NextGen #13: January 1996

Once again, I’ve fallen back behind where we are in Nintendo Power Retrospectives, with my recaps in NextGen, so it’s time to play some very slow catchup.

NextGen #13 – January 1996

Our cover for this issue is Ridge Racer Revolution – the PS1’s first auto racing game is already getting a sequel.

Industry Interview: The Industry interview this issue is a return appearance by Tom Kalinske, following up on the US launch of the Saturn. Kalinske says that the Saturn is outselling the PlayStation, though he admits the guerrilla launch of the Saturn may have been a mistake.

I do appreciate NextGen asking the touch questions here – in particular relating to Kalinske painting the PS1’s ease of development as a minus. In particular, he says that how easy it is to develop for the PlayStation is going to lead to a flood of shovelware.

News: PlayStation and Saturn are out in the US, and the next wave of the console war is on. Sony has pulled ahead on Ridge Racer & Toshinden, but Sega Rally and Virtua Fighter 2 are helping Sega narrow the gap.

Matsushita has bought 3DO’s M2 technology, with the question being whether Matsushita will put out an actual console with this tech? No. They don’t.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Atari is getting out of consoles. While Atari is denying this (because of course they would when they have unsold inventory), they’re also laying off their internal software development team.

Intel has unveiled the Pentium Pro, and Toshiba is starting to make DVD drives.

Xband has decided to get into the ISP game.

1995 Year In Review: This a month-by-month breakdown 1995. there’s a fair amounb of hindsight in play. Each month has a quote from that issue’s interview column.

What to Expect in 1996: We get a breakdown by console manufacturer. Sega is, according to NextGen, losing $100/unit and they have a harder-to-develop for system than the PlayStation, and they’re behind on sales. NextGen also floats the idea (which Kalinske also mentioned in passing in his interview, but NextGen is more serious about the suggestion.

Sony is doing well, but the N64 is on the way, and there is the question of whether Sony is going to stick around, or will bail like Phillips.

The N64 has been long delayed and has cartridges instead of optical media, burning long stalwart 3rd parties, including – though they haven’t gone public yet – Squaresoft.

And then there’s PC gaming – will it persist after multimedia has lost its luster? Hindsight point to yes.

Oh, and 3DO and Jaguar are dead in the water.

Alphas: Activision is bringing Zork back as a more conventional graphical adventure game. There’s also a sequel to Ridge Racer, with Ridge Racer Revolution (as seen on the cover). There’s also n article on the future of Origin, including mention of Ultima Online. Chris Roberts is working on a game with a story by Michael Moorcock, which never actually comes out as a game, but does get turned into a novel by Moorcock with Storm Constantine.

However, a bigger deal is a new title in the works from Blizzard called Diablo. It’s interesting to mention that the preview coverage doesn’t use the term “Rogue-like” to describe the game. The concept was around, and the original Diablo certainly fit the archetype, but the writers eschew it, either to avoid confusing readers, or out of their own lack of familiarity.

Bungie has Marathon 2, on the FPS front. NextGen also interviews Atsuhiko Nakamura and Tetsuya Mizaguchi (the future creator of Rez) about the Saturn Port of Sega Rally, focusing mainly on the graphics of the conversion.

Sony has their first basketball game with Total NBA, Data East has an Avengers fighting game, and Psygnosis has an adventure game based on the film City of Lost Children.

Finals/Reviews: This month the PlayStation has Twisted Metal and Warframe as their big releases. The Saturn gets Theme Park. The PC has Stonekeep and Crusader: No Remorse. The Mac has a whole bunch of PC ports like You Don’t Know Jack and I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. On the 16-bit  consoles, the Genesis has a few football games, and the SNES has Breath of Fire 2 and Scooby Doo Mystery.

Letters: We have a writer denouncing the Console Holy Wars, and another writer wondering if we’ll get a console port of Daggerfall – to whom I say, “You’ll just have to wait for the next Elder Scrolls game to see a console port.”

Chris Crawford’s Column: Chris weighs in on the partnership between the movie industry and the video game industry – an opinion marked by unmasked contempt for writers, with the tack being that you’re better off finding a programmer who can write rather than a dedicated writer, as dedicated writers are too pearl-clutching terrified at anyone diverting from their structured narrative. Psst. Nobody tell Chris about Earthbound!

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