media & technology
When I’m N64
If you thought Sony's PlayStation caused a storm in the games world, take cover for the tornado that will be Nintendo 64. Story: John Henderson
It’s been tough being a Nintendo fan recently. What was once the greatest company in the games industry disappeared for a couple of years. People wondered if they’d ever return. Fortunately they have, and it’s some comeback.
The new Nintendo 64 will be released on Sunday 1 March, at a cost of £249. As usual, Brits have waited longer than the Americans or Japanese, but sales in both those countries confirm this is one serious piece of hardware. On its first day’s release in Japan, 300,000 machines left the shelves. while nearly two and a half million units have ended up in US homes in less than six months.
Dick Francis, Managing Director of THE games. a division of John Menzies with distributory rights for the machine, is understandably enthusiastic. ‘We are obviously all very excited by the arrival of the Nintendo 64 in the UK,’ he says, ‘and are eager to repeat the huge success already seen in Japan and the States. Plans are well under way for the big day and we are convinced that the launch of the Nintendo 64 will be the most successful that the UK interactive entertainment industry has ever seen. Demand is going to be sky-high - so whatever you do, when you get hold of it, don’t let go of your 64.’
Cynics might read Francis’s comments as a warning regarding supply. There are rumours here there won’t be enough machines to fulﬁl pre-orders. Still, dodgy availability never affected the
04 THEM 21 Feb-6 Mar 1997
go of your 64.’
'Demand is going to be sky-high — so whatever you do, when you get hold of it, don’t let
Power play: some Nintendo 64s preparing for world domination
PlayStation launch. and probably added to consumer
So what is so good about the N64? As far as the actual hardware goes. the machine is streets ahead of the 32-bit opposition. It runs at about the same speed as a low-end Pentium PC. But the games will be superior to PC software because the machine‘s speed is devoted to them rather than having to share it with word processors. graphics packages and the like.
Unlike the Saturn or the PlayStation. the No4 also uses cartridges. Although you can store less data on a cartridge than a CD. you can access it much faster. You won‘t get the slow-down you sometimes get on CD games. Nintendo will be offering a drive unit in the future, but whether it takes off remains to be seen. No company yet has successfully marketed such an add-on. Remember the Sega Mega CD for the Megadrive? Few people do.
The best thing about Nintendo‘s return is the software. Nintendo know more about gameplay than any other company. and the initial releases for the N64 prove that they haven‘t lost their magic touch. Mario 64 has been described by many industry pundits as the best video game ever created. It is graphically stunning. a dream to play and sees the Italian plumber firmly thrust into a lavish 3D world.
Other Nintendo releases include an update of the SNES classic Pilot Wings as well as the jet-skiing Wave Race. Third-party offerings will include Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. which has been created by Lucas Arts, and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. from Acclaim, the people who brought Mortal Kombat to the games world.
All the games look beautiful, and the British success of the N64 is guaranteed. All you need to do is decide which grandmother you’re going to have to flog to buy it. Because you will buy it - it’s that good.
Nintendo 64 is released on Sun 1 Mar priced £249.
-mm_ Games o Web Sites - CD ROMS
WEBSITE dotmusic http://wwwdotmusiecom
Dotmusic has been up and running since August 1995, and is now claiming a more than respectable half a million hits per month. Created by the publishers of Music Week, it offers gossip and news from the pop world along with reviews and charts. While dotmusic is a commercial venture at heart — you can order any of the records on the site straight off the screen and they should be delivered in two or three days - it rises above other on- line shopping sites because it offers something worthwhile for nothing, before asking you to buy.
Sonic BD — Flickies' Island
Sega badly need some killer software to boost the Saturn's flagging sales figures, and in the past they could have relied on Sonic. Sonic 30 — Flickies’ Island has, despite the name, been well- received and it sees the spiky blue speed-freak get a 3D makeover, new tunes and assistance from Tails and Knuckles. Unfortunately, it's just not enough. With the imminent release of Mario 64 (see right), Sonic 30 will probably be drowned by the Nintendo tidal wave, and Sega may well have to settle for third place in
the console market. Still, no fan of 9 Sonic could afford to miss this
WEBSITE Realms of the Haunting (PC CD-ROM £39.99)
Your priest of a father has just died, and amongst your duties is investigating his old manor house. Not surprisingly, it turns out that he was into some fairly dodgy dealings with the occult. Realms of the Haunting looks a little like Quake but has greater emphasis on exploration and puzzle-solving. There's still plenty to blast away at, but the plot is important, and each turning point is illustrated by some neat full motion video. Where the game scores is in the skilful combination of action and strategy. Considerable thought has gone into the development of the gameplay, and Realms is well worth a look. (John Henderson)
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