June 30, 1997

SAKURA TAISEN LIMITED EDITION RE-RELEASED

Sakura Taisen Limited Edition has been Re-Released. The restock of the Sakura Taisen Limited Box is now available for import in the US. The limited edition of Sakura Taisen comes in a special container and is packed with a Sakura imprinted mouse pad, Saturn mouse and a laminated character sticker sheet. Sakura Taisen was considered by many in Japan to be the best Saturn title released last year.

In other import news, the Saturn version of V-Force has been released in Japan, and should now be available for import in the US. V-Force is a strategy simulation where you control the crack trio of mech-driving girls who go on roughly 40 different missions. V-Force features a lot of well done animation sequences and covers 3 CDs.


June 29, 1997

LUNAR SILVER STAR STORY COMPLETE COMING THIS FRIDAY

The MPEG version of Lunar Silver Star Story will be released this Friday, July 4, 1997 in Japan. The MPEG version features full screen full motion video and requires the Movie Card for the Japanese Sega Saturn.


June 27, 1997

BLACK BELT CHOSEN OVER DURAL?

As reported by GameSpot News, sources close to Sega of America have indicated that the company’s fourth-generation console choice has been finalized. Sega now plans to go full speed ahead with the Black Belt, the prototype console developed in America by engineers from SegaSoft, Microsoft, and 3Dfx, as opposed to relying on the company’s Japanese-developed prototype codenamed Dural.

The source reported that Sega’s Japanese OS team has a history of developing poor operating code for Sega platforms and that when Sega had to decide which machine prototype to choose, they did not look for the machine with the most raw horsepower, but the system that would have the games up and running more quickly, and the Black Belt won out

With an operating system developed mostly by Microsoft, the Black Belt will let developers gain easy access to many of the machine’s graphics and audio functions, largely removing the problems that plagued the developer-unfriendly Saturn. An American-designed OS will also have the side benefit of full English language compatibility from the get go, eliminating some peskier technical documents that have made coding for Sega’s CD-ROM, Saturn, and Genesis frustrating at first.
(SOURCE: GameSpot News)

DARKLIGHT CONFLICT SHIPS FOR THE SATURN

EA’s Darklight Conflict has shipped to stores and should be available for purchase by Tuesday, July 1, 1997. Darklight Conflict is a space/war simulation that was developed by Rage Software and is being published by Electronic Arts.

KING OF FIGHTERS ’97 NEWS

SNK fans rejoice as King of Fighters ’97 is about to grace us. We all know that Blue Mary and the other 2 characters are appearing in this latest version of King of Fighters. But, three totally new characters are also making an appearance: Shermie, Yashiro Nanakase, and Chris. They make up the “New Face Team”. “Singo Yabuki” seems to be SNK’s answer to Capcom’s “Sakura” as Singo dresses like Kyo Kusanagi.
(SOURCE: Catch22)


June 26, 1997

NEW SATURN GAMES RELEASED IN JAPAN

Samurai Shodown RPG, Shienryu, Rabbit, Willy Wombat, Zero Champ Doozy-J, and Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus have all been recently released for the Sega Saturn in Japan. Samurai Shodown RPG is the highly anticipated RPG from SNK featuring characters from the Samurai Shodown series. Shienryu is a 2D shooter, Rabbit is an EA fighting game, Willy Wombat is a platforming game from Hudson Soft, Zero Champ Doozy-J is a racing game/RPG and Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus is a compilation disc that contains classic shooters Salamander, Salamander 2, and Life Force.

NEW GAMES FOR SEGA’S MODEL 3

Many are calling the recent private show in Tokyo’s Ota ward at the Tokyo Currency Center, a hard sell for Model 3.

At the showing, several new Model 3 based units were unveiled. The Japanese rumor mills suggest that Virtua Fighter 4, is really Virtua Fighter 3 Act2, but don’t hold your breath for a new game, sounds like a Virtua Fighter Turbo.

The Manx TT cabinet was given a second lease of life with Motor Raid, a maximum of 8 players can take part in this bike/fight action. This game could turn out to be the most expensive Model 3 product to date.

