It’s been a month, so it’s a good time for another recap of NextGen Magazine. This time, as mentioned in my last recap, I’m going to be skipping over the review section, as the reviews in NextGen over the past 4 issues have been very brief and not very informative – and have not had any names attached to them so I can’t get a vibe for individual critics taste in games.

Cover of NextGen Magazine #5

The cover for this issue has some pre-rendered CGI and boasts coverage of the N64 – pre-rendered CGI that is not something that the N64 could handle. I think Silicon Graphics involvement in the design of the platform set some poor expectations for what the platform can handle – expectations that are born out by a question inside the cover – can the N64 match up with rendered graphics on SGI workstations? (Narrator: No, they can’t).

Interview: Steve Race

We open up with an interview with the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment. NextGen (NG) asks why now Sony is jumping into the console space. The short version is – it’s all about the tech. Sony was heavily involved in setting the CD standard, so they have the technical know-how when it comes to getting the most out of games on CD. There’s a little discussion of the whole situation between Sony and Nintendo over the original Playstation, and Race begs off, saying that was before his time.

NG also brings up how the Playstation is a “pure” game machine, instead of a hybrid multi-media machine like the 3DO and CDi. Race’s repsonse, which history has born out, is that ultimately they’re better at that one thing – building a game machine. Later consoles from Sony will diversify what they can do, from the PS2 being a DVD player to the PS3 onward also playing Blu-Rays and being a media center, but by then the hardware could support that. In May 1995, I think the most you could really ask from a console is a device that plays video games and can also play music CDs.

Excerpt from Steve Race's interview with NextGen.

This leads to the inevitable comparison with the competition, starting with the Saturn. Race argues that Sony sold out of all their stock of the Playstation on launch in Japan, while the Saturn is still available on shelves – starting a trend of Sony under-shipping consoles and using that level of selling out as a bonus.

NG also brings up Sony’s shot at Sega at WCES through the napkins at Sega’s event, and Rase suspects that Tom Kalinsky of Sega will have a response at the first E3. Oh, boy, will he.

There’s also the question of developers and designers on the launch lineup. Sega has Yu Suzuki, Nintendo has Shigeru Miyamoto, and Sony has…? And the response is that it doesn’t matter – as long as Sony has a good lineup of third party developers they can take this – which turns out to be pretty true. The strongest parts of Sony’s lineup (with a few exceptions like Gran Turismo) are the third-party titles, from Smackdown to Final Fantasy to Tomb Raider.

News

Sega is announcing that the Saturn will launch in the US on September 2nd, with a price between $350-450, and a boxier design than the Japanese version. No word on any planned launch titles, but they did announce Acclaim and EA are developing games for the system – and also some notes on Sega’s trade show commercial for the Saturn.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the Saturn has outsold the Playstation (undoubtedly helped by having more available in stores to sell). We also get info on the Satellaview, the Super Famicom’s only major add-on.

Tao systems is working on a framework for VR Arcade systems, designed to run on off-the-shelf PC hardware, using the Pentium x86 platform.

Joyriding

Joyriding article about newsgroups.

This time we’re talking about Newsgroups, the thing everyone used before subreddits. As in, newsgroup culture and subreddit culture is pretty much the same, with the difference being that newsgroups were often a lot less moderated than Subreddits are, and it’s harder to track users across newsgroups, as users could have different identities on different newsgroups.

Arcadia

Sega has a couple of upcoming racing games – Cool Rider and Sega Championship Rally, along with Virtua Fighter II. There’s also a game scheduled to come out based on Street Fighter: The Movie.

Generator

On the file format front, Sony is working on a new version of the CD-ROM format, called “HDCD”, which can hold 4.8 GB on a single layer disk, and 9.8 GB on a dual-layer disk. That sounds like the DVD. We do get a file format called the “HDCD”, but it doesn’t have those storage specs, and it’s not designed initially to hold video.

Ultra 64

Sample screen shots of N64 output from Silicon Graphics workstation emulator.

We’re coming to our cover story, and it’s basically just a timeline of the events leading up to the “present” for the launch of the N64, since the system isn’t out yet. Some of the points are particularly judgemental, like the “Rare, who-dat?” question. Also, some of the games that are announced here don’t pan out, like the N64 port of Sierra On-Line’s Red Baron game and GameTek’s Robotech game.

Apple Profile

Our other big background article this issue is on the current state of Apple Computer, which at this point is being run by John Scully – as Steve Jobs had previously been ousted. This is a pretty standard overview of Apple’s history, though at this point the “Cult of Jobs” is not as heavily in effect as it is now, so it doesn’t get overly reverent when it comes to Steve Jobs role in Apples history the way some modern views of Apple have.

Images of the then new model of PowerMacs.
The top and right Power Macs were the ones that were used in my Middle School.

This also gives way to a discussion of the new Power Macs, which I remember using in Middle School, as one of the first computers I used, along with plans to start allowing “Mac Clones”, an initiative that sadly went nowhere – killed when Jobs returned to control the company. In any case, this era of Apple is the era I’m most familiar with, and think the most favorably about.

Alphas

Screen shots of Daytona USA
Arcade version screenshot on the left & stills from the Saturn version on the right
  • Sega has an upcoming port of Daytona USA for the Saturn, and NG gets into the changes made to bring the game to home consoles, with particular mention on the game aiming for a steady 30 FPS.
  • Next up is the adventure game Prisoner of Ice on the PC, the second Call of Cthulhu game, which starts out with you getting stuck on a submarine in the Arctic.
  • Going back to the Saturn, we have coverage of Panzer Dragoon, another game for the platform that would be considered classics.
  • Interplay has an FMV game with Kingdom: The Far Reaches.
  • The Playstation is getting its first platformer with Jumping Flash, while the SNES has RPG Secret of Evermore.
  • New World Computing has an isometric mech sim with Mechlords (which does not actually come out), and Namco has a sequel for Cybersled.
  • Oh, and there’s Chrono Trigger from Square, which I’d consider to be a much bigger deal than Secret of Evermore.
NextGen's coverage of MechLords
Some screenshots of MechLords – with the title cards also giving the title of “MechWars” – presumably, the name was changed to avoid a lawsuit from FASA.

Reviews

As mentioned earlier, I’m not going blow-by-blow for these. That said, the reviews in this issue have expanded considerably here from the last issue. It’s not by much, and due to the reduced number of games, this feels more like giving each game more space while preserving the same total number of column inches. They are still unsigned – which is unhelpful, but I think the format is a step in the right direction.

We have a couple of Playstation games, with Kileak The Blood (released in the US as Kileak: The DNA Imperative) and the Raiden and Raiden II collection.

The Neo-Geo has King of Fighters’ 94 and Samurai Shodown II, and the PC has an interesting looking port of Mortal Kombat II that makes me wish it received a GOG re-release.

NextGen's review of Dark Forces
I don’t think history sided with NextGen’s take here.

On the Future PC Classics front, there’s Descent from Interplay, Heretic from ID, along with Dark Forces from LucasArts. Of those, Dark Forces gets the most heavily panned as a “Doom Clone” – and is particularly lambasted for the game’s use of multi-level environments, as they feel they make the game’s levels too disorienting. I respectfully disagree there, but I’m having an argument with people from 1995 with the benefit of hindsight.

Letters

Wrapping up the issue, we have a correction from Apogee software over who is really responsible for spearheading the rise of shareware.

So, the next issue should be the issue after E3, so there should some big things to say in that issue.