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Spotlight:
Next Wave Report: The 32-Bit Evolution



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Can anyone stop the future? The answer, of course, is no. But don't you go telling that to Nintendo or Sega. Despite the heavily covered launch of the Panasonic 3DO and the Atari Jaguar, two technical juggernauts with graphical prowess far outweighing anything on the 16-Bitters, early sales forecasts appear to have dampened excitement behind the scenes. Genesis and SNES remain on top as they have been for years, but it must only be a matter of time before these champions are dethroned and supplanted with superior game machines. With Sega's Saturn still reportedly a way off, the King of Arcades is working on a stopgap measure to satisfy hardware-hungry gamers before the lid busts right off of the teapot. Meet the 32X, an all-new add-on device capable of transforming your Sega Genesis into a wonderous Saturn-mini.

The Super 32X, for a sliver of the cost as the 3DO, will significantly empower the processing ability of the Genesis. It will use the fancy Hitachi SH2 to bring enhanced scaling, a palette of high-definition colors, and lightning-fast speed to breathe new life into the five-year-old console. The odd bit about all this is that the 32X will operate exclusively with game cartridges. One would think after the hardcore marketing campaign of the Sega-CD, a blitz which humorously poked fun at Nintendo for using outdated carts while Sega offered disc technology, that the company would think twice before jumping to a new horse. Sega is known for spectacular gaming experiences, but how can they afford to create a steady stream of great games for four systems at once? By this time next year, it may be five! 30 titles are on the way, but we say wait and see.

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Bally/Midway, Nintendo Partner                  Is the Sega CD Old News?

Nintendo, on the flip side of the coin, is unmoving in their support for the Super Nintendo as a long-term investment. The 64-Bit Project Reality is coming sometime in 1995, but all we've seen are promises and one itsy-bitsy tech demo several months back. Can the SNES last through then? Well, after spurning the idea of a CD-based add-on and rolling their eyes over the introduction of a colorized portable, Nintendo has revealed their plans for a side-system of their own. According to their press release, a 32-Bit standalone "Virtual Reality" device is currently in deep development. President Hiroshi Yamauchi has stated that the console will feature a built-in display without the need for special goggles or glasses. "It is going to be Super VR by which you can experience Virtual Reality with HMD (Head Mount Display)."

Virtual Reality at an affordable price seems like a fantasy, but Nintendo gave their assurances that the upcoming device will be full-on VR at the meager price tag of $200 or less. This intriguing news all came at quite a shock to the industry, which thus far has been hyper focused on the superpowered Project Reality (an entirely different, er, project). This means no games are in development by third-party studios for the mysterious 32-Bit VR. All of this leaves us press speculators wondering what exactly the future does hold. An over-stretched Sega could very well flop with their stopgap 32X while Nintendo's VR machine proves underutilized by outside companies. Does this leave the door open for Sony's PS-X to burst through the gates with an early lead in the next theater of the console wars? Or maybe the Jaguar CD will reign supreme? Stranger things have happened!

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[Article from the June 1994 Issue of PPM]



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