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VALLEY WEEKEND | VIDEO GAMES

Sega and Its Disciples Take the Fight to Sony

Granted, upcoming Saturn games are wow worthy, but the PlayStation is still the better buy.

June 13, 1996|AARON CURTISS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

All right, already!

Since I recommended buying Sony's PlayStation over Sega's Saturn a few weeks ago, my mailbox has been jammed with electronic missives from Segaphiles calling me every name in the book and accusing me of not knowing a game from a hole in the ground.

Most of the letters were too salty for a family publication such as this, but suffice to say that they were unanimous in their denunciation of my taste in video games.

And while none carried the telltale address of @segaoa.com, I suspect more than a few were not written by everyday players. One told me that when I saw some of the upcoming releases or Japanese titles, I'd eat my words.

Well, I saw some of the upcoming releases and Japanese titles a few days ago and, yes, they are wonderful. So, I will eat a few of my words, but still believe the better buy right now is the PlayStation.

Sega showed off some of its new titles and a few third-party games on the 19th floor of its public relations company in Beverly Hills. The view alone is always worth the visit, but what I saw on-screen this time blew doors off the panorama outside.

Saturn's biggie this year is Nights, a wild adventure through a dream world inhabited by all manner of fantastic creatures. I'm not quite sure how to describe Nights because it's so unlike anything I've ever seen or played. My immediate reaction: WOW!

The game allows full mobility within its beautiful environments and the flying dream sequences move so quickly and so smoothly that it's fun to just sit there and watch it all unfold.

A cool feature promises to be the analog joystick controller Sega suggested might ship with the game. As someone frustrated by the Saturn's clunky joy pad, this news thrilled me to death. The Sega rep I talked to, though, was unsure if the new controller would be backward compatible with older games.

Manx TT Super Bike looks like another pretty good racer for the Saturn, described to me as "Road Rash meets Sega Rally Championship." Indeed, the game--due out this fall--is based on an actual motorcycle race on the Isle of Man. The course fills in incredibly fast and creates a disconcerting feeling of nausea.

Cool.

*

But what really got my blood pumping was a videotape of Virtua Cop 2. Even though I couldn't play this bad boy, I was happy just to watch and drool. Due out later this year in arcades, the shooter adds a ton of new features and meaner bad guys. If what ends up in the arcades and, eventually, on Saturn is half as good as what I saw, Virtua Cop 2 will blow players away.

Then, of course, the Sega folks had to bum my rush by talking about the planned peripheral that will allow Saturn to hook up to the Internet. This, apparently, is part of the rush to get in on the current hysteria over the global network.

Am I the only one who remembers all those promises in the late 1980s about someday being able to hook my Super Nintendo into all kinds of computers worldwide? Well, what happened?

Sega should stick with what it does best: make games.

Staff writer Aaron Curtiss reviews video games every Thursday. To comment on a column or to suggest games for review, send letters to The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Or send e-mail to Aaron.Curtiss@latimes.com.

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