Game Platform for your TV
by Johnny Bray
Over a period
of twenty years or so, we've been hit by numerous game systems, each one
superior to the last. First, there was the Odyssey, with its plastic TV
screen overlays, then the breakthrough Atari 2600 and Mattel's Intellivision.
Atari ruled the roost for a few years, after which the TV video game market
seemed to dry up for a while.
came Nintendo and the Sega Mastersystem, and the market was blown wide
open again, spawning a parade of new systems that continues today. These
include Sega's first 16-Bit system, the Genesis, and Nintendo's Super
Nintendo. The Atari Jaguar, Philips CD-I, and Panasonic 3DO were next
to come, none of which have done very well from a sales standpoint. Now
Sega has leapt to "the next level" with its CD-ROM-based Saturn
system, followed closely by a new player in the field: Sony.
Well, I've played
most of them and have to say Sony's system, the PlayStation, is
superior to all I've used.
Tour de Force
to be Reckoned with
Calgary Sony store lent TechnoFILE a PlayStation to put through its paces,
which made it difficult to get any work done. In short, the PlayStation
has great graphics and sound, which combine to create some of the best
games playable on your TV.
Sony does have
its problems with the system, though. Two words can easily describe the
biggest problem: Techno Music. I played five different games for this
system, and every one of them had Techno at some point (yes, even NHL
Hockey '96). If they got a new soundtrack, this would be an even better
system, although from a strictly gaming point of view it doesn't get much
better than this. Sony definitely did their homework on this system.
uses a 32 bit RISC processor and 16 megabits (not megabytes, unfortunately)
to deliver 16.8 million colours and full, 30 frames per second video.
What this means is the graphics are clear and clean and deliver neat 3D
images that render themselves on the fly as you play. And the sound is
spectacular, and translates very well through a Dolby Surround processor.
The game controller
(you get one and can buy others at extra cost) has more buttons and push-pads
than you can shake a stick at, and it takes a while to get used to them
all. Control is quite tight, so a firm (but gentle) hand is required.
The Games are
above, we tried five PlayStation titles, and they represented a good cross
section of what's available.
Racer.Quite simply, this is the best car
racing video game I've seen on a home video game system, though my earlier
complaint about the Techno Music really applies here. It's too bad: Ridge
Racer has terrific racing action that ties you up in knots, but all the
while that music yammers loudly in your ears, taking away a lot of the
game's enjoyment. Add to that the terminally cheerful announcer (Oh, if
only he and that music could be turned off - or at least down!) and it's
almost enough to make you shut off the game. Almost
great, and the road course you're competing on has enough twists and chicanes
to challenge Jacques Villeneuve. And, except for the music, the sound
is spectacular, especially in surround mode; when you drive into the tunnels
along the course, you can hear your engine noise echoing off the walls
This one's quite similar in concept to Ridge
Racer, except it's set in a sci-fi-like environment where you're driving
a hovering racer armed with a variety of weapons. The object is to win,
naturally, and if you can slow down the competition with a couple of well-placed
missiles, then so be it!
There are several
cars and tracks to choose from, and a variety of difficulties. It takes
forever to load, though, even more so than the rather leisurely loading
performance of the other games I tried.
best fighting game ever made! Great graphics and sound are chopped and
kicked along by terrific action. There are eight different characters
to choose from, each of which has two choices of uniform and a variety
of moves and weapons. This is the game I enjoyed the most.
This is one tough game! You're a hotshot
pilot out to save the world from domination by some typically evil computer
villain. The game makes extensive use of real actors and the production
values are very good. It whips you up into a fury of anticipation, then
sends you off on your various missions.
the graphics in the actual game aren't nearly as good as the video footage,
which is a disappointment. Not that the graphics are substandard: they're
not. It's just that you get spoiled by the video sequences, and the more
traditional computer-generated action is a bit of a let down.
is fast and furious, though, and you have to be a good pilot and a crack
shot if you're going to save civilization. We weren't.
To Buy or not
competes head to head with Sega's Saturn, 3DO, and CD-I and is priced
in the same ballpark. I haven't run it against the Saturn, but think its
action, graphics and sound, beats the other two systems. It's a new system,
but there are plenty of titles available for it, from role playing to
shoot 'em up. It's probably the closest thing you can get to an arcade
game in your home theatre. I loved it.
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think