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Newsletter from 05-04-1999
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05-04-1999 { Various DC News, Upcoming Titles, SH4 Stuff, and more... }

Hi all, Just an update...I've been playing with the currency convertor and at this time consider it in a beta stage. I'm open to suggestions on currencies to include and other features. Thus far I plan to have tables of common amounts converted to other currencies (ex. 5800JPY -> x USD). E-mail me if you've any other ideas. The past week has been fairly quiet in terms of news. People in Japan have been on holiday in honor of Golden Week. The holiday continues until May 5th.

Shenmue was shown off more at the Network Jungle II. Some old and new footage was released at the show along with some new demos. One such demo was to demonstrate the realtime manipulation of facial expressions and lighting. This was very similar to a PSX2 similar that it looks like it was designed to show that the Dreamcast was able to produce imagery of equal caliber. In Shenmue, there will be over 300 characters, and with the level of environment interaction one will be able to play classic Sega arcade titles in the arcade center (Hang On, Space Harrier etc). Also a note that the date for the second game in the Shenmue series now has a release date for December 9th in Japan.

In the tech area, Hitachi is working on a new version of the SH-4 processor for the Dreamcast. The goal is to have the processor run cooler, thus eliminating the need for a fan. This will allow for two things: a cheaper and possibly a smaller Dreamcast console. I'm not sure how the redesign will take place. I'm no engineer but there is one immediate possibility: decrease the die size of the chip. Currently the SH4 chip is manufactured with a .25µ process. This size is common with most modern chips including Intel's Pentium III chips. The next step smaller is use of a .18µ process. This will allow for a more compact (and efficient) design, along with a decrease in power requirements.

Some of you are wondering how small this .25µ is? Well, inferring from some memory chip research I did a while back, these measurements are the distance between electrical components of the chip. So, each transistor is about 0.00000025m apart. In comparison a human hair is on roughly 27µ thick. The problem with the shrink to the .18µ process is that the technology is newer and, costs might increase enough to defeat the secondary purpose of a chip redesign.

For Dreamcast releases, things will be very slow until late this month. Until then the latest release is Redline Racer. Overall the game isn't that bad, and does improve over the PC version's graphics...with time, more motorcycles and tracks are unlocked adding to the gameplay. It takes a bit getting used to, but is fairly fun. There are some minor clipping problems that were also in the PC version but they have little effect on gameplay.

At the end of this month we'll see Shutoku Battle, a racing title from Genki. An RPG from Hudson called Elemental Gimmick Gear. And lastly, we will see the sequel beat 'em up title: Dynamite Deka 2. The original was also known as Die Hard Arcade. Its a 3D fighter, similar to Power Stone...that is, Final Fight taken into 3D. Thus far it looks pretty impressive, and if they build on the quality of the original title, we should see another winner. Of the three titles mentioned here, only Hudson's lacks VGA Box support. Releases shortly after May 27th include SNKs King of Fighters Dream Match '99 which is based on KoF98, along with the DC specific features. The 3D in the game is minimal...before each round the camera will sweep through a 3D rendition of the stage before switching to plain 2D graphics. Unfortunately, the game lacks VGA Box support.

That's all for this week...again sorry for the lateness of the newsletter. School just isn't kind these days...


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