressions that Postal is a port that clings as close as possible to the PC original and this includes the story. Well, I say story, you’re Postal Dude and you wake up one day and decide to kill everyone. It sounds barbaric and that’s exactly what it is. You’re no hero, you’re not saving a cat from an evil taxidermist, you’ve gone POSTAL! There’s not much else to consider, just kill everything to complete each level. And make sure you have fun, petrol bombs are extracurricular but large fires are comforting to Postal Dude.
Chinchilla Retro has done a fine job in porting Postal to the Dreamcast. The colours, animations, and hand-painted backgrounds display beautifully and the agonising voices of dying innocents are clear and punchy. This port runs every bit as good as the PC version and I experienced no bugs or slowdown during my two playthroughs of the main game. My only gripe, and it’s a small gripe, is that the initial loading of each level can take a while. This is not surprising considering it’s a PC game being optimised for Dreamcast, but it’s worth mentioning.
There is full VMU support to save level progress, settings, and high score tables. A graphic of Postal Dude is displayed on the VMU LCD and you can use both ports on the standard controller. I also tested a 4X memory card and this worked fine across different memory pages. The options and game screens have optimised displays but you can select the original HUD if you prefer it. There are no hangover signs from the PC version either. Dreamcast buttons replace the original keyboard commands to help with navigation and they are configured perfectly.
It was always going to come down to how well Postal plays on the Dreamcast. We know the game is fun but does the Dreamcast controller do it justice? The answer is a resounding yes as the analog stick is perfect for aiming and moving. The control system feels accurate with separate auto-aim and free-fire buttons that you hold down. Your triggers control shooting and ducking, but I found little use for the latter. Access to weapons is through the d-pad and nothing feels awkward to select. Everything fits in neatly on the controller and it’s a pleasure to play.
As a bonus, Postal also features true Twin Stick compatibility. This is the most fun way to play but don’t worry if you lack a Dreamcast Twin Stick. By using a Brook Wingman SD you can access the twin shooter system on a modern controller. Having another Twin Stick game on the Dreamcast is excellent and it has been implemented well here. It feels natural using the left stick to move and right to fire, although it’s just as good with standard controls. On a personal note I loved using my Twin Stick to play Postal, it’s so fun.
Probably the most important feature to be added by Chinchilla Retro is the couch co-op mode. The original Postal had multiplayer games via a local network but this has been removed and replaced with a special Dreamcast four-player mode. I have only played this with two players so far but it ran well and was lots of fun reveling in the carnage with another player. Although an online multiplayer mode is missing, Chinchilla Retro say it’s possible to develop one. Perhaps we may get a Postal: For Matching Service in the future?
Almost all the original game modes have made it over. Challenges including Gauntlet, Capture the Flag and Timed can be played. These add longevity, which is a good thing seeing as the main game, while tough, is quite short. Another bonus is the inclusion of six extra levels courtesy of two expansion packs included in the Dreamcast port. The only omissions are the multiplayer network capabilities and level editor but neither of these are missed. Overall, there is enough content in Postal to make it feel like a premium or definitive edition of the game.
A lot of credit needs to go to both Chinchilla Retro and Wave Game Studios. There’s great attention to detail on all fronts but without any compromise in any area. Postal itself is easy to pick up and play and feels at home on the Dreamcast. The package design is well executed and it’s great to see the team get Running with Scissors involved to make it official. While not perfect, there is much to admire about the quality of this release. Postal is a must-buy for indie game fans and is a contender for Dreamcast game of the year.
Thank you to Wave Game Studios and Chinchilla Retro for a review copy of the game. You can purchase a copy right now on Wave Game Studios website.