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Newsletter from 03-08-1999
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03-08-1999 { Sega Announcements, News, Heresy, New Releases, and more... }

Hi all, The past week has had several new stories appear. First off, with the Tokyo Games Show coming very soon several new news stories have made their way out. Supposedly there is a Saturn emulator for the Dreamcast in the works and it will first be shown at the TGS. Dubbed the 'Sat-Cast' the emulator software will cost about ¥3000 or $25US. Also a list of games that Sega will show has also been announced. The titles to be shown include: Boy Kanipan (VMS), Gather! Dreamcast Hot Spring, Get Bass, Giant Gram, Professional Baseball Team Creator, Professional Soccer Team Creator, Shen Mue, Super Invention, Super Speed Racing, The House of Dead 2, and Sonic 3D Blast (Saturn).

Capcom has also announced games that they will show at TGS. They include Bio Hazard: Code Veronica, D&D Collection (SS), Power Stone (DC), Marvel vs. Capcom (Arcade/DC?), and Street Fighter Zero 3 (DC/SS).

More news came from Sega of America. Last week they appointed a new Sr. VP of Marketing. COO, Bernie Stolar, made an address to the industry last Friday. In the brief teleconference he made a number of statements about the Dreamcast's future as a platform and in the US. No specific details about the US launch were unveiled but here are some things stated:

DVD: "the Dreamcast will have DVD but only when the time is right...." Future: "[the DC's] revolutionary design can be upgraded with significant technology, not just peripherals....this is no static box."

US Launch: They plan to have around 15-20,000 stores carrying the console at launch. With 8-10 titles at launch, and around 30 by Christmas '99.

For more info, and my transcript of a marketing presentation made by Sega the same day, see the News area.

The week has also been with some speculation..especially by the large commercial sites run by IGN (FG-Online in particular). First off, before Stolar's address, they wondered about rumors of a May launch. Most likely the rumor is false, not only because such a decision contributed largely to the Saturn's failure in the US market (by alienating retailers and developers), but signs at SoA still point to a fall release.

Second, FG-Online posted (and quickly retracted) so called specifications for Sega's next system called the 'Avatar.' It's rather funny, they receive an email supposedly from an NEC insider (anonymous@nec.com) claiming system specs, and they of course take it as the truth without even checking on the story. The 'information' posted of course exceeded PSX2 specifications, but then the story was removed from their site. Today, FG-Online posted an apology, and claimed that the mistake was due to confusion between the actual Dreamcast successor project and info from their 'contacts' and this e-mail hoax.

A few comments on this, game companies are always working on the next generation system. Their designers cannot simply sit around until its 'time' to work on a new console. Computer technology (esp. 3D) is improving at a very high speed, so yes, anything after the DC better be more powerful otherwise a company has made a poor technology investment. I'm sure there is a successor (or two) to the DC on the drawing boards as is for other consoles out there. A full copy of the hoax e-mail is linked from the News area.

Now the PSX2. 66-million flat polys per second, 18million fully specced polygons per second, along with PSX compatibility out of box. Things to make any game fan wonder. The problem with the extremely high capabilities of the PSX2 is that very few game developers have the computing power available to even create software that pushes the system's limits. Will this lead to a separation between large developers and smaller ones? A console's success depends on the quality of games for it first, along with pleasing not only consumers but retailers. If Sega can concentrate on this, then they will do well. If not.....things outside of Japan might be very bad. Do not worry though, Sega does look like they have things on track this time around.

Three games for the Dreamcast are coming this week. Out now is Psychic Force 2012, a fighter from Taito. Despite some reports to the contrary, the game does not sue the modem for any sort of play mode. VMS titles for it are to be available shortly however. The game is a sort of one on one fighter that takes place mostly in the air, focusing on projectile attacks and long range gun fights. The game will not work with the VGA Box (including the swap trick).

In a few days, two other games are coming, Real Sound: Kaze No Regret from Warp, and Monaco GP2 from Ubi Soft. Real Sound is essentially the same as the Saturn version, but this time around it features two play modes, visual and classic. The visual mode contains a series of still photographs that will be shown at certain portions of the game. The classic mode gives one a blank screen as with the Saturn version. Monaco GP2 is a relatively straightforward racing title, but I've not read anything detailed on it yet.

Images from the upcoming game Dead or Alive 2 have been appearing over the past few days..and they are incredible. The game features the familiar, uh well endowed female fighters in the cast along with other characters. The images are extremely impressive, arcade perfect. The game features familiar play modes along with some sort of tag-team mode similar to the team battle mode in Vf3. I do not have a projected release other than later this year.

It seems that already, Sega's copy protection used in the Dreamcast has been defeated. over in Hong Kong, mod boards and counterfeit discs are already beginning to be sold. The device allows one to play copied games and also defeats territorial locks. Most likely Sega will soon change their protection scheme, but regardless, it shows that the scheme will be circumnavigated one way or another.

A note to those wondering where the currency convertor is. I'm considering coding my own CGI to access exchange rate data for the convertor instead of the solution I currently have. For now, I use http://www.oanda.com for conversion. I will keep you posted. Thanks for your support and patience. That's all for this week, bye!

-Greg



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