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volume 1, issue 38

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

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Pad Happy:
The Consoles Strike Back





By Nick Ferguson

In a galaxy not-so-far away…
It is a period of civil war.
Gathering at E3, the rebel factions
attacking Sony’s gaming Empire slug it out
in full view of the universe.
Now the dust has begun to settle after
the greatest battle yet, Nick F picks out
what the future holds for console owners.

i again (and apologies for the Star Wars theme – all in celebration of Episode One, you understand!). Well, unlike the vast majority of my loony colleagues I wasn’t able to attend E3 this year. I guess that’s what to expect, being a skint final-year student living on the wrong side of the Atlantic, but next year I hope things will be different! Thank goodness for the internet, and more specifically those sites (both professional and fan-run) who managed to update throughout the weekend. Come to think of it, getting all the hottest news and insider info without having to endure the crowded, sweaty, noisy show floor was preferable to suffering all those, uuuh, playable demos, beautiful showgirls and behind-the-scenes demonstrations… Okay, okay, you get the picture - I’m jealous as hell!

General impressions, from web sites that I visited (and from people I know who attended the show), were that the console game sector is looking remarkably healthy, at least in the short term. There were several outstanding titles for the N64 (namely Rare’s Jet Force Gemini, Donkey Kong "better than Zelda?" 64, and Perfect Dark), a healthy selection of impressive games for the US debut of Sega’s Dreamcast (Soul Caliber, House of the Dead 2, Powerstone) and proof that there’s still plenty of life in Sony’s graying PlayStation in the form of Dino Crisis, Final Fantasy VIII and Um Jammer Lammy. However, many of these titles have been available in Japan for a few months now, and all of them are due for a Western release in the latter half of 1999. N64 owners may have an impending triple-A bonanza with Rare’s "holy trinity", but where’s the immediate support for their machine (more Rare games aside) after that? PlayStation owners, too, have something to worry about come 2000; the next installments of established PS franchises (Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, etc) are either out by the end of the year or will debut on the PlayStation 2, and there wasn’t too much in the way of original work to get excited about. Whereas a number of very promising PC titles on the show floor won’t be out for a good year or two yet, console owners saw very little to look forward to, long-term, on the current generation of machines.

The exception to this is the Dreamcast, which I may have slightly underestimated in my previous column, ‘Hardware Wars’. After a mixed start in Japan, it seems that Sega are doing everything right in the US and Europe: bundling the machine with a fast modem, choosing a surprisingly low price point, ensuring a decent selection of launch titles. This isn’t to say Dreamcast is guaranteed success (far from it) – many developers are probably going to "skip" the Dreamcast and begin work on games for the near-as-you-get-to-a-sure-thing PlayStation 2. For Sega, the real problem isn’t the lack of power in the Dreamcast (relative to the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo’s Project Dolphin) but the long-term lack of quality developers willing to make an effort for the system. There is a very real danger that the Dreamcast will play host to a stream of hasty PC ports, which is fine until you realize that the games will seem increasingly inferior to the originals as PC’s processors and 3D cards get faster and faster. Still, the Naomi arcade technology (which is basically an extension of the Dreamcast architecture) means that extremely promising Naomi coin-ops such as Sega’s own Crazy Taxi and Capcom’s massively-anticipated (by me, anyway) Strider 2 will be making their way to Dreamcast in near-perfect form, a la House of the Dead 2. For the hardcore, there is always a reason to own the Sega consoles – it is the best place to play ports of their dreamy arcade machines.

(Continued on next page)


Credits: Pad Happy logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Pad Happy is © 1999 Nick Ferguson. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't try it, or you'll get some real force feedback.