As a NetLink owner, I can’t begin to express my feelings over the arrival of on-line games. The reason for that, however, is not because I’m in awe, but because there’s been so many delays that I doubt their arrival even after Sega’s announcement. And, even if they do arrive, what then? Sega doesn’t really have a plan to charge one simple flat rate for unlimited monthly on-line play, and that can result in long-distance bills going into the hundreds. So, what can Sega do?

Once again, The Dark Falcon offers helpful suggestions for Sega to make the NetLink gaming experience better than it sounds. So here we go…

1> Make Quake netlinkable, no matter what the cost in regards to programming or looks. Quake was really meant to be the game for NetLink owners, as it is one of a kind when it comes to multiplayer abilities. I’ve had a number of PC matches that back up that comment (of course, I got my ass kicked every time, but that’s a different matter). If Lobotomy Software can do it for Nukem, how hard can it be to do it for Quake? Seriously. Lobotomy can pull off quite the unexpected miracle…at one point, I really thought a console version of Quake would be impossible. Sega should give them a better opportunity to explore rather than just the same ol’ deadline.

2> Hype Bomberman and Duke Nukem. Yes, Sega Rally and Virtual On are two of their finest two-player arcade games to date, but take a look at the PC market and the constant demand for Duke Nukem playoffs and Atomic Bomberman, which offers 10-player online play (which results in, once again, an ass-kicking on my part- these guys play like MADMEN!!). The same will be for the Saturn. Sega needs to work on a marketable deal that offers Nukem and Bomberman at staggering prices instead of the usual $50-55 range. If they really want to put more NetLinks in the homes, this is a recommended move. After all, CD’s only cost $3 to produce. Give it SOME thought.

3> Introduce more arcade classics for on-line play. Do you have any idea how absolutely cool on-line Virtua Fighter 2 and Street Fighter Alpha 2 would be? Player 1: Akuma, from Denver, CO. Player 2: Sakura, Honolulu, Hawaii. Ready? Fight. Fighting is just as popular as it’s ever been and the fact an on-line fighting game hasn’t been introduced is a travesty. Work with Capcom (or AM2, for that matter) and try to get something on the schedule. I promise you, Sega, it’s something the NetLink fans really want. It’s all I hear about in your chatrooms.

4> Work on a long-distance monthly rate plan. Long-distance rates for individual matches would suck dearly. What you need to do is chat with X-Band about their service and then work out a plan to charge one fee for on-line play, no matter what game. This will work out for the better, because, otherwise, you’ll get letters from angry parents on how little Joey played Duke Nukem for so long and built the phone bill into four digits. That’s all you need right now, as far behind as you guys have dragged.

5> Offer contests and special events. Have some gamers take on the Sega staff or even Yu Suzuki himself during like a Sega Rally tournament, and then offer up some prizes during some Bomberman matches, like little Bomberman keychains (I love them things!) or Sega t-shirts. Just make on-line play a little more exciting and try to convince them PC owners Sega has a little party of their own.

In the end, when the NetLink games finally do arrive, we’ll see if Sega has what it takes to take on the on-line market. One thing’s for sure, console owners will finally be able to see what all the fuss is about. Whether it’s temporary or permanent relies on Sega- let’s hope they don’t blow it.