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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?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

Real Life: Check out our newest comic strip, Real Life! Updated daily!

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Solid Gameplay: Nick F's look at Metal Gear Solid.

Anthropophagi Sunt: Josh Vasquez's look at Resident Evil 2.

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Hey Half-Life fans! Looking for some good reads? Check out Valve designer Harry Teasley's guest editorial, our review of Half-Life, or our interview with Marc Laidlaw!

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Pad Happy:
The Consoles Strike Back

By Nick Ferguson


The issue of the Dreamcast modem is also crucial. In the UK it was announced that the machine will be bundled with a fast modem, much to everyone’s surprise. Even more surprising was the news that communications giant British Telecom would help Sega set up their "free" (i.e. local call charges only, which is as close to free as you get in the UK) Dreamcast ISP. As a dyed-in-the-wool NTSC console advocate, I now face a dilemma: do I plump for the superior NTSC machine which will – more than likely – not work as an internet machine in the UK? Or do I go for the native UK model, with its slightly slower game speeds but full internet support? The thought of playing Sega Rally 2 over the ‘net with 3 other people lights up the geek in me, but the reality is I’ll probably hardly ever play online. Decisions, decisions. Still, if nothing else the modem decision (along with the planned massive marketing blitz) shows that Sega appreciates it has to play hardball to win the public back (a realization that explains Sega’s popularity among retailers, if not developers).

But like it or not, the Dreamcast was not the hottest piece of technology at the show. PlayStation 2 was there, running the familiar technology demos (and the fabled build of Gran Turismo). The buzz from a number of sites was that after all the hype, PlayStation 2 wasn’t quite as amazing as they had anticipated. This opinion was confirmed by pretty much everyone who e-mailed me personally about the show, too. Whether this is just a result of post-hype deflation (I think I just made that term up) or a genuine reaction to the hardware remains to be seen. Comparisons were drawn to Sega’s similar Shen Mue tech demos (colored light-sourcing around a face, etc) which were also on show and, allegedy, not entirely outclassed. Far be it from me to start a bitch-fight with Sony advocates – I freely admit you can’t tell anything about the games that will appear on a machine from a few demos! That said, I would like to point out (to those expecting every PS2 game to feature characters as detailed as Reiko Nagase - the Ridge Racer 4 girl - in the early demo) that the famous T-Rex demo on the original PlayStation has only just made it into a game engine in the form of Dino Crisis.

When it comes to PlayStation 2 games, the graphics are only half the story anyway. The really interesting stuff is associated with the intricacies of the Emotion Engine chipset, and Sony’s ‘middleware’ concept of encouraging the licensing of physics engines and such to game developers so that they can focus on developing the gameplay. It’s no secret that a lot of people are already developing for PlayStation 2, and Sony’s forward-thinking approach will more than likely secure both the future of the console industry for another decade and cement their position as the market leader within it. So, the question that remains is… whither Nintendo?

(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.