News From March 1999:
Stolar at the GDC - 3/20/99 - 9:22:48 AM
Soul Calibur Announced - 3/12/99 - 12:21:08 PM
The 'Avatar' Hoax - 3/8/99 - 3:01:34 PM
Sega of America Talks on 1999 - 3/5/99 - 4:16:13 PM
SoA Appoints New Sr. VP of Marketing - 3/3/99 - 4:01:25 PM
Sega Saturn Emulator for Dreamcast - 3/3/99 - 4:07:35 PM
Sega has announced that the long awaited FREE game, Shenmue has been split into two volumes. The first, Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka, will be released on August 5th. Chapter 2: Mainland China will be out by the years end. This will allow both to sell at a lower price due to the split. Creator, Yu Suzuki mentioned that his original plan was to make the game in numerous chapters, and expanding as time passes.
At the TGS, they have shown some previously unseen footage. This footage has been released in RealVideo format online as well. There are two versions available, each in two quality levels. The shorter version is about one and a half minutes long. It basically shows an overview of some of the scenery, interaction, and snippets of the fight scenes: 20.0kbs, and 44.5kbs. The longer version gives a much more thorough preview, showing many aspects of game play and the weather/time environment. It lasts about 20 minutes: 20.0kbs, 44.5kbs. Both videos are incredible, but due to the RealVideo compression, the frame rate is slow, and the image pixelized....in the 44.5 kbs versions I viewed, the quality isn't bad except in scenes with fast moving objects. Despite the compression issues, the game remains very impressive. Take a look at them as still shots do not show the true quality of the game. I will try to post some images later for those without RealVideo support.
At the Game Developer's Conference, along with about 15 Dreamcast units on display, Bernie Stolar gave a few more tidbits regarding the US release of the system. He confirmed the inclusion of a 56kb/s modem (vs. 33.6kb/s in Japan) with the console. He also hinted at titles for Fall launch including Blue Stinger, Cart Racing, House of the Dread, Mortal Kombat 5, Ready to Rumble, Sega Rally 2, Soul Calibur, VF3 TB, and a football and basketball game (in development by Visual Concepts). Stolar stated that sports games will be a major element in the US release...an element that was rather missed in the Saturn (it took a while for good sports games). Remembering the Genesis, one of its major success factors was in the sports arena where, for a long time Sega's and EA's titles were far superior to the SNES counterparts in terms of gameplay/speed.
Regarding Soul Calibur (below), just a note to say that word has come that the game will be graphically about 10 times better than the arcade original. Stolar also hinted that a DVD drive may be a possibility with the US launch, these go along with rumors that SoJ is considering such an addition to the US hardware.
In a private meeting, Namco has announced their first Dreamcast project: Soul Calibur. The game is the sequel the popular fighting game, Soul Edge. The conversion is currently 30% complete, and will feature enhancements over the System 12 based arcade version. We are to expect new play modes, and enhanced graphics in the DC version. No word on a release date. You see some low rez shots here, you can also go to Game-Online where they've posted high rez
shots. The only reason I don't post them on dEX is because the high res ones are not PD, but belong to G-O. The images are incredibly detailed and sharp, the level of detail is especially noticeable when one sees the full resolution images.
A few days ago, the IGN site FG-Online posted so called specs for the Dreamcast's successor the 'Avatar'. The 'information' was e-mailed from (firstname.lastname@example.org). Jumping on the story without confirming the information (IGN has a problem with this), they ended up posting what amounts to a big hoax. The 'specs' were of course far beyond what the PSX2 was capable of. Of course, while I'm sure a successor is in the works, this information was merely a hoax by the actual sender. One can read a copy of the hoax here.
This morning, Bernie Stolar, COO of Sega of America, held a brief teleconference in which he gave very little information regarding the year. The 'address to the industry' contained some general plans for the US launch. First off, Sega plans to begin a marketing campaign sometime in April....followed with continued support, and a pre-order program with many retailers. They plan to have the system available in 15-20,000 stores by its launch later this year (no date was given). Support of third party developers was mentioned, and those specifically mentioned were: Acclaim, Capcom, GT Interactive, Interplay, Konami, Midway, and Namco.
Sega plans to have 8-12 Dreamcast titles available at launch, and around a total of 30 first and third party games available by Christmas 1999. Regarding DVD and the future, Stolar stated that "the Dreamcast will have DVD but only when the time is right. Thank's to the Sega's Dreamcast revolutionary design, we can implement technology such as DVD but we won't do it until it makes sense for developers and video game consumers....Sega Dreamcast can be upgraded with significant technology, not just peripherals.... this is no static box."
Interesting to say the least. For those who wish to hear the announcement, US residents can call toll-free 1-800-685-9482, the passcode is "1999". For those outside the US, charges will of course apply.
So, Sega's been very quiet in the past year....well, their marketing department has released a slide based presentation spelling out the highlights of what Sega has done in 1998, and plans for 1999. Note that the document doesn't give very specific details on anything...just general information, along with hype building texts. I've typed up a rough transcript of the slide show, which can be viewed here. The Dreamcast will be shown at the Game Developers Conference in two weeks, I'd go as I do have the invitations to GDC, but school as usual, prevents me from attending such things.
This morning Sega of America announced the appointing of a new Senior Vice President of Marketing. Formerly working for Reebok, International, Peter Moore brings nearly 16 years of marketing experience to Sega. Moore will oversee Sega's brand strategy, corporate communications, and all aspects of marketing (advertising, promotions, etc.) Behind the change is the dedication of $100 million in marketing for the Dreamcast launch this Fall (a money amount announced long ago). To your right you see a mug of Peter.
The headline states it plainly. Several large sites are now reporting (without mention of it being a rumor) that Sega has been developing an emulator for the Dreamcast dubbed 'Sat-Cast.' The emulator is software based...the emulator is loaded into system memory, then the Saturn game is played. I do not know how it will work...via a CD swap or some other means. The device is expected to be shown at the Tokyo Games Show later this month...it will cost around ¥3000 or about $29USD. There were many rumors preceding the news, such as the device enabling enhanced graphics of Saturn games, but all are at this time mere rumors. More info will be posted when it becomes available.
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