Next Wave Report: The New Generation


It was just a few, short years ago when Nintendo and Sega ushered us into the new-fangled 16-bit era with their exceptional duo of super systems. The ruling monarchs of home video games have sat steady thus far, unperturbed by either the Turbo or the NEO GEO, but the time has come at last in which a new challenger appears. Though once having exhibited sparkling, state-of-the-art technology, the super-powered SNES and Genesis may now find themselves some real competition from a handful of upstarts as we enter an evolution to 32-bit, and further still to an astounding 64-bit. We're at the precipice of the next generation, folks. If you weren't there to live through the exciting transition from NES and Master System to SNES and Genesis, let us assure you it was exhilarating as heck.

The 3DO, the interactive C-D system released in October, wowed audiences at the Consumer Electronics Expo and brought in software alliances with dozens of game manufacturers. The 32-bit processing ability of the Panasonic FZ-1 combined with the insane 12.5 MHz clock speed (that's 64 million pixels per second of processing power) currently makes the Trip Hawkins wonder the single most advanced machine on the market today. Its launch price and early game library does leave some to be desired, but the potential is there for 3DO to usher in a redefined gaming landscape. With hyper-realistic titles like Crash 'N' Burn showcasing the hot graphical prowess of the new system, we'll have to see whether players will swallow the hefty price-tag to invest in the next-big-thing.

spotlightjaguar      spotlightsilicongraphics

The 64-bit Atari Jaguar                           Silicon Graphics Demo

But the 3DO is not the only Ultra System set to shake-up the Big N-Big S dueling dichotomy. Back from the video game graveyard, the Atari Corporation has announced its newest foray into the home gaming scene with the Atari Jaguar. Named for a fierce and unruly predator, the Jag will house a 64-bit graphics chip and 16 MB of D-RAM storage power. This machine claims to be more powerful than even the 3DO, with not only a faster processor but "better-than-CD-quality" audio as well. Jaguar will initially come stocked with a cartridge slot, with a CD add-on scheduled down the line. Strange though is its 17-button red-and-black controller - kind of a throw-back to the number pad concept of the 1980s' Atari 5200. Softs like CyberMorph, a groundbreaking, 3-D polygon-based adventure, may give Star Fox a run for its money.

The planned rolling-out of the Jaguar this holiday season at an MSRP of $249.95 puts an uncomfortable snag in the marketing of the $699 3DO, but that's not all in the way of new console announcements. The Sony Corporation announced that it is developing its very own piece of next-generation hardware dubbed the PlayStation. Sega has also been rumored to have begun development on its own 32-bit machine codenamed "Saturn." Finally, Nintendo has teamed up with Silicon Graphics, the company known for the computer effects in Terminator 2, to work on creating an all-new, "True 64-Bit" system with real-time 3-D graphics. With so much on the forefront, how are we to choose? In our book, the SNES and Genesis have much life left to live. In the meantime, we'll keep you updated!


[Article from the Nov/Dec 1993 Issue of PPM]


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