[Where I Read] NextGen Magazine #2 (Feb, 1995)

Cover of NextGen#2

I’m continuing with NextGen Magazine with the NextGen #2. With the second issue hitting in February of 1995, it makes keeping track of what year I’m on a lot easier.

Cover of Next Generation Issue #2

The cover of NextGen #2 is a picture of a guy with wires coming out of his head because we have a feature article on the internet. This is followed up with a brief editorial laying out that online gaming is going to be a big deal in the near future. On PCs – yes, on consoles… not until the PS2/Dreamcast era.

However, our first full article of the issue is an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, with the complimentary title of “Why are Shigeru Miyamoto’s Games So Damn Good”. I mean, the article title is accurate – his games are incredibly good, but it’s not exactly a great look there. In any case, there is some useful stuff here. We learn that Mario’s design was done for very pragmatic reasons – the mustache was to put something underneath his nose and there weren’t enough pixels for a mouth, and the hat is because Miyamoto doesn’t design hair very well and they didn’t feel they could animate hair movement. We also get the story here of Miyamoto’s childhood explorations of the mountain near his childhood home, and how that lead to the design of Zelda – with both of these leading into a discussion of Miyamoto’s character design and game design philosophy.

Ad for the X-Band modem
Tying in with this issue’s topic – we have an add for the X-Band gaming modem.

News

In the news column, Apple has their own console in the works, the Pippin (which never comes out) though we do get some information on the planned specs for any developers planning to design for the system. The PlayStation has announced its Japanese launch – December 3rd, 1995, with 250 third-party developers signing on. Also, the system is due to have a mouse. Render Morphics in the UK is working on a 3D rendering engine (which will later become part of the Direct3D standard).

Continuing with consoles that end up as vaporware, Sega is working on an all-in-one unit to bridge the gap between the Genesis and the Saturn that would combine the Genesis, 32X, and Sega CD. The system is due to be called the Neptune. The system would end up never coming out, but its legacy lives on in the namesake of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series.

Ad for Magic Carpet
We get an ad for Magic Carpet that is explicitly put in opposition to Doom.

The news continues with a new column called “Joyriding” written by Bernard Yee, which (considering how close the name is to father of the Internet Bernard Lee, makes me suspect that it’s a pseudonym). The first installment is on online gaming.

In other news, Amiga still exists, but not much longer, as the planned buy-out of the company fell apart. Meanwhile, Silicon Graphics, riding high on their involvement with Donkey Kong Country, along with the Nintendo 64, has put on a trade show to show off their workstations for use in game development.

There are profiles on a couple books this issue – one book on online gaming, and another on game development at Sega, though the latter ittle is something of a puff piece.

In arcade news, Sony is working on “location-based entertainment” complexes, one of which will be the Metreon in San Francisco.

Features

In Japan, the Sega Saturn has launched, and there is coverage of the whole launch. Reportedly, Sega and Sony are both worried about the other’s console and are watching this launch in great interest. Related to the launch, JVC, Hitachi, and Yamaha are both due to release Saturn compatible systems, but Yamaha’s does not come out. Accessories released with the system include an SDRAM expansion pack, multi-tap, mouse, and arcade stick. The article also has a hardware spec breakdown.

There’s also an article on a topic close to my heart, Retro Gaming. Around this time, retro gaming is rising in popularity, in part due to the release of early emulators, along with several early retro remake’s and remasters coming out. They also talk about some of the points that are appealing in older games that are lacking in modern games – except as we’ve learned in Nintendo Power Retrospectives, classic games also are lacking in some of those points as well (cheating, not offering meaningful rewards, etc.)

Next up is the cover article of NextGen #2, Joyriding. The article talks up the future of digital distribution – something that isn’t going to materialize for another 8 years and won’t actually hit the mainstream for a full decade. We get some discussion of Nintendo and other companies attempts at digital distribution, though they don’t bring up the Satellaview, while they do talk about the Sega Channel.

There’s also large side pieces on the X-Band modem, which at this point is only available for the Genesis, with a SNES version due to come out in the future. There’s also a discussion of Sierra Online’s internet portal, the Imagination network. The article also wraps up with a discussion of upcoming high-speed internet technology – ADSL! Yeah, we’re not getting modern streaming or high-speed internet for a while, and the sad thing is, in some parts of the US, DSL is the best internet you can still get.

Previews & Reviews

In the Preview column, we’ve got a bunch of arcade ports, like Cybersled, Ultimate Parodius, Starblade Alpha, Raiden, and Tekken. There’s also Bioforge, Absolute 0, and Alone in the Dark 3 on PC, the Genesis Version of Road Rash 3, Super Street Fighter II X on the 3DO, and Victory Goal and Clockwork Knight on the Saturn.

