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The Next Generation, Round two

Or "The feature's future comes farther into focus!"

    Well a lot of stuff has happened in the next generation of video gaming since I first presented Mario's prospects in round one. Let's take a look at what the major players have done since then.

    Sega, the perpetual "first out of the gate", released their amazing Dreamcast system on 9/9/99 in the United States amid the biggest entertainment revenue day in history ($97 million went to Sega that day). Lauch games like Sonic Adventure and Soul Calibur are far beyond anything seen before graphically and definitely competent gameplay wise, while other lauch titles (all 17 of them) range from mediocre to great. Sega has a long line of publishers lined up to take advantage of this new system, and at least one more potential killer app on the way, Yu suzuki's Virtua Fighter RPG, Shenmue. Segas one year head start over the competition (at least) and large depth of goodgames have given it an edge for the moment.

    Sony kept pretty quiet about their next system until this Monday, when they released a boatload of info. Officially called the Playstation2, Sony's new system will be backward compatible with the original system, be able to play DVD movies, and have a new "emotion engine" that can generate FMV like visuals in real time. The system has many developers lined up in established series like Tekken and Gran Turismo, plus many original new games planned. However, there are some chinks in the systems armor. So far all that's been shown are tech demos without any real games show, and the $370 price point for it's March 2000 Japan release is a turn off. ALso, the system only has two controller ports and no modem (althogh it is expandable for on-line support). There is reason to be excited, but the proof is in the pudding, and so far all we've gotten from Sony is a fancy bowl.

    And from Nintendo? I will summarize their announcements here: 1) Mario will have a new look; 2) Here's some rudimentary specs; 3) Oooh, look, a new Pokemon game!"

    Is that all we get? I have already analyzed the "new Mario" announcement thoroughly in the 8/3/99 news story, but other than that we are still left guessing on what will happen, with Nintendo and with Mario, in the next generation. Again Nintendo is the last one out of the gate. One company has released their system. One has given detailed specs, dev kits, and game demos. One has been silent...

    Not that that is a bad thing. If Nintendo were first out, Miyamato would never have the time to craft perfections like SMW and SM64 for the new systems. But from a business standpoint, I have to question Nintendo's decision to wait. After Nintendo 64's cartridge fiasco, they are still in a respectable second in the next gen race, but not in a position where they can sit by and watch. Dreamcast has already wowed the money from 300,000+ gamers, and Sony's set top box with all it's features and the Playstation name is sure to sell well, leaving not much for Nintendo.

    Their is a bright side though. Both Sony and Sega are aimnig their systems at the hardcore gamers out there. When Nintendo's next system comes, complete with what is said to ba a lower, parent frendly price tag due to no DVD capabilities, the 13 and under crowd will probably flock to it, despite Sega and Sony's systems. Nintendo also has the franchises that all the kiddies love... Mario, Pokemon, and Zelda can keep any system afloat. They also have Rare, who are gauranteed to produce a few chart-busting games for Dolphin.

    So Nintendo is not toally lost, and probably never will be as long as they have Miyamato on their side =). But ifthey don't release some more concrete info. on their system soon, they may lose even mroe of their potential audience to SEga and Sony. Hurry up, Nintendo!

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