The last game to be unveiled at the event was LeMans 24. An interesting driving game that is said to address all the failings of Touring Car. Complaints were made about Touring Car because of the general lack of competitive racing, a feature that made Daytona a winner in the arcades, the new game has better network communication, and a ‘jump in’ option allowing players to enter the game at any point during the day – night driving environment.
(SOURCE: Amusement Business Europe)

GT INTERACTIVE TO PUBLISH COURIER CRISIS FOR THE SATURN

Continuing to strategically expand its console offerings, GT Interactive announced today that it has acquired the North American rights to publish BMG Interactive’s new Courier Crisis for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. GT Interactive will ship Courier Crisis later this year.

Developed by New Level Software, Courier Crisis features an Extreme bike messenger hell-bent on completing more than 250 deliveries through five completely different neighborhoods, including Chinatown, Skid Row and the Waterfront.

Faced with a seemingly unending horde of angry street punks, clueless pedestrians and a gamut of roadside obstacles, gamers must assume an identity laced with attitude if they are to finish the 30 asphalt-busting levels. Armed with a wide variety of BMX trick and mountain bikes, and authentic bike tricks all designed by the professional riders at GT Bike, a leading bicycle manufacturer, players take to the streets in a frenzy of aerial leaps, wheelies and crashes.

In addition, the game play experience of Courier Crisis is raised even further by New Level Software’s proprietary Multi-Channeled Data System which allows the simultaneous, real-time streaming of CD-quality music, sounds and voice. New Level Software has digitized authentic urban sounds and voices to enhance the game play experience.


June 24, 1997

SEGASOFT’S ORACLE-BASED INTERNET GAMING NETWORK TO SUPPORT ELECTRONIC COMMERCE

Oracle Corp. announced that SegaSoft has gone live on Oracle Financials and Oracle Supply Chain Management applications in only four months. The rapid implementation was made possible by Oracle Technology Partner KPMG Peat Marwick LLP and its Rapid Return on Investment toolkit and methodology. Selected over SAP and Baan, Oracle provides SegaSoft with the flexibility to tailor the applications to meet the changing needs of the swiftly growing company, as well as fast implementation to help them get to market quickly.

SegaSoft has also selected Oracle Universal Server as the robust, high-performance foundation for all its Web development, particularly its new HEAT online gaming network (www.heat.net), slated for launch later this year. Oracle supports player log-in, demographic gathering, a “degrees” reward system for frequent players, interactive and directed advertisements and game watch mechanisms as well as the games themselves. Oracle provides the scalability SegaSoft needs to support 250,000 members and up to 25,000 concurrent players, as well as the performance to make online gaming possible. In May, Oracle began to support electronic commerce on the site, enabling players to buy merchandise and games like the new GT Interactive hit “Blood” using cash. Soon players will be able to use “degrees,” HEAT’s frequent player points, as discounts towards other games, Virgin Records CDs and additional merchandise.

Key to the selection was Oracle’s relationship with Technology Partner KPMG Peat Marwick LLP. KPMG’s R2I toolkit and methodology enable rapid implementation through industry- and process-specific configuration templates that leverage the built-in customization capabilities of Oracle Applications. KPMG also delivered custom interfaces and EDI to streamline SegaSoft’s supply chain and enhance its ability to transact over the Internet.

The Oracle implementation replaces applications inherited from Sega with the flexible, standard applications needed for its dynamic business requirements. Oracle will provide SegaSoft with the flexibility to easily modify its systems to meet the constant changes encountered by companies doing business on the Internet. In addition, Oracle will provide SegaSoft with the infrastructure to enable it to take advantage of new technologies such as electronic commerce. For example, SegaSoft has been able to set up its chart of accounts to accommodate purchases made with rewards program “degrees” in addition to cash.

Oracle Applications also drive SegaSoft’s EDI applications to its distribution and fulfillment partners. Oracle distribution applications, including Oracle Order Entry and Oracle Inventory, will help SegaSoft track distribution and inventory for commercial customers, including major software retailers. The applications will eventually be tied into SegaSoft’s electronic commerce system to track sales to consumers directly through the Web as well.