This brings us to the review column, and I think I’ve figured out how to better organize this:

3DO

  • Burning Soldier (Panasonic): Shoot-em-up of the on-rails variety, with co-op but not much replay value. 2/5
  • Doctor Hauser (Panasonic): Japanese survival horror game, which they like a bit more than the US survival horror games we’ve just gotten thus far. 3/5
  • Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold (American Laser Games): Light gun game, which NG finds to be kind of tedious.) 2/5
  • Microcosm (T&E Soft): Sewer Shark meets Innerspace! They also find this as tedious as frustrating as both games. 2/5
  • Real Pinball (Panasonic): NG is not a fan of the table layouts or sluggish ball speed. 1/5
  • Road and Track Presents: The Need for Speed (EA): NG finds that the game is actually lacking a real sense of speed. 2/5
  • SHADOW: War of Succession (Tribeca Digital Studios): Remember Way of the Warrior last issue? This is another light gun game with digitized characters, and it manages to be worse. 1/5
  • Guardian War (Panasonic): Charming game, but very linear JRPG, but probably notable because it’s the one JRPG on the 3DO. (3/5)
  • Shock Wave: Operation Jump Gate (EA): Expansion for Shock Wave with 6 missions that serve as an epilogue for the main campaign. 3/5
  • Tetsujin (Panasonic): First person shooter (??) with only a release in Japan. 3/5
  • True Golf Classics: Waialae Country Club (Panasonic): While the game has long load times, is otherwise a solid golf game. 3/5
  • Ultraman (Bandai Japan): Fighting game based on the latest Ultraman series, but it’s kinda sluggish. 2/5
  • VR Stalker (American Laser Games): Flight Sim for the 3DO. The targeting system is really wonky, and the jets feel sluggish. 3/5

Atari Jaguar

  • Checkered Flag (Atari): Racing game with unresponsive controls. 2/5
  • Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (Atari): Licensed game based on the film, and NG likes the game mechanics and graphics. 3/5
  • Club Drive (Atari): It’s like Hard Driving but terrible – tepid gameplay, bad physics, and sluggish controls. 1/5.
  • Iron Soldier (Atari): Mecha action game which makes stomping through the level environments satisfying. 3/5

Sega 32X

  • Super Afterburner (Sega): 32X version of the arcade game, which is almost too perfect, as it’s not re-balanced for home releases. 3/5
  • Super Space Harrier (Sega): Same as with Super Afterburner. 3/5
  • Cosmic Carnage (Sega): Fighting game, and a really terrible one. 1/5

Phillips CD-i

  • Alien Gate (Phillips): A pretty crappy shooting game. 1/5
  • Dragon’s Lair (Phillips): Direct port of the arcade game, for good and ill. 2/5
  • Inca (Coktel Vision): Apparently generic graphic adventure. 1/5
  • Kether (Phillips): A little more atmospheric adventure game developed by Infogrames. 3/5.

PC

  • Armored Fist (Novalogic): Looks like (going from the description, this is more of a turn-based tank combat game, as NG describes the game in the context
  • Ishar 3 (Readysoft): This is something of a basic “Kill the Wizard down the hole” RPG, like Wizardry. 2/5
  • Lost Eden (Virgin): Graphical adventure game, co-written by Steve Jackson. I’m assuming it’s the Fighting Fantasy Steve Jackson because Virgin is from the UK, instead of the GURPS Steve Jackson. 3/5
  • Metaltech: Earthsiege (Sierra): Mecha simulator from Sierra, which looks like it borrows a lot of cues from Mechwarrior. This is the start of the franchise that the Tribes series wouls spinoff from. 4/5
  • Magic Carpet (EA): The latest game from Peter Molineaux, which mixes a flight sim, an RTS, and RPG gameplay. Modern readers may know for Godus and the Fable series – but at this point, he’s most known for Populous and Syndicate. 4/5
  • System Shock (Origin): This is something of a classic, though the story of the sequel is better known. 4/5
  • Wing Commander Armada (Origin): This game adds some strategy options to the Wing Commander concept, along with the ability to fly Kilrathi ships, and play multiplayer. 3/5
  • Under a Killing Moon (Access): This is the latest installment of the Tex Murphy adventure game series, starring Margot Kidder (who is sadly no longer with us. 4/5
  • Zork Anthology (Activision): This is a collection of the first 5 Zork text adventures. 3/5

