The Sega Saturn is out, and this issue is the first full issue in response to that.

The cover plays into the focus on the Sega Saturn, though the cover is less of Sega Saturn games, and more of the advertising campaign for the Sega Saturn.

Howard Lincoln Interview: Our first interview for this issue is with Howard Lincoln – the big news coming out of E3 for Nintendo (aside from the Virtual Boy) was the delay of the N64’s launch. This is our first big interview with an exec from Nintendo of America, and Next Generation would like to know why, with an interview they had with Howard Lincoln at E3. The TL; DR version of what happened is that Nintendo wanted to make sure the games at launch hits their quality expectations, so they had a really solid launch lineup. It’s not a bad idea – and indeed the N64’s lineup is pretty spectacular.

NG also pushes Howard hard on the decision to stick with cartridges instead of optical disks – the answer is a mix of different questionable answers – NoJ engineers say that CDs are inferior to cartridges/Silicon Graphics engineers say N64 games can only be made on cartridges. While N64 generally isn’t known for the loading times of the PS1, and Saturn – the rest seems questionable, and this is definitely the case with some of how the N64 handles music. As it is, Lincoln’s answer includes a lot of equivocating, basically saying “I’m not the tech guy, I just go by what the tech guys tell me,” with the implied verbal asterisk of “So if I’m wrong, I didn’t lie, I just misunderstood the information I received/they were lying.”

With the inevitable questions about the competition that NG gives in each issue – Lincoln is a lot more genteel than the competition – he views Sega and Sony as legitimate competitors, and 3DO is a dead platform walking. NG doesn’t even bother asking about the Jaguar, which makes complete sense at this point.

News: In the News column, Windows 95 is coming, and we get a run down of what this is going to mean for games and game developers, with dedicated MS-DOS environments, improved memory management, automated driver installation, simplified hardware configuration, etc.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin (of the Military-Industrial Complex Fame), is making a new 3D acceleration chip called Real3D

We have a launch date for the Virtual Boy as well, of August 14th.

Also Columbia House is selling CD-Rom software now.

Arcadia: Apparently people are setting up consoles like arcade cabinets in Latin America, which is technically illegal, but considering how much consoles cost there I’m not too surprised.

Joyriding: The focus this time is on various online multiplayer services. The big ones (HEAT, GameSpy, Case’s Ladder) have yet to start yet.

Sega Saturn Feature: Well, the Saturn is out in the US! We have a full rundown of the specs, and answers a few questions, like “Why the surprise launch?” (To get ahead of the competition), “What does Sega gain from that?” (Well, they’re the first serious 32-bit console out on the block), and “How easy is it for people to develop games for the Saturn?” (Actually kind of hard).

Little did we know that this genre would decide the next wave of the console war.

JRPGs: JRPGs are finally catching on in the US in a really big way – as we’ve seen in Nintendo Power with weekly feature columns related to RPGs and strategy games. This article gives a run down of some of the upcoming games for 32-bit platformers, including Arc The Lad and Suikoden. What bears particular notice on this list of titles – they’re all for the Saturn and the PS1. The N64 is Sir Not Appearing.

Admittedly, we haven’t seen that many N64 games at all to date, but still – The SNES had Final Fantasy IV at launch in the US.

Alphas: Our preview coverage opens with another article about Bullfrog games about their upcoming titles (not too surprising, since Next Generation’s publisher is based out of the UK). The main focus here is Dungeon Keeper, though we also get a little additional info on another game called MIST (My Incredible Superhero Team), which apparently never came out because they were allegedly threatened with litigation by Marvel, and the team couldn’t be assed to actually come up with their own superheroes, so it never came out.

Sadly, there is no LAN support for the Saturn or the PS1.

There’s also some discussion of gaming using a System Link. Now, there are Saturn and PlayStation games that take advantage of this, but I’d argue that peak System Link will be in the next console generation, with the Xbox and Halo in particular. There’s some discussion of split screen gaming as well, which is where GoldenEye will thrive in dorms across the world.

As far as specific games go, we get a look at Vector Man for the Genesis, while the PC gets the heavy hitters of Duke Nukem 3D and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.

Reviews: The really notable reviews this issue are for the PlayStation, with Gunner’s Heaven and Jumping Flash – with Jumping Flash in particular getting what I believe is our first 5-start score.

Letters: The letters column feels very ‘90s, with a whole lot of pointless, depressing shade throwing – at other magazines, at consoles, and at the readers.

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