“We expect electronic commerce to become a very significant portion of our revenue,” said Gary Griffiths, president and CEO of SegaSoft. “We need the flexibility Oracle provides us because electronic commerce is still such a new technology that our needs can change in ways that we haven’t even conceived of yet. As recently as six months ago we didn’t know exactly what our distribution requirements were going to be, and we continue to add new products and services to our merchandising mix literally on a daily basis.”


June 23, 1997

SEGA LOOKS BEYOND SATURN

Bernie Stolar stated at E3, “Saturn’s not our future,” as Sega is diversifying into PC and other console ventures, and is preparing for a new system within the next two years.

SEGA CHOOSES EXPERT SOFTWARE FOR PC DISTRIBUTION

An agreement between Sega Entertainment Inc. and Expert Software Inc. now gives Expert Software the distribution rights in the United States and Canada to Sega’s value-priced, PC Collection. All the colors, sounds, characters and animation traditionally found in the world-renowned Sega PC and video games will now be available with the same plug-and-play ease for your home PC from Expert Software. These titles are designed to run in the Windows ’95 environment and use the Pentium processor.

“Releasing the distribution of our value-priced titles to Expert will help free up our sales force allowing them to hone in on the development and distribution of our front-line, PC products,” said Shinobu Toyoda, chairman and CEO of Sega Entertainment Inc.

Sega chose Expert Software based on its mass-marketing mix and Expert’s dominance in the value-priced software market. The Expert Software brand can be found in supermarkets, drug stores and other non-traditional software outlets, as well as in traditional computer retail outlets. This will allow Sega to be everywhere their consumers are.

“This is the first time Sega has released a value-priced software line and everyone at Expert is excited about the opportunity of teaming up with Sega,” said Ken Currier, CEO of Expert Software Inc. Currier added, “Gamers immediately recognize Sega as a name that stands for excitement and quality in the PC gaming industry.”

The first Sega titles to be released under this agreement are scheduled for a launch in September, 1997. These games will carry a suggested retail price of $19.99 and will feature these seven sizzling, Sega titles:

— Sonic CD
— Sonic’s Schoolhouse
— Daytona USA
— Bug!
— Virtua Fighter
— PC-Panzer Dragoon
— Garfield

“Expert will provide Sega with access to their strong channels of distribution and Sega will provide Expert with our strong name recognition, a name synonymous with the best in the computer games and entertainment industry,” added Toyoda.

SEGASOFT’S HEAT.NET CONTINUES TO DRAW ADVERTISERS

SegaSoft’s new HEAT.NET Internet Game Network continues to attract advertisers with precision targeting and delivery of ads to its online audience. HEAT uses sophisticated ad-serving and demographic tracking technologies licensed from Interactive Imaginations. New York-based Interactive Imaginations also acts as SegaSoft’s advertising sales force for HEAT. Recent partners include:

 

    • — Capitol Records will advertise the relaunch of its award-winning website Megadeth, Arizona: The Resurrection — http:hollywoodandvine.com/megadeth — to promote the band’s latest release, “Cryptic Writings.”

 

    • — Random House will promote specific book titles such as Star Wars, Dave Barry in Cyberspace, Spike Lee’s Best Seat in the House and Sex on Campus.

 

    • — Atlantic Records will advertise recordings by Jewel Aaliyah, a platinum-selling artist, Seven Mary Three, Collective Soul, Changing Faces and Matchbox 20.

 

    — October Films is an independent film studio whose recent feature film successes include Breaking the Waves, Secrets and Lies and Lost Highway. -0- Delivery options on HEAT include full-page and banner ads. HEAT advertising messages are fully integrated with gaming and other content, and players can earn “Degrees,” HEAT frequent player points, for viewing and/or responding to advertising messages.

All four companies say they were attracted by HEAT’s demographics

— PC gaming fans, primarily males ages 18 to 34 — as well as to its sophisticated delivery and tracking mechanisms.

