NextGen #19: July 1996

We’re getting closer with NextGen to where we’ve gotten ahead with this issue of NextGen, which also has Chris Crawford’s column being MIA.

The cover game for this issue is Nights into Dreams for the Saturn. There’s also mention of an article on multiplayer online games (as of 1996)

Industry Interview: We have an industry interview with Brian Moriarty with MPlayer. He gets into, basically, how the service works. Specifically they have deals with a bunch of ISPs to handle packet routing to reduce latency. Remember – this is 1996. If you’re lucky and well off, you have DSL in the home. Otherwise, you may have had a 56K modem for your dial-up connection.

The interview goes into a tangent on whether games are art and Moriarty says they can be, comparing them to the film industry in 1915, and gives and example of what the industry needs… he brings up Birth of a Nation… god-dammit. There are other silent movies you could have picked!

News: We have some more information on the “Nintendo Atlantis” handheld, and some speculation that the SegaSoft company is about Sega double-dipping on the PlayStation (more likely they’re double-dipping for the PC).

Multiplayer Feature: We get a run-down of where multiplayer online gaming is. In short, it’s dependent on a whole variety of online subscription services, who have deals with ISPs & phone companies, and have set up local matchmaking to further reduce latency. That said, this focus on latency reduction is going to shift as high-speed internet becomes more widespread, and consequently moving more into matchmaking, particularly for skill based matchmaking.

Alphas (Previews): We open wit ha very extensive preview of Nights Into Dreams, which they describe as Yuji Naka working to reinvent the mascot game, by making less overtly combat-based. There’s also an interview with Naka-sensei, discussing the design process, through being deliberately vague, since the game isn’t out yet.

Appropriately enough, the next game covered is Crash Bandicoot, which is trying to do a much more traditionally designed platformer on in 3D.

On the PC side, Id has put out a demo for Quake. It’s just a selection of levels, with weapons but no enemies, basically is there to show off the engine.

On a more mixed note, there’s als oa preview of Bubsy 3D. It’s interesting to see that while the original game was very much a Johnny-come-Lately to the whole space of 2D 16-bit Mascot platformers, they’re an early adopter of the 3D platformer here. On the Saturn’s side, there’s also a look at Sonic X-Treme which doesn’t actually come out. There’s some cheesecake-y art of Sonic’s love interest.

There are some interviews with some of Konami’s staff, including Nagata Akihiki, the general manager, and Tanaka Fumihaki of the Technical Research Department, along with company president Kitzaue Kazumi, about the company’s upcoming titles. They specifically get into the studio basically choosing not to port more “Japanese” (read-Anime) games to the US (using Parodius & Goemon, for example), never mind that the US is very much getting into the first big anime boom.

Finals (Reviews): There are lots of sports games this issue for the PlayStation, mainly Baseball & Basketball games. We also have a few other PlayStation games, with first person shooters (like P.O’d). The Saturn has Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and more significantly, Panzer Dragoon II Zwei, and a solid port of Wipeout.The Neo-Geo has Magical Drop II & Art of Fighting 3, which are fine. However, again, the big platform this issue is PC, with Civ II (which was my first Civ), and Terra Nova from Looking Glass. And, in the arcade, arcade, we just have the tank sim Tokyo Wars, fighting game Battle Arena Toshinden II.

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