Sega CD

  • ESPN National Hockey Night (Sony Imagesoft): They feel that the Sega CD version is superior to the cartridge in every respect, though it’s sluggish in comparison to NHL ’95. 3/5
  • Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (Sony Imagesoft): Combined RPG/fighting game licensed from the movie – and apparently kinda clunky. 2/5
  • NBA Jam (Acclaim): Pretty similar to the cartridge version of the game, but with an updated roster and CD audio. 3/5
  • Panic (Data East): This is something of a weird novelty – the kind of game that you can probably just as much out of by watching a longplay. 2/5
  • Popful Mail (Working Designs): This is described as a wacky hack & slash RPG platformer. 3/5
  • Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side (Sega): This is a sequel to the first Eternal Champions game. 4/5

Sega Genesis

  • Animaniacs (Konami): Fun, but not exactly innovative, platformer. 3/5
  • Seaquest DSV (THQ): Based on the TV series, which they consider to be a fun, innovative action game. 4/5
  • Bevis & Butthead (Viacom): An adventure game based on the MTV series, and not a very good one. 1/5
  • Death & Rebirth of Superman (Sunsoft): Sega Genesis version of the SNES game – they recommend just buying the Trade paperback version of the comic instead. I’ve covered the SNES version on Part 84 the Nintendo Power Retrospectives. 2/5
  • Ecco: The Tides of Time (Sega): Sequel to Ecco the Dolphin. They’re disappointed by the lack of action, but I think that’s the point of the game. 3/5
  • The Great Circus Mystery (Capcom): I covered the SNES version of this game on the Nintendo Power Retrospectives – Part 88. NG feels that the game is too short. 2/5
  • NFL ’95 (Sega): The feel is that this is a more realistic football game than Madden. 4/5
  • Red Zone (Time Warner): Urban Strike-esque helicopter attack game and NG considers it to be a worthy competitor to the Strike series. 3/5
  • Syndicate (EA): Port of the PC game, but going from the capsule review, not a good one. 2/5

SNES

  • Biker Mice from Mars (Konami): Based on the Saturday morning cartoon show of the same name. The action game appears to be a take on the formula of Rock & Roll Racing. 3/5
  • Demon’s Crest (Capcom): This was also covered in Nintendo Power Retrospectives Part 88. NG likes the gameplay, but they think you can beat it too fast, without beating the optional content. I’d say that you can’t get the best ending if you don’t play the optional content, so *thbbth*! 3/5
  • Super Bomberman 2 (Hudson Soft): I’ve covered this one in Nintendo Power Retrospectives Part 85. N.G. is not very impressed with the single player, but they love the multiplayer, as they should. Super Bomberman 2 was the computer lab equivalent of Goldeneye in my high school computer lab. 5/5
  • Mega Man X^2 (Capcom): N.G. likes the game while faulting the structure – which seems odd since, well, the structure is part of the thing that makes the Mega Man franchise what it is. 4/5
  • Super Punch-Out!! (Nintendo): I’ve also previously reviewed this on Nintendo Power Retrospectives Part 86. They like the added ability to save your progress, though they have mixed feelings about the frame rate. 4/5
  • Wild Snake (Bullet-Proof Software): I covered this on Nintendo Power Retrospectives Part 87. NG shares my complaints with the game. 3/5
  • Wolverine: Adamantium Rage (LGN/Acclaim): Decent gameplay that doesn’t work with the character concept. 2/5
  • Rise of the Robots (Acclaim): Slow, sluggish fighting game with pre-rendered characters. 2/5
  • WWF Raw (LJN/Acclaim): This game adds super moves and an updated roster to the last LJN WWF game, but not much else. 3/5

Arcade

  • Cops (Atari): Light Gun game apparently licensed from the TV show. NG thought it was worth a few plays. 3/5
  • Dark Stalkers (Capcom): Capcom’s next big fighting game franchise, with a horror themed fighting game. NG calls it a clone of Street Fighter II – I’d have thought we were past this by now. 3/5
  • T-Mek (Atari): Atari clone of Cybersled, which they think is fun. 3/5

Peeking in the Window

Job listing for Iguana Entertainment

This issue has the start of a Letters column, with a notable letter asking profiles on the first issue was a buyer’s guide. The response was no. The response kind of lays out the tone for the magazine – Next Generation is an inside baseball look at the game industry.

This issue also has the first installment of the Dispatches column, with an article on how the gaming industry works by David Perry of Shiny.

Fitting in with the industry coverage, the issue concludes with a whole bunch of job ads for various game companies, including Iguana Entertainment, Virgin, and Spectrum Holobyte.

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