“We recognize the HEAT players as the young, urbane and technology-savvy trendsetters we want to reach with advertising,” said Wendy Elman, Associate Director of New Media at Random House. “HEAT’s demographics track closely to our target market for certain titles.”

In open public testing since May 8, HEAT has already signed on more than 25,000 active members. “We are thrilled to welcome Capitol Records, Random House, Atlantic Records and October Films to HEAT,” said Gary Griffiths, SegaSoft president and CEO. “The party has just begun and there is room for many more.”

SEGA SOFT’S VIGILANCE TAKEN TO NEW LEVEL

Lightscape Technologies announced that Vigilance by SegaSoft, publicly previewed here at E3 is the first real-time 3D game featuring pre-computed environmental lighting effects created with Lightscape 3.0 — the leading next generation radiosity rendering software.

The company also announced that Lightscape 3.0 has been selected as an essential game development tool for AnyWorld, the new game development engine and workflow solution from Any Channel that has been licensed by SegaSoft and utilized to create the ground breaking graphics for Vigilance.

These announcements demonstrate that radiosity — considered a major missing element in computer graphics imagery today — is poised to come of age as a practical development tool and is playing a critical role in taking games to the next level of graphics quality.

“The tight integration of Lightscape 3.0 into the level design process for Any World’s game development solution is a key component in the unprecedented lighting and visual quality displayed in “Vigilance,” said Larry Pacey, executive producer for SegaSoft. “Our players will experience a whole new level of realism.”

Lighting is the element most responsible for creating atmosphere and a believable sense of place in digital environments — which is key to engaging an audience. However, creating truly realistic lighting effects has been nearly impossible. Most rendering tools available today do not account for indirect lighting and, to compensate for this deficiency, require an inordinate amount of time placing and fine tuning lights.

Lightscape’s revolutionary approach to lighting goes beyond traditional renderers to combine the world’s most advanced radiosity algorithms with ray-tracing and physically based lighting techniques to create subtle yet significant lighting effects not previously possible. These effects include direct and indirect diffuse lighting, soft shadows and color bleeding between surfaces. Furthermore, Lightscape 3.0’s unique interactive design and performance features overcome real-time development barriers, opening the doors to a new era of lighting effects in games and multimedia titles.

“Until now, radiosity was considered too cumbersome to use for real-time game development. Lightscape 3.0 is the only next generation radiosity implementation specifically designed to meet the demands of interactive developers,” said Brian Yen, president for Any Channel. “Lightscape consistently sets the standard for radiosity and is a key component of our Any World game development solution.”


June 20, 1997

A DAY LATE AND DOLLAR SHORT?

Well, as many of you have noticed, this page has not been updated over the past few days, I must sincerely apologize for this, but please accept my “excuse” of being overwhelmed by the E3 experience. I left to Atlanta very early Tuesday morning and was unable to update as I was “exploring” Atlanta. Then on Wednesday, I didn’t update because I really didn’t have any news, and just didn’t have the time to update. On Thursday, Day 1 of E3, I really should have updated, but have been unable to get connected to my web server, in fact, at the time of writing these news stories, I am still unable to connect to my server, so I really don’t know when this will be posted. For all of this, I sincerely apologize, and I hope that with the next few days, I can give you the coverage that you want, and that you need. If I can get connected to my server, I will give you the news below (that should have been up last night, and previews of every single Saturn title shown at E3, with pictures for each game.

By the way, I’m unable to receive or send any e-mail at this time, so I’m not ignoring your mail, I’ll answer each e-mail that I can, when I’m back home from E3. Thank you.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

Sega of America has announced a Five Star Games Policy with all of its upcoming releases. Games from Sega and from third parties for the Sega Saturn, other consoles and the PC, will meet the five star quality criteria, or they will not be released. This policy is effective immediately.

If at any point in development the game does not meet the Five Star Games Policy criteria by falling below a score of 90, the panel will direct designers to fix the problems, or drop the project all together. Let’s hope that Sega doesn’t shove their feet in their mouth and allow games like Cruisn’ USA and Wargods to be released for their system, like this “other” system that claimed to have a Quality standard for their system.

