VID news. (innovations in computer games at this year's Consumer Electronics Show) (Special Anniversary Issue)
by Jill Champion, Chantelle Oligschlaeger, Erin Richter
The war for the hearts and minds of America's videogame players reached a peak at this summer's CES, with volleys from all major players. The smoke won't clear until after the holiday season. Sega announced a new CD-ROM accessory for the Genesis, Nintendo aligned itself with N.V. Philips and CD-I, NEC launched a new line of CD-ROM interactive videogames, and SNK added 12 new titles to its NEO GEO library.
On the Sega front, an affordable CD-ROM accessory for the Genesis was announced for an early 1992 release. The player's high-speed laser pick-up drive mechanism, 16-bit microprocessors in both the Genesis machine and the CD-ROM drive, a large-capacity RAM buffer, advanced biaxial rotation and zoom functions, and eight-channel digital stereo sound source should add up to supersonic game action, CD-quality audio, arcade-style sound effects, and graphics to the max.
Sega's biggest game news was Sonic the Hedgehog. Faster than a speeding bullet and sure to gain the quick allegiance of arcade gamers everywhere, Sonic is reason enough for anyone to buy the Genesis machine. Sonic the Hedgehog replaces Altered-Beast as the game packaged with Genesis machines.
By year's end, Sega plans to have 17 new Genesis games out. Those include Toe Jam & Earl, featuring two very cool, rhythmically inclined, junk-food-loving aliens from the planet Funkatron; Fantasia, taken from the Walt Disney classic; and the underwater military simulation 688 Attack Sub.
Digital stereo sound, multiple scrolling screens, three-dimensional graphics, and a palette of 32,768 colors blast through Nintendo's Super NES, scheduled to reach store shelves this September. Despite the troubled economy, Nintendo predicted it will sell more than 2 million Super NES units by year's end, priced around $200 each, and 6 million games for the machine, most of which will cost around $50 apiece. Nintendo has no plans to abandon either its 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System or the popular hand-held Game Boy machine.
The company also announced that it would work with N.V. Philips to develop a CD-ROM accessory for the Super NES that would be compatible with both the new video game system and CD-I. Nintendo also intends to pursue its work with Sony on a separate CD-based game system.
NEC dropped the price of its TurboGrafx-16 system to $99.99 and concentrated its efforts on the TurboGrafx-CD player, which sells now for $299. For $149.99, a new version of the TurboGrafx-16 system, called Bonk SuperSet, is packaged with two TurboPad controllers, a TurboTop adaptor that allows for up to five players at once, and NEC's most popular game, Bonk's Adventure.
NEC also sealed a deal with Paramount Pictures to release ICOM Simulations' CD-ROM version of The Addams Family. Based on the popular sixties television show, the movie is scheduled to premiere in November. Also in NEC's new CD-ROM library, Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, based on the renowned clever guy, uses digitized movie footage of live actors. For J.B. Harold Murder Club, digitizes still photos blended with voices will be used. For an educational tour through prehistoric times, Magical Dinosaur Tour is an animated encyclopedia featuring 200 types of dinosaurs. The games will retail for $61. each.
SNK attracted more players to its pricey, but graphically superior, NEO GEO system with 12 new action games ranging from sports to fantasy.
For sports buffs, there's Top Players Golf, which gives players a bird's-eye view of the course and then lets them "stand" behind the onscreen golfer to drive the ball with real-life perspective. League Bowling's multilink capability adds more zest than real lanes can offer. Riding Hero puts gamers in the fast lane of motorcycle racing, whizzing around mountain curves and barreling down ocean straightaways. Baseball buffs should delight over Baseball Stars Professional, with real-voice announcers and umpires making the calls for over 20 different teams.
For the combat thirsty, there's the fast-reflex action of Ninja Combat, dog-fights galore in the enemy-filled air zones of Ghost Pilots, and bloody jungle battles as veterans return to Vietnam in NAM-1975. James Bond wannabes go up against a formidable terrorist group in The Super Spy.
Sci-fi fanatics get the challenge of a life-time trying to destroy the super computer that controls thousands of lunatic androids in SNK's Cyber-Lip. Fantasy lovers can wreak havoc on cities while wrestling monsters in King of the Monsters.
In Magician Lord, players assume the role of Elta, a young magician able to assume new identities while searching for books of wisdom and magic in four uncanny dimensions - a real treat for fantasy arcade fans. Rounding out the selection, fast-action arcade game fans should love the challenge of jumping Blue through a host of strange cities in Blue's Journey.