We continue ever close to the launch of the N64.
NextGen #16: April 1996
The cover for this issue is the game MDK.
Industry Interview: Our interview is with Dave Parry of Shiny Entertainment. Perry is looking forward to developing for the N64, though at the moment lead development is for the PC. Ultimately, jumping the timeline a little here, MDK ends up coming out on the PlayStation, as a port from Neversoft, and not either the Saturn or the N64. I’d be interested to see why that decision was made – particularly considering that at the end of this issue Parry states he’d rather buy a Jaguar for $50 than get a PlayStation.
News: The N64 has been delayed to September. Also, Atari has had some dramatic cutbacks, which along with the plummeting cost of the Jaguar, strongly makes the case that they’re getting out of the console business entirely.
On the software side, Square has started checking out other console manufacturers – with Sony being the one brought up by name. The article implies that they’re checking out other manufacturers, but, really that just means either the PC or Saturn at this point. Developers are also gunshy regarding the M2’s prospects – justifiably so.
NEC and VideoLogic are entering the 3D accellerator race, with the PowerVR chip intended to be used on Namco’s arcade cabinets. Joyriding is recapping several earlier points, so I’m skipping over it this time.
How to get a Job in the Video Game Industry: As the article says, how do you get into the game industry in Spring of 1996? In short – make games. There are lots of tools that are available for free for software development, and plenty of books with information on how to do things like collision detection.
There’s also a bunch of information on other avenues into the game industry, from testing to to PR, to art, to programming and so on, with comments from people in those fields. We also get a lot of contact information for HR people in the game industry.
Alphas (Previews): We have a preview of MDK, getting into the general structure of the game, the visual style, and the story of the game. The article implies that Shiny is aiming for a more non-linear structure than I recall we get in the final game.
Sega is also working on a motorcycle racing game – MANX TT – based on the Isle of Man race and using the Sega Rally engine – sort of like the Sega Rally equivalent to Hang-On.
Sony is working on what looks to be a very ambitious, for the time, first person shooter called Tenka.
On the sequel sides of things, we have Sid Meier working on Civilization 2, and an interview with a VP and Paradigm Software on Pilotwings 64.
Finals (Reviews): For the reviews of titles of note – either big names or games that reviewed well, the PlayStation has Darkstalkers out, and while they praise it as a 2D fighting game, they’re very much down on it because it’s a 2D sprite-based game – going to show that game criticism in 1996 still needs to mature a lot – since they’re still down on 2D and 2.5D games.
For other titles, they liked the refinements to Battle Arena Toshinden II, and they also liked King’s Field. Meanwhile, the Saturn has ports for D and Mortal Kombat 2. Not 3, 2.
On the PC, we have the more multiplayer focused first person shooter Havoc, and the adventure game Chronomancer (co-written by Roger Zelazny), which both get really strong reviews, in spite of generally not being remembered (particularly Chronomancer – which is kinda a bummer).
In arcades, there’s Time Crisis and Dirt Dash that are well-reviewed. Time Crisis is pretty well known, but Dirt Dash appears to be Namco’s take on Sega Rally using the Ridge Racer engine.
Capcom also has Shadows over Mystara in arcades, which is somewhat well received, while still getting semi-panned for being a 2D sprite based game.
Chris Crawford’s Column: This time Chris and I are mostly in agreement. Crawford gets into how games of the time, as they provide additional verbs to the player, are bad at explaning those verbs within the context of the game, instead relying on the inclusion of very large manuals. Arguably we have an improvement on this with tutorialization now. Though going from his more recent writing, I don’t think he’d agree.
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