THE LOST WORLD COMING TO SATURN AND ARCADE

Sega is releasing dinosaurs into homes and arcade around the world. They recently announced the release of The Lost World: Jurassic Park for the Saturn and the arcade. The Sega version of The Lost World promises to have more features than found in any of the other next-gen systems. The Saturn version should ship this September and retail for $49.99. The arcade version is on Sega’s Model 3 arcade board and should hit arcades nationwide in the Summer of 1997.

SEGA EXPECTS MORE THAN 80 3RD PARTY TITLES FOR THE SATURN THIS YEAR

Sega announced that it expects 80 3rd-party titles to ship for the Sega Saturn this year, increasing the Saturn’s software library to over 300 games. Among the 3rd parties still producing for the Saturn are EA, Fox Interactive, Capcom, Interplay, Acclaim, Working Designs, Atlus and Konami (although no Konami titles have been announced).

EA’s titles include games like Warcraft II, Battlestations and Darklight Conflict. From EA Sports we’ll see Madden ’98, NBA Live ’98, NHL ’98 and FIFA Road to the World Cup ’98. Capcom will release five games, with them including, Mega Man X4 (one of my personal favorite games of the show so far), Marvel Super Heroes (much better than the horrible PSX version), Super Street Fighter II Collection. From Working Designs, we’ll see Sega Ages, Albert Odyssey, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Lunar Silver Star Story Complete.

SEGA TAKES ARCADE GAMEING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Arcade forces are about to invade the Saturn and living rooms across the US. Sega announced four new arcade titles for the Saturn, including Last Bronx, Sky Target, Manx TT, and Touring Car Championship. These four near arcade perfect ports are only for the Sega Saturn.

DUKE 3D AND QUAKE TO APPEAR FIRST ON SATURN!

It was announced that the Saturn will be the first console to get a version of Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. Both games will ship first for the Sega Saturn. Both titles are huge PC successes and are expected to do extremely well for the Saturn, and both games are looking great at their current stage in development. Duke 3D and Quake both run better on the Saturn than they do on a P100 system, and both contain some features such as a lot of light sourcing, that only appears on the 3Dfx enhanced version of Quake.

ENEMY ZERO SHOWCASED AT E3

Sega announced the upcoming release of Enemy Zero for the Sega Saturn. E0 is an alien adventure where you must rely on all of your senses to kill an attacker that you can’t even see. This very suspense filled game, includes stunning 3D graphics and amazing sound. (On a related note: I had the chance to meet Kenji Eno at the Sega booth).

RPGS ARE COMING FROM SEGA!

Sega is reinforcing its commitment to RPGs for the Saturn with the upcoming releases of Shining the Holy Ark and Panzer Dragoon Saga. These two titles feature excellent 3D graphics and unlimited exploration and real-time and very complex role playing. They are exclusive to the Saturn. Shining the Holy Ark will ship in July and Panzer Dragoon Sage will ship in January of 1998.

SEGA BRINGS ITS BEST TO THE PC

Sega Entertainment announced its 1997 PC game line-up that includes 11 proven hits from Sega’s arcade, sports and character libraries – all enhanced for PC gaming. The games include VF2, Daytona Deluxe, Sonic 3D Blast, Virtual On, Manx TT, World Wide Soccer, Virtua Squad 2, NBA Action ’98, Enemy Zero, and Touring Car Championship.

SEI is currently in the process of active discussion with all cutting-edge video-accelerator companies. It is part of the plan to be a technology front-runner even though they have not publicly announced any ties regarding our relationship with these video-accelerator companies (with the exception of Power VR via Virtual ON), rest assured, SEI will have strategic relationships secured in time to have all of our software fully take advantage of the top accelerator hardware. This is not to say that VF2 is slow on non-accelerated PC’s, actually it’s quite the contrary. Of course our latest PC technology, tools, and libraries will ensure that VF2 and the rest of our ’97 line-up will take full advantage of native Pentium systems.

