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2, Issue 1
November 11, 1999
Sega's Sonic Boom
Dreamcast is finally here. So stop crying about PlayStation 2
and buy one, says Nick F..
so you've had a Dreamcast for 6 weeks already and you've probably
got more games for it than I do (I'm surviving on Soul Calibur
right now). You're pissed that Shenmue has been delayed
again, and you're champing at the bit to get your greasy, pizza-stained
hands on a Dreamcast Zip drive and a copy of Biohazard: Code
Veronica, right? Right? What the hell do you mean, "I didn't
buy a Dreamcast?" Come over here and let me kick your ass for
you. Alternately, sit down and let me explain to you, slowly,
the multitude of reasons you need to hightail it down to the store
and pick up Sega's spanking almost-new goody box ASAP. Brace yourself...
Reason #1: Sega is back
could practically hear the silence on the Sony newsgroups immediately
following the Dreamcast's launch, or at least the sound of a number
of PlayStation fanboys (typically guys called "Highwind" or "Squall_69")
munching their words. Almost amazingly, Sega is back. Even I have
to admit to being pleasantly surprised after my first Dreamcast
experience (see my
old Console Wars article) I wasn't convinced the console had
the power to survive even the whispers surrounding PlayStation
2. Since last Christmas, however, we've seen the Dreamcast go
from strength to strength, culminating (so far) in the almighty
Soul Calibur unquestionably one of the greatest beat-em
ups ever to grace a console. I wager Shenmue will drop
a few jaws even further when it eventually gets released, although
the jury's still out on those "revolutionary" Quicktime Event
gameplay mechanisms. It all seems a bit Dragon's Lair for
me (hey, I loved Dragon's Lair too, but these days let's
keep it on the Gameboy Color where it belongs)... The point, hotshot,
is that those memories of laughing at Saturn owners can finally
be put to rest: it is most definitely cool to be a Sega cadet
Reason #2: Sony is the new Microsoft
Bill Gates (he's just a front), Ken Kutagari is the real anti-Christ.
PlayStation isn't just a games console anymore; it's a global
brand. Think Coca-Cola meets Microsoft (minus the Supreme Court
verdict) and you're not far off. This is the reason Sony just
had to call their next-gen machine PlayStation 2 (yawn)
anything else would be throwing away billions in free branding.
Sony currently enjoys the kind of market domination not seen since
the glory days of Nintendo. The name "Nintendo" used
to be synonymous with "videogame" (now it's synonymous
with "got Elvis-fat and lost the plot"). The
increasingly-cheapo PlayStation is still selling in ridiculous
quantities, too: are people buying these things for their pets
now or something? Unless you want your grandchildren starting
their school day singing the theme from Final Fantasy XVIII, you'd
better put a stop to Sony's gaming Empire. Choose life, choose
#3: PlayStation 2 is vaporware
you know? All those demos are really running on SGI workstations,
and that "controversial" design (hey, I like
it) is lifted straight from the Sony Design Centre's 1983 manifesto.
But seriously, the PlayStation 2 isn't scheduled to reach US and
European shores till September next year - at the absolute earliest.
The Japanese machine may well make it out for March, but by the
time the real Dreamcast-killer software comes out you could have
had 18 months of genuine 128-bit gaming goodness for a comparatively
measly $200. That'll be the price of a single PS2 game (honest)!
#4: Online gaming
so this site is probably not the best place to plug a console
on the strength of its online capabilities. Sue me. The fact remains,
regardless of what us loonygames-reading types think, and the
mass market doesn't play online games - yet. The mass market does
seem to be buying a shitload of Dreamcasts, though, and every
one of those puppies ships with a modem - Sega's Trojan horse.
I have a hunch that when the first batch of multiplayer games
hit the US and Europe, Sega are going to have to upgrade their
Dreamcast networks pretty quickly. Sega Rally 2 is fine
and dandy to start with, but could you really resist once Half-Life
DC and Phantasy Star Online make it out? Thought not...
Reason #5: Arcade conversions
Sega and Namco make the best arcade games in the world. If you
want to play enhanced versions of some of the finest games of
the last few years, you'll need to buy a Dreamcast. Virtua
Fighter 3, Sega Rally 2 and House of the Dead 2
are fine representations of their arcade counterparts, although
the best is yet to come with mad free-roaming racer Crazy Taxi
and the sim-tastic F355 Challenge waiting in the wings.
As for the likelihood of further titles from Namco, the sheer
effort they put into their way-better-than-the-arcade conversion
of Soul Calibur gives a strong indication of their faith
in the console's future. The Dreamcast may munch up a few months'
worth of quarters, but in the long run you're guaranteed not to
regret it. Broom-broom!
Reason #6: Dinky VMS stuff
so the jury's out on whether the Visual Memory System is a useful
tool or a fun gimmick, but the idea is certainly a good one. Essentially
a glorified memory card (akin to Sony's PocketStation), the VMS
is the tool you use to connect your Dreamcast games to their arcade
counterparts. In Japan, a VMS (and a copy of the Shenmue
Passport demo) enables you to save your F355 arcade performance
data for playback at home in a crazy wireframe replay mode (think
Metal Gear's VR mode with cars). We can only hope that
with the continued success of Dreamcast, Sega sees fit to increase
the potential for interaction between home users and arcade-goers.
Think about it - you could spend time at home earning a really
cool secret vehicle in the Dreamcast version of some racing game,
and then pose by using it in front of the crowds at the local
#7: Sega's staff are weirdos
like a dumb reason? Well, maybe you should stick to the PlayStation
if you like your games with increasingly big numbers at the end
of the title. Personally, and as much as I can't wait to play
Resident Evil 3 or Final Fantasy 8 (hey, I'm getting
to it), I'm feeling a little let down by Sony in the originality
department. OK, they gave us Parappa the Rapper and "survival
horror" (for which I'm eternally grateful) but it's time for something
else. Sega may yet fall flat with Shenmue, but it's a brave
experiment. Likewise, the direction they took with Sonic Adventure
was a brave move when everyone seemed to be expecting Mario
64 in hi-res. Look at the wacked, drug-induced stuff they've
been churning out of late! Get Bass, Powerstone
and Seaman: are these the products of healthy minds? I
think we should be told...
Shenmue delayed again? Nick Ferguson
is out for blood (and not that wussy green stuff, either).
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