Where I Read

NextGen #10: October 1995

We’re a couple issues behind in NextGen where we are in the Nintendo Power Retrospectives, so it’s time to do a little catch-up.

The cover game for this issue is Madden – though the cover image is a generic CG-rendered football man.

Industry Interview: Our industry interview this issue is with Tom Zito, founder of Digital Pictures. We get discussion of the track record of FMV games, with Zito arguing that FMV is more immersive than 3D or 2D sprite based graphics, and that audience can’t be immersed in games that aren’t FMV. No, they’re not – especially the limited production values and the very low resolution video in games of this time.

The reason Night Trap Remastered works is because it’s that – remastered, it’s the original film footage remastered and shown in HD, as opposed to the compressed mess that was on the Sega CD or Windows 95 CD-ROM, and it’s expanded out to fill the screen, as opposed to the shrunk down and windowed footage of other FMV games of the kind Zito was making with Digital Pictures.

At this point, FMV can be made to work, and could work if executed as an embellishment of an existing game concept, whether by Sierra On-Line in their adventure games like Phantasmagoria or Gabriel Knight 2, or for similar games like Ripper. In short, considering the context of the times, Digital Pictures execution of FMV was poor, took away from immersion rather than increasing it – and other companies executed FMV far better.

News: The M2 chip is totally coming out you guys! Really! We mean it! The 3DO isn’t dead!

Elsewhere, developers have their Ultra 64 Dev Kits, and Bandai is still working on the Pippin.

A more significant note is Sega’s partnership with NVidia to put out a PC expansion card to let you play Saturn games on the PC. Lazy Game Reviews has a really great video on the card.

Joyriding: There’s a new online gaming service – DWANGO! The service is going to stick around until 1998, until the rise of DSL makes dedicated dial-up gaming services obsolete – and while we get player matchmaking services like HEAT and GameSpy that come later, rather than shifting in that direction, the US branch just goes away.

The Japanese branch, on the other hand, much like Yahoo Auctions, is still around and is a big deal in Japan? How big is it? Well, it operates NicoNico and it’s other related services – that big.

Do Video Games Mess You Up: As of this writing, there has been a lot of research into in what ways Video Games impact people in real life – whereas in 1995, a lot of that research hasn’t quite been done yet. The main focus of this article is on the more physical issues, which have generally more concrete research on them – risks of repetitive stress injuries, and the risk of epilepsy in some games.

The good news is that while the risks of RSI haven’t gone away, the evolution of video game controllers have taken tremendous leaps and bonds to mitigate those risks – to the point that I kind of wish that, for example, 8bitdo’s very ergonomic SN30 Pro+ controllers had been designed to be PS3 compatible, as the PS2 and PS3 first party controllers are… very much not as ergonomic as the PS4 controller – that’s one of the reasons why I use a Bluetooth adapter and a PS4 controller when playing PS2 games on my stream.

That said, there are also questions about video game addiction and whether they impact your behavior to make you violent. The answer the magazine gives is “There isn’t much research but we don’t think so,” for both. The modern research, on the other hand says respectively “It’s complicated and we probably need more research,” and “No – not more aggressive or violent than any other form of play, including conventional sports.”

Motion Capture: We also get an article on the newly emerging field of Motion Capture – which is becoming more common as we shift from 2D to 3D. The comparison is basically made comparing motion capture to the use of rotoscoping in cinematic 2D platformers like Prince of Persia and Out of this World. On the one hand, yes – but as time has gone on MoCap is used for a wider array of purposes – to the point that I’m actually a little bummed that we didn’t see any MoCap done in New Game.

Alphas (Previews): Madden ‘96 is due for a PS1, Saturn, and PC – less so the N64 (at least so far). This game reportedly has polygonal motion-captured characters. Apparently the PC version is also putting more focus on the strategy aspect of the game over twitch game-play on the consoles.

Gremlin also has a top-down shooter called Loaded for consoles. However, the bigger titles here are EarthSiege II: SkyForce, and then 3D Realms first big 3 Build Engine games – Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, and Ruins – the last of which ends up getting canceled later.

Finals (Reviews): For the PlayStation, we have Rayman from Ubisoft, which is the first 32-bit 2D platformer they’ve liked. There’s also Mobile Suit Gundam from Bandai, which is a Gundam Game as a 1st person mecha sim – which I think is radically different from most of the Gundam games we’ve gotten thus far – most of them have stayed in the third person.

There’s also a review of the Japanese version of Arc The Lad, which gets a pretty favorable review.

For the Saturn, we have a bunch of re-makes and re-imaginings of earlier games, and an updated revision of a Saturn launch title – Shin Shinobiden, Virtual Hydlide, and Virtua Fighter Remix.

Only one game for the 3DO this time – but it’s a doozy – Wing Commander III.

On the PC, there’s Balor of the Evil Eye – a Koei Grand Strategy game, except based on Irish Celtic Myth. Also, Activision has Mechwarrior II and a collection of Infocom games, all of these are well received.

Sega CD has Lunar 2: Eternal Blue, which gets a good review, though I’d argue PS1 is better. Finally, Street Fighter Alpha has entered arcades.

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