With VF2, currently the backgrounds are 3D in VF2-PC. They have various detail settings that allow for more realism in each scenario, in other words, background detail is a “scaleable” option. The user-selected detail spans the gap between No Detail and High Detail, each setting adds a bit more complexity to the background. For example in Low Detail water is still but in high detail it animates. Since the game is not 100% final, they are still evaluating various background effects and what kind of performance impact they have on the game. Their games have more mass-market appeal than any other content on the market and they have a responsibility to their consumers to ensure that our games play as well as they look. As I’m sure you’ll find, they’ve accomplished this in VF2!

Expect Sega’s PC titles to be enhanced for the PC, with either better graphics, force feedback technology, or special tracks and features found only on the PC.

SEGA ANNOUNCES THIRD PARTY AWARDS

Sega games from third parties awards in seven different categories, which include Best Game, Best Sports Game, Best Action/Adventure, Best RPG/Strategy, Most innovative, Best Fighting, and Best Driving Sim. The award winners are as follows: Best Game – Tomb Raider, Best Sports – Madden ’97, Best Action/Adventure – Soviet Strike, Best RPG/Strategy – Dragon Force, Best Driving – Andretti Racing, Best Fighting UMK3, Most innovative – Blast Chamber.

SONIC IS BACK!

The legacy of Sonic is alive as two new games for the Sega Saturn, Sonic Jam and Sonic R. Sonic Jam allows players to relive the magic with exceptional retro gaming action and the world’s first 3D museum dedicated to the blue hedgehog. Sonic R lets players experience hi-speed racing like they’ve never seen before – on a 3D track with 360 degrees of racing gameplay.

SEGA SATURN NET LINK DELIVERS INDUSTRY’S FIRST NETWORKED ARCADE GAMES ON A CONSOLE

Online gaming for next-generation video game consoles is now a reality – and only on Sega Saturn. Sega America challenges gamers everywhere to get ready for battle with the release of five games for the Net Link. The games will arrive starting in July along with an updated web browser.

The games include Sega Rally Championship, Virtual On, Duke Nukem 3D, Saturn Bomberman, and Daytona USA CCE. Quake is currently not planned to be Net Link capable, but it is still under consideration. Today there are over 15,000 Net Link users across the US.

SATURN NETLINK GAMES TO DEBUT

An all-star lineup of five new Net Link-enabled games gives players the chance to challenge their peers across the country on the only Internet-ready next-generation video game console.

TWO NEW SONIC TITLES SHOWN

Blue is back with Sonic R, a new futuristic Sonic which combines high-speed racing with non-stop action, and Sonic Jam, a compilation of Sonic’s greatest hits on one CD for the Sega Saturn.

THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK

Straight from the biggest blockbuster hit of the summer comes a new action-packed, pre-historic, cross platform adventure for the Sega Saturn. It looks to be on par with the PlayStation version in the graphical department.

ARCADE LINE-UP

Sega brings four arcade hits home including Manx TT, Last Bronx, Touring Car, and Sky Target for the Sega Saturn. Last Bronx easily surpasses Virtua Fighter 2 as the fighting game with the most impressive graphics. The game runs extremely smooth, has no polygon drop-outs (except during throws), and runs at the same hi-res as VF2 for the Saturn.

SEGA SPORTS LINE-UP

Sega Sports’ all-star line-up is back with NBA Action ’98 (miles ahead of NBA Live for the Saturn), World Series Baseball ’98 (better than any other console baseball game shown at the show), NHL All-Star Hockey ’98 (engine by Radical Entertainment, so it is essentially NHL Powerplay ’98), and World Wide Soccer ’98.

SEGA ENTERTAINMENT TO SUPPORT EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

Using advanced technology including MMX, D3D, Power VR and force feed back, Sega Entertainment is bringing true arcade experience to PCs. The force feed back used in Daytona Deluxe is phenomenal, it truly brings the arcade experience home. And the Power VR version of Virtual On, running on a P200, easily surpasses the Saturn version of the same game.

SEGA ENTERTAINMENT MAKES PC DATA LIST

Sega Entertainment has been named to PC Data’s Top 25 Software Publishers List for the first quarter of 1997.